In the American sporting world, few cities have more diverse offerings than Chicago. Much like the metropolis delivers on big city life with a Midwestern heart, it also hosts high-profile franchises with passionate fan bases.
In the rankings of best sports cities, the Windy City tends to come in behind Los Angeles, New York, and Pennsylvanian hubs like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Competitive teams aside, Chicago has great sports infrastructure in their stadiums and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Since Illinois betting sites have gone live online, Chicago sports fans have an unprecedented opportunity to back their favorite sports teams. Though most locals rep Chicago no matter the sport, the city will soon be able to see which team, in particular, is backed most by fans willing to wager on futures and moneylines.
Football fans swear the Bears rep Chicago, but MLB fans swear it’s the Cubs. Others will argue in favor of the White Sox, while even more fans will argue if the United Center belongs to the Blackhawks or the Bulls.
The hard data is in—but are teams with the most wagers champions of Chicago’s sporting heart, or are they just the more lucrative underdog bets?
Bears Build on Futures Bets
Of the NFL’s dedicated football fanbase, few groups are as loyal as Bears fans. From the ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketches that immortalized Chris Farley as the face of Bears fans to the slow decline of the team in the NFC North, this fanbase is here to stay.
In August 2019, as sportsbooks, pundits, and fans prepared for NFL Week 1 to kick off, the Bears received a huge influx of futures wagers. Hopeful fans the nation over backed the Bears to take the Super Bowl title.
One senior oddsmaker suspected the outpouring of wagers coincided with the Bears’ 2018 playoff run. At the time, fans doubled down on their hopes that Mitchell Trubisky would lead the team to a Lombardi Trophy.
Somehow, Bears fans managed to swing Trubisky’s MVP odds to 22-1, putting him on the same tier as Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. For football fans in Chicago, the optimism seems to be engrained.
A recent think-piece from the Chicago Tribune cited unyielding faith in the Bears as proof football rules the city. No matter how the Bears’ performance pans out from Week 1, they have a foundation of fans who, no matter where they sit in the NFC North, will hold on for that wild card berth come postseason play.
White Sox for the World Series
The battle between the White Sox and the Cubs is contentious. While the Cubs have one of the most iconic stadiums with Wrigley Field, the White Sox recently moved into the Guaranteed Rate Field.
Although the White Sox are turning heads with their recent hiring of St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, they saw a huge influx of prop and futures bets earlier this year.
The bets were informed by oddsmakers, who predicted the team would improve after a series of free-agent signings. By mid-summer, more bets were taken in favor of the White Sox. While these figures come from Vegas, they’ll likely balloon as more bets are taken by Illinois sportsbooks locally.
But why are bets coming into the South Side team rather than the Cubs—especially given each team’s performance in the past decade? In short, the Cubs may be the popular team, but the White Sox have huge underdog potential.
Given the recent signing of players like Yasmani Grandal, Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzales, and Edwin Encarnacion, the team’s potential to outperform in the central division increases.