A SPORTS BOOK AT WRIGLEY FIELD?
It wasn’t so long ago that hearing someone talk about a sports book at Wrigley Field would lead one to think that it was part of a joke. That could never be. Could it?
Although nothing like that has happened as yet, the powers that be among major league teams, in most major sports, are now seriously considering installing betting windows, automated wagering machines, known as kiosks, or even setting up a full on sportsbook, right there within the confines of the park.
Why would they do this? We might hear tales about popular demand and making the game more fun for the fans, but the real answer is crude and simple, its money. Lots and lots of money. Potential revenues from legalized wagering are staggering, both for the professional sports organizations involved as well as for the local and state governments wherein they operate.
As per the recent Supreme Court decision leaving the question of sports wagering in the hands of the individual states, several states, led by New Jersey, have already moved to allow betting on sports at certain venues, namely at established Casinos and Horse Racing Tracks.
As for now, Major League Baseball does not allow any form of wagering facilities, of any kind, within a stadium or ball park. Ditto with the NBA. Currently there is a major review underway in the state of Illinois considering changing those established rules, with the backing of both MLB and the NBA!
MLB issued a statement saying “We will work with our clubs to explore the opportunities presented by the rapidly evolving sports betting landscape in a socially responsible manner”.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker, who has already expressed support for the project, is expected to sign a bill, which has already passed the state legislature, that will pave the way for wagering to be legalized via casinos and potentially even allowing sports wagering inside Wrigley Field and similar facilities in the state.
Soldier Field, home of the NFL Chicago Bears, the United Center, where the Bulls and the Blackhawks perform and even Guaranteed Rate Park, the home of the Chicago White Sox would all be included should the bill become law as will any facility accommodating over 17,000 fans for sporting events.
Current plans are for these venues to apply for a license to offer sports betting inside, or within a five block radius, of the facility. That could get complicated, and expensive. Each venue must apply for a ‘Masters Sports Wagering License’ which will cost them a cool ten million bucks each! We are talking about the money to be made here once again.
Similar moves are already underway, with the cooperation of MLB and the NBA, in Washington D.C. and New York. The NFL, as usual, is dragging behind the rest of the world by refusing to comment at all on wagering issues.
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Delaware and even Mississippi now host legal, full on sports books where bettors can place their wagers legally for the first time. The movement is just getting started.
Tom Ricketts, the owner of the Chicago Cubs, who play at Wrigley Field, has recently invested in ‘The Action Network’, which is an established sports betting media outlet, and is even considering starting another radio broadcast featuring sports wagering talk and analysis. The wheels are already in motion.