Casino Owners Oppose Allowing Sportsbooks In Chicago Stadiums

  • Rivers Casino owner Neil Bluhm has publicly opposed the idea of allowing sportsbooks to launch at Chicago sports stadiums.
  • Bluhm argues that this would hurt the potential revenue from the Chicago casino that will be built.
  • Bluhm is one of the bidders aiming to get the sole Chicago casino.

CHICAGO – While Chicago residents await the ability to place wagers at sportsbooks at the Wrigley Field and United Center stadiums, a local casino owner show concern of potential revenue hit.

Neil Bluhm, the owner of Rivers Casino and applicant aiming to own the sole Chicago casino, has publicly opposed sportsbooks at sports stadiums.

Bluhm argues that these stadiums would take all the potential sports bettors in the Chicago area and cause the yet-to-be-built casino to suffer in the Chicago gambling market.

Chicago Casinos Vs. Stadiums

While the casino would still see a lot of revenue from those entering to play slots and card games, Bluhm believes this won’t offset the loss of potential sports bettors who would otherwise enter the casinos to wager on local games.

“Common sense and your knowledge of Chicago tells you that the great locations of Wrigley Field and United Center, where the stadiums are, will attract lots of sports betting customers, and this will simply take away customers that would otherwise be at the casino placing bets,” said  Bluhm. “To make matters worse, the stadiums will have somewhere near a two-year head start over the casinos, because they could be built quickly at the stadiums. And we’ve got to build … a billion-dollar-plus facility at the new casino.”

Another part of Bluhm’s argument is that these stadium sportsbooks will have at least a two-year head start, as they can be built quickly while the casino will take years to complete.

Many disagree with Bluhm, however, as Alderman Walter Burnett of the City Council has stated that sports stadiums deserve the advantage as they have the built-in audience.

“Not only do they build baseball fields, soccer fields, they do a myriad of things that benefit the community,” said Burnett. “Why can’t they get a small piece of this change that these billionaires are getting already in order to continue to help the people in the community?”

Despite Bluhm’s protest, there seems to be more support for the stadium sportsbooks going forward.

Illinois Sports Betting Plans

In addition to the stadium sportsbooks, Illinois will be issuing out online gambling licenses for mobile-only sportsbooks.

These operators will offer their betting apps without needing to be attached to a land-based casino.

With statewide sports betting in full effect, and the remote registration requirement coming to an end in 2022, the Chicago casino will have more than just stadium sportsbooks to compete against.