Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports

Even before online gambling started to expand in the state, Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports sites, like DraftKings and FanDuel offered sports fans a way to get in on the action.

Illinois has started to open its doors to new forms of gambling over the past few years. Most notably, sports betting came to The Prairie State in early 2020. The same law that authorized retail and online sports betting also permitted the construction of six new casinos in Illinois. Simply put, the Land of Lincoln is a growing Midwestern gambling market. 

Daily Fantasy Sports sites are available in Illinois, but they exist in an odd state of limbo. Legal fights have been going on regarding DFS in Illinois for five years. As it currently stands, Daily Fantasy Sports is neither prohibited nor allowed by law in Illinois, so operators still offer their products to players in the state. Most major DFS sites are available to Illinois players right now. 

The Best Daily Fantasy Sports Sites In Illinois

DFS SiteBonus OfferYear LaunchedYearly Revenue (estimated)
DraftKings$20 sign up bonus plus 20% deposit match up to $5002012$14 million
FanDuel$5 deposit bonus, 20% deposit match up to $5002009$10 million
Yahoo!1,000 rewards points with first deposit2015$5 million

DraftKings DFS In Illinois

DraftKings has been live in Illinois for years, and it still offers fantasy sports to players in the Land of Lincoln. However, the company’s journey in the Prairie State has been mired by legal battles between DFS operators and the Illinois government. We’ll cover that in more detail below. For now, it’s important to know that DraftKings DFS is available in Illinois.

DraftKings DFS is accessible via mobile apps and desktop in Illinois, so players can enjoy contests on the go or at home. DraftKings also offers an Illinois online sportsbook, and you can connect your DFS account for easy access to both apps. 

Compared to its competition in Illinois, DraftKings has some distinct qualities that set it apart. For NFL contests, DraftKings offers one point per reception (compared to half that at FanDuel). This puts extra power in the hands of receivers to earn you more points. 

“Tiers” is DraftKings’ unique game format. Tiers has you select a lineup from a pre-selected group of players. You take one player from each Tier to build your team. This is a departure from the typical salary format of DFS, giving you an extra option if you’re playing DFS in Illinois. 

If you’re interested in playing WNBA DFS contests, DraftKings is the best choice, mainly because FanDuel doesn’t offer WNBA games. 

Generally speaking, DraftKings is a top-tier DFS operator, and there are plenty of reasons to choose it over other Illinois DFS sites. The Tiers format is a great alternate gameplay option, and the PPR offering on NFL contests is excellent for players who prefer to give a bit more weight to receiving positions. 

FanDuel DFS In Illinois

FanDuel and DraftKings have long been two of Illinois’ heaviest hitters in the DFS space. They’re both tied up in the legal back and forth that surrounds DFS, yet both still offer contests in Illinois. That doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon. 

FanDuel’s DFS offering is available via a mobile app for iOS or Android plus a desktop app. All three versions are simple to use and easy to find–just head to FanDuel’s website. The company also offers online sports betting in Illinois on iOS, Android, and desktop. 

New FanDuel DFS players are treated to a 20% deposit match up to $500 (the same offer as DraftKings). 

Not to be outdone by it’s biggest competitor, FanDuel gives players a unique game format as well. “Beat the Score” has players select a team to beat FanDuel’s target score. Anyone who beats the target score splits the winnings. Beat the Score has plenty of different options that range from easy scores with low payouts to higher thresholds with bigger payouts. You have plenty of options to choose from. 

If you’re looking for reasons to choose FanDuel over DraftKings, look no further than the leagues on offer. FanDuel has EuroLeague Basketball, the PGA European Tour, Champions League soccer, and Canadian football. If you’re a fan of international sports, FanDuel is the clear choice. 

DraftKings Vs. FanDuel in Illinois

Bonus Offer$20 sign up bonus, 20% deposit match up to $500$5 sign up bonus, 20% deposit match up to $500
Exclusive Contests/Game TypesTiersBeat the Score
Exclusive League OfferingsWNBAEuroleague basketball, CFL, Champions League Soccer, PGA European Tour
League PartnershipsNFL, MLBNHL, NBA

Other DFS Sites In Illinois

Though DraftKings and FanDuel are the most well known, other DFS operators are live for Illinois players as well. 

