Illinois Sports Betting and Mobile Betting Apps

Illinois sports betting has finally arrived!

BetRivers Sportsbook in Des Plaines took the first legal wager in the state’s history on March 9.

Bet Rivers will not be the only game in town, however. Thanks to a few quirks in its law, Illinois is poised to become the state with the most sports betting locations of any state.

Read on for the latest on Illinois’ quest to offer a variety of wagering options on sporting events.

Illinois sports betting launch date

The state’s casinos, racetracks and stadiums began applying for licenses in December 2019, according to reports from the Illinois Gaming Board.

Obviously, it will take time to complete the applications, submit them and have them approved by the board.

Whether the operators will begin to build out their sportsbooks in anticipation of receiving a license remains unclear. However, with so many possibilities for sportsbooks in Illinois, it stands to reason that Illinois residents and visitors will soon have dozens of options.

Where to make legal sports bets in Illinois

Illinois bettors will have an extensive variety of locations at their disposal when sports betting gets underway.

Here are the various options that are coming to you in the near future.


Illinois is home to 10 casino properties, most of which are riverboats. However, thanks to the Sports Wagering Act (230 ILCS 45), all 10 are eligible to open sportsbooks on-site.

Most of the properties will apply, receive licenses and begin accepting wagers on sporting events within a year. The profit potential that sports betting brings is simply too great to ignore.


Illinois also hosts three horse racetracks inside its borders. By law, these three properties are permitted to open sportsbooks at their facilities.

Illinois racetracks are somewhat uncommon in that they do not offer other types of gambling to occur at the track. Beyond live racing and simulcast wagering, Illinois bettors cannot put money on anything.

So, it seems likely that all three tracks will want to offer sports betting as an alternative revenue stream.

You shouldn’t be surprised if all three locations house sportsbooks in the next year or so.

Sports venues

The Sports Wagering Act allowed for the third group of locations to offer sports betting. Sports arenas and venues around the state can apply for licensure on their events.

Now, the law places a restriction on the size of the venue that can offer sports betting. Only stadiums with seating for 17,000 or more are eligible to apply. The law provides for the issuance of up to seven licenses.

Several stadiums around the state fit the criterion. How many will move that direction remains unclear.

Mobile apps and online sports betting sites

All three of the above groups of locations are eligible to receive licenses known as master sports betting licenses.

These licenses come with the ability to open retail sportsbooks, of course, but they also grant the ability to launch mobile apps, too.

So, potentially, any master sports wagering licensee could expand into the online space. Undoubtedly, some will choose to do so, although it’s not clear how many will.

As a result, several mobile sports betting sites in Illinois will grow organically out of the retail operations. However, the law also provides for three standalone mobile sports betting licenses, too.

Even companies that miss out on partnering with one of the land-based sites could potentially enter the Illinois market.

drawback to this opportunity, though, is because the law is requiring that in-person registration proceeds for the first 18 months that sports betting is active.

By definition, a standalone mobile provider wouldn’t have a land-based location to offer registration. So, it’s unclear how that will work.

But, with so many people in Illinois, few operators will decide to throw up their hands on the Prairie State. There are sure to be plenty of options.

Lottery vendors

Illinois has positioned itself to become the leading provider of sports betting in terms of sheer location numbers. The main thrust of this positioning is the fact that the law will allow any lottery vendor to offer sports betting.

However, the sports betting offerings will be a much more limited version than will be present in the state’s sportsbooks. Each lottery vendor will be able to place a sports betting terminal at the location, nothing more.

These terminals are not full-service sportsbooks. The only types of games that they can offer, according to the law, are “parlay wagers and fixed-odds parlay wagers.”

So, the bets at the terminals will be more like a lottery promotional game than a true sports bet. The games will be similar to Sports ActionOregon’s parlay game that qualified as one of the few exemptions under the old federal sports betting ban, PASPA.

The fact that Sports Action qualified for an exemption is instructive as to how closely these types of games resemble actual sports betting. However, there isn’t any doubt that they are expanding on the existing offering that the state lottery provides.

