Chicago City Council Ok’s Sports Stadium Betting

Updated June 30, 2022
Updated June 30, 2022By Dean Etheridge
Soldier Field Chicago

There was big news in the world of sports betting in Illinois last week when Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago City Council approved plans for sports betting at sports stadiums in the city. 

Current Illinois Betting Rules

In 2019, sportsbooks were legalized in the state of Illinois. 

But despite the change in law, the city council of Chicago didn’t immediately follow suit and permit sportsbooks to operate.

This has now finally changed – more two years after the state law change, with the council now allowing sportsbooks to operate in major Chicago sports venues.

But it’s fair to say, the decision hasn’t been welcomed with open arms by everybody.

Chicago Council gives Green Light to Stadium Sports Betting

The city council’s approval of an ordinance lifting a ban on stadium betting means we can now see sportsbooks and/or sports betting at venues in Chicago such as Wrigley Field and Soldier Field.

Allowing sports advertising into Soldier Field will be a significant move, as it is home to the Chicago Bears of the NFL. You can check out our NFL Betting sites page for more information on Gridiron betting!

The move – mainly instigated by mayor Lori Lightfoot – has been met with some resistance.

Critics of the move claim it undermines plans for inner-city Chicago casinos. 

Wild Predictions and Billionaires Scrapping Over Loot  

In what looks like warring parties looking for their share of the loot, backers of the casinos claim that punters looking for a sports bet will head to the sports venues, instead of the casinos.

Neil Bluhm, one of the founding members of Rush Street Gaming, claims “the city could lose $10 million to $12 million per year and potentially make the new Chicago casino less successful if we are right.”

Regardless, the claims made by Bluhm are substantial. 

This is quite a sum of money compared to the estimated $400,000 to $500,000 the Lightfoot administration is believed to expect the 2% tax on betting at the stadium sportsbooks will rake in.

Even if Bluhm’s claim is based on the most optimistic of business models, they are still substantially higher than the stadium sportsbook estimates.

If we divide Bluhm’s figures by three, four, even five or six, they beat the Lightfoot administration’s estimations. 

So who is right, and who is wrong?

Well, city councilor Raymond Lopez is quoted as saying it’s offensive that millionaires are fighting over splitting up gambling proceeds.

So, he sounds like he has a gripe, and it sounds like he also has a point.  

But when one side of the argument is claiming the state stands to lose $10-$12 million, then a clear entrenched position is being dug. 

In a lot of these matters where predictions are made like this, the truth often lies somewhere in the middle. 

And the problem is – going back to the Lopez remarks – that big money billionaires stand to make more money. So they will fight tooth and nail to get it.

After all, they didn’t become rich billionaires by not fighting their corners and vigorously defending their positions.

It will be an interesting argument to follow to see who comes out on top

And it will also be closely followed by proponents of gambling in states where online sportsbooks and betting is banned. 

College Sports Betting shackles also Lifted

In a further twist to sports betting in Illinois, it is now legal for sports bettors to wager money on in-state college teams.

Last week Illinois state governor J.B. Pritzker, signed legislation that lifted the ban on in-state collegiate action. 

This basically means that it’s legal to wager on college sports in the state.

Now, this is an even hotter topic!

Opponents say it could present a situation where students are put at risk from bettors looking to gain an advantage.

This is an understandable – and obvious – argument.  

Objectors such as University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, claim that it puts students at risk of facing pressure and even physical threats and intimidation from bettors, who might even live in the same dormitory.   

The flip side to the argument is that the lifting of the ban comes with plenty of caveats

Bets on teams in Illinois can only be placed in person at a casino or racetrack sportsbook. They can also not be placed on a mobile phone or electronic gadget. 

Punters will also only be allowed to place bets on the outcome of a match, not individual performance. 

So for example, this means that a whole team would have to be nobbled to fix a match. 

It also reduces the chances of a player deliberately underperforming to win a bet on an individual. 

Although a player could deliberately underperform to try and lose the match for his team, it would be far from guaranteed to work!

The ruling is also to be monitored across the next two years. 

It needs another bill to allow it to continue after 24 months. So if all doesn’t go to plan, I would expect plenty of opposition in 2023.

I’m sure this is far from the end of the argument.

Online Sports Betting

You can check out our guide to finding the best online sportsbook in Illinois if you are looking for more betting details. This page is helpful for online betting in Illinois, and the USA as a whole.

About the Author

Dean Etheridge
Dean Etheridge

Over the last 10 years, Dean has sharpened his expertise in crafting and revising content for his soccer and cricket betting platforms. Driven by his passion for sports betting and writing, he embarked on a journey of writing about sports wagering. Although Dean's preferred areas of focus are the English Premier League and cricket, his extensive sports knowledge enables him to tackle nearly any sport. Gone are the days of traveling the world to witness events like FIFA World Cups and Ashes cricket, as Dean now prefers the comfort of his own home while enjoying sports.

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