Sports betting is now legal in Illinois! Nothing has started yet, but in the coming months, Illinoisans will be able to place sports bets at stadiums, casinos and online.
If you have not placed a sports bet for a long time, or if you are new to sports betting, you will be surprised by how far technology has come. Sports betting operators now place the emphasis firmly on fun.
Illinois will soon offer the same sports betting opportunities that are available in Las Vegas. There are now a multitude of bet types that you may have never experienced outside of Sin City.
Following your favorite team or sport is a lot more exciting when you have a few bets riding on the outcome.
If you use illegal offshore sites for your bets, you will be safer switching to the legal offer. No longer will your deposits and withdrawals be a problem. No longer will your money be at risk from unscrupulous operators.
Now you can be sure your money is safe, you are safe and the games are fair. The law and the regulator will make it so.
So if you want to know what to expect and how to get into legal sports betting in Illinois, read on for a complete guide.
The new law says that operators who want a license must pay the fees by July 1, 2020. Nothing will kick off before then but everyone involved will be keen to start taking bets as soon as possible after that date.
Illinois has set out several different license types for different venues, as well as online:
Horse tracks that already take bets can apply for licences, so can licensed casinos.
There are three horse racing tracks and several linked off-track-betting parlors licensed by the Illinois Racing Board:
All three will be eligible to apply for a sports betting license.
There are currently 10 casinos licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).
|Casino Queen||East St. Louis||St. Clair|
|Hollywood Casino Aurora||Aurora||Kane|
|Grand Victoria Casino Elgin||Elgin||Kane|
|Hollywood Casino Joliet||Joliet||Will|
|Argosy’s Alton Belle Casino||Alton||Madison|
|Rivers Casino||Des Plaines||Cook|
|Par-A-Dice Casino||East Peoria||Tazewell|
|Jumer’s Casino & Hotel||Rock Island||Rock Island|
The casino and racetrack license fee is up to $10 million with an annual $1 million payment. The IGB will renew licenses after four years for another $1 million. This looks like a pretty expensive proposition, and maybe not all casinos and racetracks will apply.
On the other hand, Pennsylvania license fees are even higher. PA casinos had to pay $10 million to offer sports betting and another $10 million for a three-pack of internet gaming licenses.
Commentators thought this would deter casinos from applying, but almost all the licenses up for sale found a buyer. Experience suggests that Illinois will go the same way with possibly all ten casinos stumping up the cash.
The $10 million is the upper bound of a fee that is actually based on five percent of the previous year’s gaming revenue, so smaller casinos and racetracks might not be priced out of the market.
Sports stadiums with seating for over 17,000 are also eligible to apply for a license. The license allows the sports venue to offer sports betting live and online, “at or within a 5-block radius of the sports facility.”
The maximum number of licenses that can be issued is seven with each costing $10 million. No discounts are available.
Sports venues that look like they could qualify include:
|Gateway Motorsports Park||Madison||78,000|
|Guaranteed Rate Field||Chicago||40,615|
|Route 66 Raceway||Joliet||30,000|
This is where Illinois really makes sports betting widely available. In the first year of operation, sports betting terminals can be placed in 2,500 lottery vendor locations. Another 2,500 can be deployed in year two.
The only bets that the lottery terminals will accept are “parlay wagers and fixed odds parlay wagers.” Anything more sophisticated will have to be done online or at a live sports betting location.
You have to be 21 and able to prove your age and identity before you can place a bet.
The casinos and racetrack license holders are all allowed to offer online sports betting. Based on experience in other states, most of them will take the opportunity.
On top of the other licenses, Illinois has reserved three slots for online-only providers. These bidders can get a license at double the maximum price for everyone else–$20 million.
They are also not allowed to enter the market until 18 months after the market opens. This bit of the legislation is aimed at online-only operators like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Some politicians weren’t happy that these two kept on offering daily fantasy sports after the Illinois Attorney General gave his opinion that what they were doing was illegal. DraftKings and Fanduel disagreed, so now they will be left in the penalty box while the rest of the operators get a head start.