How to bet online in Illinois

Regardless of which online sportsbook is the first to launch in Illinois, the procedure for using the site will be roughly the same. Obviously, the first step will be to access the Illinois sports betting app or site.

Few online sportsbooks will fail to have options for both browsers and mobile apps. In most cases, operators will set their browser version to detect what type of device you are using to access the site and to optimize accordingly.

iPhone and iPad customers will be able to download the apps directly from the Apple App Store most of the time. Simply search for the name of the sportsbook, and the iOS app will be free to download.

Android users will have to set their devices to accept downloads from other sources and will have to get the app somewhere besides the Google Play Store. In most cases, the download will be available on the operator’s site itself, but make sure to run a search for the Android file to ease the process.

How to create a sportsbook account

Once you have access to the desired app, you will need to register for an account.

Look for a button on the homepage of the app that says “Register,” “Join Now,” “Sign Up” or something similar.

Clicking or pressing this button will take you to a registration form with many blanks. Fill out these blanks with the personal information specified for each box.

The individual information that a form will request may include:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Email address
  • Home address
  • Cellphone number
  • Social Security number
  • Gender

Some forms will also have two drop-down security question options. These questions tend to be innocuous personal questions, like your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet.

Make sure to provide the correct answer, and be sure that it’s an answer you can remember. Also, make sure to remember how the answer was spelled and capitalized, as the sportsbook usually won’t leave room for error.

There will likely be a few verifications that the book will request on the registration page, too. Usually, the page will ask you to check boxes to verify that you are of legal age, you are not among a prohibited group of bettors and that you told the truth during the registration process.

Before submitting the registration, make sure to check this page for any bonus or promotional codes relevant to the chosen site. Many sportsbooks will provide new customers with free money or bets. Sometimes, we will have exclusive offers that are unavailable elsewhere. If there is a code, copy or fill it into the appropriate box on the registration page.

After that, hit the button at the bottom of the page to complete the process.

Banking for Illinois online sports betting

Obviously, the next step in the process of wagering on sports online in Illinois is to fund your account. Without funds invested, you can’t wager on teams and games.

Some sportsbooks may whisk you from the registration page to the deposit page automatically. However, it is not a requirement to deposit immediately if you would prefer to peruse the site first. Make sure to deposit when you feel comfortable, and not before.

It will not be difficult to determine where to go to make that first deposit, though. Usually, there isn’t any single feature on the app that will stand out more vividly than the cashier.

Once on the deposit page, you will typically find five to 10 options for conducting your transactions. Few players won’t be able to deposit through at least one of these methods.

However, as was the case with registering, it is vital to check this page for promos before making that first deposit. Sportsbooks routinely offer bonuses for deposits, especially if it’s your first infusion of cash.

Make sure to look for any promo codes that can enhance the value of your deposit. Potentially, you could receive hundreds of extra dollars from the site.

One last thing to check before depositing is the fee or fees associated with the method. Some sportsbooks will charge a processing fee to use various types of deposit.

Also, please be sure to check with your bank or financial institution for fees, too. Some banks, particularly concerning credit cards, can be quite reticent about processing a transaction to a gambling site.

Here are some of the deposit methods that could appear in Illinois sportsbooks:

  • Credit or debit card
  • Electronic check
  • Electronic wallet (PayPal, Skrill, etc.)
  • Prepaid card
  • PayNearMe
  • Online bank transfer
  • Wire transfer
  • Cash at the land-based partner’s cage

Naturally, players who put money into an online sportsbook are going to want to get it back out. Online sportsbooks understand this reality, and will also have several options for withdrawals, too.

For a variety of reasons, some deposit methods simply won’t work for withdrawals, however. Depending on the way they do business, these methods may only function in one direction.

The method that you apply for depositing can also determine which withdrawal method you are eligible to use. In some cases, such as electronic wallets, it may be necessary to deposit using the e-wallet in order to make it possible to withdraw to it.

