The city of Chicago has finally opened the door to retail sportsbooks in the city’s professional sports venues. While retail books in sports venues were already approved under Illinois state law, a Chicago statue prevented them within city limits.
Chicago is home to the NFL’s Bears, the NBA’s Bulls, the NHL’s Blackhawks and two MLB teams in the Cubs and White Sox. FanDuel is looking to get a piece of that action with the company’s recently announced plans involving the United Center.Jump to
FanDuel’s United Center Sportsbook
Chicago did away with the statute against sportsbooks in sports venues in December of 2021. FanDuel wasted little time in pursing its interest in the United Center as a prime location for a Chicago retail book.
The United Center is the home court of the Chicago Bulls and the home ice of the Chicago Blackhawks. Both of these professional sports franchises hold an iconic role in their respective leagues. FanDuel entered into an agreement with the venue on the last day of January.
The next step in the process requires approval from the Illinois Gaming Board. Given the interest in bringing retail sports betting to Chicago, this should not be an issue. Until formal approval is granted, FanDuel can work with the United Center to create branded space in the arena.
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This space could be used for multiple forms of hospitality and entertainment absent of actual live sports betting. Once the Illinois Gaming Board approves the deal, the legal sports betting component can be added.
Preliminary plans for the FanDuel Sportsbook at United Center have been released. This will be a two-story venue that will be located adjacent to the arena’s atrium. The actual facility will feature the latest innovations in both watching sports and betting on the games.
United Center Joint Venture CEO Howard Pizer noted that the sportsbook will be “designed to give sports fans a brand new, fully immersive sportsbook lounge experience unlike any other.”
Amy Howe is the CEO of FanDuel Group. She envisions the sportsbook lounge at the United Center as the “premier destination for Chicago sports fans.”
Sports Betting in Professional Sports Stadiums and Arenas
One of the latest trends in the legal US retail sports betting industry is the availability of sportsbooks in professional sports venues.
The first such venue was in the District of Columbia with the William Hill retail book at Capital One Arena. As the home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals, that sportsbook opened for business last May.
A key part of the legislation that brought legal sports betting to Arizona was sportsbook licenses for the state’s professional sports franchises. This was expanded to include both golf courses and race tracks running annual events.
DraftKings was first to market in Chicago, well ahead of December’s change in local restrictions. This sportsbook operator signed a partnership with Wrigley Field as the home of the Chicago Cubs last year.
Needless to say, both FanDuel and DraftKings were instrumental in lobbying Chicago’s City Council to approve this change.