Legal sports betting in Illinois begins in 2020, with legislation that authorizes both in-person and online betting in the state. The rollout has been a strained ordeal, and questions remain about the permanent rules that will define the Illinois sports betting market.
You must be at least 21 years of age to bet on sports in Illinois. The state’s existing casinos can immediately apply to offer both retail and online betting, while other online operators are subject to an 18-month waiting period before they can enter the market.
Online betting options in Illinois are currently limited, but mobile wagering did kick off in July 2020. Currently, you do not need to register in-person at a casino before betting online in Illinois.
Let’s take a close look at all the key info you need to know about betting on sports in Chicago and Illinois.
Best Online Sportsbooks in Illinois
DraftKings began as a daily fantasy leader and has grown into one of the best brands for legal US sports betting. Illinois sports bettors will find plenty of promotions and a vast sports betting menu at the DraftKings Sportsbook.Bonus: Up to $1,000 Credit
FanDuel was built on their daily fantasy success. Now, they offer a flawless betting app and an excellent online sportsbook. Illinois bettors can expect superior live betting and tons of features catering to new gamblers.Bonus: $1,000 Risk-Free Bet
BetRivers has a reliable history built from their roots in casino gambling. Illinois bettors can find one of the best sportsbooks in the market at BetRivers.Bonus: Up to $250
PointsBet launched in the US in 2019 and expanded to Illinois in 2020. Illinois sports bettors will find the PointsBet app user-friendly, and can enjoy the innovative and unique PointsBetting wagering style.Bonus: $1,000 Risk-Free Bets
William Hill has exported its well-known sportsbook brand to the US, offering legal sports betting for Illinois residents. Look forward to one of the biggest futures, props, and in-play betting markets in the industry.Bonus: 100% up to $150
Illinois Sports Betting at a Glance
As the fifth-largest state in the nation and home to most of the 9.5 million people living in Chicagoland, Illinois has the potential to be one of the largest legal sports betting markets in the world.
The rollout of the legal market has been full of interruptions and debate, with retail sports betting in March 2020 before being immediately halted as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The online market has been stifled by a “penalty box” provision that makes it difficult for large online sportsbooks to enter the market for 18 months. Online operators like BetRivers and DraftKings have launched in spite of a rule that requires bettors to register their online account in-person at a partner casino.
While Illinois lawmakers pursued legal sports betting in the state beginning immediately after the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the embrace has been lukewarm.
Illinois has a bone to pick with daily fantasy sports (DFS) powerhouses DraftKings and FanDuel – who also happen to be the largest legal online sports betting operators in the US.
Because they previously defied the State Attorney General’s orders to cease offering DFS in the state, legislators got creative in hurting their chances for a first-mover’s advantage in the online market.
As a result, all online-only operators are barred for 18 months, effectively preventing DK and FanDuel from setting up shop until 2022, unless they can partner with an existing licensed casino. DraftKings partnered with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, IL, allowing them to launch online and retail operations within Illinois’ first year of legal sports betting.
The state has placed another roadblock in front of would-be online operators with an in-person registration requirement that requires bettors to verify their online accounts at a retail sportsbook before placing any wagers. This measure was temporarily lifted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing Illinois bettors to register remotely.
The result is a market with massive upside potential, with regulatory confusion slowing its growth. Remote registration has been a boon for the 2020 launch Illinois’ legal sports betting market.
BetRivers was able to launch quickly following the suspension of in-person registration requirements. They do not require an online license since the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is licensed to offer sports betting.
Here are online betting sites available in Illinois:
|William Hill||Read Review|
These legal betting sites have earned our endorsement for their well-priced odds, lucrative bonuses, a wide range of betting options, and overall convenience.
Each also offers strong mobile sports betting platforms with dedicated sportsbook apps.
Illinois Sports Betting Apps & Mobile Betting
Sports bettors in Illinois have the flexibility to bet from their phones anywhere, at any time.
While Illinois lawmakers have taken a cautious – or in the case of Fanduel and DraftKings, punitive – approach by only allowing land-based operators to launch a single online betting platform, the state’s market is likely to eventually be dominated by mobile betting.
