Legal Illinois Sports Betting

Given the extreme professional and collegiate sports presence is Illinois – with teams like the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks, to name just a few – there’s nothing that residents love more than putting their money on the line when their faves take the field. Fortunately, thanks to the passage of a new 2019 law, legal Illinois sports betting is now fully realized in the state. Before SB 690 was passed, sports wagering was a popular pastime in the Prairie State, but it had to go through mostly gray-market or black-market channels. Additionally, offshore betting sites like Bovada and BetOnline (among others) were and remain in high demand, and they’re still 100% legal to use. In other words, there are simply more options than ever to bet on sports in Illinois.

If you’re worried that you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer gambling choice at your disposal in Illinois, that’s where LegalSportsBetting.com comes in. We have compiled this comprehensive guide to ensure that you come away fully knowledgeable of all aspects of the IL betting industry, from historical and recent laws to the current locations where you can engage in the hobby. After perusing the information, you will have no qualms about placing wagers on your favorite sports teams (or against your most-hated rivals!), and you’ll know exactly what you should be looking for from a quality sportsbook or sports betting site. Our goal is to make sure that you are confident and comfortable in moving forward and laying your money down on all the awesome sporting action that IL has to offer.

Is Land-Based Sports Betting Legal In Illinois?

A longstanding federal law known as PASPA prevented any state from having land-based sportsbooks with the functional exception of Nevada; however, in 2018, PASPA was overturned, and states have been working on launching their own laws and regulations for sports wagering. Though several states got the jump on Illinois and launched their sports wagering industries in 2018 and early 2019, IL finally joined on June 28, 2019, with the passage and signing of SB 690.

While state-licensed sportsbooks have not yet launched, the law allows the country’s 12th largest gambling market to set up sportsbooks at the state’s ten riverboat casinos and its racetrack venues. OTB (off-track betting) and retail lottery locations could also be eligible to host sports wagering via the use of betting terminals or kiosks. Land-based licenses to host sports wagering will cost up to $10 million each, while the cost to open a dedicated online sportsbook in the state is pegged at $20 million. Sportsbook revenue is uniformly taxed at 15%. The law also allows for the eventual construction of up to six new casinos, and sports betting will be available to those aged 21 years old and up.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal In Illinois?

Yes! As part of SB 690, online wagering is included, and it will be available to all residents and guests of the state aged 21 and older. The state will limit licenses to three Internet-only sportsbook operators, though casinos will get to release their own online sportsbooks. Major online-only brands like DraftKings and FanDuel will not be allowed to enter the IL sports betting market for 18 months. Further, during that time, residents who wish to wager online will have to register to do so in-person at their casino sportsbooks of choice.

That said, using offshore betting sites remains legal in IL, as the new laws have not barred their use. This means that you don’t have to wait for a local casino to launch their own sportsbook before actually betting in Illinois, so you can actually hop online and place sports wagers right now! And remember Always shop lines! Even once IL’s books finally open to the public, you’re going to want to check out the daily action at online, overseas sportsbooks to make sure you always get the best bang for your buck. For example, Bears games in IL are going to be so enormously popular that it’s very likely you’ll always get a better deal at offshore sports betting websites.

Where To Bet On Sports In Illinois

The options are limited at the current moment, as none of the state’s legal sportsbooks​ – either land-based or online – have launched yet. That said, you don’t actually have to wait to wager, as you can find legal sports betting in Illinois by using an offshore sportsbook. These operators are outside of US jurisdiction, making it easy to transfer money, find a favorable betting line, and receive your winnings. Just be sure to use a licensed bookmaker that is regulated by their home country, as unlicensed operators have no oversight. We recommend using Bovada, 5Dimes, SportsBetting, BetOnline, BookMaker, BetDSI, and MyBookie, as they have years of trustworthiness, reliability, fastest sportsbook withdrawals and exceptional customer service. They are also 100% free to use and provide new member sportsbook bonuses and existing member promotions where you can earn free plays for doing nothing more than making a deposit!

