Legal Illinois Sports Betting
With the launch of retail sportsbooks, bettors in Illinois now have more choice than ever before. Illinois has an abundance of both professional and college teams, and its people display the kind of stubborn loyalty that you only find in the Midwest. With professional franchises in all four major sports—the NFL’s Chicago Bears, the MLB’s Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks—there is no shortage of popular betting options for fans. And now, at long last, Illinois sports betting has finally launched.
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 Illinois sports betting industry, from historical and recent laws to the best Illinois sportsbooks to wager with. 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 Illinois 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. 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.
On March 9, 2020, Illinois accepted its first land-based sports bets. Casinos along with sports betting options at ten riverboat casinos and racetrack venues are eligible to host sports wagering via the use of betting terminals or kiosks. Land-based licenses to host sports wagering cost up to $10 million each, which could limit the number of operators who can afford to enter the industry. 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. Illinois will charge $20 million for an online sportsbook license, so the barrier to entry could be prohibitively high for smaller firms.
Thankfully, offshore betting sites remains legal in Illinois, so consumers will still have plenty of choice. 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! Even if you enjoy the sportsbooks in Illinois, it is valuable to check with online betting sites to shop lines and ensure that you are maximizing your odds. For example, local fans will likely bet overwhelmingly in favor of local teams, which will heavily skew the odds at local sportsbooks. Fans of any of Chicago’s major sports franchises will usually be better off placing their bets online, where no regional bias exists to skew payouts.
Where To Bet On Sports In Illinois
Three casinos received a temporary sports betting license—the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Argosy Casino in Alton, and Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. Rockford, a town roughly an hour and a half west of Chicago, has plans to build its own casino with a sportsbook as well, but there is no timetable on that yet. If none of these sounds appealing, or if you simply don’t want to have to leave your house to place a bet, licensed offshore betting sites offer an attractive alternative. But going online carries some danger if you don’t use a licensed operator. We recommend using Bovada, 5Dimes, SportsBetting, BetOnline, Sportsbetting, XBet, 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.
Illinois Sports Betting Revenue
Illinois managed to meet its stated goal of launching sportsbooks prior to the beginning of the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness. This was important, as March Madness is the second-largest betting event of the year, trailing only the Super Bowl. With a huge metropolitan market like Chicago, sports betting in Illinois could potentially be a huge cash cow, especially if operators can follow in the footsteps of those in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Biloxi and turn their casinos into a tourist attraction. Sports wagering revenue in Illinois will be taxed at a flat 15%. Only three casinos are set to receive licenses right now, but that could expand in the future. Using per capita averages, Illinois projects to handle $1.91 billion in betting action, earn $131.2 million in revenue, and collect $19.7 million in taxes annually.
|Rank||Sportsbook||Bonus Offer||Play Now|
|1||50% Up To $250 Read Review||Visit Bovada|
|2||50% New Member Bonus!Read Review||Visit Betonline|
|3||50% Up To $1,000 Read Review||Visit MyBookie|
|4||50% Up To $1,000 Read Review||Visit Sportsbetting|
|5||100% Up To $300Read Review||Visit XBet|
|6||50% Up To $520Read Review||Visit 5Dimes|
Where’s The Closest Place To Me To Bet?
Illinois has three different retail casino sportsbooks — one on the Missouri border next to St. Louis, one in Elgin in west Chicago, and one in Des Plaines north of Chicago. Additionally, Illinois offers 10 riverboat casino sportsbooks. The majority of these 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. The three casino locations figure to be the most popular, as they are the most accessible and closest to major metropolitan areas. The three retail sportsbooks in Illinois are:
- Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin
- Rivers Casino in Des Plaines
- Argosy Casino in Alton
If none of those options sound particularly appealing, the convenience and accessibility of offshore sportsbooks are unmatched, as are the promotions and bonuses they offer to players. If the retail sportsbook atmosphere is something that’s important to you but you don’t like the in-state options, border states Indiana and Iowa also have legal sports betting, with a wider array of options than the three in Illinois. Once in-state mobile sports betting launches, you will be able to place bets from the comfort of your own home after registering an account in-person at one of the casinos.
Illinois Sports Betting Sites
Although domestic online sportsbooks have not yet launched in Illinois, there are still plenty of licensed websites where players can place bets. These websites handle thousands of players every day and offer the best variety of betting options, as well as the best odds, customer service and payout times. 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 requires that casinos be located near flowing bodies of water with the exception of Lake Michigan. The only exception to his law is if a county’s 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?
Yes, you can bet real money on sports both at retail sportsbook locations and with the online sportsbooks listed above. At the retail locations, you can bet using cash, credit/debit cards, and a handful of other payment options. With the online sportsbooks, you will be able to bet using cryptocurrency, payment cards, wire transfers, or player-to-player money transfers.
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?
Illinois has now legalized and launched sports betting. The bill was initially passed in June 2019, but preparations for a full launch took until March 2019. Both retail and online sports betting are legal, but online sports betting will take a while. Thankfully, online sports betting through websites based in other countries has been legal for a while.
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?
It depends on what your priorities are, but generally speaking, licensed online sportsbooks are the best way to bet. They offer more player-friendly odds and a much higher degree of accessibility than their retail counterparts. They are also great for shopping lines to ensure optimal payouts. If you insist on retail sports betting, the best location will depend on where you are in the state. Chicago residents will probably prefer either the Grand Victoria Casino or the Argosy Casino. Residents of southwestern Illinois will probably prefer the Rivers Casino near St. Louis.
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?
Yes, three casinos in Illinois offer sports betting and will begin accepting bets for March Madness 2020. There are also a handful of race tracks and riverboat casinos that accept sports wagers. Options are concentrated around Chicago and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. There are also a large number of tribal casinos that will be launching sports betting in the near future.
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?
How Many Sportsbooks Are In Illinois?
There are three retail casino sportsbooks and 10 riverboat casino and pari-mutuel track sportsbooks. A number of tribal casinos have also begun contracting with sports betting providers like DraftKings, FanDuel and William Hill to provide sports betting within the next year. Due to the high barriers to entry, there likely won’t be many new competitors opening shop soon, but bettors who aren’t satisfied with the current options can still place their bets with licensed online sportsbooks.