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With Illinois dragging their feet in legalizing sports betting, FanDuel is trying to entice lawmakers to speed up the process by declaring a plan to open an office in Chicago.
The office would employ around 300 and work as a carrot for legislators struggling to come an agreement on how the state will introduce sports betting.
The Windy City “is definitely a growing and really cool tech environment to be a part of,” said FanDuel CEO Matt King, who lives in Chicago.
“So as we thought about where we could scale, we thought Chicago made a ton of sense. It gives us a Midwest headquarters to service surrounding states.”
FanDuel currently has around 800 employees in their West and East coast offices and Chicago would become the company’s Midwest headquarters.
The company chose Chicago as the primary location because of the young talent pool that inhabits the city.
Once a sports betting measure is approved, the company will need to add employees to oversee product technology, establishing betting lines, and a establish a customer service protocol.
FanDuel, and their competitor DraftKings, have both tried to use the promise of jobs and the industry’s boost to the local economy as an temptation to lawmakers to pass the bill.
DraftKings’ attempt to lure legislators to approve daily fantasy sports back in 2016 with potential jobs backfired after lawmakers shot the proposal down.
Both companies have more confidence this go-round as Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has said that he wants the potential tax revenue from sports betting to benefit the state.
During Gov. Pritzker’s budget address in early 2019, he said that the state could earned up to $200 million from licensing fees to help the state fill a $3.2 billion dollar debt.
Gov. Pritzker’s proposal included a $10 million licensing fee to 20 operators with a $5,000 annual renewal fee.
There is skepticism that Pritzker could create $200 million from licensing, although video gambling industry generated $347 million in revenue for the state last year.
With Iowa legalizing sports betting, the Chicago office for FanDuel can work as a hub for surrounding states.
With bills ready for debate and approval in Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio, FanDuel’s proposed Chicago location would be in an ideal location.
FanDuel’s business is two-pronged with a foot in operating physical sportsbooks and offering an online option for mobile betting.
For Gov. Pritzker to get his $200 million in licensing fees, mobile betting will have to be a part of the sports betting bill.
This leverage plays into FanDuel’s hand and puts them in a strong position to lobby the bill to passing through Illinois’ House and Senate.
“We see a huge market opportunity ahead of us,” King said.
“We can help establish Chicago as one of the leading markets from a sports betting tech perspective.”
With new amendments recently added to the bill, there is no end date in sight for the Illinois bill.
The lawmakers’ indecision leaves hundreds of jobs and FanDuel’s office waiting in the wings.
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