As is the case with deposits, it is also a good idea to check for any fees associated with the withdrawal method. Make sure to look for any charges that could occur on the back end of the transaction, too. Using an ATM or processing a transfer from PayPal could potentially bear a cost.

Here are some of the more common withdrawal methods that online sportsbooks use:

  • Check by mail
  • Electronic check
  • Electronic wallet
  • Prepaid card
  • Online bank transfer
  • Cash at the land-based partner’s cage

List of Illinois locations that may have sportsbooks

Illinois will soon offer sports betting at thousands of sites. The placement of terminals at any lottery vendors will yield expanded opportunities for sports betting that surpass options in most states.

However, in terms of where bona fide sportsbooks could appear, the possibilities are more clear-cut. Only casinos, racetracks and stadiums with seating over 17,000 can host sportsbooks on-site.

One thing to note about the possibilities for stadiums, though, is that the Illinois law prohibits wagering on any in-state college teams. So, even though several collegiate venues would qualify, it seems less likely that they would want to host wagering when fans could not bet the games that are happening in the venues.

Please note that the list below is not meant to be exhaustive. Possible locations for sportsbooks in Illinois include:

Potential locations for Illinois sportsbooks within a casino

  • Argosy Casino Alton
  • Casino Queen
  • Grand Victoria Casino
  • Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel
  • Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel
  • Hollywood Casino Aurora
  • Hollywood Casino & Hotel Joliet
  • Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
  • Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino
  • Rivers Casino Des Plaines

Potential locations for Illinois Sportsbooks within a Racetrack

  • Arlington International Racecourse
  • Fairmount Park Racetrack
  • Hawthorne Race Course
  • Motorsports
  • Chicagoland Speedway
  • World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway

Stadiums are another possibility

  • Wrigley Field
  • Soldier Field
  • United Center
  • Guaranteed Rate Field
  • SeatGeek Stadium
  • Allstate Arena

Possible Illinois online sportsbook operators

Alongside the list of possibilities for sportsbook locations, a long list of sportsbook operators could be showing up in Illinois quite soon.

Since Illinois is such a populous state (sixth, just behind Pennsylvania), there shouldn’t be any shortage of interest for operators that want to expand their customer bases.

We can figure out some of the most likely candidates due to the state’s existing casino operators. Many of these operators either already have a sports betting partner in other locations, or handle the operations themselves.

For instance, the Argosy Casino Alton and the two Hollywood casinos are both owned by Penn National Gaming.

Penn National has an ongoing relationship with DraftKings, so it seems likely that the company in black and green will be launching in the Land of Lincoln at some point soon.

In another case, Caesars Entertainment owns both Harrah’s properties in Illinois. Caesars has used Scientific Games to power its sports betting operations in the past, so expanding into the Prairie State would make sense.

In short, several companies have to be the odds-on favorites to pop up in Illinois soon. However, bear in mind that three standalone online licenses are up for grabs under the new law, too. So, it’s hard to count any company out right now.

Possible online sports betting sites in Illinois include:

  • DraftKings
  • Scientific Games
  • William Hill
  • BetRivers
  • 888
  • Fox Bet
  • FanDuel
  • BetMGM
  • SBTech
  • Kambi
  • IGT

What sports can I bet in Illinois?

In terms of which sports will be available for betting, few restrictions are enumerated by law. By and large, these restrictions can be summarized as a prohibition on any amateur or minor league sports.

So, there are specific bans on sporting events involving high school, college or minor league teams. It appears that the restriction on collegiate events only affects in-state colleges, so there may be opportunities for contests of national interest.

Based upon Illinois law and the operations elsewhere, the following sports are likely to be available for wagering:

  • Baseball (MLB)
  • Basketball (NBA and some NCAA)
  • Boxing
  • Football (NFL and some NCAA)
  • Golf
  • Hockey (NHL)
  • Mixed martial arts
  • Motorsports
  • Soccer (MLS, EPL, etc.)
  • Tennis

There will also be opportunities for wagering on some more esoteric selections. American sportsbooks tend to offer action on sports like Australian rules footballcricketdarts and rugby union.

