Are Da Bears Also Going to be Da Book? It's Possible With Introduction of New Sports Betting Bill in Illinois

HB5847 would allow for professional sports franchises within the state to operate a retail sports betting location and hold a mobile wagering license.

Chas Filardi
Last Updated: Dec 5, 2022 9:12 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Justin Fields Chicago Bears NFL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

If newly-introduced HB5847, the gaming-pro sports team bill, gets passed, every professional team in Illinois would be eligible to apply for their own legal sports betting license — meaning the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, Fire, Sky, and White Sox would be able to pay $5 million for a master license from the Illinois Gaming Board.

The bill was introduced last week by Representative Lamont Robinson Jr. of Illinois’ 5th District, and while SB 690 was passed to legalize sports betting in the state in 2019, HB5847 focuses specifically on professional sports organizations — allowing them to offer retail sports betting within 5,000 feet of their facility, as well as offer wagering via online sports betting sites within the state.

Partnerships in peril?

Bettors in the Land of Lincoln should all be in favor of this proposed law because it really is a "more the merrier" situation if you’re the one doing the betting — when there are more sportsbooks, there’s more competition for your business.

Operators, however, can’t be too excited about this possibility since they are currently the middlemen who stand to be cut out of the picture — an interesting situation considering many of Illinois' professional sports teams are already working with sportsbooks, while others are ramping up relationships to take advantage of the growth in the industry. 

DraftKings, for example, could go from being the official sportsbook of the Chicago Cubs (with plans to build a retail sportsbook on site)... to an app that gets blocked when you’re sitting in Wrigley Field.

FanDuel is the official sportsbook of the Bulls and Blackhawks and is building a state-of-the-art sportsbook lounge in the United Center, while BetRivers — owners of the state’s first sportsbook — has a deal with the Bears.

Money to be made in Illinois

If there is a state worth it for professional teams to get directly involved... it's Illinois.

There are now more than a half-dozen sportsbooks available, and the Prairie State is among the three top states in terms of sports betting handle this year (behind New York and New Jersey) and most recently reporting almost $832 million in wagers for September — with a win rate of 9.4%.

Illinois is also fourth all-time in sports betting action (behind New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania) since PASPA was repealed in 2018.

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