Wrigley Field is Major League Baseball’s second-oldest ballpark, but it could be getting a very modern upgrade or two in the future.
According to ESPN, the Chicago Cubs are considering outfitting Wrigley with betting-related services. That could mean an entire sportsbook venue inside the park, or just a kiosk or betting windows.
This could be a big deal, and not just because there could be new-fangled betting machines in a park that many see as a tribute to baseball’s history. Currently, MLB prohibits in-person betting at ballparks. But in early June, the Illinois legislature passed a bill authorizing regulated sports betting, and that bill was supported by MLB as well as the NBA.
Under this new legislation, which is awaiting the signature of Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker, sports venues that hold 17,000 or more can apply for a license to offer betting both inside their stadium and within a five-block radius. A license will cost $10 million.
MLB’s support of this bill could mean that commissioner Rob Manfred could be changing his tune on sports betting inside stadiums. But for now, an MLB spokesperson told ESPN, “We will work with our clubs to explore the opportunities presented by the rapidly evolving sports betting landscape in a socially responsible manner.”
At this stage, things are very preliminary. A Cubs source told ESPN that “pen hasn’t hit paper yet,” and it’s not known who would run the sportsbook or which parties would get a cut of the profits. But the Cubs have already made some betting-friendly moves. According to ESPN, team owner Tom Ricketts invested in The Action Network, a sports betting media outlet, back in February, and the team is considering offering an alternate broadcast with a focus on sports betting.
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