Chicago Cubs First in MLB to Announce Sportsbook Plans, Inks Deal with DraftKings

Posted on: September 3, 2020, 06:56h. 

Last updated on: September 3, 2020, 12:04h.

The Friendly Confines may get a little friendlier for sports bettors when DraftKings and the Chicago Cubs announced a deal Thursday morning that makes the Boston-based sports gaming and technology company the baseball club’s exclusive sports betting and daily fantasy partner.

Cubs DraftKings
The Chicago Cubs and DraftKings announced a deal Thursday that would allow the sports technology company to operate a sportsbook at the historic baseball park. The deal still needs city, state, and MLB approval. (Image: ABC7)

As part of the multi-year initiative, the two seek a sportsbook at Wrigley Field, the Cubs’ historic ballpark.

When Illinois legalized sports betting last year, it allowed major stadiums and arenas to pursue a sports betting license for a $10 million fee. The Cubs would be the first baseball team to pursue such an opportunity.

Chicago leaders would need to sign off on the sportsbook plan, and MLB officials would need to as well. The Cubs also must apply for a license with the Illinois Gaming Board.

Besides a sportsbook at Wrigley, the announcement also indicates sports betting would be available online in a five-block radius, or 3,300 feet, according to the IGB’s permanent rules, surrounding Wrigleyville area.

DraftKings Co-Founder and President Matt Kalish called the agreement a historic moment.

“As two organizations that share a mutual passion for innovation and a commitment to excellence, we look forward to working in collaboration with the Cubs, an organization steeped in tradition, and making our presence felt in and around Wrigleyville,” Kalish said.

DraftKings’ Illinois Homes

DraftKings already has an established presence in Illinois, thanks to the sportsbook at the DraftKings at Casino Queen that opened last month in East St. Louis. That coincided with the launch of DraftKings’ mobile app as well.

For the time being, mobile registration is available for online sports wagering accounts, thanks to an order re-enacted by Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D)on Aug. 21 because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. That order is good through at least Sept. 19. But it could receive an extension, similar to when the governor issued the order the first time in June.

A spokesperson for DraftKings told Thursday morning that the sportsbook at Wrigley would be different. But it would not change anything in relation to the company’s agreement with the Casino Queen. The logistics are still being worked out regarding the app’s availability, they added.

Besides DraftKings, other sports betting licensees currently operating in Illinois are, FanDuel, Penn Gaming, and William Hill. PointsBet is expected to launch in the very near future.

More Stadium Licenses Available

According to state law, professional sports teams are eligible to apply for a license if they play at a stadium or arena that seats more than 17,000 people. Wrigley’s capacity is 41,649.

Other venues that would also qualify for a sportsbook include the United Center, a 23,500-seat arena that’s home to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and NBA’s Chicago Bulls, Soldier Field, the 61,500-seat stadium where the NFL’s Chicago Bears play, and Guaranteed Rate Field, the 40,615-seat ballpark for the Chicago White Sox. None of those venues, though, may have the same type of pull as Wrigley Field.

The Cubs averaged more than 38,000 fans per game in the 2019 season. According to, the season attendance figure of 3.1 million fans ranked fourth-highest in MLB. In addition, Wrigleyville is a popular attraction on its own, thanks to the sports bars and other amenities in the area.

Similar legislation exists in the District of Columbia, where a William Hill sportsbook opened at Capital One Arena in late July. In addition, Audi Field has been reportedly connected to Caesars Entertainment.