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Where’s The Closest Place To Me To Bet?

Betting is prevalent in the state, and there are sports betting states on all sides of Illinois when you wish to gamble. Being located within a certain distance of a waterway is a rule in Illinois, with 10 different riverboat casinos in operation. The majority of these are located outside of the Chicago area, along both the Mississippi River and Ohio River. These casinos all offer the full menu of gaming, which includes craps, poker, roulette, and more. And soon, each one will also have sports betting on offer! For legal Illinois sports betting, the following locations would likely be the first to offer the new pastime, as they are established and located in very accessible areas. The main cities you can expect to host sports betting entertainment include:

Chicago Aurora Rock Island
Metropolis East Peoria Des PlainesChicago

While those cities don’t offer sports betting just yet, there is always the option to wager online at offshore betting sites. The convenience and accessibility of offshore sportsbooks are unmatched, as are the promotions and bonuses they give to players. However, if you want to be in the heart of the action and enjoy the sportsbook lounge life, you will have to wait at least a few more months. Fortunately, the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic Regions have been starting the trend of legalized sports gambling, and you won’t have to travel too far to place a wager. You could make a weekend trip out of it, traveling to places like:

East Chicago, IN Dubuque, IA Davenport, IA
Bettendorf, IA Burlington, IA Hot Springs, AR
Tunica, MS Wheeling, WV Pittsburgh, PA

Illinois Sports Betting Sites

As we mentioned, offshore Illinois sports betting sites are definitely the most convenient and provide thousands of wagers every day in sports all over the world. There is no shortage in what these operators offer, and all of them provide excellent customer service to keep you in the loop. If you have a varied cryptocurrency wallet, check out BetOnline or SportsBetting. These Bitcoin sports betting sites accept more crypto than any of the other sites and can even return your winnings via the alternate currency of your choice. If you’re a beginner and only looking to wager a little bit, check out 5Dimes, as they offer the lowest minimums around at $0.50 per sports wager.

Of course, Bovada is probably the site you have heard about the most, and that’s because it’s known for its user-friendly platform, mobile sports betting, extreme reliability, and total trustworthiness. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of these overseas Illinois-friendly sportsbooks, and we recommend joining several in order to facilitate shopping lines. Most bettors will have memberships at three different sites for this purpose, as shopping lines can add 10-15% to your bankroll over your gambling career!

Illinois Sports Betting And Gambling Laws

Illinois isn’t technically considered a pro-gambling state (especially now with the passage of its sports betting and casino gaming expansion), but it certainly isn’t opposed to gambling, as there are options everywhere. The state requires casinos to be located near flowing bodies of water with the exception of Lake Michigan, unless the county population exceeds 3 million people, in which case land-based venues are allowed. The betting age is set at 18 for everything except casino-style gaming and sports betting, for which you will need to be 21 years of age. Charitable gaming and pari-mutuel wagering on horses are also available in the state, and the Illinois Gaming Board oversees all gambling activities (except the state lotto, which is managed by the Illinois Lottery Control Board). The Illinois Gaming Board also regulates sports gambling now that the pastime has been legalized and licenses are being distributed. For more information about Illinois’ changing gambling laws, you can consult Illinois Compiled Statutes §720 5/28-1.

What Teams Can I Bet On?

Illinois is home to many professional sports teams, as the city of Chicago represents nine professional teams just by itself. These include the Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago Cubs (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB), Chicago Bulls (NBA), and Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) on the major league side, with the Chicago Sky (WNBA), Chicago Fire (MLS), Chicago Red Stars (NWSL), and Chicago Bandits (NPF) among the lesser-known leagues.

Moreover, universities flood the state, with over a dozen different teams representing the NCAA at the Division 1 level and supported by fans all over the country. The Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois are the most popular, of course. Generally speaking, sports fandom runs strong in the state, as residents passionately follow many teams and love to support their local clubs. Of course, that also means that local books – once they open – are going to have pretty expensive prices on all the lines associated with those local teams. Home crowds always skew sportsbook odds, which is why it’s important to shop lines and compare local options to offshore prices. Remember, online sportsbooks offer thousands of lines every day from sports and teams all over the world!

