The effort to pass legislation that would bring legalized sportsbetting to the American city of Chicago has reportedly stalled over claims that the measure’s suggested tax rate would bring in just ‘peanuts’ from an industry that could locally be worth up $25 billion a year.
According to a Tuesday report from the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, the measure initially introduced by Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett in July seeks to revoke a long-running prohibition on sports wagering for residents of ‘The Windy City’ and allow its 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.
The newspaper reported that the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot (pictured), subsequently threw her weight behind the campaign, which would 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. In return and these facilities would purportedly be required to pay an inaugural $50,000 licensing fee as well as annual $25,000 renewal duty and agree to hand over 2% of their monthly gross gaming revenues in tax.
However, it is this final part of this proposition that reportedly led to the whole matter getting bogged down in a Tuesday meeting of the Chicago City Council’s Budget Committee with opponents alleging that the modest tax rate would result in the Illinois city annually benefitting to the tune of only about $400,000 to $500,000. This body’s Chair, Pat Dowell, purportedly described the estimated take for the metropolis of about 2.7 million inhabitants as ‘really paltry’ even after the licensing fees from prospective operators were added.
Dowell reportedly declared…
“It seems like peanuts for an industry that is growing. I sort of feel like I did when we licensed shared housing and the Ubers and the Lyfts and all of those guys. We’re not getting the full financial benefit of these companies, which started out small and then they grew and we’re sort of locked into an amount. Two percent is not satisfactory to me.”
Another opponent, Alderman Greg Mitchell, reportedly told members of the Budget Committee that he was not against the idea of bringing sports wagering to Chicago in principle but that the current campaign had been launched ‘too early’ and is moving ‘too fast’ owing to uncertainty as to how the local market may be impacted following the debut of an envisioned downtown casino. The Democratic representative purportedly moreover proclaimed that the projected $500,000 maximum tax windfall for the city is ‘nothing for us’ and was not a sufficient ‘reward for the risks we’re taking’.
Mitchell reportedly pronounced…
“We have to be more prudent with not only how we spend our money but with what agreements we enter into in order to generate sustainable revenues for the city. We really need to take a step back as there are too many unknowns and the risk-reward is just not there. It’s too little.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that this criticism led to the whole matter being abruptly adjourned to leave the prospect of legalized sportsbetting coming to Chicago well and truly up in the air. Moving forward and local legislators may now purportedly choose to revisit the current measure following additional examination or put the entire issue on the back burner until the plan to bring a casino to the center of the Cook County city are realized.