It’s the latest team partnership for DraftKings, one aimed at helping it gain market share in one of the country’s newest and most important sports betting markets. The company will become the team’s exclusive sports betting partner, including in-venue signs and some digital advertising.
The physical location will be located somewhere in Wrigleyville, the area immediately outside the stadium that carries a tailgate-like atmosphere on game days. It will serve food and drink, and cater to a subset of bettors that prefer to wager in person, as opposed to on their phones.
“The retail customer is looking for more of an experience,” DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish said. “A lot of the time it’s people that prefer to bet with cash as opposed to creating an account. Some people also just like holding the physical ticket in their hands while they sweat it out in the stands.”
Kalish declined to comment on the terms of the deal. It’s unclear if the deal is all cash, or if the Cubs are taking an equity stake or affiliate fees based on the number of customers referred to the company through their partnership.
The nascent U.S. sports betting industry is currently laser-focused on customer acquisition, a race to sign up as many new customers as possible as states open for legal operation. Sports books are reaching bettors with traditional TV ads, free-bet promotions and through deeper partnerships with media networks or sports teams.
The Illinois sports betting law allows for physical sports books within a certain vicinity of stadiums and arenas. DraftKings will now source a location within five blocks of the stadium and draw up a plan, which is subject to the approval of the city.
One other critical aspect of this Wrigley location: It will be a place where new customers can sign up for the DraftKings app. Illinois law says that gamblers need to first sign up at an operator’s physical location before they can wager online. While that’s been temporarily waived by the governor through a COVID-19 disaster proclamation, if it’s reinstated the Wrigleyville locations could give DraftKings a convenient place for Chicagoans to register.
Without it, city residents would need to travel 300 miles southwest to East St. Louis, Ill., to sign up for the DraftKings app.
DraftKings, which went public earlier this year through acquisition, announced Wednesday that NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan was joining the company as an advisor to the board. DraftKings finished its most recent quarter with more than $1.2 billion in cash and no debt, fueling speculation about where it might spend that money.
Illinois is a logical place. It’s one of the most populous states in the country, and Chicago is home to teams in every major U.S. league. It’s one of 10 states where DraftKings takes bets.
The Cubs, who won the World Series in 2016, are among baseball’s most storied and most valuable franchises. Owned by the Ricketts family, the team is currently in first place in the NL Central.