22,000-square-foot venue

DraftKings launches retail betting operations at Chicago's Wrigley Field ballpark

Reading time 1:34 min

DraftKings commenced retail wagering operations adjacent to the historic Wrigley Field ballpark, in Chicago on Friday morning. The announcement, made via DraftKings' Wrigley Field-specific Instagram account, marked the initiation of retail betting services at DraftKings' 22,000-square-foot venue on Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue.

The launch, however, came at a considerable cost, with DraftKings paying the Illinois Gaming Board the full $10 million license fee for the privilege. Confirming this transaction, the Illinois Gaming Board stated via email to Sports Handle that the funds received would be channeled into the Rebuild Illinois Fund, dedicated to financing infrastructure projects across the state.

This development marks the first issuance of such a license by the Illinois Gaming Board. While FanDuel had applied for a similar license at the United Center, the lounge area had been operational for over a year without offering betting services.

DraftKings unveiled the two-story venue last summer, initially focusing on providing food and beverage services. However, before DraftKings could proceed with its application for the sports facility sports betting license, the Chicago City Council had to pass an ordinance overturning the "home rule" ban on sports betting in the city, which it accomplished in December 2021.

The lifting of this ban was not without controversy. Prominent sports team owners in the city, including Tom Ricketts of the Cubs, Rocky Wirtz of the Blackhawks, and Jerry Reinsdorf of the Bulls and White Sox, voiced their support for the ordinance.

Conversely, Rush Street co-founder Neil Bluhm opposed it, expressing concerns about potential negative impacts on downtown casino revenue. Bluhm, a finalist for the downtown casino license, eventually lost out to Bally's.

Wrigley Field Stadium

The approved ordinance also introduced a 2% city tax on revenue generated from wagers at licensee locations, extending to a five-block radius where sports betting is permitted. Consequently, the total tax on adjusted gross sports betting revenue for DraftKings at the Wrigley Field location stands at 19% — with 15% allocated to the state, 2% to Cook County, and 2% to the City of Chicago.

Tom Ricketts, who had long championed the establishment of such a venue, had initially aimed to open it around Opening Day last season. Ricketts had forged an agreement with DraftKings in September 2020 to serve as the team's "first official and exclusive sports betting and daily fantasy partner."

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