Yahoo! Has a DFS platform live in Illinois. New players get 1,000 yahoo Sports Rewards Points for signing up. You’ll have no trouble finding contests at various popular leagues on Yahoo. However, because DraftKings and Fanduel dominate the market, Yahoo’s contests don’t pay as well on average. 

Monkey Knife Fight is an up-and-coming DFS site available to Illinois players. It’ll be familiar to DFS enthusiasts in that it has a few of the most popular leagues on offer. However, Monkey Knife Fight also provides contests for esports (namely League of Legends), UFC, and NASCAR. It’s a great alternative if you enjoy more nice sporting leagues. 

FantasyDraft is yet another DFS option for Illinois players. It’s unique in that it pays for all rake fees up to $100 per month. There’s also a premium subscription option with FantasyDraft that pays for more of your rake fees. 

History Of Daily Fantasy Sports In Illinois

Illinois has a turbulent past with DFS operators. The state government has tried to formally legalize Daily Fantasy Sports to no avail. In 2015, the Illinois Attorney General released an opinion stating that DFS was illegal. This left FanDuel and DraftKings in a state of flux. They continued to provide their services to Illinois players. 

To this day, DraftKings, FanDuel, and other DFS sites operate in Illinois. The 2015 legal battle carried over into the Illinois online sports betting legislation discussions, too. Illinois’ original sports betting bill proposed an 18-month waiting period for operators who offered DFS in Illinois following the AG’s opinion. The penalty never saw the light of day and was edited out of the legislation. 

Now, DFS players can enjoy contests in Illinois. There’s still no law explicitly legalizing them, but that fight remains between the operators and lawmakers. Individual players can enjoy DFS without issue. 

Is It Safe To Play DFS In Illinois?

It is completely safe to play Daily Fantasy Sports in Illinois. 

Some players may be concerned about the legal status of DFS, but this has become a non-issue thanks to the launch of sports betting in Illinois. Though DFS remains in legal limbo–neither explicitly legal nor illegal–that ongoing discussion takes place at the corporate level. Individual DFS players can still enjoy the sites.

DFS sites like DraftKings and FanDuel also employ high level encryption tools to keep your data and information safe. SSL is the industry standard, and most sites use it to encrypt your data as it travels from your device to the DFS operator. 

What Are The Best Bonus Offers And Free DFS Contests In Illinois?

DFS SiteBonus OfferTerms
DraftKings$20 sign-up bonus, 205 deposit match up to $50025x playthrough required for deposit match bonus
FanDuel$5 sign up bonus, 20% deposit match up to $500Bonus credit expires 30 days from issue

Deposit Match

Both FanDuel and DraftKings offer deposit match bonuses for Illinois DFS players. Their offers are identical on the surface, but differ in terms and conditions. 

Both DFS sites will match 20% of your first deposit up to $500. So if you deposit $2,500, you can claim the full offer. However, even a more modest deposit of $100 would still earn you $20. 

This bonus is especially common with sportsbooks as well. 

Sign Up Bonus

Both FanDuel and DraftKings offer a small sign-up bonus for new players, too. It’s really just a quick “thank you” for signing up. At DraftKings, you get $20 for signing up. FanDuel gives you $5 when you sign up and another $5 when you make a deposit. 

These bonuses come in the form of bonus credit, so you’ll have to play with the money before you can withdraw it. 

Playthrough Requirement

Playthrough requirements are the biggest roadblock included in DFS bonus terms and conditions. DraftKings’ deposit bonus is a prime example. Even after you claim the 20% deposit match bonus, you are required to spend a certain amount before you can claim it. DraftKings’ playthrough requirement is 25x, meaning for every $25 you bet, you can claim $1 of your bonus. If you’re a frequent player, this can be just fine, but DFS fans who want to get their bonus faster may want to find a site with a less restrictive requirement. 

Nonwithdrawable Bonus Credit

The primary “catch” with most daily fantasy sports bonus offers is that they come in the form of bonus credit. This just means that it’s a nonwithdrawable credit to your account that must be spent at the DFS site before you can withdraw any of it. 