Opening an online account will be easy. Some sports betting sites operate directly through your web browser. Others require you to download an app to your computer or mobile device. Software is available for PC, Android and iOS devices.
When you have the app installed, simply follow the on-screen instructions to set up your account. Before you download anything, check that the site you are on is licensed by the IGB.
You don’t want to be betting at an illegal offshore site by mistake. The IGB logo and a statement that the site is regulated will be displayed prominently.
Before you can place a bet you will need to make a deposit. Some operators allow you to make a free bet before you deposit, but in either case you must prove your identity and age before you can cash out.
This is straightforward, with some operators enabling the whole thing to be done from your mobile phone.
As soon as you have the software installed, an account in your name and funds deposited you can get started making sports bets!
Now that online sports betting is legal it is easy to make deposits and withdrawals. Typically, online sports betting sites will allow several deposit methods. Some of the most popular are:
Each operator will have its own selection of deposit methods. Just choose whichever is easiest for you.
Before you can withdraw your cash you must first have gone through the identification and age verification processes that prevent underage gambling.
When you are ready to withdraw the operators will offer almost the same selection of methods as they do for deposits. Not all deposit methods can be used for withdrawals e.g. if you use a PayNearMe terminal to make a deposit you will have to use a different withdrawal method.
In the early months of the sports betting roll-out, not all methods will be available, but the operators will rapidly expand their offer as they put the necessary contracts and processes in place.
One thing you will see when sports betting launches is a blinding array of introductory offers. These are designed to entice you to play with one specific operator.
There’s no trick involved here, the offers are real. The principle is that once you start playing with one provider, you get used to that site and become reluctant to leave.
Sports betting operators think in terms of the lifetime value of a customer, so they are willing to put their money up-front to acquire new customers. They do this with new player bonuses and special offers.
Always check the terms of these offers before you sign-up. Depending on the terms, you might want to deposit more, or less money when you start. Typically, a bonus offer comes in one of two varieties:
Here, the operator promises to match your deposit with an equal amount of cash. E.g. If you deposit $100, the operator will offer 100 percent of that as a bonus.
The catch is that the bonus will only be released when you have wagered a specific amount. The best bonuses are those that are easiest to earn. A 1x bonus means you only have to wager the same amount as the bonus before the operator pays it into your account.
Free bets are exactly what they sound like. The operator offers to let you bet a certain amount of money without depositing or taking it from your deposit. If you win you keep the winnings and if you lose, it costs you nothing.
There are as many variations on this theme as you can imagine. Look for the bonus that you are most likely to get. If you only bet $1 at a time, you may never earn a $1,000 deposit bonus with a 3x wagering requirement—so don’t bother trying. Go for something that fits your betting style.
New players often don’t notice that their bets are earning them points in a loyalty scheme. These schemes can offer lots of valuable benefits. In other words they are worth real cash and should not be ignored.
The operators set up loyalty schemes to help them retain players. They earmark a percentage of their vig to give back to players through the loyalty scheme.
Typically the benefits include earning free bets or merchandise in the online store.
Not all bookmakers will offer a loyalty scheme, so if yours does, don’t miss out on the benefits it offers.
Federal law makes it illegal to place sports bets across state lines. This is the famous “Wire Act” of 1961.
State-regulated sports betting is only allowed within a state’s own borders. If you cross the state line, you immediately become ineligible to bet.
So long as you are inside the borders of Illinois and over the age of 21 you are allowed to open an account and bet.
The only exception is for someone who is on the gambling exclusion list. These are people who have decided to exclude themselves from gambling or whom the state has determined are not allowed to gamble.
Employees of casinos and online operators are not allowed to gamble on their own company’s sites.
Tricky question. The reality is that Illinois’ high costs and taxes mean that operating in the state is much more expensive than operating in Nevada.
Gambling taxes at 15 percent are not too high in international terms, but they are three times the rate in Nevada.
Operators can either absorb the extra costs by reducing their profit margin, cut the marketing benefits they offer, or increase their prices. Increasing prices means offering higher odds.
