Illinois online gambling is moving forward with a variety of measures that allow residents and visitors of the Prairie State to enjoy gambling and sports betting online.
Home to a number of casinos and a growing demand for gambling among residents, Illinois is quickly becoming a Midwestern gaming hub. Players in the state can already enjoy a lottery and land-based casinos.
Recently, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law that legalized sports betting in Illinois. The bill also allowed for new casinos and expanded the number of gaming terminals in the state.
Licensing for sportsbooks began in December 2019 for Illinois operators. BetRivers sportsbook took its first legal bets on March 9, 2020.
Online sports betting is legal in Illinois, though no online sportsbooks have launched yet. Illinois law includes a clause requiring in-person registration at a casino. Due to 2020’s Covid-19 outbreak, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order suspending that requirement. Once online sportsbooks debut, Illinois players will be able to sign up and start betting all from a mobile device or desktop.
Illinois Online Gambling
|Online Gambling Type||Status In Illinois|
|Online Sports Betting||Legal, only BetRivers has launched|
|Sweepstakes Poker Sites||Available to Illinois players|
|Sweepstakes Casinos||Available to Illinois players|
|Online Horse Race Betting||Legal in Illinois|
|Online Lottery||Legal in Illinois|
|Daily Fantasy Sports||Offered to players in Illinois|
|Online Casino||Illegal in Illinois|
Illinois Online Sportsbooks
Though Illinois law allows for regulated online sportsbooks, they have yet to launch in the state. A number of factors have thrown a wrench in the state’s plans to kickstart sports betting.
First, the Coronavirus pandemic led to the shutdown of all land-based casinos in the state on the heels of Pritzker’s shelter in place orders. State law included provisions that required sports bettors to register in-person at a licensed casino or racetrack before participating in online sports betting. With those properties closed, the option becomes unavailable to potential patrons.
In response, Pritzker signed an executive order suspending the need for in-person registration. This allowed bettors to play online without visiting a brick-and-mortar location to register.
The problem? No online sportsbooks have launched yet. But once they do, Illinois bettors won’t have to worry about getting to a land-based property first.
Available Sports And Bets
Illinois welcomed sports betting with open arms, and that’s reflected in the number of sports and bets on offer.
Bettors will be able to enjoy the standard single bets and parlays in addition to live and in-play betting.
The only major restriction in Illinois’ sports betting law relates to college sports. Players can bet on college sports, but only if the match takes between non-Illinois schools. Any event in which an Illinois college competes is not allowed.
Esports is the one notable omission from Illinois’ sports betting bill. The law does not explicitly prohibit or allow betting on esports. This generally bodes well for esports enthusiasts, as it’s likely the budding industry will come into the Illinois sports betting fold eventually even if it’s not included right now.
Major Players In Illinois
It’s safe to assume that operators with strong interstate presences will be equally influential in Illinois’ online sports betting market.
BetRivers stands out as a likely contender, especially considering Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is a popular Illinois gambling destination.
Others such as BetMGM and FOX Bet will join the fray, too.
Illinois’ sports betting law allows for three online-only licenses. Other than the three operators who receive those licenses, each online sportsbook company will need to partner with a land-based casino to launch their product in the state.
Illinois Online Gambling Roster
Illinois has made significant progress on the online gambling front. Players in the state have plenty of options, though a few popular formats remain out of reach.
Online Horse Racing
Online horse race betting is legal and available to anyone 21 years old within state lines.
The state has three racetracks and various off-track betting facilities as well.
Racing enthusiasts should have no trouble finding a site that powers horse race betting in Illinois. TVG, BetAmerica, and TwinSpires are all live in the state.
The best part? These sites don’t limit you to races held in-state. They offer races from around the globe. This includes high-profile derbies and festivals. BetAmerica, for example, features wagering options for all three Triple Crown races.
Choosing a horse race betting site in Illinois is simply a matter of preference. They all offer live streams and a plethora of betting options.
Online lottery is still somewhat rare in the states, with a few regions offering limited options. Illinois is one of the exceptions to that trend. Players 18 or older in Illinois can purchase lottery tickets online.
Whether it’s through the Illinois Lottery app or website, purchasing tickets is easy. Players need to register first, a process outlined on the Lottery’s webpage.
Players can purchase single drawings or subscriptions to Powerball, Mega Millions, and lotto games online in Illinois. Subscriptions to Lucky Day Lotto, Pick 3, and Pick 4 are also available online.
