Illinois Online Sports Betting

Illinois is rising in the ranks of gambling-friendly markets. The Prairie State has long had casinos and racetracks. Now, it’s staged to become a gambling leader with the introduction of Illinois online sports betting. 

BetRivers was the first online sportsbook in Illinois. The sportsbook launched in March 2020 following Governor J.B. Pritzker’s order to lift in-person registration requirements. 

Governor J.B. Pritzker legalized sports betting in Illinois when he signed a gambling expansion bill in the last year. The bill also included provisions that allow for six new casinos to be built in Illinois. 

Since legalizing sports betting, Illinois has launched a few retail sportsbooks, and more are on the way. Big company names in the online sports betting arena are preparing to launch as well. It’s only a matter of time before The Prairie State is an online sportsbook hub.

Legal Online Sportsbooks In Illinois

BetRivers launched its online sportsbook in June 2020. As of now, it’s the only online sportsbook live in The Prairie State. BetRivers is the online sports betting site for Illinois’ Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. The property is partially owned by Rush Street Gaming, who developed the BetRivers app in Illinois and other legalized states.

Sportsbooks In Illinois: Companies To Expect

Although currently there is only one mobile sportsbook in Illinois, it’s reasonable to expect the big players in the industry to take hold of the market as soon as possible. Illinois will offer three online-only licenses 18 months into its sports betting tenure. For now, launches will be tied to a land-based tether-property. Here are a few possible online sportsbook launches to look out for in Illinois. 

William Hill

William Hill will almost certainly launch an online sports betting site in Illinois. However, it’s unclear who the company’s partner will be. 

Caesars and Eldorado Resorts both have casino properties in Illinois, and the companies are merging. Between them, both corporations have partnerships with multiple companies. William Hill is one of those companies. It’s possible that an Illinois casino could leverage William Hill for an online sportsbook. 

FOXBet

The Stars Group runs FOXBet as its US online sportsbook in many regulated states. The company has a partnership with Caesars, putting it on similar ground to William Hill above. 

For now, it’s unclear who will utilize FOXBet in Illinois. However, it’s highly likely that FOXBet will launch in the state regardless. 

DraftKings

DraftKings partnered with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois. The company will operate Casino Queen’s retail sportsbook and run an online and mobile sports betting site as part of the deal. 

The partnership was a key move for DraftKings. Absent a land-based partnership with a sports betting license, the operator would’ve had to wait 18 months to launch due to an ongoing legal battle regarding Daily Fantasy Sports. Now, they can circumvent that waiting period and launch with Casino Queen.

FanDuel

FanDuel doesn’t have existing partnerships in Illinois. In fact, along with competitor DraftKings, it faces some headwinds when it comes to online sports betting. 

Illinois proposed an 18-month penalty period for online-only operators who have previously offered Daily Fantasy Sports. State law includes a clause that requires this waiting period for companies who offered DFS  in defiance of former Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s declaration that DFS was illegal gambling. 

But that hasn’t stopped FanDuel. Rumors are swirling that the company is in talks to purchase Illinois’ Fairmount Park racetrack. This would allow them to apply for a retail license and subsequently launch an online sportsbook. 

What Online Sportsbook Bonuses Are Available In Illinois?

Once online sportsbooks launch in Illinois, bettors will undoubtedly encounter a wide variety of bonuses. There are plenty of different bonus types, and sportsbook operators will often provide really competitive and lucrative promotions to gain new customers. Below are some of the most common types of bonuses and how they work. 

No Deposit Bonus

This is the simplest bonus type you’ll find at an online sportsbook. Once you sign up, the site will give you a small dollar amount for free before you even make a deposit. Typically, you’ll receive between $10 and $30, enough to place one bet (or a few small ones). 

No deposit bonuses are fairly straightforward and common. There isn’t usually a catch, but always check the fine print when you sign up to be sure you don’t miss anything. 

Risk-Free Bets

Many sportsbooks offer risk-free bets to get you started. This type of bonus requires you to place a bet with your own money, and the risk-free amount is typically capped. 

With a risk-free bet bonus, you first need to select a bet. Once you identify one and place a wager, you wait for the match to play out and the result to come in. If your bet loses, the sportsbook will refund the amount you wagered back into your account. Many sportsbooks set the maximum amount of a risk-free bet at or near $200. 

If your bet wins, the risk-free offer goes away and you continue betting as you normally would. On a loss, you’re refunded the amount per the bonus terms and conditions, and the offer then expires. 

Deposit Match

Deposit matches can be found on a number of regulated online sportsbooks. They can be some of the most valuable bonus offers available to players. 

Deposit matches offer you a chance to double the amount of your initial deposit into a sportsbook account. The dollar amount can reach up to $500, especially with the biggest operators. 

How it works: you make your first deposit using any of the approved deposit methods for the sportsbook making the offer. The sportsbook then adds that same value to your account, matching your deposit. For example, if you make your first deposit for $200, your wallet will jump to $400. 

Watch for specific conditions surrounding these offers. Some operators require you to make your first deposit within a week from the date you create your account. Others offer a smaller percentage match (for example, 50% of your initial deposit). 