So far, in New Jersey, which has lower taxes than Illinois, odds are in line with those on offer in Las Vegas. In Pennsylvania, with its higher taxes, the only online sports betting site to launch so far, PlaySugarHouse, is keeping its odds in line with Nevada.
The probability is that the competitive Illinois environment will force bookmakers to compete with Vegas-similar odds. At least at first, this may change over time.
The Illinois lawmakers have taken a sensible approach. They allow bets on pretty much all sports, with two major exceptions. As the law states:
“A licensee under this Act may not accept a wager for a sports event involving an Illinois collegiate team.”
“A licensee under this Act may not accept wagers on a kindergarten through 12th grade sports event.”
This doesn’t mean you should expect an explosion on betting on pre-kindergarten competitions!
NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB games are the staple of modern US sports betting. Soccer, including the big international competitions, golf, boxing and tennis are also popular.
Each operator will produce their own list of sports, all will have been pre-approved by the IGB before being presented to the public.
Sports integrity is much more important when large sums are wagered on games. The roll-out of sports betting is creating extra measures to ensure that sports integrity is maintained, and the IGB has specific responsibility for dealing with any suspected breaches.
In short, the games you can legally bet on will be as fair as possible.
The law sets out a non-exclusive list of possible bet types:
“”Sports wagering” includes, but is not limited to, single-game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under, moneyline, pools, exchange wagering, in-game wagering, in-play bets, proposition bets, and straight bets.”
A single-game bet is a bet on one sports event or match. The bet could be on the points spread or the moneyline, but it remains a bet restricted to one match.
A teaser bet is a type of bet that allows the bettor to combine his bets on two different games.
Usually, the bettor can adjust the point spreads for each games, but if this is done there is a lower return on the bet.
Parlay bets are a series of connected bets, where the winnings are only paid if all legs in the parlay win.
If you bet on six matches as a parlay bet, then you have to pick the winners for all six to win your bet. If even one of your picks loses, you lose the whole bet.
Parlay bets give the chance to win a large payout for a small outlay, so they can be a lot of fun. But remember the odds are big because the chances of winning are small.
In an over-under bet you predict the score of both teams added together. The operator quotes a line and the bettor takes either the over or the under.
Moneyline bets are the simplest of all bets. When you place a moneyline bet, you are simply betting on which team will win.
E.g. You see that the moneyline odds on an NBA game are quoted at -450 for team A and +350 for team B.
If you think team A will win, you might bet $20.
At odds of -450, you have to bet $450 to win $100. So if you win, your winnings will be 20/450 x $100 = $4.44. Plus you get your $20 original bet back.
In pool betting bettors pay a fixed price into a pool and select what they think will be the winning outcome. The pool is shared between all bettors who made the right prediction.
There are no odds quoted, and the pool may be on something like the Kentucky Derby, or who will win the Super Bowl.
In a betting exchange every bet is made against another bettor rather than the house. The exchange matches the bets that customers want to make with another customer who wants to take the other side of the bet.
In-game bets are bets made after a game has started. These types of bets bets offer you the chance to double down on a bet that you think is a winner, or place another bet if you think your initial decision was wrong.
They also help if you miss the chance to bet before the game starts—with the new technology, the betting window doesn’t close at kick-off.
Proposition bets, also known as prop bets allow bettors to bet on a whole range of possible events in a game. The events can be specific to the game or to an individual player in the game.
A typical prop bet may be that a specific player will hit a home run or score a goal during a game.
Bettors can also wager on things like what the points spread will be at the end of each quarter or what the total score might be at half-time.
Bettors can even wager on whether a game will go into extra time, or whether player X will achieve a specific metric—anything from making passes to fumbling the ball.
A straight bet is a type of wager where you bet on a single game that carries either a point spread, a total or a money line.
To win a straight bet you must bet on the team that covers the spread or if the two teams cover the over or under.
One thing modern sports betting technology allows is for customers to cash out a bet before the outcome is known.
