Lightfoot Reverses Course On Stadium Betting, Now In Favor

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced her support for a bill that would regulate stadium betting.
  • The bill would allow betting at five of Chicago’s sports stadiums.
  • Critics have claimed that this could cannibalize Chicago’s gaming market right as Lightfoot seeks to open a casino in the city.

CHICAGO - The battle over where Chicago’s gaming money will go continued as Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced support for a proposal to allow sports betting in stadiums, even as she courts suitors to build a casino in Chicago.

The move has drawn fire from critics who describe it as fumbling a sure thing - critics whom Lightfoot characterized as worried over something that should not have a material effect.

“As you know, there were some that believed that the betting will be a drain on casino revenues in a disproportional way,” Lightfoot said. “Of course it’s going to have an impact, but I don’t think it’s going to be materially a problem.

The proposal that Lightfoot supports would allow sports betting at the following locations in the Chicago area:

  • Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs
  • The United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks
  • Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox
  • Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears
  • Wintrust Arena, home of the Chicago Sky

The bill is sponsored by Alderman Walter Burnett of Chicago’s 27th ward, which contains the United Center.

Lightfoot Originally Did Not Support Stadium Betting

The intriguing part of this scenario is that stadium betting was originally perceived to be something that could hamper the viability of the Chicago gambling market by none other than Lori Lightfoot herself.

”I strongly support a gaming bill that directs a new casino and dollars to the city of Chicago. However, I oppose the inclusion of a provision that would open up sports wagering in venues like Soldier Field,” Lightfoot said in 2019. “Such a proposal has the potential to undermine the viability of any Chicago-based casino through the diversion of customers and revenue from a casino.”

This seems like a fairly strong statement from someone who has now completely reversed course, although Lightfoot did allow herself maneuvering room at the time by saying the following:

“Because the impact of sports wagering in stadiums has not been fully vetted or analyzed, I cannot support the bill in its current form and urge the deletion of this stadium-betting provision.”

This leaves us only to presume that Lightfoot either saw that the impact of stadium wagering on Chicago’s potential casino was vetted to her satisfaction, or some other event occurred to change her mind on the subject.