Illinois Sports Betting FAQ

Legal sports betting is live in Illinois. Several top-name operators, including Barstool, Caesars by William Hill, DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet, have opened sportsbooks in Illinois.

While that’s fantastic news, many consumers have lots of questions about how sports betting works in the legal environment. That’s where we at PlayIllinois can help. We’ll strive to point you in the right direction when it comes to Illinois sports betting.

You can find answers to the most common sports betting questions right here.

Can I legally bet on sports in Illinois?

Yes, it’s legal to bet on sports online in Illinois.

Sports betting became officially legal in the state in June 2019; however, the rollout took some time. The first retail sportsbook in Illinois opened in March 2020.

The first online sportsbook was unveiled on June 18, 2020, with the launch of BetRivers Sportsbook. Since then, other operators have since gone live. You can bet on sports online in Illinois legally and safely as long as you take your business to a regulated operator.

How old do I need to be to gamble online in Illinois?

To legally wager online in Illinois, you need to be 21 years or older.

As part of the sign-up process, operators will verify your identity and ask for confirmation. If there are questions about your age, then the operator may request that you provide additional documentation. Generally, the sign-up process is smooth and takes a couple of minutes to complete.

Are online sportsbooks safe?

Yes, but that comes with a caveat.

If you are playing on an online sportsbook that is legal and regulated in Illinois, you’re good to go. That means the site has passed muster with state regulators, so your sensitive information and funds are protected.

If you take your chances playing on an unregulated option such as an offshore sportsbook, there aren’t any guarantees. It is a risky option to explore and not worth it, especially when you consider the simplicity of signing up for a legal option here in Illinois.

Why is the sportsbook asking for my Social Security number?

To register at a legal and regulated sportsbook online, you need to allow the operator to verify you are who you say you are. To do so, the book will ask for some information, including the last four digits of your Social Security number.

It is standard operating procedure for an online legal sportsbook. The sign-up process at legal books is required by law to be secure, so your information is guaranteed to be protected.

Why do I have to download GeoComply?

Online and mobile sports betting rules in Illinois require bettors to be within state lines.

Illinois sportsbook sites and apps need to verify that you are where you say you are before they allow you to proceed. To do so, they use geolocation technology, which is a non-intrusive piece of software that pings your location. After an initial download, the software runs in the background and only tracks your location so you can place a sports bet.

How do sportsbooks make money?

Sportsbooks make their money by essentially charging a commission (vig or juice) for facilitating bets. For most operators, standard odds for spread and totals bets start at -110.

Every $100 in winning bets will receive a little over $90 back, which places the vig at a shade over 9%. The amount of the vig will vary based on the odds and bet type.

What is the difference between a legal Illinois sportsbook and an offshore one?

A legal, regulated sportsbook had to make a hefty investment to set up shop within the state. Land-based casinos have to pony up $10 million to offer online betting, but web-only options will be on the hook for $20 million.

Additionally, the legal books pay taxes on their revenue to the tune of 15%. Offshore operators are unregulated and not licensed by the state. They have no investment in Illinois or interest in how the state market fares on a long-term basis.

A legal sportsbook will display the Illinois Gambling Board (IGB) logo on the website. You can use US credit cards, PayPal and other e-wallets, whereas an offshore book requires a workaround such as Bitcoin.

How do I know if a site is licensed and regulated in IL? 

The Illinois Gaming Board is the overseeing body for sports betting in the state. The department maintains a website with a dedicated section that lists applicants and licensees.

At PlayIllinois, we only review sportsbooks that are legally licensed and regulated to do business in the state. If you stick with the operators that we cover and recommend, you can be rest assured that they are on the up and up.

Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?

Yes, gambling-related income is taxable.

Those who cross over a certain threshold of winnings may receive a W-2G form from the operator. Regardless of documentation that you may or may not receive, your betting profits are taxable.

The ultimate responsibility comes down to the player, so keep that in mind. For specific information on how gambling tax laws may impact your situation, we encourage you to consult with your tax professional.

Can I bet on the Fighting Illini?

No, it’s legal to bet on college sports, such as basketball and football, in Illinois, but not on teams based in the state.

That means no betting on games involving the Illinois Fighting Illini, Northwestern Wildcats or any other program in the state.

Furthermore, this has been a common add-on into sports betting law in several legal states, so it’s not unique to Illinois. A legal compromise is in the works, and betting on your favorite local team could become an option during the fall legislative session.