After you place your bet, the game may well not go the way you expected. Your team may be doing better or worse than you thought.
At this point you can cash out your bet to lock in most of your winnings, or cut your losses.
All of the prospective licensees don’t have the in-house ability to offer sports betting. They need to partner with companies, normally international companies, that can provide the expertise.
Some of Illinois’ casinos are owned by corporations that already have such partnerships in place. For example, the two Harrah’s casinos in Joliet and Metropolis are owned by Caesars Entertainment.
Caesars is already offering sports betting in Mississippi, Nevada and New Jersey. It has a partnership with Scientific Games which also produces the online app for New Jersey. Caesars runs its online poker through a partnership with 888, a European company with operations in regulated markets around the world.
For live sports betting, the name you will see will be that of the casino or racetrack you are used to.
At sports venues, the brand will also be that of the venue, but in both cases you will probably see an extra brand. This will be from the company providing the sports betting platform.
Companies already in the US market include:
The company offering the sports betting will be the license holder, but one of these companies will probably be powering the offer.
No, the gambling taxes are paid by the operators. You may still have to pay income tax on any winnings though — don’t forget when its time to fill in the tax forms.
Every licensed online sports betting operator must display “statement regarding obtaining assistance with gambling problems” on its website. The text will be decided by the regulator.
All the licensed sites will operate a self-exclusion program. This allows you to opt out of gambling for a specified period. This is a great idea even if you don’t think you are a problem gambler.
A big win or a big loss can make you reckless, so a time out to get your head straight before returning to betting is a profitable option.
Operators will allow self-exclusion periods ranging from a day, a week or a month to permanent exclusion.
The IGB already maintains a self-exclusion register and the new law mandates that this is extended to cover the new internet sports betting and online gambling.
Licensed sites will also offer other controls, such as deposit limits to prevent you playing with money you can’t afford to lose. Access to these controls will be clearly indicated in your account details.
Don’t be surprised if you receive an email warning about possible gambling problems from your operator. Internet technology allows for the behavioral characteristics of problem gamblers to be identified. If your play shows any of these characteristics, responsible operators will prompt you to check that you are good to continue.
The bottom line is that sports betting with legal licensed operators is much safer in every respect than gambling with offshore sites.
Gambling in Illinois is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) except for the lottery and lottery venue sports betting. This is regulated by the Department of Revenue. If you have any problems with state legal gaming, you can contact the IGB at:
801 South Seventh Street, Suite 400 – South, Springfield, Illinois 62703
General Information: (217) 524-0226
TDD: (866) 451-5786
160 North LaSalle, Suite 300, Chicago, Illinois 60601
General Information: (312) 814-4700
If you have information about the integrity of gaming you wish to bring to the Board’s attention, please call the Illinois Gaming Board Hotline at (855) 494-0237.
For any problems with lottery sports betting you can use:
Email: [email protected]
Player Hotline: 1-800-252-1775
Everyone in Illinois knows that the state is in financial crisis. The Sports Wagering Act that is opening up gambling is part of a package of measures to help deal with the crisis.
The law was passed by the Senate on June 2 by a vote of 46-10.
The reason sports betting legalization is an option for helping state finances comes down to a multi-year campaign by New Jersey to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).
The campaign ended in May 2018 when the Supreme Court sided with New Jersey. PASPA made sports betting illegal in all states where it wasn’t explicitly in 1992—this is how Nevada has been able to continue sports betting.
The Supreme Court decided that this breached the 10th Amendment which guarantees states’ rights.
Almost as soon as the court ruling was announced, sports betting preparations began. New Jersey was first to launch state-regulated sports betting, with Delaware, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and others following quickly after.
Now 44 states have passed or are considering sports betting legislation.
Illinois is part of the trend. Policy makers now realize that they can pass legislation that protects sports bettors form the illegal offshore sites. At the same time they get the benefit of keeping $150 billion a year of sports bets inside the US and can tax the profits.
Illinoisan sports bettors will soon see the benefits. Stay tuned to PlayIllinois for all the news, as it happens.