Online Gambling in Illinois: Sports Betting and Casinos

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Gambling in Illinois

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Our Guide to Online Gambling in Illinois

In 2019, Illinois comprehensively expanded gambling options for its residents. The sixth largest of the United States, Illinois now offers gamblers land-based full-service casinos, pari-mutuel horse track wagering, and sports betting – both online and in-person.

2021's Best Online Gambling Sites for Illinois Players

We’ve listed our favorite casinos, sportsbooks and poker sites accepting players from Illinois below. Pick a site and start playing!

Illinois Online Gambling FAQ

Illinois Gambling Laws

Illinois offers numerous gambling options to its residents. The lottery, pari-mutuel horse racing, and video gaming terminals are still available, but now bettors can visit full-service casinos with sportsbooks or place wagers on sporting events online from their own homes. However, online casinos and online poker remain unregulated.

Illinois Gambling Act

A comprehensive overhaul of Illinois’ gambling laws, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the 2019 Illinois Gambling Act.

Under the act, Illinois allowed its riverboat casinos to move on to dry land, and offered licensing for new casinos. New laws also opened Illinois sports betting, with sportsbooks being installed at some of Illinois’ ten current casinos. Online sports wagering is also legal, with major operators such as William Hill and FanDuel offering betting apps.

Native American Gaming Compact Act

(230 ILCS 35/5) 

5. General Assembly approval of Native American gaming compacts.

“(a) Before the Governor may enter into a compact with a Native American tribe authorizing the Native American tribe to conduct gambling in Illinois, the Governor must submit a request for authority to enter into the compact to the General Assembly. The Governor must include with that submission a copy of the proposed compact.

(b) If the General Assembly enacts legislation authorizing the Governor to enter into the compact within 30 session days after the submission of the request by the Governor to the General Assembly under subsection (a), the Governor may enter into the compact. If the General Assembly does not enact legislation authorizing the Governor to enter into the compact within 30 session days after the submission of the request by the Governor to the General Assembly under subsection (a), the Governor may not enter into the compact.

Charitable Games Act

(230 ILCS 30/2) (from Ch. 120, par. 1122)

“2. Definitions. For purposes of this Act, the following definitions apply:

“Charitable games” means the 14 games of chance involving cards, dice, wheels, random selection of numbers, and gambling tickets which may be conducted at charitable games events listed as follows: roulette, blackjack, poker, pull tabs, craps, bang, beat the dealer, big six, gin rummy, five card stud poker, chuck-a-luck, keno, hold-em poker, and merchandise wheel.

“Charitable games event” or “event” means the type of fundraising event authorized by the Act at which participants pay to play charitable games for the chance of winning cash or noncash prizes.”

Riverboat Casinos in Illinois

Illinois has ten riverboat casinos. Some, like Rivers Casino in Des Plaines also operate on dry land.

Neighboring Indiana passed laws to allow its riverboat casinos to move inland as brick-and-mortar casinos, which allow for more gaming space, convention halls, live concert venues, and other attractions. The Indiana cities of Gary and Hammond are suburbs of Chicago, meaning Indiana’s land-based casinos compete directly with Illinois casinos.

That is why Illinois has allowed Rivers Casino to move onto dry land, with other casinos to be built in the future: so players could continue to play their favorite table games without losing revenue to other states.

Video Gaming Terminals

Illinois has a robust video lottery terminal (VGT) industry. A bar, restaurant, truck stop, or private club only needs a license from the Illinois Gaming Board to install VGTs in their establishment.

Licensed VGTs are all interconnected through a central system and produce significant revenues for the state.

Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing

There are three operational horse racing tracks in Illinois: Arlington Park and Hawthorne Race Center outside Chicago and Fairmount Park across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. These three tracks also offer simulcasted off-track betting (OTB).

There is an additional OTB site in the Quad Cities where you can wager on races from around the U.S. Three Illinois counties also offer pari-mutuel horse racing as part of their annual county fair.

Future Partnership with Sports Franchises

Chicago has five franchises amongst the big four American sports leagues. The Cubs have been open in their plan to incorporate a live sportsbook into historic Wrigley Field. Partnering with DraftKings, the Cubs hope to capitalize on Illinois sports betting.

Their plan may also offer a model for other teams and leagues to include wagering in their game-day offerings.

What Forms of Gambling Are Legal in Illinois?

 

Illinois Code Section Three code sections cover Illinois gambling laws: 720 5/28-1; 230 10/1; and 230 5/1
Definition of Gambling “A person commits gambling when he or she:
knowingly plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value, or knowingly makes a wager upon the result of any game, contest, or any political nomination, appointment or election” unless exempted by another law.
Casino Gambling Illinois has moved from riverboat casinos to dry-land operations. Look for casino-resort to be built in Chicago within a few years.
Poker Illinois poker is allowed at licensed casinos. Home games are legal as long as your do not charge a seat-fee or take a rake.
Horse Race Betting Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing is legal in Illinois, but must be done at a licensed facility. Fairmount Park runs the ponies for the East St. Louis area, while Arlington International Racecourse and Hawthorne Race Course split the punters located in Chicagoland.
Dog Race Betting Though it is not outlawed, there are no operation dog tracks in Illinois.
Lottery The Illinois Lottery is legal, with scratch-off tickets, daily games, and multi-state jackpot draws like Mega Millions and PowerBall.
Daily Fantasy Sports After Illinois attempted to ban Daily Fantasy in 2015, a series of lawsuits became irrelevant due to Illinois sports betting regulation in 2020.
Sports Betting Illinois sports betting is regulated as of 2020. Bettors can visit retail sportsbooks at casinos and horse racing tracks or place wagers online or through mobile apps.
Charitable Gaming Charitable gambling can legally be offered by nonprofit organizations from Rockford to Cairo.
Social Gambling Illinois social gambling is big business, with video gaming terminals popping up in far-flung and remote locations throughout the Land of Lincoln.
Online Casinos and Poker Illinois online casino and Illinois online poker players can take their real-money wagers to one of the many operators recommended and reviewed by this site. A bill to regulate Illinois online casinos and Illinois online poker was introduced in the 2021 legislative session, which ends May 31.

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