Is it legal to bet on political elections in Illinois?

No, Illinois sports betting law specifically states that wagering is only permitted on sporting competitions.

That translates into no betting on elections, including the US presidential election or entertainment events such as the Oscars.

Once again, this is not a unique situation in Illinois. Betting on the US presidential election is common in overseas markets, but it’s not legal here in the states.

What do the odds of +200 mean?

In the case of a moneyline bet, the odds of +200 would be on the underdog side of the bet.

The other side — the favorite in the contest — would have negative odds, such as -180 or -220. You could also see odds of this amount in a bet with multiple choices.

The +200 also tells us how much the payout would be for a winning bet. If we place a bet of $100 at plus odds, the amount of the odds indicates our payout, which, in this case, is $200 for a winning bet.

Which IL sportsbooks have the quickest payouts?

There’s no single operator that has an edge in this regard.

Once a game or contest is final, online sportsbooks and betting apps settle bets quickly. If you have a winning bet, the book will credit your account with funds soon thereafter.

In the case of payouts for withdrawal, it can vary depending on the banking method chosen. Generally, withdrawals are processed quickly by operators. However, the time it takes for you to receive it can vary depending on the method, such as wire, PayPal or even a check by mail.

How much do professional sports bettors make?

Since anything can happen on the playing field, there is no guarantee of what the exact return will be on sports betting on a long-term basis. This is true, regardless of your betting experience.

Additionally, returns can vary based on stake size and odds for wagers. For a general answer, it would take a large bankroll and strong, consistent win rate to make anything resembling a decent living from betting on sports.

Can I earn a living by betting on sports?

Probably not.

While this may be a dream scenario for some sports bettors, reality tells a vastly different story. The chance of making a living by betting on sports is minuscule. For a quick answer, consider this: Sportsbooks are good at what they do.

The house wins at the end of the day. New bettors are better off focusing on betting responsibly and using it as a source of entertainment.

Who sets the lines?

Sportsbooks set the lines for sporting events.

Typically, there’s a team behind the scene who works on the numbers with the assistance of computers. The person in charge of the operation is the oddsmaker.

The oddsmaker and the company have a wealth of data at their disposal, as well as computer algorithms. After they work through the process, they release the odds to the public and the market gets to sort out how efficient they are.

When are lines usually released?

It depends on the sport when the lines are released.

For sports that play on a weekly schedule, such as the NFL and college football, the odds will be released several days before the game. Odds for daily or near-daily sports — MLB, NBA, NHL, etc. — will come out the day before or day of the game.

The lines for individual sports — golf, tennis, UFC, NASCAR, etc. — will also come out well in advance of the next event. If odds are off the board for an event on tap for that day, then the sportsbook is likely waiting on a piece of news that may impact the numbers.

What is an odds boost?

An odds boost is a promotional offering from a sportsbook.

In a nutshell, the book will increase the potential return on a popular bet to attract more action. The customer benefits from a chance for greater returns while the book takes in more volume.

An example would be boosting the moneyline price for a favorite in an MLB game from -125 to +105. Boosts are also commonly offered for player props and on various marquee matchups from all sports.

What is a profit boost token?

A profit boost is a reward from the sportsbook for either playing a certain amount of volume or reaching a certain milestone in your account. The token is credited to your account and you can use it how you please.

Naturally, there will be exceptions on when and where it can be applied. For example, there may be certain minimum odds that need to be met before using the token. If you receive a token, review the operator’s terms and conditions for specific rules that may apply.

How do I cover the spread?

The point spread is a popular bet type for basketball and football. Oddsmakers will install a spread on each game on the docket. It’s helpful to think of the spread as being akin to an estimated margin of victory.

The favored side needs to win the game by an amount greater than the number to cover the spread. The underdog covers by keeping the margin less than the spread or by winning the game outright.

Is it better to bet the spread or moneyline?

It depends on the value of the odds offered for the bet and your comfort level. The moneyline is a great starting point for new bettors as they only have to worry about winners and losers without worrying about points.

For a general rule, the default odds for spread bets begin at -110 for most operators. Bettors can more easily project out potential returns for a series of games based on that. Moneyline odds can be all over the map, which means the the actual returns will vary.

Can I cancel a bet?

Once you bet, it’s considered action by the sportsbook. The wager is considered to be live once the game or contest has gotten underway. After placing a bet, you won’t be able to cancel it.