Once you’ve created an account, you can also:
- View previous wins/check your numbers
- Receive deposits immediately for any win up to $600
- Set notification reminders for draw times and any wins
In the absence of regulated online casinos, Illinois players will likely encounter sweepstakes casino sites.
These sites, such as Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Casino, use a sweepstakes model to legally offer their product in states where online casinos are prohibited.
Players purchase in-game currency, which can be used to play casino games. While the currency (usually called “coins”) costs money to buy, they have no monetary value and cannot be redeemed for cash. However, with each purchase, players also receive a small amount of “Sweeps Coins,” a second type of currency that can be redeemed for cash prizes.
Anyone using a sweepstakes casino can also mail in a request for a small number of Sweeps Coins for free. This is what allows these operators to provide their site to Illinois players. They use a sweepstakes model to grant prizes, and because it’s possible to get Sweeps Coins for free, they’re allowed to operate their sites.
Sweepstakes poker sites use the same model as sweepstakes casinos. Players purchase coins to use in online poker rooms and receive a small allotment of Sweeps Cash with each transaction.
Chumba Casino parent company VGW Malta Ltd. also operates Global Poker, the largest sweepstakes poker site.
Sweepstakes poker players have the mail-in option as well. This allows these sites to continue running in states like Illinois where online poker is barred.
Daily Fantasy Sports
In recent years, Illinois has tried and failed to formally legalize Daily Fantasy Sports. There’s no law that expressly prohibits DFS operators from providing their services in Illinois. However, the Attorney General issued an opinion that DFS was illegal in 2015. More recently, the Illinois Supreme Court declared that some DFS contests require skill, thus making them legal in Illinois.
The state legislature’s move to legalize sports betting added more complexity to the DFS issue. The Illinois sports betting bill originally included a suggested 18-month penalty for illegal DFS operators wishing to launch online sportsbooks in the state. This would force companies like FanDuel and DraftKings to wait more than a year to launch an offering. This would give key competitors a crucial head start in the Illinois online sports betting arena.
That legal battle rages on, however, and there’s no clear indication of how it will turn out. For now, FanDuel, DraftKings, and other operators offer DFS to Illinois unhindered.
In the online gambling space, digital casinos remain Illinois’ primary holdout. The state still outlaws online casinos, and there are no proposed bills that would regulate it.
For the moment, Illinois seems laser-focused on bringing more land-based gambling options to players while expanding sports betting to the online space.
Still, an online casino is something to keep an eye on in Illinois. It’s a state with a lot of debt, historically speaking, and online sports betting revenue could spark new resolve in lawmakers to expand online gaming further. If and when online casinos hit in Illinois, expect online poker to accompany it or follow closely behind.
Illinois Mobile Sports Betting Guide
As Illinois prepares for the launch of mobile sportsbooks, there are a few key components to bear in mind.
Mobile Betting Restrictions
There are two key factors that players should keep in mind as they await mobile sportsbooks. First, the minimum age to gamble in Illinois is 21, and this extends to online sports betting. When you create an account, you’ll need to confirm your identity. Usually, this involves providing your social security number.
Second, you must be in the state to place a wager. This will be confirmed with geolocation technology. If you leave the state, your bets will still be honored but you won’t be able to palace new ones until you return.
Apple App Store
Apple doesn’t allow regulated gambling apps on the iOS App Store unless they’re developed in Apple’s native coding language. This can be a costly endeavor for sports betting operators. Fortunately, most have undergone this process for other state sportsbooks and will be ready to offer their apps on iOS devices without issue.
If your operator of choice doesn’t offer an IOS app, you’ll still be able to bet using a mobile browser or desktop.
Sports Betting And Android Apps
Google completely prohibits gambling apps from its Google Play Store. While you won’t be able to get online sportsbook apps directly from Google’s marketplace, you will still have access to Android Apps.
Operators offer Android apps directly from their website in most cases. All you need yo do is visit the site and follow the prompts to download the Android app for your sportsbook of choice.
Illinois Online Gambling History
Online gambling is a new frontier in Illinois’ rich gambling history, which has roots that reach as far back as 1927 with the advent of pari-mutuel horse race wagering.
The state evolved throughout the past 100 years, offering new forms of gambling in a slow trickle of legislation.
The biggest spark that drove Illinois to embrace online sports betting was the United States Supreme Court decision in May 2018 that declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional.
