Chicago’s Major Pro Teams Call for Sports Betting Regulations

  • Chicago White Sox, Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls proposed ideas for the state's gambling industry
  • Suggestions are laid out in a representative letter addressed to the Illinois Gaming Board 
  • Pro teams want to avoid competition from casinos, off-track betting facilities, and the state lottery
  • They also insist on a five-block radius to protect their sports betting operations
Soldier Field football stadium in Chicago
Chicago’s major pro sports teams have sent a letter to the Illinois Gaming Board which lays out recommendations for sports betting regulations in the sate. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Teams specify protections required

The Chicago Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox have indicated in a letter to the Illinois Gaming Board specific protections they want in place in order for them to offer sports betting services. The aim is to help shape the regulations of sports betting in the state, avoiding issues with competitors.

the aim is to help shape the regulations of sports betting in the state, avoiding issues with competitors

While the teams are ready to be a part of the recently legalized Illinois sports betting industry, their recommendations for regulations will help justify a spend of $10m on licensing and operating at or near their home venues.

Need for controlling competitors

The concerns expressed by Chicago’s professional sports franchises mainly regard competitors. The teams maintain they want to ensure that casinos and off-track betting facilities are prohibited from offering betting services nearby. Examples provided in the letter include restaurants and outlets within a five-block radius of the teams’ home site.

The state law allows licensed sports teams to operate betting services within a five-block radius of their venues, and the teams have expressed their wish to maintain that barrier. Online betting is another concern. The letter also claims that competitors’ advertising and marketing materials should be banned within the stated radius unless permission is provided by the home team.

Lottery concerns raised

Chicago’s pro teams are also concerned about competition from the Illinois Lottery. Within the new gaming expansion law, the pilot program that was created to operate through 2023 will eventually allow up to 5,000 lottery retailers to offer parlay betting on sports.

In their letter, the teams state that lottery operations will eventually expand to entice sports fans to bet at lottery terminals across the state. They add:

Left unchecked, this could include terminals within five blocks of a sports facility(ies) and result in major source of wagering saturation in the state.”

The letter cites the regulations in Washington, D.C. involving protected radius areas as a model that the Illinois Gaming Board should use for sports betting. It also points out that the $10m licensing fee is far more expensive than the $500,000 cost of a license in D.C.

The representative letter

Fox Rothschild, an attorney’s office in Chicago, addressed the letter to the Illinois Gaming Board on behalf of the five professional sports teams.

The letter arrived before the end of a public comment period set by the state concerning the sports portion of a gambling expansion law enacted in June. Up to seven licenses for sports betting are currently available to professional sports betting facilities. Venues must have the capacity to hold a minimum of 17,000 people to be eligible to apply.