Most of us connect with sports primarily through our mobile devices, so the options for fully-remote betting is a must for any state that wants to prevent residents from visiting unlicensed offshore operators or simply driving across state lines into, say, Indiana.
The best betting apps make it easy to browse the odds and betting options on the go and support the same functionality as their desktop-version counterparts.
Note that some betting apps are market-specific, meaning you will be required to download the ‘Illinois version’ to place wagers within the state.
Here are the sports betting apps available in Illinois:
|Betting App||State-Specific?||More Info|
Note that the BetRivers app is available for Android users only, while all others are available for both iOS and Android. Simply follow the links in the table above for a complete review of the sportsbooks features and bonuses you can expect to find at each.
Illinois Sports Betting Bonuses & Promos
The opportunity to take advantage of lucrative bonuses and promotions is one of the best things about betting on sports online.
While retail sportsbooks in casinos may offer occasional promos, they are a new customer acquisition play the sportsbooks mostly reserve for online players.
The promos can add significant amounts to your bankroll, so keep an eye for the best offers as online sportsbooks go live in Illinois.
BetRivers offers a generous $250 deposit match for new players. Click here to redeem this bonus.
Many promos take the form of boosted odds that offer a bigger potential payout for the same risk. Other bonuses include risk-free bet credits or even skills-based contests.
No matter which sportsbook you go with, make sure they are licensed to operate by the Illinois Gaming Board.
Let’s take a detailed look at the sports betting laws in Illinois you need to be aware of.
Legal Illinois Sports Betting
Illinois doesn’t have a great record in terms of politics and policy. Chicago has long been known as a hotbed of transactional politics and special interests. Remember when Governor Rod Blagojevich tried to sell Barack Obama’s US Senate seat?
The path to sports betting legalization in the state was unsurprisingly full of overly personal debate and consideration of a huge number of interests. The legislation is among the most complicated sports betting laws in the country.
While the law is intended to offer a fair shake to smaller operators and protect consumers, the extremely high regulatory burden is likely to have the opposite effect, where only companies with huge amounts of funding are able to establish themselves in the market.
Sports betting in Illinois is authorized under the Sports Wagering Act (230 ILCS 45). Permanent rules regarding operations in the state were adopted on June 4, 2020. You can review them in detail, but the key info is summarized below.
Online Sports Betting in Illinois
Online sports betting in Illinois is legal, per se, but online operators have struggled to launch in the state. Confusing and expensive regulations have a lot to do with this.
The online betting market has been hampered by in-person registration requirements, a confusing licensing structure, and exorbitant fees and taxes.
Confusion Over Remote Registration
Illinois originally instituted an 18-month rollout period for online betting, during which bettors must visit a retail sportsbook location at a casino or racetrack to verify their online betting accounts.
As we’ve seen in Iowa, in-person registration requirements are a significant barrier to the growth of the online market. . If the in-person registration requirement returns, the wide-open market for legal online betting a short drive away in Indiana is sure to lure countless Chicago bettors across state lines.
That said, this restriction has been lifted and re-imposed several times during 2020. Fully remote registration is currently authorized in Illinois.
Online sportsbooks in Illinois are required to check user’s location whenever they attempt to place a wager or fund their accounts.
Geo-comply software will ping your location frequently when visiting your sportsbook of choice. Most betting apps have integrated this functionality with the location services on your mobile device, while computer users will generally need to download an unobtrusive software package directly from their sportsbook website.
Note that you do not need to be an Illinois resident to use a betting app or online betting site in the state. Location requirements apply to your physical presence within state lines rather than your regular place of residence.
Online Sports Betting Licenses in Illinois
The real issue preventing online betting from getting off the ground has to do with licensing. The Sports Wagering Act has put in place an exceedingly complex process to award online betting licenses in Illinois.
To operate an online sportsbook in Illinois, operators must hold a “master license” that allows them to offer sports wagering in the state generally. Only existing casinos, racetracks, and professional sporting arenas are eligible to apply for the master licenses.
Master licensees are authorized to launch just one online platform per license. This means each of the state’s existing casinos can either partner with a single existing online brand, or create their own online platform.
