Illinois Gambling and Sports Betting News

The latest on Illinois gambling, sports betting, lottery and more.

Legal sports betting has finally arrived in Illinois.

Illinois is now home to BetRivers, DraftKingsFanDuelPointsBet and William Hill online sportsbooks. Retail sports betting locations are now accepting wagers, including Hollywood casinos in Aurora and Joliet, and William Hill at Grand Victoria Casino.

In June 2020, Gov. JB Pritzker suspending the in-person registration requirement amid the coronavirus pandemic. Then he rescinded that order in July but reinstated it again on Aug. 21.

As a result, sports bettors in Illinois can register online or via their phones.

This reversal will last through at least Nov. 14.

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Legal Gambling Options in Illinois

Online Sports Betting

Currently, there are three online sportsbooks in Illinois. BetRivers launched on June 18, thanks to an executive order from the governor. DraftKings followed suit on Aug. 5. FanDuel launched on Aug. 28 and PointsBet did the same on Sept. 12. William Hill went live with its app on Sept. 15.

Casinos, lottery outlets, stadiums and racetracks can apply for licenses, along with three online-only licenses.

We expect other brands like Fox Bet and Unibet to offer sports betting via apps and online soon.

You can bet on pro sports and college games (as long as those college games occur outside of the state). As well as all the popular single match and parlay bets. Newer forms of sports betting will be available online, such as in-play betting on live events and cash-out betting.

Online Lottery

The Illinois Lottery has been running since 1974. Today, you’ll find regular in-state draws and big multi-state prizes like the Powerball and Mega Millions.

Unusually, you can buy lottery tickets online in Illinois. Instant-play games are available, many of which are themed.

Examples include Deal or No Deal and games featuring local sports teams.

The IL Lottery has several charitable funds that support children, veterans and infrastructure.

Retail Sports Betting

Racetracks, casinos and off-track betting (OTB) offices will be among the venues hosting retail sportsbooks in Illinois. The first Illinois sportsbooks opened on March 9 but closed two weeks later in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, more retail sportsbooks are opening in Illinois in advance of football season. There are currently eight retail sportsbooks open in Illinois, including DraftKings at Casino Queen, Argosy Casino, Hollywood casinos, Grand Victoria in Elgin, Rivers Des Plaines, Par-A-Dice Casino and Hawthorne Race Course.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests run in Illinois, despite being a contentious legal area.

Major sites, including FanDuel and DraftKings, offering real money picks. Both operators are currently fighting an opinion from the attorney general that DFS contests are illegal gambling.

There have been attempts to regulate and license DFS contests over the last few years, though bills haven’t managed to make it through the legislative process.

Retail and Online Casinos

Illinois will see more land-based casinos, including a new venue in Chicago as well as five others.

Currently, 10 Illinois casinos offer slots, table games and some also host poker.

The bill SB 690 did not allow for regulated online casinos in Illinois.

The only legal online options are at casinos using sweepstakes gambling laws. These sites operate countrywide and use a virtual currency called “sweeps cash.”

Live and Online Poker Rooms

There are two types of poker in Illinois.

Many of the major casinos offer poker games, including the Harrah’s venues, Hollywood Casino venues and the Grand Victoria Casino. The other sites are charity poker rooms.

Illinois hosts many significant poker tournament events, including the World Series of Poker circuit and local-run festivals.

The bill SB 690 didn’t include any provision for online poker.

The only legal online poker option is Global Poker, which operates under sweepstakes gambling rules.

Illinois Gambling FAQ

Is gambling legal in Illinois?

Yes, casinos, horse racing, lottery gambling and charitable gambling have been legal in Illinois for many years.

More recently, bill SB 690 adds online and retail sports betting to this list. Gov. JB Pritzker signed this bill in June 2019. The licensing process is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Gaming Board.

The first batch of sportsbooks went live starting in May 2020.

This bill will increase the number of brick-and-mortar casinos by six, including one in Chicago. The number of gambling machines in the state will also increase.

Will online casinos open in Illinois, too?

No, bill SB 690 didn’t include a provision for online casino games.

The only options for online casino games are the nationwide sites that operate legally in the state under sweepstakes gambling laws. Brands include Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots.

If online sports betting is a success and contributes substantial revenues to the state coffers, we might see an online casino bill in the future.

Will online poker launch in Illinois?

No, as with casino games, online poker was not included in the current legislation. There is a sweepstakes site (Global Poker) that will legally offer online poker games in Illinois.

Are offshore sportsbooks legal or safe?

No, depositing at offshore sportsbooks is a major risk. With legal and regulated online sports betting now available in Illinois, there isn’t any need to risk your money this way.

These books are based in small nations in the Caribbean or Central America, with little oversight. You won’t have anyone to turn to if you have nonpayment or other dispute.

With legal Illinois sports betting, you’ll have a lot of advantages.

These include regular deposit options (following in-person registration) like credit cards or bank transfers, the best odds and range of bets, plus the security of the Illinois Gaming Board to turn to should you need them.

