DraftKings Gets Key Board Approval For Sportsbook Adjacent To Wrigley Field

Commission on Chicago Landmarks approves plans for two-story addition to iconic stadium
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DraftKings and the Chicago Cubs received a key approval Thursday to build a retail sportsbook adjacent to Wrigley Field as the Commission on Chicago Landmarks unanimously approved their plans to build a two-story addition to the iconic baseball stadium.

The Cubs and DraftKings announced plans to build a sportsbook last September, and Alderman Tom Tunney, whose 44th Ward includes Wrigley Field, submitted a letter of support for the building to the commission. In the letter, he said construction would take place on a “new two-story triangular addition with roof deck at the southeast corner of the stadium.” Based on that description, the sportsbook — which will reportedly be more than 22,000 square feet — would be located near the intersection of West Addison Street and North Sheffield Avenue.

Last month, Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett, whose 27th Ward includes the United Center, introduced an ordinance that would lift the “home rule” ban on constructing sportsbooks at the city’s five sporting venues or within a five-block radius of them, but it was re-routed to the Rules Committee by fellow Alderman Anthony Beale. As a result, all 50 aldermen in the city will have to vote on the ordinance, as opposed to it coming out of a select committee.

Sports facilities were granted the ability to obtain sports wagering licenses as part of the gaming expansion bill Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law in June 2019 that also legalized sports betting. According to the Illinois Gaming Board’s official website, no facility has applied for such a license.

The race to create a Chicago city footprint

Being the first sportsbook to have a physical presence in Chicago proper could prove a huge benefit to DraftKings, especially considering Illinois currently requires in-person registration to gain access to mobile sports betting. The Boston-based outfit — whose Illinois retail sports betting tether is DraftKings at Casino Queen downstate in East St. Louis — was able to grow its online market share in the Prairie State largely because Pritzker suspended in-person registration during the COVID-19 pandemic last year via Executive Order 2020-41.

The governor issued multiple renewals of the executive order which carried into April, and DraftKings has generated more than $1.7 billion in mobile handle since taking its first wagers in August 2020. That is the most of the state’s six current online operators, and its nearly $157 million handle for June in the IGB’s revenue report released Wednesday accounted for nearly 35% of all online handle in the state.

DraftKings has generated more than $102 million in sports betting revenue in Illinois since launch, trailing only FanDuel ($129 million) among online operators, and the $13.1 million collected in June was its third-highest monthly total.

The only other operator in Illinois connected to a pro sports team is BetRivers, which became the official sportsbook of the Chicago Bears in June. BetRivers is tethered to Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, located just beyond Chicago’s city limits. It bears the distinction of being the state’s highest revenue-generating casino, and it was the first to market for both retail and mobile sports wagering in 2020.

Photo by Kent Weakley via Shutterstock

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