Unlike in most other states with legal online sports betting, Illinois casinos cannot use their license to offer multiple online “skins” (brands). What’s more, they must receive separate approval for their online platform after receiving a master license.
These ‘master’ licensees are the only operators who can offer any sports wagering until spring 2023.
The state has also allotted three online-only licenses to be awarded on a competitive basis following an 18-month review period. The Illinois Gaming Board could award a license at any point during the 18-month review period, at which time the in-person registration requirement will end statewide.
The bottom line is that much uncertainty remains in terms of when large online sports betting brands will be able to get the right licenses to operate in Illinois.
To start, all online sports betting is tied to the state’s existing casinos. To date, none have applied to launch an online platform.
Licensing fees are also among the highest in the nation. Master license fees for existing casinos, racetracks, and sporting arenas depend on their existing revenue and are capped at $10 million, while online-only licenses will cost $20 million.
Sports betting taxes in Illinois fall towards the middle of the pack when compared with other states that offer legal online betting. The Illinois sports betting tax rate is 15% of gross adjusted revenue, or the amount left over after winnings have been paid.
While they aren’t the highest in the country, these financial hurdles are significant enough to limit Illinois’ online market. Lower taxes and licensing fees mean more competition, which leads to better odds and juicier bonuses for you, the sports bettor.
Illinois Retail Sports Betting: Where You Can Bet In-Person
Finding a location to bet on sports in person is relatively easy in Illinois. And while its hard to match the convenience and flexibility that comes with the ability to bet from anywhere online, visiting a casino or racetrack does have its advantages.
Nothing can replace a brick-and-mortar sportsbook if you’re looking to soak up the excitement of a room full of bettors anxiously keeping tabs on their action.
Luckily, several Illinois casinos both surrounding Chicago and further afield have received the master licenses required to operate retail sportsbooks.
The following casinos have been authorized to offer retail sports betting in Illinois:
- Argosy Casino Alton
- Grand Victoria Casino
- Hollywood Casino Aurora
- Hollywood Casino Joliet
- Rivers Casino-Des Plaines
- Casino Queen
- Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino
Find the full address, hours of operation, and name of the sportsbook at each IL retail location below.
|Argosy Casino Alton||Sportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton||1 Piasa Street
Alton, IL 62002
|Sunday to Thursday: 9am – 1am
Friday & Saturday: 9am – 3am
|Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin||Grand Victoria Sportsbook||250 S Grove Ave, Elgin, IL 60120||Daily: 8:30am – 6:30am|
|Hollywood Casino Aurora||Sportsbook at Hollywood Aurora||1 W New York St, Aurora, IL 60506||Sunday to Thursday: 8:30am – 4:30am
Friday & Saturday: 8:30am – 6:30am
|Hollywood Casino Joliet||Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Joliet||777 Hollywood Blvd, Joliet, IL 60436||Daily: 8am – 4am|
|Rivers Casino-Des Plaines||BetRivers Sportsbook||3000 S River Rd, Des Plaines, IL 60018||Daily: 10am – 12am|
|Casino Queen||DraftKings at Casino Queen||200 S Front St, East St Louis, IL 62201||Daily: 8am – 3am|
|Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino||Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino Sportsbook||21 Blackjack Blvd, East Peoria, IL 61611||Sunday to Thursday: 8am – 4am
Friday & Saturday: 8am – 6am
*Hours are subject to change due to COVID-19
Illinois Sports Betting Rules & Restrictions
Despite the complicated licensing regime, Illinois has taken a relatively open-minded approach to sports betting offerings themselves.
There are only a few restrictions on who can bet on sports in the state. Similarly, most popular sporting events and wagering types are fair game at Illinois sportsbooks and betting apps.
Who Can Bet on Sports in Illinois?
Most adults who are physically present in the state can bet on sports in Illinois. You must be at least 21 years of age and physically located within the state.
So long as you are not on a self-exclusion list, you are otherwise able to bet on sports legally in Illinois.
Which Sports and Events Can I Bet on in Illinois?
