Legally wagering on your favorite MLB team in myriad ways and myriad locations, including via your smartphone is easier than ever for Illinois baseball betting fans.
With Chicago being home to the Chicago Cubs and the White Sox, the state should see a flush baseball betting market. Here at PlayIllinois, you find information on how to bet and where, along with the latest MLB betting odds.
Read on to learn more about MLB betting in IL, live wagering, along with odds boosts and promotions. We share the many ways for new bettors to get in on Major League Baseball action.
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Illinois legalized sports betting in June 2019. If you’re at least 21 years or older and within state lines, it is legal for you to sign up at wager at one of Illinois online sportsbooks.
Visit our registration information page to find out how to create an account at an Illinois online sportsbook.
The range of MLB events you can wager on includes the entire season’s results to individual plays. However, one of the most popular ways to bet on the outcome of a single game is called the run line.
If you’ve ever bet the spread on a football game before, this is the same thing. Essentially, you’re betting on the difference between the winning team and the losing team in a game’s final score. The market at a sportsbook for a run line bet will look like this:
|Cubs +1.5 -110|
|White Sox -1.5 -110|
In this example, the Chicago Cubs are the road underdog while the White Sox are the home favorite. If you think the Sox will win this game by at least two runs, you’d bet the White Sox -110. As long as the Sox prevail in this game and by at least two runs, you would win this wager.
If you don’t think the White Sox will win by at least two, you’d bet Cubs -110. If the Cubs won by any margin or the White Sox won by just a single run, your bet would pay off.
Simply, with a moneyline wager, you’re betting on which team will win the game. How many runs separate the two teams and how many combined runs in the game are completely irrelevant. The market will look like this:
|White Sox -200|
The bigger the difference between the numbers, the more confident the sportsbook is in its prediction. In this example, the sportsbook is sure the White Sox will beat the Cubs.
Inning wagers are a type of prop bet that sportsbooks set upon the results of individual innings within a game. The variety of these markets can be great. One common market, however, is a moneyline on which team will outscore the other in a particular inning:
|To win 1st inning|
|Neither team -110|
|White Sox -170|
Other ways to bet on the results of innings include how many total runs one or both teams score in that inning and whether a team with a lead coming into the inning will remain the leader going into the next inning.
If you think the run line you see when you look at the odds for a game is too conservative or generous, you aren’t limited to just that market. Most sportsbooks will offer alternate run lines.
These markets will present you with many options. The potential payouts will fluctuate in relation to how realistic it is that the winning team will defeat the losing team by the relevant margin. As you take more risk, your potential reward goes up. If you believe that one team will defeat the other by four or five runs in a certain game, you’ll have more ways to cash in with alternate run line bets.
If you’re not interested in who will win a single game or by how much, this type of market is for you. With totals betting, you’re wagering on how accurate you think the sportsbook is in predicting how many runs both teams will score combined.
|Over 7.5 -118|
|Under 7.5 -104|
The 0.5 in the line is called a “hook.” It prevents the wager from being graded as a “push.” Sticking with our example, you’re not wagering on either the Cubs or the White Sox to score less than or more than 7.5 runs by themselves.
You’re betting on both teams to either score fewer or more than six runs in the entire game combined. So, if you take the over and the final score is 5-3, you would win. By the same token, if you take the under and the final score is 4-3, you would win as well. Totals for single MLB games are usually odd numbers because there are no ties in that league.
Because of recent trends of starting pitchers going shorter distances in games and the increasing effectiveness of relievers, the popularity of these markets is growing. The first five wager allows you to essentially throw out anything that happens after the fifth inning of a single game.
You’ll find a separate set of moneyline, run line and total markets just for the end of the fifth inning. Keeping with our fictional Cubs-White Sox game, if you bet the White Sox moneyline and they were winning at the end of the fifth, the sportsbook would grade your bet as a win.
In MLB, most regular-season games are part of a two-, three- or four-game series. These sets cut down on travel and allows teams to set player rotations. You can wager on which team will win those series or, in the case of an even-numbered of game series, whether the teams will split.
This is a good precursor to the myriad prop bets you can find for MLB in Illinois.
The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) provides few limits for what its licensed operators can take prop bets on, as far as the MLB goes. For that reason, the only limit is if the sportsbook feels comfortable offering action on it.
You may see yes/no markets on an individual player’s action in a single game, for instance, whether Yoán Moncada will hit a home run in the game. Along the same lines, you could see a market on whether a team will score in a particular inning.
Many times, prop bets intersect with what’s called in-game or live wagering. A single market can fit both definitions simultaneously.
In-game or live betting are wagers on real-time events within a game. These markets can move quickly, sometimes set upon the results of individual pitches. A market could look like this:
|Result of next pitch||J. Báez at bat|
L. Giolito pitching
2 outs top 4th
|Called strike -200||Swinging strike +400||Foul ball +150|
|Ball -110||In play +120||Hit by pitch +900|
Because these events can occur in a blink of an eye, you have to stay on top of the action. You’ll also need to be familiar with the nuances of the individual players. For example, some pitchers work faster than others.
Some bettors prefer this type of wagering because it delivers a quick resolution. Instead of waiting hours for a game to end, you can get your payout within seconds if you win.