Also, there isn’t any prohibition on esports or nonsports events in the law. So, wagering on the outcome of political elections or video game tournaments is possible.

Illinois online sports betting basics

Some Illinois bettors have already gotten started with legal sports betting, thanks to sportsbook launches in neighboring Indiana. However, many Illinois residents are likely to regard sports betting with a great deal of curiosity.

Like most things, lingo goes along with sports betting that is unique to it. Understanding the language that gets thrown around a book can go a long way toward having more fun with sports betting.

So, here are some basics about wagering on games.

Betting on the odds

Every single sports bet depends upon uncertainty.

The core of every sports bet (or regular bet, for that matter) is that the future remains unclear.

So, what sports bettors are doing is wagering upon the likelihood of an event coming to pass. Typically, the event in question is a team either finding or not finding success on the field of play.

The sportsbook, using data and intuition, will establish estimates for the odds of a certain event’s occurrence. If the player feels that the event will occur, then that’s when the money goes down.

The odds are merely a statement about the likelihood of an event. They answer the question about how often an event would take place if the situation occurred repeatedly.

Sportsbooks express this question in several ways in the average sportsbook. A few types of betting are common at many books, both online and live.

Point spreads

point spread bet pertains to the expected margin of victory in a particular contest.

The sportsbook will establish one team as the favorite to win and will predict by how many points (or goals or runs) the team will win. Bettors then wager on how accurate they believe the given margin will be to the reality of the game.

On the one hand, they can bet that the favorite will win by a greater margin than the estimate. A team that successfully does so is said to have “beaten” the spread.

By contrast, a bettor can also wager on the team not favored to win, known as the underdog. A spread bet on the underdog is a wager that the underdog will lose by fewer points than the established spread.

An underdog who does so is said to have “covered” the spread. An underdog also covers the spread if it wins the game outright. What matters for the bet is that the dog lost by less than the spread.

A point spread is sometimes known as the line, too. It can be used as a shorthand about how an upcoming game is likely to go.


Another common type of betting in sportsbooks is the moneyline bet. This type of wager has a distinct focus than the spread bet.

Instead of worrying about the margin of victory, the moneyline bettor is more concerned about a simpler concept: Victory itself. Moneylines don’t concern themselves with the final score.

Instead, a moneyline bet is a wager on the team the bettor believes will emerge victoriously. However, the confusing aspect of the bet comes from the payouts.

The hallmark of moneylines is the three-digit number next to each team’s name. The number will be either positive or negative.

A positive number means that the team next to it is the underdog. The number tells the player how much a $100 will pay out if the underdog manages to win.

By contrast, a negative number signifies that the team is the favorite. Accordingly, the number tells the better how much they will have to pay to win $100.

Needless to say, betting on the moneyline underdog has a greater chance of scoring the bettor a decent payout. However, the moneyline favorite is that much more likely to win.

Moneylines math

Moneylines can be converted into straight odds, too. Divide positive moneylines by 100 or divide 100 by the absolute value of negative moneylines to arrive at the odds for a particular bet.

For instance, a particular contest might have moneylines of +440/-600 for the two teams. Dividing 440 by 100 reveals that the underdog is going off at 4.4 to 1.

Conversely, dividing 100 by the absolute value of the negative (-600 becomes 600) gives odds of ⅙. In other words, players will have to lay 6-1 odds to bet the favorite or every $6 wagered will return only $7.

Needless to say, a bet on the favorite would not be a big windfall for anyone. On the other hand, these kinds of odds indicate a significant level of confidence in the prediction from the sportsbook.


Totals bets are wagers that do not rely on the outcome of a game to determine a winner. Instead, the bettor is estimating the combined amount of points, goals or runs that two teams will score in a given contest.

In a totals bet, the sportsbook establishes an estimate for how many points the teams will score. Bettors then wager about the accuracy of this mark, and whether the actual total will be higher or lower.

