The behind-the-scenes lobbying effort to bring sports betting into Chicago’s professional sports arenas has enlisted a powerful name – Daley.
John R. Daley – the son of Cook County Commissioner John Daley and a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley – works as a lobbyist for the White Sox as a team, acting in concert with the Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls, is pushing Chicago City Council to let them all open sports betting facilities in or near their stadiums.
John R. Daley’s first cousin, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson represents the family’s political base, the 11th Ward of the South Side, which houses the Sox baseball stadium, Guaranteed Rate Field. Sources say another lobbyist, not Daley, has been tasked with lobbying the alderman on behalf of the Sox.
Thompson – a grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two oldest mayors – has backed the proposal to allow sports betting in stadiums and arenas in discussions with other aldermen, lobbyists and others in recent months. , according to sources.
Under a draft ordinance introduced by Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), each sports betting operation would pay City Hall a fee of $ 50,000 plus an annual renewal fee of $ 25,000 to operate inside each stadium or within a five-block radius.
When asked why John R. Daley was hired, a White Sox spokesperson said, âJohn is highly respected in his field, he’s smart and experienced. In this particular case, all the teams, their leaders and their lobbyists worked together towards a common goal of passing this one ordinance. The governor wants it. The legislator supports it, as does the mayor. And we think the majority of city council is doing it too.
âJohn and Lisa Duarte have worked as lobbyists for the United Center for several years at the state level, so it made sense to add them to the lobbyists working on this ordinance at the city of Chicago level as well. We are proud of the relationship we have with John and appreciate what he brings in terms of judgment, trust, care and results.
John R. Daley did not comment, but sent a letter from his attorney saying he was “not precluded from registering or acting as a lobbyist on the affairs of the city of Chicago due to of this family relationship “.
A source describes Thompson as generally supportive of the proposed ordinance – which would allow players to bet on sporting events at or near Sox Park, Wrigley Field, Soldier Field and the United Center even when they’re not hosting games.
But Thompson, whose loved ones have held Sox memberships for generations, is concerned about the impact, including traffic, on residential areas of Bridgeport, according to the source.
Thompson did not respond to interview requests.
He abstained from voting on issues involving his uncle, the former mayor, who is now a lawyer at a law firm, and the cousin of Alderman William Daley, who works for Goldman Sachs. The two companies have been involved in financial deals with the town hall.
Thompson, a lawyer in his second term on the council, is one of three city councilors indicted by the federal government in separate criminal cases.
He and his attorneys are preparing for his trial next month in federal court on charges that accuse him of filing false income tax returns and lying to federal investigators about an estimated $ 219,000 in loans he obtained from a very influential bank in his neighborhood, the Washington Federal Bank. for savings.
Federal regulators shut down the bank almost four years ago after uncovering a massive fraud scheme that embezzled tens of millions of dollars in neighborhood bank deposits. The bankruptcy of the bank cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. about $ 90 million.
According to the federal indictment he faces, Thompson had not made any payments on his loans, but had listed the interest on the payments nonetheless. Investigators said he never paid the bank as a deduction from his federal income tax returns.
In addition to the White Sox, John R. Daley also lobbies city officials on behalf of the United Center, jointly owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, president of the Bulls and the Sox, and Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz. Wirtz is an investor in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Also among the power brokers involved in the effort: the longtime Daley family law firm, Daley & Georges, which was recently renamed Georges & Synowiecki. The managing partner of the firm is Mara Georges, who was town hall’s top lawyer for much of Second Mayor Daley’s tenure and then joined the law firm then headed by former Mayor Michael Daley’s brother. .
Georges’ legal partner is Michael Synowiecki, a former member of Ald’s staff. Edward M. Burke (14th). The alderman is awaiting trial on federal charges that accuse him of trying to convince a Burger King franchisee to hire his law firm to handle property tax appeals. Synowiecki’s wife is a niece of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, the Alderman’s wife.
Amy Degnan, whose family has been close to the Daleys, is another partner in Georges’ cabinet who works as a sports betting lobbyist.
Kenneth Sawyer, a cousin of Ald, is also on the United Center lobbying team. Roderick Sawyer (6th).
United Center lobbyists have filed disclosure reports with city hall showing they were paid $ 25,500 this year, including $ 15,000 to John R. Daley. Lobbyists for Wirtz Corp. reported payments totaling $ 16,500, including $ 15,000 to Daley. White Sox lobbyists have been paid $ 10,500 this year, but Daley has not said he has received any payment for the Sox’s work since he was hired on April 1.
The Cubs have nine lobbyists, mostly team employees, including Tom Ricketts, the team president. The Bears’ only lobbyist, attorney Roger Bickel, did not report any payments.
The sports betting ordinance is expected to go to Chicago city council for a vote within a month or two.
Team owners see betting facilities as a way to generate more income.
They would also allow betting on other sports and would work year round.
The Cubs have said they want to place a sports betting operation next to Wrigley on Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue. United Center has space in the stadium that would be renovated to house a paris center, according to Georges.
The Illinois legislature passed a law in 2019 allowing professional sports stadiums to host sports books, which would require city council approval to operate in Chicago and also a state license from the Illinois Gaming Board. . The state license would cost $ 10 million, with an annual renewal fee of $ 5 million.
There has also been talk for years of bringing a casino to Chicago. Some in the casino industry fear that sports betting will attract potential customers.