Could New FanDuel HQ Entice Illinois To Pass Sports Betting Bill?

  • The most recent amendments to IL HB 1260 include stakeholders from every aspect of the sports betting industry.
  • If passed, Illinois would have the highest associated fees of any state in the country.
  • FanDuel projects as many as 300 jobs to come to a new Chicago-based office.

CHICAGO – With a little more than three weeks left in this year’s legislative session, FanDuel is hoping to use the prospect of new jobs in Chicago to entice lawmakers to pass a sports betting bill in Illinois.

FanDuel CEO Matt King, who lives in Chicago, estimates that a new office could bring as many as 300 jobs to the city.

“So as we thought about where we could scale, Chicago made a ton of sense. It gives us a Midwest headquarters to service surrounding states,” said King.

Neighboring states Iowa and Indiana recently passed bills which legalized sports betting through both retail sportsbooks and online sports wagering platforms.

IL H 1260, the primary bill that Illinois lawmakers are discussing, would allow for both of those avenues to sports betting.

Under the current amendments to IL HB 1260, FanDuel could partner with an approved gaming facility to offer a retail or mobile sportsbook. They could also apply for an online license outright if they are willing to pay a higher fee.

While the measure calls for statewide sports betting in Illinois, the new office would be located either in the West Loop or near it. Jobs would include risk and trading, product technology, customer service, and retail sportsbook employees.

The company currently has about 800 employees across its global offices.

“We see a huge market opportunity ahead of us,” said King. “We can help establish Chicago as one of the leading markets from a sports betting tech perspective.”

Can New Jobs Help The Illinois Sports Betting Bill Pass?

Lawmakers may need more than the promise of new FanDuel headquarters to pass an Illinois sports gambling bill.

IL H 126 allows for everyone in the gaming industry to get a piece of the state’s sports betting market. But, the proposal also comes with some of the highest fees of any state that has legalized the practice.

Master license fees are $10 million or 5% of the total handle, net terminal income, or adjusted gross receipts – whichever is the greatest amount. The tax rate set for adjusted sports wagering receipts is 25%.

To compare, Indiana has a tax rate of 9.5% and Iowa has a tax rate of 7.5%.

“I’m not saying we need to be as low as Iowa or Indiana necessarily, but when you’re talking three-to-four times more, it just seems outrages,” said Tom Swoik, representative of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association.

Pennsylvania still has the highest tax rate set at 36%.

Given the size of the Illinois market, some believe that it is only appropriate to have the operators pay these prices.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is counting on legal sports betting to generate up to $200 million in license fees alone to help balance the state’s 2020 fiscal budget.

FanDuel’s pledge to give more jobs to Chicago is more or less just the cherry on top of the current proposal for sports betting in Illinois sitting in the state legislature.

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