However, many operators provide bettors the option of cashing out the bet before it goes off, albeit at a loss. In short, it’s good practice to review the bet in total — amount, side, odds — before clicking submit.

Can I bet both the point spread and the total?

Yes, you can place your bets on the point spread, total or whatever else you would like on an individual bet. Betting on the point spread and total on the same ticket is allowed by many operators, but this can vary depending on house rules.

At some spots, it’s referred to as a single-game or same-game parlay. You won’t have any issues placing a bet on the spread and total on the same slip in such a case. The bet type is growing in popularity, so seeing it evolve into a standard offering is certainly possible.

How do I self-exclude in Illinois?

Responsible gambling is a priority for both operators and the individual states in the newly legal sports betting environment. To that end, sites have taken specific steps to allow customers to limit their play as needed.

Generally, the legal and regulated sites will have dedicated links for responsible gambling information. You should be able to find self-exclusion or account closing links therein. If not, search the help section or contact customer service at the sportsbook for assistance.

What do I do if I need help with problem gambling?

There are plenty of resources out there for those who may need help. Problem gambling can impact all walks of life, and it’s a serious issue. Legal and regulated sportsbooks provide information for customers on their sites and apps.

Additionally, the Illinois Gaming Board has a dedicated section on its website for help for problem gamblers. Options for help include dedicated support lines, the choice to self-exclude and guidance toward additional resources.

Can I register for a sports betting account online in Illinois?

Not completely. You can begin the registration process online; however, Illinois law requires you finalize your sign-up at one of the retail sportsbooks’ locations.

Due to the realities of the pandemic, Gov. JB Pritzker issued an executive order that suspended the requirement for several months.

News broke of the executive order being allowed to expire on April 2, which means the original rules returned. So, if you didn’t take advantage of registering from your couch during that time, now you have to visit the physical casino the sportsbook is partners with to acquire an account for betting.

When will the in-person registration requirement expire?

There isn’t a black-and-white answer.

Once a mobile-only operator receives a license in the state, Illinois can return to remote registration. Currently, every sports betting operator is partners with a brick-and-mortar casino, eg., BetRivers Sportsbook is partners with Rivers Casino.

The good news is that Illinois will grant three mobile-only licenses.

The bad news is they cost $20 million apiece. The more bad news is none of these licenses become available until 18 months after the first sports betting license was issued in the state.

So, suppose the stars align, an operator dishes out the cash and the Illinois Gaming Board processes the application in record time. In that case, Illinois bettors could be registering online sometime in December 2021.

However, that’s all to be determined.

What is PointsBetting?

PointsBetting is an innovative approach to sports betting at PointsBet.

The operator serves the Illinois market via its partnership with Hawthorne Race Course. The Australia-based sportsbook has also gone live in several other states to date. In a nutshell, the PointsBetting feature adjusts potential returns and losses by how correct or wrong you are. For example, if you beat an NFL total by 5 points, you’d win more. On the other hand, if you were off by 5 points the other way, you’d lose more.

What are the closest sportsbooks to Chicago?

Here’s the current list of sportsbooks close to Chicago, along with their online partner and physical address:

  • Rivers Casino, BetRivers: 3000 S. River Road, Des Plaines
  • Grand Victoria Casino, Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill: 250 S. Grove Ave., Elgin
  • Hollywood Casino, Barstool: 1 W. New York St., Aurora
  • Hollywood Casino & Hotel, Penn National: 777 Hollywood Blvd., Joliet

Several retail sportsbooks have opened their doors in Illinois, and more are on tap. Here is a list of Illinois casinos with sportsbooks and their locations:

  1. Barstool: Hollywood Casino Aurora, 1 W. New York St., Aurora, IL 60506
  2. BetRivers: Rivers Casino, 3000 S. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60018
  3. DraftKings: DraftKings at Casino Queen, 200 South Front St., East St. Louis, IL 62201
  4. FanDuel: FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing, 9301 Collinsville Road, Collinsville, IL 62234
  5. PointsBet: Club Hawthorne Crestwood, 13148 Rivercrest Drive, Crestwood, IL 60445
  6. PointsBet: Player’s Pub & Grill, 1250 River Road, Prospect Heights, IL 60070
  7. PointsBet: Hawthorne Race Course, 3501 S. Laramie Ave., Stickney, IL 60804
  8. Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill: Grand Victoria Casino, 250 S. Grove Ave., Elgin, IL 60120

For the latest on Illinois sports betting and what’s to come, check PlayIllinois often.

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