Compare this will need to deposit using bitcoin or expensive prepaid vouchers offshore, and you’ll quickly realize that legal sports betting is the safest option.

What is the legal gambling age in Illinois?

You must be 21 years or older to place a bet legally in Illinois.

What can I bet on in Illinois?

Most forms of gambling are available in the Prairie State, though not all of them are available online. These include:

  • Casino games and slots at live casinos or sweepstakes gambling sites.
  • Poker at casinos or charity poker rooms or via sweepstakes gambling.
  • Sports betting online or at retail venues (excluding bets on college sports that happen in-state).
  • Lottery games include Illinois-only draws, multi-state draws, scratch cards and online games.
  • Horse racing bets via the pari-mutuel pools, live and online.
  • DFS contests run in IL, though these are the topic of legal challenges.

There are also bingo and draws allowed under charitable gambling regulations.

Do registered users need to visit a casino if in-person registration resumes?

No. If you’ve already registered for an online sportsbook in Illinois, you don’t need to do anything regardless of the state’s mandate at that time. But if the requirement returns, new users will need to visit a casino to sign up.


How to download a sports betting app

Your first task is to choose from the major brand online sportsbooks that are coming to Illinois.

You can take advantage of the free bets and matched welcome bonuses at several to see which interface you like the best.

You can access online sportsbooks in two ways:

First, you can use your web browser, which works on laptop and desktop computers.

Secondly, you can access your favorite sportsbook via your mobile device. For the best mobile experience, downloading t app is the way to go.

Illinois sportsbooks will detect your device type and automatically offer you the right type of download:

  • Apple Devices: If you go to a betting website via your iPhone or iPad, you’ll be directed to the Apple Store to complete the sportsbook iOS app download.
  • Android Devices: Since Google Play doesn’t allow any gambling apps, you’ll need to download the sports betting app from the sportsbook website instead. On some devices, you’ll need to update your settings to allow downloads from “unknown sources.”

Note that some sports betting apps require additional geolocation detection to know that you are within state lines before you place a bet.

How to sign up to an online betting account

All the sports betting brands need your individual information when you register an account.

You’ll find the ways the sites collect this information can vary. When you first visit a website, hit the sign-up button and follow the prompts.

The betting site will ask you to provide a screen name, your email address, date of birth, address, telephone number and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

ID documents aren’t typically a part of the request, though you might need to provide them for additional security screening.

The final stage is to verify at the retail sportsbook associated with your brand. This requirement will expire in two years when the first mobile-only licenses are made available. This requirement is currently suspended through Sept. 19 because of the pandemic.

How to fund your sportsbook account

Unlike illegal offshore sportsbooks, you can fund your Illinois gambling account using the same options you use to make online purchases.

You’ll be able to deposit and withdraw safely using any of the following options:

  • Credit or Debit Cards: All sportsbooks will welcome Visa and Mastercard.
  • Prepaid Debit Cards: In other states, major operators, like DraftKings, have branded prepaid cards. You fund these from your bank (or regular credit card), which allow you to keep keep your gambling bankroll and regular spending separate.
  • Bank transfers using ACH: This type of local transfer is also known as e-checks. You can get additional verification, which speeds this up.
  • Bill Pay: Treat sports betting as a utility bill, using bill pay at major banks only.
  • Bank Wires: This method has more significant charges than ACH, though many people who deposit substantial cash use it. Some books accept cashier’s checks and money orders.
  • PayPal: This popular e-wallet lets you keep your bank and online merchants and sportsbooks separate. Alternative brands, including Skrill and Neteller, are available.
  • Cash Payment Options: You can take cash to the cage at the retail casino or use a commercial service like PayNearMe.

Note that legal sportsbooks will ask you to use the same method you used to deposit funds to withdraw (where this is possible), which helps control fraud and money laundering.

Retail sportsbooks in Illinois

All of the tribal and riverboat casinos in Illinois can apply for a sports betting license.

There are also off-track betting (OTB) offices that may expand to include full sportsbooks, plus seven stadiums, one racetrack and lottery retail outlets. Until the licensing process wraps up in early 2020, we do not know the complete list.

Here are the eight Illinois locations with retail sportsbooks:

  1. Casino Queen, East St. Louis 
  2. Hollywood Casino, Aurora
  3. Hollywood Casino, Joliet
  4. Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin
  5. Argosy Casino, Alton
  6. Rivers Casino, Des Plaines
  7. Par-A-Dice Casino, East Peoria
  8. Hawhorne Race Course, Cicero

Responsible gambling

Responsible gambling programs include all the protections and assistance for those who develop issues with their gaming habits.

Online sportsbooks provide additional tools and assistance to balance the ease of access. While most people gamble for fun and do so safely and responsibly, a small percentage of people have issues.

Responsible gambling features include:

  • Advice on what constitutes problem gambling (a self-assessment quiz).
  • A list of charities’ telephone numbers and websites that offer help.
  • Tools to manage bet and deposit amounts, and time spent on the gambling site.
  • Tools to take a timeout or completely self-exclude.