Refer A Friend

Refer a friend bonuses can be a nice boost to your sportsbook account. 

The terms vary by operator, but the idea is the same across the board. Refer a friend to your favorite sportsbook using a unique link or code. Once your friend signs up and makes a deposit beyond a certain threshold (sometimes as low as $10), you both receive a bonus. 

Though they can pop up from time to time, refer a friend bonuses are less common than the bonuses listed above. Still, they can be quite valuable if you find one.

What Sports Can You Bet On In Illinois?

In 2018, the Supreme Court’s decision to rule the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional paved the way for states to build individual legislation to regulate sports betting. As a result, each state that has regulated has specific stipulations related to sports wagering. 

The primary inter-state difference to keep an eye on is available sports. Not every state allows every sport at its online betting sites, and Illinois is no different. The Land of Lincoln has its own restrictions on betting.

Betting On US Pro Sports In Illinois

The good news for pro sports fans in Illinois is that there are virtually no restrictions in place on pro sports betting. Illinois bettors will be able to bet on a wide variety of professional US sports leagues, including:

  • Major League Baseball
  • National Football League
  • National Hockey League
  • Major League Soccer
  • National Basketball Association
  • Golf (PGA Tour and other events)
  • Tennis

Professional sports undoubtedly capture the largest numbers of bettors, and Illinois looks like it will continue that trend. The state will offer plenty of pro sports bets, for both teams located in Illinois and in other states. 

College Sports Betting In Illinois

Fans of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports have a few restrictions to keep in mind. Illinois law allows betting on NCAA contests as long as they don’t include any in-state colleges. 

Unfortunately, fans of Northwestern, The University of Illinois, and other in-state colleges will be unable to place bets on matches involving Illinois schools. 

Still, fans of the larger NCAA scene will find plenty to enjoy in Illinois. Out of state matches will feature sports betting. Games that garner national attention will surely make waves among Illinois bettors. 

What International Sports Can You Bet On In Illinois?

US sportsbooks have a large library of bets for international sports. Most state sportsbooks have plenty of less common sports bets on offer, and Illinois looks as though it will follow suit. 

Illinois betting enthusiasts will likely find bets for cricket, darts, rugby, table tennis, and many other sports popular around the world. 

Will Illinois Have Esports Betting?

Whether esports betting will come to Illinois is unclear right now. However, most signs point to a “yes.” 

Many states include specific legislative language either barring or allowing bets on events that are not labeled typical sports. Illinois’ law doesn’t make any mention of esports (or other non-sport events like elections), so it’s likely esports wagering will come to Illinois. 

With no strict prohibitions in place, operators will probably offer esports betting in Illinois. The fact that the law makes no mention either way with regards to esports bodes well. The absence of prohibitive language suggests a positive outlook on esports betting in the state. Once the bets are out in the open, it seems unlikely lawmakers will add restrictions surrounding esports. 

What Else Can I Bet On In Illinois?

Mixed martial arts, NASCAR, boxing, motorsports, and other less traditional competitions will be available to Illinois sports bettors. 

Some sportsbooks offer horse race betting as well. Illinois operators may provide these options to players, though horse racing fans already have plenty of online options for betting on those events via TwinSpires, TVG, and BetAmerica. 

Political elections may make an appearance on Illinois sportsbooks as well. The state doesn’t restrict nonsporting events from its betting platforms. With an election looming, it’s possible political betting could spike in the state especially if mobile betting goes live before November 2020.

Do Illinois Online Sports Betting Sites Offer Mobile Apps?

Illinois’ licensed sportsbooks will certainly offer mobile apps. Though none are live yet in the state, they will eventually become available to players. 

This is especially beneficial to Illinois players following a legislative pivot from Governor Pritzker. Originally, Illinois bettors were required to visit a licensed property in-person to register for an online betting account. In the midst of Covid-19-related shutdowns, Pritzker issued an executive order allowing Illinois bettors to register online without the in-person step. 

The move will speed up registration and add new customers to the mix without the hassle of going to a casino. There are a few things to note as you gear up for Illinois’ mobile launch. Keep the following in mind with regard to sports betting apps. 

Apple Devices

Apple allows gambling apps on its iOS App store as long as they’re developed in Apple’s native programming language. This may seem restrictive, but the good news is that most sportsbook providers already have apps live on the iOS App marketplace. They’ll be able to launch in Illinois without issue. 

If an operator doesn’t have an ioS app, your best bet is using a mobile browser or playing from a desktop computer. 

Android Devices

Google takes a slightly more prohibitive stance than Apple. It completely restricts regulated gambling apps from the Google Play Store. 

That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s still relatively easy to get a sportsbook app for an Android device. Once they launch, operators will have a “download for Android” page on their websites. Visit the page from your mobile browser and follow the prompts to install the app on your Android device. 

If you see apps like DraftKings or FanDuel in the Google Play Store, those are the companies’ Daily Fantasy Sports apps, not full-fledged sportsbooks. 

What Is The Biggest Online Sportsbook In Illinois By Revenue?