How bettors participate in this type has become the more common name for the wager itself. Hence, whenever someone speaks of the over/under on a situation, they’re referring to a totals bet.


Futures wagers are one of the only standard types of sports betting that requires more than one contest to resolve. A futures bet is on the outcome of an entire season of play, either for a team or individual player.

In other words, a bet on which team will be the eventual champion is a futures bet. A wager about which player will win an end-of-season award is a futures bet.

Unlike some of the other common types of wager, sportsbooks express these wagers using straight odds. Since this kind of prediction is extremely difficult to make with any accuracy, even the favorites are usually heavy underdogs against the field.

However, the payouts for making a correct futures bet can be quite large. It’s not uncommon for a successful futures bettor to make the evening news.


Proposition bets, or prop bets, are any type of wager that does not fit comfortably into one of the other categories. The prop bet is more of an umbrella term than anything else.

Broadly speaking, the prop bet is a wager on events ancillary to the outcome of a match. Totals bets also fit this definition, but a totals bet has a more standard procedure to resolve itself.

So, any type of bet that revolves around the outcome of an opening coin toss or which team will be the first to score are prop bets, for instance. A wager about whether a certain player will achieve a particular goal is another example of a prop bet.

Prop bets are also what typically constitutes a “friendly wager,” or a bet between nonprofessionals. Any sort of wager with wacky rules or conditions is a prop bet.

Most dares would classify as prop bets. In fact, the stories people tell about crazy bets usually involve prop wagers.

However, a subset of proposition wagers deserves its section. Live betting is quickly becoming the most common wager type, both in the US and abroad.

Live betting

Live betting, or in-play wagering, is the latest trend in American sports betting. Simply put, live betting allows players to bet on games that are already in progress.

By definition, the fact that they are not dealing with the outcomes of games makes them proposition wagers. Live bets also allow for an exceptional amount of flexibility and granularity.

For instance, online sportsbooks with live betting are now able to offer wagers on the outcomes of individual plays themselves. The days of exclusively waiting until the end of a game to settle a bet are over.

Types of live bets

Sportsbooks tend to offer live wagers in three varieties.

The first of these types is a mere continuation of the pregame wagers.

So, point spreads, moneylines and totals continue into the flow of the game. The only difference is since the progress of the game conveys information, the sportsbook’s established spreads, lines and over/unders will shift dynamically according to how things are going.

The second type of standard live bet is the series of wagers on milestones.

A sportsbook might offer odds about whether a player or team will reach a particular goal during the game. This goal could be a career goal, a season-length milestone, or perhaps, a certain mark of progress in the game.

Finally, sportsbooks will often offer bets on partial game results.

So, instead of asking questions about the eventual winner, a book might post odds about which team will “win” a particular period of play. As any sports fan knows, the results of a particular game period do not determine how a game will end.

Both sportsbooks and bettors enjoy live betting for the same reason. The practice expands the possible number of wagers on a particular contest dramatically.

It’s not uncommon for a single game to offer hundreds of bets now. As a result, players get more bites at the apple, and they can augment their winning wagers and hedge against their losing ones.

From the sportsbook’s perspective, more bets are better. Assuming its lines are set correctly, a sportsbook will collect more profit as its volume increases.

Live betting is mostly the province of online sportsbooks. The practicalities of retail sports betting do not leave room for the same level of granularity.

However, all bettors in Illinois should look for live betting opportunities because there isn’t anything like it anywhere else.


Parlays are wagers on multiple games at the same time. A bettor will select several single bets and combine them into the same ticket.

Parlays offer vastly improved payouts versus a series of single bets on the same games. Players can turn a few bucks into six-digit wins through successful parlays.

However, watch for the massive catch to this opportunity. For a parlay bet to succeed, every single wager on the ticket must be accurate.

So, if a parlay bettor has six different selections, known as “legs,” on his ticket, he must get every one of them right to collect. Given the finicky nature of sports, accurately picking winners is an exceedingly difficult task.

Nevertheless, parlays remain a popular betting type because of their jackpot potential. Also, sportsbooks may offer variations on parlays sportsbooks.

