A measure that would allow five of Chicago’s professional sports teams to allow fans to place bets while attending home games remained blocked Monday after the apparent leader in the effort to build a casino in Chicago said that ‘it would bring the long-standing thrust to its knees just as it lifts off the ground.
Although Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) was hoping Monday’s hearing could set up a vote for his proposal to allow the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks and Sky to operate sports betting operations on their own turf, the measure remains mired in legislative limbo after a combative hearing.
After the hearing, Burnett said he was “baffled” that anyone who objected to allowing professional Chicago teams to open sports betting parlors, as a law older than 2 years allows, and boosting the economic development in the region around the off-season sports fields.
But other Chicago city council members have warned that green light from sports betting parlors at Wrigley Field, United Center, Wintrust Arena, Solider Field and Guaranteed Rate Field would dampen the growth of a casino complex on which officials of the city have long counted to bring Chicago. a solid financial base – and avoid further increases in property taxes.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office made no immediate comment on the proposal after Monday’s two-hour hearing. Such a substantial bill would be unlikely to gain Chicago City Council approval without the mayor’s backing.
“This is one of the worst bills that has ever been drafted and presented to us when it comes to gaming,” Ald said. Anthony Beale (9th Ward), who blocked a hearing over the measure after it was introduced by Burnett in July.
Beale said the city should focus its efforts on selecting one of five proposals from three companies to build a casino and resort in Chicago, which is expected to generate $ 200 million in revenue per year for the city. These funds are intended for the underfunded Chicago Police and Fire Department pension funds.
“This is the worst time to talk about it,” Beale said.
Allowing sports betting lounges in Chicago’s five pro-sports arenas would have a “significantly negative impact” on a casino complex built on one of the five proposed sites, said Neil Bluhm, Chicago billionaire and Rivers Casino operator Des Plaines, whose Rush Street Gaming has submitted two separate bids to build a casino complex in Chicago.
Chicago would charge the sites an initial license fee of $ 50,000 for a sportsbook, as well as $ 25,000 per year to renew that license. Independent businesses could apply for licenses to operate sports betting on the sites for $ 10,000, renewable with an annual fee of $ 5,000.
However, Chicago would not win a percentage of every bet placed at the sportsbook as it would on bets placed in a casino.
“For almost 20 years the city tried to have a casino,” Bluhm said. “Now, when you can finally have one, why would you create multiple competitors when the city is not making any income from sports betting but will receive hefty taxes from the casino?”
With his close ties to Chicago’s political and economic leaders, Bluhm has long been seen as the leader in the high-stakes craps game that will determine the future of Chicago Casino.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward), chairman of the powerful city council zoning committee, called Bluhm a “pillar” of Chicago’s business community.
Lightfoot attended University of Chicago Law School with Bluhm’s daughter, Leslie Bluhm, and they remain close friends.
A permanent casino could open as early as 2025 in Chicago, although slots could start ringing at O’Hare and Midway airports much earlier – with tentative plans for a temporary casino also in play.
Bluhm proposed to build a casino and complex in what is now the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place – formerly known as the East Convention Center Building – or south of the Loop on vacant land along the river. Chicago which is to be redeveloped by Related Midwest as 78.
Bally plans to build a $ 1.6 billion complex at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center, Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, or the McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard on the south side of the convention center, according to a company statement.
Hard Rock International proposed to build the casino and complex as part of the One Central project, which would build a mixed-use development on the Metra tracks south of Soldier Field.
However, a study by Nevada-based consultant Union Gaming Group LLC found that sports betting parlors in other cities have not hurt casino revenues, as 96% of all sports betting is placed. online, mostly through mobile apps, said company director Grant Govertsen.
Mara Georges, who was the best lawyer in town under former mayor Richard M. Daley, who now represents efforts to open sports betting parlors at Wrigley Field and the United Center, said operations would add 2 million dollars to city coffers – without hurting income flows into the Chicago casino.
The Chicago Cubs have announced plans to partner with online betting company Draft Kings to operate a bookie at Wrigley Field. The Chicago Monuments Commission has approved the team’s plan to build a two-story sports betting parlor at Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue next to the iconic baseball stadium, pending state and state approvals. the city.
Draft Kings is a rival of Bluhm’s Rush Street Interactive.
Georges told city council members that Bluhm’s opposition to the ordinance allowing sports betting lounges in Chicago sports arenas stemmed from his desire to protect the revenue generated by Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, a statement Bluhm said. refuted.
Georges also warned city council members that preventing Chicago sports teams from operating a sports betting parlor could force them to move, a not-so-veiled reference to the Chicago Bears, whose owners are considering moving to Arlington Heights.
Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]