City Council OKs sportsbooks at Chicago sports arenas, stadiums

The City Council has decided to lift a ban on sports betting in Chicago and impose a 2-percent tax on gross revenues from it.

The Wednesday vote will allow for betting on games at Chicago sports arenas and stadiums.

The bets are expected to generate about $400,000 to $500,000 annually for the city.

Critics fear letting teams have their own sportsbooks would hurt any future casino that comes to Chicago.

Before a final City Council committee vote that took place Monday, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said his team is "ready to go today" on its $100 million partnership with DraftKings that will pave the way for Wrigley Field to house the first stadium sportsbook in Major League Baseball.


"With your approval of this ordinance, construction would begin immediately with the aim of opening a restaurant with a sportsbook in time for the 2023 season. This will create construction jobs and revenues now and permanent jobs in just over a year," Ricketts said.

Ricketts said the ordinance would "provide additional resources to the city’s professional sports teams that will help them compete."

"This is not a casino or even a mini-casino. It’s a sports bar-restaurant. … It only allows for fans who wish to place a wager to have a window to do so. I expect many fans will come to the sportsbook and never place a bet," he said.

White Sox and Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf essentially accused casino magnate Neil Bluhm, owner of Des Plaines-based Rivers Casino, of talking out of both sides of his mouth.

"What is perplexing is that Neil Bluhm, who does not want our buildings to have sportsbooks, met with us on several occasions seeking to operate sportsbooks in our buildings. And that was long after the casino was approved for Chicago," Reinsdorf said.

"At that time, he had no assurance he would be chosen to operate a casino in Chicago and was not concerned that these books would, in any way, cannibalize whoever was chosen to operate the casino. It makes me wonder if he had gotten his way back then, would we be having this meeting today?"

Bluhm made no mention of that earlier meeting.

He simply reiterated his longstanding claim that what he calls the "five mini-casinos"— at Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, Soldier Field, the United Center and Wintrust Arena — would "take visitors and money away" from a Chicago casino.

"The city could lose $10 million to $12 million per year and potentially make the new Chicago casino less successful if we are right," Bluhm said.

"Why take a chance like this? There’s a big risk with no reward. I urge you to vote no for this ordinance."

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.