Popular Illinois Sports Betting Teams:

Chicago Bulls (NBA) Chicago Bears (NFL) Chicago Fire (MLS)
Chicago Cubs (MLB) Chicago White Sox (MLB) Chicago Sky (WNBA)
DePaul University Blue Demons (BIG EAST) University of Illinois Fighting Illini (B-10) Northwestern University Wildcats (B-10)
Northern Illinois University Huskies (MAC) Illinois State University Redbirds (MVC)  

Horse Racing Betting In Illinois

Horse racing betting in Illinois is a thriving industry and legal throughout the state. The state boasts over two dozen pari-mutuel wagering facilities – also called OTBs or off-track betting sites – where horse races are simulcast for all to enjoy. Two major horse tracks are located outside of Chicago. These are the Hawthorn Racecourse and Arlington Park, which are easily accessible for residents in the suburbs. The state’s other track, Fairmont Park, is located in Collinsville, which is across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. While horseracing season is limited to seasonal months, that doesn’t have to stop you from betting on horses, as the online operators listed here also offer racebooks with action from dozens of tracks throughout the US and the rest of the world!

Daily Fantasy Sports In Illinois

Illinois daily fantasy sports (DFS) is an interesting topic, as the state allows for operators and players to participate; however, the Attorney General is on record giving an unfavorable opinion on the matter. Regardless, DFS operators like FanDuel and DraftKings do business in the state, and they offer prizes ranging from a few bucks to several hundred thousand dollars! Some contests are free to join, while others are paid, though they both provide sign-up and friend-referral bonuses.

Interestingly, as a result of Illinois’ “gray area” DFS climate (there are no laws regulating or criminalizing the industry), several local casino operators were able to get the state to lock out DraftKings and FanDuel from operating IL sportsbooks for the first 18 months of the state’s legal sports betting calendar. Though controversial, this move has not been challenged, meaning that these particular seasoned bookmakers will not be offering wagering products in IL in the short-term future. That said, you can still enjoy the full gamut of their free and paid DFS services!

Legal Illinois Sports Betting FAQs

Can I Bet Real Money On Sports In Illinois?

Real money can definitely be used to gamble on sports in Illinois. The operators that we listed all accept a myriad of deposit methods such as Bitcoin, credit card transactions, and more. They even have several supported methods for withdrawing your winnings, like wire transfers, money orders, and courier checks. When land-based sportsbooks finally open in Illinois, you will also be able to use cash at their cashier locations, which is perhaps the only real benefit to wagering with a local outfit as opposed to an offshore one.

Is Online Sports Betting Safe In Illinois?

Online sports betting in Illinois is safe provided you use the standard set forth for finding a sportsbook. Just make sure they are licensed, regulated, and located offshore, and you can be certain that these operators are trustworthy and use state-of-the-art data encryption when you sign up and make deposits. At offshore IL sports betting sites, your information is always safe and secure. Best of all, these books are 100% legal, and nobody in Illinois has ever been cited, arrested, or jailed for using them.

Will Sports Betting In Illinois Ever Be Legal?

Sports betting is now legal in Illinois! Since the overturning of PASPA, Illinois legislators were focused on making sure every aspect and regulation was clearly laid out so they would only have to go through the deliberation process once. At the end of June, the law was finally passed and signed by the governor, making sports betting an officially regulated Illinois pastime. The first books should be up and running in time for the September start of the 2019-2020 NFL season. And as ever, it remains totally legal to use offshore betting sites, too. The world is your Illinoyster!

Will I Get Arrested For Sports Betting In Illinois?

