The ordinance that could see Chicago legalize retail and online sportsbetting is reportedly due to be put to a full city council vote tomorrow after it cleared committee yesterday afternoon following several months of debate.
According to a Monday report from Crain’s Chicago Business, the measure first proposed by Alderman Walter Burnett in July would rescind a long-running ban on sports wagering in ‘The Windy City’ and allow local venues with a capacity of over 17,000 to offer a wide range of sportsbetting action to anyone over the age of 21. The source detailed that this would permit the metropolis’ Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, Wintrust Arena and United Center stadiums to debut sportsbooks with as many as 15 wagering windows or kiosks.
Although the owners of the Illinois city’s major sports teams have reportedly long supported the sportsbetting legislation as a way to help boost interest and attendance, critics have continually pointed to point to the fact that it would institute only a 2% monthly gross gaming revenues tax. Such a low rate, opponents purportedly contend, could see Chicago benefit to the tune of just $400,000 to $500,000 a year despite having to shoulder the burdens of licensing and regulation.
Crain’s Chicago Business reported that still others believe that the local legalization of sportsbetting could hurt the city of over 2.7 million people as it looks to license and run a downtown casino. These detractors purportedly continually highlight a study from Rush Street Gaming supremo Neil Bluhm that such a land-based facility may annually lose as much as $10 million in ancillary table and slot receipts from punters who would normally visit primarily for sports wagering.
This impasse reportedly led the Budget Committee of the Chicago City Council to abruptly pause debate on the ordinance last week although a subsequent Monday vote by the Committee on Zoning and License saw the controversial measure progress via a 19-to-seven margin. As a result, the final decision on whether to legalize sportsbetting in Chicago is to now go before the full 50-seat city council where it is expected to again come under fire from those worried about potential cannibalization.
Nevertheless, the Chairman for the Chicago Cubs franchise of Major League Baseball, Tom Ricketts, reportedly pronounced that his organization remains ‘ready to go’ in implementing a partnership with operator DraftKings Incorporated that would bring a sportsbook to the storied team’s 41,600-seat Wrigley Field home. The financial services magnate purportedly moreover divulged that he intends to immediately begin building a sportsbetting lounge within the confines of the 107-year-old stadium should the ordinance pass in hopes of being able to kick off operations before March of 2023.
Ricketts reportedly stated…
“This is not a casino or even a mini-casino, it’s a sports bar-restaurant. There will be no slot machines, no card games, no roulette wheel, no table games, nothing like a casino.”