For example, if you deposit $100 at FanDuel and get a $20 bonus, your account would show $100 in withdrawable funds and $20 in “bonus credit” or a similar term. You can play with the bonus credit, and if you’re lucky enough to win using it, you can then withdraw those winnings. 

What Are The Top Contests For Daily Fantasy Sports Players In Illinois?

DFS players have a wealth of riches when it comes to available contests. Sports leagues have a huge variety of popular contests for fans of all types of sports. 

Here are some of the biggest contests for NFL and MLB fans.

NFL Contests

Football is one of the most popular sports in the US, and fantasy sports operators have a selection of contests that reflects that popularity. 

NFL Monday And Thursday Million

FanDuel’s Monday Million NFL contest gives a whopping $200K to the winner. Each week, you can enter for $9 and build a team for the Monday Night Football match-up and compete for a chance at massive prizes. Though first place walks away with the 200k, prizes go to the top 32,700 competitors. 

Fanduel runs an identical contest for Thursday Night Football, too. 

Monday Night Millionaire

DraftKings’ Monday Night Football contest features $1 million for the top prize. Entry is $15. 

Second place goes home with $100,000 while third rakes in $50,000. DraftKings offers some massive payouts for the lucky contest winners. Payouts of $25 and up go to the top ~36,000 teams. 

NFL Beat The Score

FanDuel’s Beat The Score contests are perfect for NFL fans. Entries range from $3 to $100 (sometimes even higher) with payouts to match. Enter, assemble a team, and beat FanDuel’s score threshold to share the winnings with anyone else who beats the score. 

MLB Contests

Illinois DFS players have access to a number of MLB contests. Fans of the Cubs or White Sox will have plenty of options. 

Head To Head

In head to head match-ups, you compete against one other DFS player for a chance to win. You each build a team and compete over the course of that week’s games, then the winner receives a payout (minus operator fees). There’s a wide variety of MLB Head to Head matchups available on both FanDuel and DraftKings. 

50/50 Contests

In 50/50 contests, the top 50% of teams win once the contest ends. Both FanDuel and DraftKings offer a plethora of 50/50 MLB contests. 

Special Tournaments

During big events such as the World Series, keep an eye out for special events that offer huge prizes. DraftKings, FanDuel, and other Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports operators have special tournaments that coincide with massive sporting events. The payouts and prize pools are gargantuan, giving you a chance at big wins. 

Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports FAQ

How old do I need to be to play DFS in Illinois?

18 or older. Anyone 18 or above can enter DFS contests in Illinois. This opens up an option for younger players who can’t yet place sports bets (the legal age for sportsbook wagering is 21). 

Is FanDuel DFS legal in Illinois?

FanDuel offers DFS to players in Illinois. It’s neither legal nor illegal under Illinois law. In fact, it exists in a delicate limbo. As the operators and legislators determine whether it’s legal, players can still enjoy FanDuel DFS without issue in Illinois.

Is DraftKings DFS legal in Illinois?

DraftKings is in the same state as FanDuel. DFS isn’t legal or illegal, but DraftKings is still available to all players in the state. 

Should Illinois lawmakers suddenly make DFS illegal, both DraftKings and FanDuel would have to shut down in the state. However, this looks unlikely because Illinois has already legalized sportsbooks, and FanDuel and DraftKings both have sports betting live in the state.

What is the largest prize pool for DFS contests in Illinois?

Prize pools change as new contests become available, but right now DraftKings has an NFL contest offering a massive $2,250,000 prize pool. The top place finisher wins $1 million of that pool.

Can I join contests for all NFL teams in Illinois?

Yes. You can enter contests for any NFL team you cheer for, including the Chicago Bears. NFL contests are among the most popular games available across all DFS platforms.

Can I play DFS contests for esports in Illinois?

Yes. DFS sites offer esports contests in Illinois.

This could be temporary, however. Illinois left esports out of its sports betting legislation. If the state leans toward prohibiting esports betting, those events could likely be removed from DFS sites, too.

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based freelance writer in the gambling, media, and entertainment space. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier. Cole writes for a number of online and print publications, including The Quill To Live, a book review site.