New Ordinance Would Lift Chicago Sports Betting Ban, A Key Step Toward In-Stadium Sportsbooks

Written By Joe Boozell on July 22, 2021 - Last Updated on August 24, 2021

Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) is introducing an ordinance that would lift the sports betting ban in Chicago. That would pave the way for retail sportsbooks at Wrigley Field, the United Center, etc.

While this may be viewed as a formality, it is a necessary step to offer retail sports betting in Chicago.

The Sports Wagering Act allows for wagering at Illinois sports venues. But in order for that to become a reality, Chicago needs to lift its sports betting ban.

Burnett said via the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Wrigley and the United Center — they’ve both been talking about setting up a spot for it. So this ordinance needs to be passed in order for that to happen. We’ll see where the council wants to go with it.”

In addition to Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) fees, the city would charge $50,000 for a license and $25,000 for annual renewal.

Sports betting would not be allowed between midnight and 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday; midnight Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday; and 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, a maximum of 15 kiosks would be allowed at each location unless the establishments serve food and beverages.

City Mayor Lori Lightfoot seems to support the Chicago zoning ordinance. She said on Wednesday when asked if Chicago sportsbooks would negatively impact the city’s casino project:

“First of all, sports (betting) is the law of our state. That got passed by the General Assembly in 2019. I support that law. No, I do not believe that it will undercut our efforts on a future casino and we’re gonna make sure that it doesn’t.”

A retail sportsbook at the United Center?

Burnett represents the district near the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks. Tucked in to his quote above is mention of a sportsbook at the United Center.

That is the first time we’re hearing confirmed interest from the United Center. As of now, we only know of plans from Wrigley Field.

Which gaming operator would run a sportsbook at the United Center? The most likely answer is FanDuel, the market leader in Illinois by revenue.

FanDuel is not the Bulls’ exclusive betting partner, but it occupied a highly visible and large baseline advertisement for 2020-21 home games. FanDuel has a similar relationship with the White Sox, and Jerry Reinsdorf owns both teams.

The Bulls and Blackhawks jointly own the United Center, and Reinsdorf doesn’t own the Blackhawks. However, FanDuel has to be considered the favorite to run a future United Center sportsbook.

The arena is likely a more appealing choice than Guaranteed Rate Field, as combined, the Bulls and Blackhawks have a larger fanbase in the city than the White Sox.

What we know about a Wrigley Field sportsbook in Chicago

Wrigley Field and the Cubs were quick to pounce on a Chicago retail sportsbook. In September 2020, they struck a deal with DraftKings to build a facility right off of the Addison red line train stop.

It’s a $100 million partnership. Cubs spokesman Julian Green said of the future sportsbook:

“DraftKings says this would be their largest sportsbook in the country … with a food and beverage option and betting. In the winter months, you have Super Bowl. You have March Madness. Having a facility where groups may want to come in and watch the Super Bowl or March Madness — that’s something we could accommodate.”

Of course, Wrigley and DraftKings need approval from the city of Chicago and the IGB. That could take a while.

Chicagoans already have mobile sports betting — if they took advantage of the fleeting online registration period.

In the next few years, they should also be able to walk into a stadium of their favorite team and place a bet in person.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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