Only one sportsbook is live in Illinois, so it’s too soon to tell. Once online sports betting sites launch and release their revenue, we will update this page to show market leaders. 

A number of factors contribute to success in a given sports betting market, including launch timing, bettor acquisition, registration requirements, and more. 

Considering all these factors, BetRivers looks staged to be an early leader in Illinois. The company’s retail sportsbook is already live, and a head start in the online arena could mean a surge for Rivers. 

No discussion of market-leading sportsbooks is complete without a mention of DraftKings and FanDuel. Both operators face opposition in the form of Illinois’ 18-month waiting period for online-only operators. However, if both (or either) launches under an existing land-based operator’s license, they could easily move to the top position in Illinois. In neighboring Indiana, DraftKings and FanDuel lead, which could indicate a bright future for the operators in Illinois.  

Of course, industry leaders FOXBet, BetMGM, William Hill, and others will come ready to win in Illinois, so the crown is up for grabs. Illinois is sure to host an intriguing and competitive sports betting landscape. 

What Do I Need To Create An Illinois Online Sports Betting Account?

When Illinois sportsbooks launch, you’ll need to provide some personal information to confirm your identity. Usually, this means providing your social security number. It’s helpful to have your social security number and a government-issued photo ID ready when you register. 

Other than your ID and personal info, you just need to head to your sportsbook of choice. This can be through a mobile app or a webpage from your desktop browser. Every sportsbook will walk you through the process in simple steps.

If you’re ready to make a deposit, remember two things. First, have a payment method handy: credit/debit, PayPal, bank account info (for ACH transfer), Play+, and many other methods are accepted at major sportsbooks. Second, check for promo codes that offer deposit matches or risk-free bets. Once you register, you can take advantage of those offers. 

Legal Online Sportsbooks Versus Illegal Online Sportsbooks In Illinois

Compared to their illegal and offshore counterparts, regulated sportsbook apps offer higher levels of safety and a number of benefits. 

First, legal sports betting sites can draw on a wealth of data from sports leagues, including real-time updates. This means they can offer live and in-play betting (wagers on a match that’s already in progress), something their grey market competitors can’t provide. 

On a safety level, regulated sportsbooks go above and beyond. This is because they are required to and because they care about building an audience of loyal players. 

At legal sports betting sites, your data is protected by high-level encryption technology. The Illinois Gaming Board, a government agency, also oversees sports betting in the state, and sportsbook providers are heald to a high standard of technology and player protection. Every operators goes through a rigorous licensing process during which their sports betting offer is vetted by experts to ensure compliance with all state and federal laws. 

Offshore sites, meanwhile, have no such safeguards in place and are only responsible for upholding the laws in the country where they operate. Without dedicated oversight, they’re a much riskier option than government-sanctions sports betting platforms. 

Illinois Online Sports Betting FAQs

What is the Illinois gambling age?

Anyone in Illinois who wishes to participate in legalized sports betting must be 21 years old or above. When you sign up for a sports betting account, you will be required to verify your age with proper ID. 

Other forms of gambling available in the state, including the lottery and horse race betting, allow anyone 18 and older to participate. 

Does DraftKings have a sportsbook in Illinois?

Not yet, but DraftKings will almost certainly launch in Illinois. 

There’s a legal battle in the state over an 18-month waiting period put in place as punishment for online operators who previously offered Daily Fantasy Sports in Illinois. However, DraftKings could partner with a land-based property to avoid this penalty. 

Either way, the company will launch an online sportsbook in Illinois. For now, it’s a question of “when,” not “if.”

Is FanDuel’s sportsbook legal in Illinois?

Yes. FanDuel is legal in the state but has not yet launched. Like DraftKings, FanDuel is trudging through a murky legal landscape that may prevent its launch for 18 months. 

However, rumors state that FanDuel is looking to acquire the Fairmount Park racetrack in Illinois. If true, and if the acquisition goes through, FanDuel could apply for a land-based license and then launch its online sportsbook without issue. 

As with other operators planning to launch in Illinois, FanDuel looks like a “when,” not an “if.”

Do sportsbooks in Illinois offer credit?

In terms of deposit methods, yes. Most Illinois sportsbooks will accept credit cards as a form of payment. 

If you’re looking to wager on credit (bet with credit money now and pay later if you lose) at an Illinois sportsbook, you may not find much luck. Currently, it doesn’t look like major sportsbooks will offer betting on credit. For now, you’ll have to stick to funding an account before you place a bet. 

Can I bet on college sports in Illinois?

Yes, but with restrictions. 

Illinois will allow wagering on college matches. But bettors will not be able to wager on any college match that 1) includes an in-state school or 2) takes place in Illinois. Instead, college sports fans will have to focus on out-of-state match-ups when betting. 

Do I need to go to a casino to create my Illinois sports betting account?

No, but that may change. Illinois law originally required an in-person casino visit to create an online betting account. However, in light of casino closures related to the Covid-19 outbreak, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order allowing sports bettors to fully register online. 

It’s possible this lift on in-person visits could be temporary, but it remains to be seen when (or if) the suspension will lift. Illinois casinos remain closed, so bettors may have a window of opportunity to register online until they reopen. 

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.