CHICAGO — Chicago aldermen said Tuesday that they aren’t willing to place their bets on a city sportsbook, despite the backing of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
On Tuesday, key stakeholders put their cards on the table during a committee hearing that ended abruptly without a final vote. As a wall of opposition builds, city council members weighed in on the pros and cons of the measure.
“What is in it for the Black people?” asked Ald. David Moore (17TH Ward).
“Five folk,s which are very wealthy, are going to get even more wealthy without having a direct impact on minorities,” said Ald. George Cardenas (12th Ward).
The measure would allow Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, Soldier Field, United Center and Wintrust Arena to run sportsbooks. Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) introduced the measure so that Chicago could get in on the emerging market.
“We would start getting money immediately with the sports facilities rather than waiting for a casino to be built,” Burnett said.
The taxes are a contentious subject. Revenues are taxes at 15% for the state and 2% for Cook County. Under the proposed ordinance, Chicago would impose its own 2% on gross revenues.
Mayor Lightfoot backs the tax.
“Any infrastructure work that’s required, any regulatory oversight, we need to make sure that there are sufficient resources for us to be able to do it,” Lightfoot said.
Chicago’s future casino is complicating sports betting, however.
“We should hold off on this until we get the casino up and going,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9TH Ward).
Gaming companies have raised concern that sportsbooks at the five stadiums would cut into revenue from the casino.
Last month, Casino magnate Neil Bluhm of Rush Street Gaming warned City Council.
“Less people will come to the Chicago casino when they can bet on sports at the stadium,” Bluhm said.
The Council will need to keep negotiating sports betting, and as they argue, the city will continue to wait for revenue from the new sports betting industry.