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Chicago Joins the Rest of Illinois in Allowing Sports Betting

Illinois Chicago Joins the Rest of Illinois in Allowing Sports Betting
Dec 15, 2021 15:12Tim Ronaldson

Nearly two years after the first legal sports bet was placed in Illinois, the city of Chicago has joined the fray, officially lifting its ban on legal sports betting.

In a divided vote on Wednesday, Chicago’s City Council decided to lift the city’s ban that had been in place since the state of Illinois first passed legislation regulating the practice on June 3, 2019. The first legal wager in Illinois was placed at Rivers Casino on March 9, 2020.

There was much controversy and discussion leading up to the vote — including on the amount of money that the city will take in from taxes and how it could hurt a future planned casino.

But, with the approval, it’s possible that by 2023, people attending a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field could also place a legal sports bet at a sportsbook there.

The Tax Issue

One of the biggest points of contention in the argument was how much money the city of Chicago would be bringing in from lifting the ban on sports gambling. Ultimately, the city agreed to apply a 2% tax on all gross revenues realized from sports betting.

Pundits have estimated that it could generate roughly $400,000 to $500,000 each year from that tax, since sports betting in the city is expected to generate roughly $25 million per year in revenue.

Those in favor of lifting the ban said that would be a significant amount of money that could help the city, as well as people who live there and groups that operate there.

On the other side was a large list of people and organizations who said that the risks the city was taking by lifting the ban were simply not worth the low 2% tax.

The Casino Issue

Another major point of contention was an argument over how approved sports gambling could affect a planned casino being built in Chicago.

Interestingly, one of the biggest opponents of approving sports gambling now was the owner of Rush Street Gaming. That company is a major player in sports gambling, with a sportsbook set up at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.

However, the company is also behind the effort to build a new casino in Chicago that won’t be ready for quite a few years yet. And their argument was that legal sports betting in Chicago now would condition people to gamble at “mini casinos,” reducing the likelihood that they’d be interested in going to Rush Street’s new casino when it opens.

The major professional sports franchises in Chicago — the Blackhawks, Bulls, White Sox, Cubs, Sky and Bears — were all in favor of lifting the city’s ban on sports betting. Many of those franchises are working on partnerships with sportsbook operators that could result in sports betting being accepted at locations in and around the professional sports stadiums.

Limits on the Plan

With the ban now lifted, sports wagering is now authorized to take place at a professional sports stadium in the city or in a permanent structure or building within a five-block radius of one of the stadiums. It can also take place at inter-track wagering facilities and inside of the casino that is planned.

Each location can only have 15 wagering windows or kiosks, unless people would be able to purchase drinks and food at the location. Sports betting would be limited to people who are at least 21 years old.

Sports betting would also be banned between the hours of midnight and 10 a.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, midnight through 9 a.m. on Fridays into Saturdays, and from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Tim Ronaldson
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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