There are markets for the opposite end of this spectrum as well.
Futures markets are exactly as they sound. These wagers depend on the results of events that take place months into the calendar. In MLB, the most popular type of futures wager is which team will win the World Series each year. These are often the first bets available for a given MLB season, as books start posting these lines soon after the most recent World Series ends.
The menu of MLB futures markets is much more diverse, however. You can wager on other events for an entire season, such as:
If a player is nearing a significant statistical achievement, some books will post markets on whether and when a player will achieve that milestone. For example, if Justin Verlander can come back from Tommy John‘s surgery, he may approach 300-career wins. It will be up to each operator whether it offers action on that milestone if Verlander does get close to that mark.
While the Illinois Gaming Board sets many regulations, sportsbooks do get to set house rules on a number of matters. Most of these govern what the sportsbook will do in the case of unusual events.
For example, how does a sportsbook treat a moneyline wager on a game if it gets rained out? At DraftKings Sportsbook, it depends on whether and how soon after the original start time the game is made up.
“A bet is declared canceled on a canceled or postponed game which has not started, or in the case of a result not having been issued within 12 hours of the scheduled start time.”
In that case, DraftKings would return your wager. By the same token, most books require games to go at least five innings to payout wagers based on the results of an entire game. If you’ve placed a futures bet on a specific team winning a number of games or a division title and that team loses a star player to injury; however, most sportsbooks won’t cancel your wager. That’s part of the risk you take when making such a bet.
These house rules are available at all IL sportsbooks for your perusal. It’s best to familiarize yourself with them before you place your bet. They can vary to some degree from one operator to another, so don’t assume anything.
Now that you’re familiar with how to wager, it’s necessary to understand the mechanics of MLB. In short, the purpose of an MLB season is to crown a champion at its end.
An MLB season normally runs from early February through late October. This includes spring training, a 162-game regular season, a postseason tournament and ends with the World Series.
Most books will take action on spring training games but the MLB betting lines can be different from what they may look like during the regular season. That’s because these teams are experimenting with different lineups and rotations.
MLB opening day for the regular season is typically at the end of March or beginning of April. The regular season usually ends in the first few days of October and the playoffs begin a few days after.
Usually, the winner of each of the six MLB divisions and the two nondivision winning teams with the best regular-season winning percentages in each league qualify for the postseason. Three teams from one division can make the playoffs. The tournament is separated into American League and National League brackets until the World Series.
Those two nondivision winners in each league play each other in a single-elimination contest known as either the AL or NL wild card. The winner of that game in each league goes on to play in either an AL or NL divisional series. The ALDS/NLDS series are best-of-five games. The team that won the wild-card game in each league plays the division winner with the best regular-season winning percentage.
The other two division winners play each other and the higher-seeded teams get the home-field advantage. MLB does not reseed the brackets after each round. The winners of those series in each league then play each other in a best-of-seven games championship series. The winners of those series get league pennants and then face each other in the World Series. That’s also a best-of-seven game.
Just as offenses tend to get more productive as the weather warms up, sportsbooks start winning more as the season goes on. The more information a sportsbook can gather about a team, the more accurate its handicapping models become. That doesn’t mean you can’t win bets on MLB late in the season. It just means you also have to do your homework if you intend to win regularly.
If you’re a cable, live streaming TV or satellite subscriber, you can catch most Cubs games on their network, Marquee Sports. The network’s website maintains an updated list of what channel that is, depending on your provider.
If you’re on the go, you can sign in to the Marquee Sports app on your phone or tablet with your provider credentials. That should allow you to stream the games live, depending on what rights your provider has to Marquee content.
For the White Sox, the network you’re looking for is NBC Sports Chicago. That network also updates its channel finder regularly and you can stream games live using the NBC Sports app with your provider credentials.
If you’re in IL and aren’t devoted to watching games live, you can watch full Cubs and White Sox games on an “archived” basis (30 minutes after completion) online with an MLB.TV subscription. ESPN, Fox Sports, FS1/2, MLB Network and TBS will carry some live Cubs and White Sox games throughout the season as well.
Just as you’ll get more familiar with how to watch games as you gain experience, you’ll become a better bettor with practice. There are some tips you can look to put into practice immediately:
For the most part, sportsbooks deem the first five innings of an MLB game the “first half.” That’s because more and more in the game, starting pitchers aren’t going much further than that, and relief pitchers are astute at shutting down offenses in the latter innings.
At most books and in most instances, that depends on how soon after that suspension the game resumes. A common rule is that if play resumes within two hours of the suspension, the books treat wagers as if no suspension occurred for most bets. Check with the sportsbook’s house rules to make sure you’re aware of what the policies are before you bet.
That depends on what you’re betting on, but if you’re betting on the results of an entire, individual, game, most sportsbooks will take your wager right up until the first pitch. If you miss that cutoff, you can still take advantage of in-game markets, however.
By and large, the answer to that question is no. People who are actually astute at handicapping MLB games are typically too busy working their models to sell picks and don’t want to increase their competition for the best odds. Paying for MLB picks also increases the cost of betting for you, which means you have to win more to just break even, much less make a profit.
F5 shorthand for “first five,” meaning the first five innings of a single game. This is a popular segment of MLB betting that throws out everything that happens after that point in a game.