The Illinois Gaming Board states that “The Sports Wagering Act and the proposed rules allow master sports wagering licensees to offer wagers on any professional sport, any motorsport, and any collegiate sport excluding those involving Illinois collegiate teams.”
This is a broad mandate that allows wagering on a huge range of events from around the world.
No Betting on Illinois Collegiate Teams
Along with sports betting behemoth New Jersey, Illinois does not allow any wagering on collegiate events that include a team or athlete representing a college or university in the state.
Luckily, bettors in the state have lots of hometown professional teams to back.
Other Events of “Relative Skill” May Be Allowed
While the Sports Wagering Act explicitly allows professional sports and (most) collegiate with no need for individual approval, sportsbooks can apply for permission to offering wagering on other events of “relative skill.”
It will be interesting to see how the Illinois Gaming Board interprets this element of the legislation. In theory, it could allow betting on emerging categories such as eSports.
Which Types of Wagering Are Allowed on These Events?
Illinois allows all the most popular wagering types found at online betting sites, including:
- Straight bets (Moneyline, spread, O/U)
- Parlays & Accumulators
- Pleasers & Teasers
- Player & Championship Futures
- Live Betting
- Props & Exotics
The board has reserved the right to ban any form of wagering they find contrary to the public interest over time. At the time of launch, however, all wagering types are fair play at Illinois sportsbooks.
Illinois Sports Betting FAQs
Can I legally bet on sports in Illinois?
Yes, sports betting was legalized in Chicago in 2020.
How can I start betting online in Chicago?
Review the sportsbooks within this article to see which is best suited to you.
What sports can I bet on in Illinois?
You can bet on most largely popular events in Chicago. However, you cannot bet on any teams or individuals representing a college institution.
How old do you have to be to bet on sports in Illinois?
To legally bet on sports in Illinois, you must be at least 21 years old.
Local Teams Worth Betting On
While we advise you to bet with your head and not your heart, SBD understands that fans want to support their favorite teams. Get started with these local Illinois teams:
- Chicago Cubs
- Chicago White Sox
- Chicago Bears
- Chicago Bulls
- Chicago Blackhawks
We’re here to provide the data and analysis you need to bet confidently and intelligently; with betting tools and editorial coverage you can quickly use to gauge the betting value of your favorite teams.
Visit SBD Sharp to find a detailed return on investment data for any NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, or college basketball and football teams.
Illinois Sports Betting History
With a couple of exceptions, sports betting was illegal across the United States until the Supreme Court overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018.
Illinois moved quickly to create a regulatory framework for legal sports wagering in the state, but the state lawmakers had a difficult road to reach final legislation that could be agreed upon.
Here are the key dates on the path to legalization:
May 2018: The US Supreme Court overturns PASPA, opening the door for each state to create their own laws regulating sports betting.
Jan – August 2018: More than five separate bills regulating sports betting are proposed in the months immediately preceding and following the PASPA repeal. It’s clear from the get-go that Illinois lawmakers have a wide range of opinions regarding what sports betting should look like in the state.
June 2019: Lawmakers in both chambers agree on a bipartisan bill that includes the final stipulations described in this article. It is signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker as the Sports Wagering Act.
March 2020: The first wagers are accepted at Rivers Casino. Within days, all of the state’s casinos are forced to shut down as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
June 2020: Governor Pritzker signs an executive order temporarily lifting the in-person registration requirement for online sportsbooks.
July 2020: Governor Pritzker rescinds the order allowing for remote registration.
Sharpen Your Betting Skills at SBD
Sports betting is a challenge whether you’re completely new to the game or an experienced old hand. Even with years of experience under your belt, the path to long-term profitability requires consistent adjustments and new skills.
Sports Betting Dime is here to help you bet with confidence wherever your experience level lies with guides and tools that can ultimately help you bet smarter and make more money.
Check out our Sports Betting 101 section to cover the basics, or find sport-specific betting advice in our How to Bet on Sports section. From there, you can pick up more advanced betting systems with our comprehensive articles on Sports Betting Strategy.
Investing a bit of time to sharpen your skills will pay off when betting on sports at Illinois casinos and betting sites. Best of luck, and enjoy the action out there.