Teasers and pleasers

Two of those variants are opposites of each other and have rhyming names. A sportsbook, from time to time, might offer wagers that are classified as either teasers or pleasers.

A teaser, which is the more commonly offered variant, adjusts the aggregate line of a parlay bet in favor of the bettor. In other words, in a teaser, the sportsbook will make a parlay wager easier to win than it would usually be.

Of course, this adjustment comes with a reduction in the payout potential. So, it’s up to the bettor to decide if the increased chance of winning is worth the sacrificed equity.

Conversely, a pleaser adjusts the parlay in favor of the sportsbook. A pleaser bettor will find the conditions for victory much harder to achieve than a standard parlay, and a parlay is already challenging to win, anyway.

However, this decreased chance of winning comes with an increase in the payout potential. So, if a bettor does manage to overcome the increased odds, they will find themselves rewarded because of it.

In either case, both teasers and pleasers offer tradeoffs to adjust the situation of a typical parlay. Whether either is worth betting will depend on the player’s risk tolerance.

Round robins

Finally, some sportsbooks may have round robin bets available for their player bases. These wagers are not so much a variant of parlays as they are, basically, a parlay of parlays.

In other words, round robin bets are a combination of wagers that gather several parlays together in a single bet. To use an analogy, round robins are the cube to parlays’ square.

The nice thing about round robins is that a loss within the bet is not deadly to the bettor. Unlike parlays themselves, a round robin bettor can lose a portion of their wager and still retain the chance of receiving some payout.

Illinois Sports Betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Illinois?

Yes, thanks to the passage and signing of the Sports Wagering Act (230 ILCS 45), it is legal for Illinois residents and visitors to take part in sports betting.

Where can I play?

Well, nowhere just yet. The Illinois Gaming Board still has to publish its rules and approve license applications from prospective operators before anything can proceed.

However, Illinois law allows for sportsbooks to be at casinos, racetracks and specific stadiums in the state. So, there could be more than a dozen locations with sports betting before long.

Can I bet online?

Yes, the Illinois law allows its licensees to offer both retail and mobile wagering.

When will online sports betting launch in Illinois?

There’s no firm date on when the first sportsbook will launch in Illinois at this time. However, all signs point to a launch sometime in 2020.

The Illinois Gaming Board has announced that it will begin accepting license applications in December 2019. So, after those approvals start going out, sportsbooks will begin popping up relatively quickly.

I already see results for Illinois sportsbooks. Can I play on these?

It’s not a good idea. The books that you are seeing are offshore operations.

These sportsbooks do not operate under the US legal system. In the case of any disputes, players could find themselves unable to exert any necessary legal pressure.

Depending on various readings of the law, playing on one of these sites could also constitute a crime. It’s best just to stay away from them.

What sports can I bet on in Illinois?

You can bet on most sports. Every major sport and some more esoteric choices will be available for wagering.

What sports are not allowed for betting?

Illinois has a couple of prohibitions surrounding the level of a sporting event that is acceptable for wagering. First and foremost, an Illinois book may not take action on high school athletics of any kind.

This prohibition is fairly universal across the US. However, Illinois also went a step further to say that there can’t be betting on collegiate events inside the state. Also, you cannot wager on Illinois college teams, regardless of where they’re playing.

Who is allowed to bet in Illinois?

Anyone inside the state of Illinois and who is 21 years or older can bet on sports. Inside the state of Illinois means you do not need to be a resident. You can live outside of Illinois, download the app and cross state lines to place your bet.

Can I join an Illinois sportsbook from outside of the state?

Yes, it should be possible both to register and fund an Illinois sportsbook account from anywhere in the US. The simple act of account management is not prohibited.

Can I bet outside of Illinois?

However, playing from outside Illinois is prohibited. Sportsbooks are required to employ geolocation software to verify every player’s location on the site.

Sportsbooks that fail to comply with this requirement will risk fines and sanctions from oversight agencies. So, there will never be a time that the books will take out-of-state play lightly.

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