The sports betting landscape suddenly changed on September 3, 2020, for Chicago Cubs fans. That was when the team jointed announced with DraftKings that a partnership had been forged with the American top-rated mobile sportsbook app. The Chicago Cubs set a precedent naming DraftKings as their first official and exclusive sports betting and daily fantasy partner. Based in Boston, the sports betting company intends to establish the first of its kind retail sportsbook at the home of the Cubs – Wrigley Field.
A Little Background
Before we get into the details of the deal, we have to take a step back and look at what has happened in recent years to bring about this change. Online sports betting in Illinois is still fairly new. The legalization of sports betting in the Land of Lincoln only dates back to June 28, 2019. That was when lawmakers in the state made it legal to wager money on sporting events in the state. The first legal brick-and-mortar sportsbook opened in March 2020 with the first legal mobile sportsbook launched in June 2020. To date, according to the regulatory body known as the Illinois Gaming Board, there are a total of 7 brick-and-mortar and 5 online sportsbooks operating legally in the state. The largest monthly handle so far is $52,524,612 which was recorded in July 2020. These stats reveal that there is a very strong interest in Illinois for sports betting and that is what attracted DraftKings to expand into the region. Striking up a partnership with the Chicago Cubs gives DraftKings the footing they need to get established in one of the most historic professional sporting venues in North America.
A Legal Hurdle Still Exists
Although sports betting has been legalized in Illinois, the City of Chicago presents a small obstacle that must be cleared before ground can be broken for the construction of the DraftKings retail sportsbook at Wrigley Field. The City has to first approve the development of the legal sportsbook by signing off on the project. An ordinance currently sits on the books that prevent activities related to gambling within the city. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks would also have to provide their approval before DraftKings can start building at the historic venue. Oh, and there’s also the matter of a $10-million fee for a license to operate issued by the IGB. Once these issues are settled, the building can begin.
What The DraftKings Retail Sportsbook Will Look Like
That’s a good question. Several variables come into play that will determine whether the DraftKings retail sportsbook is an entirely new building that gets constructed on-site or ends up being a renovation of the existing facilities. Either way, the proposal will open a door for the Cubs to renovate Wrigley Field and start a development plan to address the land that surrounds the famed baseball field. It also appears that DraftKings does not take it lightly that they will be opening the first retail sportsbook of its kind at this iconic venue. The company’s President and co-founder, Matt Kalish called it “a historic moment” and stated that DraftKings is thrilled to align with the renowned Chicago Cubs major league baseball franchise to “provide sports bettors in Chicago with a revolutionary sports betting experience.”
What The Cubs Have To Say
Cubs president of business operations, Crane Kenney, claims that the deal came from the trend where “an increasing number of sports fans want to integrate sports betting into their game experience.” He added that the Chicago Cubs organization is excited to be “one of the first to engage in developing a retail sportsbook at a professional sports venue.” What remains a mystery at this point is the actual physical location of the sportsbook. It could be at the stadium or nearby Wrigley Field but close enough to attract bettors who are at the venue watching live baseball action.
What Makes This Deal So Different
Yes, other sporting teams (and leagues) have branded lounges with sports betting companies. There are also more and more partnerships being formed between sportsbooks and professional sports players and teams. But what makes this particular agreement stand out is that instead of setting up a retail sportsbook location somewhere to attract people to it, this deal sees DraftKings setting up shop where the bettors are already located – at Wrigley Field a neighborhood-based sports facility. It also means that live wagering has been introduced to a large metropolitan center like Chicago. It could start a trend where other sportsbooks get established in other major cities in locations where the target audience lives and plays.
Don’t expect to be placing your bets in person anytime soon at the proposed DraftKings retail sportsbook at Wrigley Field. That project is not expected to get off the ground until 2021 with an opening date of sometime in 2022. However, since sports betting is legal in Illinois, you can still participate as an online bettor through the DraftKings mobile app. The company has also formed a partnership with another Chicago sports icon – Chicago Bulls basketball hero Michael Jordan. Jordan has recently joined the DraftKings board of directors as a “special advisor” and the moment the announcement was made, the DraftKings stock took a jump on the NASDAQ exchange to $41 per share – an increase of 12%.
DraftKings is moving swiftly into new territory. They plan to establish the first-ever retail sportsbook at a professional sports stadium. In this case, Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs MLB team. Although a few hurdles still exist – most notably related to a city ordinance banning sports betting in specific areas of Chicago, the company is confident that bettors will be able to visit their brick-and-mortar site within the next two years. All of this has been made possible by the legalization of sports betting in the state of Illinois. Expect the DraftKings retail sportsbook to start a trend where other major sporting venues begin to include such facilities within their buildings or surrounding areas.