While many believe this legalized sports betting across the United States, the truth is a bit more complex. Instead, The Supreme Court decision on PASPA opened the door for each individual state to makes its own ruling on sports betting. In the two years since, 22 states and Washington D.C. have authorized some form of legal sports betting. Illinois is among them.
In June 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Gambling Act. The law both expanded land-based gaming in the state and finalized Illinois’ sports betting framework.
The Prairie State has yet to see the fruits of this bill; online sportsbooks haven’t launched yet. But they’re on the way, marking a new era for Illinois betting enthusiasts.
Live Gambling In Illinois
Illinois launched regulated horse race betting in 1927. That was the only form of gambling available for some time, until 1974 when the state launched its lottery.
In 1990, Illinois became the second state (following its neighbor Iowa) to authorize casino riverboat gambling. Riverboat casinos still have a large presence in the state.
2009 brought another win to Illinois: The Video Gaming Act. The law allowed retail locations such as bars, restaurants, and truck stops to place a limited number of VLT (video lottery terminals) on their properties. VLTs look and play like slot machines, but they use lottery math models.
In 2012, Illinois shook things up by authorizing online lottery sales. Only a small selection of states offer this option to this day.
Finally, in 2019, Illinois passed its law regulating sportsbook for both the retail and online markets.
Illinois Gambling Overview
|Is lottery legal in Illinois?||Yes, both retail and online|
|Does Illinois have racetracks?||Yes|
|Does Illinois have casinos?||Yes|
|What is the minimum gambling age in Illinois?||21 (18 for lottery, horse race betting, and Daily Fantasy Sports)|
|Who regulates Illinois gambling?||The Illinois Gaming Board|
|Where else can I gamble in Illinois?||Offtrack betting facilities (horse racing). Bars, restaurants, truck stops (Video Lottery Terminals). Online horse race betting sites. Online sportsbooks (not yet launched).|
The Prairie State hosts 10 casinos. More are on the way as part of the recent bill that also legalized sports betting. The Illinois Gambling Act approves six more casinos in the state, including one near Chicago.
Here’s a rundown of Illinois casinos:
|Casino Queen||East St. Louis|
|Harrah’s Joliet Casino and Hotel||Joliet|
|Grand Victoria Casino||Elgin|
|Hollywood Casino Joliet||Joliet|
|Rivers Casino||Des Plaines|
|Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino||East Peoria|
|Harrah’s Metropolis Casino and Hotel||Metropolis|
|Jumer’s Casino and Hotel||Rock Island|
|Hollywood Casino Aurora||Aurora|
Casino Companies In Illinois
A number of gaming industry juggernauts control Illinois casinos. Most of the casino owners are big-name corporations, but a few of Illinois’ casinos are outliers.
Churchill Downs owns a controlling stake in Des Plaines’ Rivers Casino as well as the Arlington International racetrack nearby. Rush Street Gaming operates Rivers Casino as a minority owner.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation is heavily invested in Illinois casinos. It owns both Harrah’s properties (Joilet and Metropolis). Further, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin falls under Eldorado Resorts ownership, and Caesars plans to merge with Eldorado.
Penn National Gaming owns both Hollywood casinos in Illinois: Aurora and Joliet.
Three other companies each own a single casino in Illinois: Boyd Gaming owns Par-A-Dice, Delaware North owns Jumer’s Casino and Hotel, and Casino Queen in East St. Louis is employee-owned.
Laws To Know
Anyone 21 or over can play at an Illinois casino with proper identification.
Illinois prohibits smoking in gambling properties.
The Illinois Lottery launched in 1974 and has been active ever since. In 2012, the state changed its laws to allow the online sale of lottery games. Now, players can purchase and play lottery games on the internet and even collect prizes up to $600 directly on the Lottery’s website.
The Illinois Lottery website is a great resource for players. It includes how-to-play guides for each game. Plus, you can purchase tickets for many draw games right on the site. If you are a frequent player, you can set up a subscription to purchase tickets on a regular basis.
Huge jackpots are available in Illinois games like Powerball, Mega Millions, and Lotto Extra Shot. These games offer massive prizes, but they have the slimmest odds. Simply pick your numbers and keep your fingers crossed they hit when the time comes for the drawing.
Pick 3 and Pick 4 offer smaller but more frequent prizes of up to $500 and $5,000, respectively. Both games have drawings twice daily for maximum chances to win.
