The cost for sportsbooks to do business in Chicago could get even steeper. The day before a city council committee is scheduled to vote on a retail sportsbook ordinance, a new clause increasing taxes on wagers placed in the city has been added to the language.
An additional 2% tax on gross gaming revenue would be added to any sports bet placed within the city of Chicago, bringing the total tax for sportsbooks to 19%, as compared to 17% elsewhere in Cook County and 15% in the rest of the state.
When Illinois lawmakers approved legal wagering in 2019, the new law allowed for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at Chicago sports venues, meaning that Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, and the United Center are all eligible to apply for wagering licenses. It’s also likely that Wintrust Arena, home to the Chicago Sky WNBA team, will be eligible once Gov. JB Pritzker signs HB 3136.
The council’s Joint Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards is set to discuss the new sportsbook ordinance at 1 p.m. local time Tuesday.
Illinois is one of three U.S. jurisdictions so far to make it legal to offer sports betting at professional sports stadiums. William Hill — now Caesars Sportsbook — opened the first retail book at a sports venue in 2020 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Since then, sportsbooks have opened at Nationals Field (BetMGM) and at two Arizona locations, Footprint Center (FanDuel) and Chase Field (Caesars).
DraftKings already has a deal
In Chicago, DraftKings already has a deal to open a book at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have approval from the Chicago Commission on Landmarks to build a 22,000-square-foot betting venue. As per the legislation, there will be a five-block exclusion zone around each venue in which operators will have a monopoly.
Interesting. Also, not surprising. https://t.co/WVn9iNUKC2
— Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73) December 6, 2021
There’s been plenty of pushback about the stadium sportsbooks, most notably from Rush Street Gaming co-founder Neil Bluhm, who said last month that allowing wagering at sports facilities would have “a negative impact” on a proposed downtown casino. Rush Street Gaming, which operates its BetRivers mobile platform in Illinois and other states, currently has two bids in for downtown Chicago casino locations. Bluhm also has an ownership interest in both the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox, which could mean that he’d benefit ultimately from both a new casino and sports wagering at Chicago sports venues.
The language in the ordinance covering the new proposed tax, Section 4-156-972 — which would put Chicago on the high end of tax rates across the U.S. — reads:
There is hereby imposed a tax on each master sports wagering licensee operating in the City. The rate of the tax shall be 2% of the adjusted sports wagering gross receipts from sports wagers that are placed within the City.
A second addition to the proposed ordinance would require that the tax be paid on the “15th day of the month following the calendar month in which the adjusted gross sports wagering receipts were received and tax obligation was accrued.” The timing doesn’t jibe with when the Illinois Gaming Board requires operators to submit receipts, so that section may need some massaging.
— Chris Altruda contributed to this report