No, you can’t. There are no laws criminalizing bettors for using black-market bookmakers in the state. However, we do not recommend using any such illegal gambling providers, as they are liable to abscond with your cash or get caught by Johnny Law, either of which means that your money is lost forever with no real recourse. Instead, only use legitimate sportsbooks like those available overseas or those coming to the casinos in Illinois.

What Is the Sports Betting Age In Illinois?

Illinois posts a betting age of 18 for pari-mutuel wagering and all other gaming in the state with the exception of casino gaming. Like sports betting, casino gaming requires an age of 21 at the minimum, and the state takes their underage gambling policies very seriously. Using an offshore sportsbook will allow you to gamble on sports at just 18 years old, but we recommend waiting until you are 21. Remember, offshore books can confiscate your funds and banish you from their products forever if you violate their terms of service. Most offshore betting sites require users to defer to the mandated legal betting ages in their home states. In IL, that’s unambiguously 21.

Are There Mobile Sports Betting Apps Available In Illinois?

State-run mobile apps do not exist yet, but these are definitely coming once area casinos launch their on-site books. However, the operators we have listed in this guide all have mobile betting web apps that are accessible through their mobile websites. These web app experiences are tailor-made for on-the-go wagering and quick browsing, and they are just as secure as their desktop variants, if not even more so. These mobile betting interfaces even support live in-play betting, where your payouts can be prosperous in you hit a winner at the right moment!

Where Is The Best Place To Bet On Sports In Illinois?

The best place for betting on sports in Illinois is with an offshore operator, as this is the only way of doing so at the moment. Even when IL casinos open up their sportsbooks to the public, these offshore solutions offer more betting lines and bonuses than land-based casinos could even dream of, as they have limited overhead to pay for. Also, with online gambling at offshore books, you have the ability to shop lines in order to determine the best payouts, as no two sportsbooks are created equal. The offshore operators we recommend all offer slightly different bonuses and features from one another, too, so check out their websites to see which ones are best for your needs.

Should I Use A Local Bookie In Illinois?

It is highly recommended to never use a local bookie, as underground gambling with an unlicensed bookie is very unsafe. Not only is it illegal for the operator, but you have no guarantee that the bookie will pay out, as they have no regulatory body overseeing them (except, maybe, the local mob). Stick with the offshore sites we recommend, as they are proven to be reliable, safe, legal, and offer more action than any underground bookmaker could ever provide.

Do Any Casinos In Illinois Have Sports Betting?

No IL casinos currently have sports betting up and running, but this is likely to change very soon. The big-money betting season is football season, and with the NFL kicking off in early September, that’s basically the deadline for land-based venues to open up shop in the state. Online implementation will likely take a bit longer, with most state-licensed sites probably launching in Q1 2020. Still, even when your state-based options become available, it will always make good sense to keep a membership (or three) at legal offshore books so you can shop lines and build that bankroll!

Can I Bet On Sports With My Friends In Illinois?

As in most states, social gambling is not a problem in Illinois. If you want to wager or gamble with your friends, as long as you do so behind closed doors and keep the action (or any mention of it) off the Internet, you are golden. That said, we are not lawyers, so if you have any concerns about social gaming at all, we recommend using an offshore site instead of wagering with your friends locally. After all, it’s better to win cash from strangers than your pals!

When Did Sports Betting Become Legal In Illinois?
Sports betting became legal in Illinois on June 28, 2019. This is only possible because the federal law known as PASPA was repealed by the Supreme Court of the United States. After the PASPA repeal, state lawmakers gained the ability to create sports betting laws. It took some time for Illinois to get it right, but sports betting is legal in the state thanks to IL SB 690 passing and being signed.
How Many Sportsbooks Are In Illinois?
At the time of this writing, sports betting only just became legal in Illinois. This means that sportsbooks have not officially launched quite yet. There are a couple of different steps that need to be taken before a sportsbook can launch within a state. But that doesn’t mean that sports betting is unavailable for Illinois sports bettors. If you want to bet on the Chicago Cubs or any of your favorite teams, we recommend you go to one of our recommended online offshore sportsbooks to make your bets.