Harrah's - New Orleans

  • Chicago has lifted restrictions on stadium-based sportsbooks in the city, opening up professional sports teams to the opportunity of hosting their own sportsbook at their venue.
  • Louisiana’s mobile sports betting industry is on-track to launch prior to this season’s Super Bowl in mid-January, according to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

CHICAGO – Two potentially enormous sports betting markets – Chicago and New Orleans – have taken strides towards launching/expanding their industries this week.

Chicago Lifts Stadium Sportsbook Restrictions

On Wednesday, Chicago’s City Council approved a measure that lifted a city ban on professional sports stadium-based sportsbooks.

The bill that regulated sports betting in Illinois, explicitly legalized stadium-based sportsbooks; however, the city ordinance banning these sportsbooks prevented the city’s professional sports venues from launching sportsbooks of their own.

Chicago will also impose a 2% city tax on sports betting revenues.

Retail sportsbooks will be permitted to open within a five mile radius of Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs), Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago White Sox), Soldier Field (Chicago Bears), United Center (Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks), and Wintrust Arena (Chicago Sky).

Despite months of debate on the topic and powerful opponents such as Rush Street Gaming co-founder Neil Bluhm, the issue was approved with minimal debate. Bluhm has argued that the stadium’s sportsbooks will siphon money from area casinos, including a new casino in the early stages of development that is planned to be located inside of Chicago’s city limits.

That casino currently has five bids, two of which involve Bluhm.

“The city could lose $10 million to $12 million per year and potentially make the new Chicago casino less successful if we are right,” Bluhm said at a City Council meeting Monday.

Despite Bluhm’s claims of potentially huge losses, a study by Union Gaming Analytics says that these claims are massively overblown: they project a loss of no more than $4.3 million for the Chicago casino with the launch of stadium sportsbooks. Moreover, Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, says that Bluhm had previously approached him about potentially placing sportsbooks in the team’s venues, before advocating against it.

“What is perplexing is that Neil Bluhm, who does not want our buildings to have sportsbooks, met with us on several occasions seeking to operate sportsbooks in our buildings. And that was long after the casino was approved for Chicago,” Reinsdorf said at the same City Council meeting Bluhm spoke at.

Despite the controversy, Chicago’s sports teams have wasted no time affiliating themselves with sports betting operators: Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs, said that the club is in agreement with DraftKings to provide sports betting at the stadium as soon as the 2023 MLB season.

With the city’s restrictions out of the way, the remaining professional sports organizations will likely reach similar deals in the coming weeks.

Louisiana Sportsbooks Could Launch By Mid-January

Another potentially huge online sports betting industry could be launched by the middle of January, according to Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Johns. He says the goal remains to have sports betting in place by this season’s Super Bowl, and that he expects multiple sportsbooks to be licensed and ready to launch by then.

Louisiana’s retail sports betting – active since October – has been a success, with 13 operators licensed and operational. Tourism and tax money is sure to be benefitted from New Orleans online sports betting.

Sports Betting Huge Boost To Tourism

Jurisdictions such as Chicago and now have plenty of data to analyze since the repeal of PASPA in 2018. The results of this data are clear – sports betting drives tourism, increases spending, and, as a result, increases tax revenue.

“Sports betting has been nothing short of a dynamic game changer for Atlantic City,” director of the Atlantic City Sports Commission Dan Gallagher said. “It has not only proven to revitalize the Atlantic City market but has also increased Atlantic City’s exposure as a ‘do it all’ destination.”

With more exposure than ever before, sports betting is booming in popularity across the country. As a result, venues have the ability to draw customers in with a Las Vegas-style sportsbook experience; with this draw comes increased revenue for both the venue and the state, a true win-win for all involved.

“Evolving market dynamics and customer appetite have made it clear that casino guests enjoy access to a retail sportsbook,” Adi Dhandhania, Senior Vice President of Strategy for Bally’s Corporation. “Given the rise in sports gambling popularity amid the pandemic, land-based destinations should embrace sports betting as Bally’s has and its ability to drive tourism,” he said.

Micro Bets For Stadium Sports Betting?

With the proliferation of sports betting at professional sports stadiums, operators are looking for a way to integrate the sports betting experience into the sports viewing experience.

According to Bill Miller – President of the American Gaming Association – micro-betting (more commonly called live prop betting), the act of betting on in-game outcomes, may be the answer.

“I think (micro betting) is one of the most exciting elements in the sports betting space. What hasn’t happened yet because we haven’t had fans in stadiums [during the pandemic] is we haven’t seen the development of in-game sports betting.”

Miller is far from the only one to see the revenue-driving potential of in-game betting. Kenny Gersh, Executive Vice President of Business Development for MLB, is also a big believer in the new style of wagering.

“There’s so much untapped potential with in-play betting in baseball that can be realized,” Gersh said at a Sports Business seminar recently. “Now that the products are really starting to improve, it’s how do we get each of the operators to really tap into our data wh ere you can create those micro bets? Baseball is uniquely positioned for that.”

While baseball, with its inherently segmented play, is an obvious home for micro-betting, it is compatible with nearly all major sports. Micro-betting is already rising in popularity with many legal sports betting sites, where users can live-bet on several major sports. Wagers of this type include if a basketball player will make a free throw, if a golfer will make a putt, if a hitter in a baseball game will get on base, and if a football kicker will make a field goal, among nearly endless other possibilities.

Chicago, among other jurisdictions, will have a chance to tap into this potentially huge revenue stream when they launch their newly-approved stadium sportsbooks. Whether this style of betting continues to pick up steam remains to be seen, but industry experts agree that sports betting, especially stadium-based sports betting, is heading in the micro-betting direction.

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