Instant tickets offer prizes up to $1 million, and they’re easy to purchase and play. However, instant tickets are not available online. Players have to purchase them at a licensed retail location, which can be found on the Illinois Lottery website or app.
Illinois Horse Racing
Horse racing has long been engrained in Illinois gambling culture. The state began allowing pari-mutuel racing bets as early as 1927.
Illinois has three racetracks in addition to various off-track betting facilities.
|Arlington International Racecourse||Arlington Heights|
Horse race betting in Illinois is allowed for anyone 18 or above. The state allows online horse race wagering through sites like TVG, Xpressbet, BetAmerica, and TwinSpires.
Illinois Gambling Information
- Illinois Gaming Board Website
- Illinois Racing Board Website
- Illinois Lottery Homepage
- Chicago Sun-Times Casino & Gambling News Hub
Illinois Online Gambling FAQ
Is it legal to gamble at Illinois casinos?
Yes. Illinois authorized riverboat casinos in 1990. It was the second state to do so after its midwestern neighbor, Iowa. Ten casinos currently operate with full licenses in the state
In June 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law that expands casino gaming in Illinois. The bill, which also legalized sports betting, authorizes the construction of six new casinos in Illinois. The move drastically expands Illinois gambling presence.
Does DraftKings have an app for players in Illinois?
DraftKings has a Daily Fantasy Sports app for Illinois players. There’s a legal back-and-forth between DFS operators and state lawmakers that puts DFS on shaky ground.
Illinois law allows for online sports betting, however, and it’s very likely that DraftKings will launch a sportsbook app in the state in due course.
What sports can I bet on in Illinois?
All the major leagues are available for sports betting. The NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and PGA Tour all have sports bets in Illinois. Other sports like tennis, soccer, rugby, and others can be found in sportsbooks, too.
College sports betting is legal as well, but with an exception. Sportsbooks cannot offer bets on college matches that include an Illinois school.
Esports betting is currently unavailable and not covered by Illinois law. It could come to state in the future.
Is online sports betting legal in Illinois?
Yes. But there’s a catch: it hasn’t launched yet.
The bill that legalized online sports betting also included a clause that required bettors to register in-person at a licensed property. However, that requirement has been temporarily suspended due to casino closures during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Once sportsbooks go live online, players will be able to register and start betting without visiting a brick-and-mortar property.
How do sports betting online bonuses work?
There are a few types of sports betting bonuses. One is deposit match. An operator will usually match your initial deposit up to a certain amount (sometimes near $500), giving you extra betting money.
Other operators sometimes give you a small dollar amount (around $10-$25) just for signing up before you even make a deposit.
Risk-free first bets are fairly common, too. Lose your first bet? The operator will refund the money so you can place a second one.
Keep an eye out for lucrative bonuses when you sign up at sports betting sites.
How do I know that legal sports betting sites are safe?
Government agencies regulate all sports betting sites in Illinois. Additionally, they use high-level encryption to protect your data.
Always be sure you use a licensed operator to keep yourself and your information safe and secure. Government agencies that oversee sports betting sites usually keep a running list of licensed operators.
Who owns the casinos in Illinois?
Caesars and Penn National Gaming each own two of Illinois’ casinos. Eldorado Resorts owns Grand Victoria Elgin, but the company has planned a merger with Caesars.
Churchill Downs owns Rivers Casino as well as Arlington International Racecourse.
Boyd Gaming owns Par-A-Dice, Delaware North owns Jumer’s Casino and Hotel, and Casino Queen in East St. Louis is employee-owned.
What kinds of games can I play at Illinois casinos?
You’ll find a wide variety of games offered at Illinois’ casinos. Blackjack, roulette, craps, poker variants, and many more are available in The Prairie State’s gambling properties. Slots are common as well, with some casinos offering more than 1,000 machines.
Can I play online casino games for real money in Illinois?
No. Though many other forms of gambling both in-person and online are available to Illinois players, the state remains steady in its stance against online casinos.
Sweepstakes casinos are available, but they use a unique model that grants small amounts of cash to players who purchase in-game currency.
It’s possible that Illinois could legalize online casino gaming for real money in the future, but that looks to be a distant possibility rather than a near-future one.
Are there any tribal casinos in Illinois?
No. But under the Rebuild Illinois Law, six new casinos can be constructed in the state. Five tribes who own casinos in other states are seeking licenses to build and operate properties in Illinois.