NFL Betting in Illinois

Latest odds, lines and how to bet on the NFL in IL

Regarding the amount of dollars that sports bettors wager each year, nothing compares to NFL betting in the US. Sportsbooks in Illinois should be no exception to this rule.

With the Chicago Bears calling Illinois home and nearby Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts, the NFL handle should be robust every year. Illinois sports bettors should have a lot of ways to bet and a lot of available promos.

Before each season begins, there are futures markets to consider. During football season, there are moneylines, props, spreads and totals bets for each game. And, while the game is in progress, there is live betting.

Common promotions include odds boosts, guarantees against lost bets and profit bonuses. With so many ways to get in on NFL betting in Illinois, new bettors may have a lot of questions.

We will try to answer them here.

Latest NFL odds in Illinois

How to bet on the NFL in Illinois

In July 2019, the Illinois Legislature legalized sports betting. Since then, a number of legal online sportsbooks have gone live in the Prairie State. Those are:

DraftKings Sportsbook

If you’ve been to East St. Louis, you’re familiar with the Casino Queen. It is the facility partner with DraftKings Sportsbook in Illinois, as the casino bears the DraftKings name as well. Many in the Prairie State were already familiar with DraftKings through playing daily fantasy sports (DFS). The company plans to expand its dominance with its online sports betting option as well.

FanDuel Sportsbook

Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria is where you’ll find the FanDuel retail sportsbook. Sports bettors around the state will likely access FanDuel Sportsbook on their computers and phones. Just like DraftKings, it brings robust marketing power into the Prairie State.

PointsBet Sportsbook

This is an Australian-based company but you don’t have to travel farther than your nearest Hawthorne Race Course to find PointsBet Sportsbooks brick-and-mortar components. PointsBet is best known for its unique betting strategy in which Illinois bettors can essentially set their own lines for events, appropriately called “pointsbetting.”

William Hill Sportsbook

This operator is one of the OGs of the legal sports betting industry in the US. William Hill is approaching its ninth decade of business with no signs of slowing down. Through its facility partner Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, William Hill Sportsbook includes Illinois in its long list of jurisdictions where people can wager legally.

BetRivers Sportsbook

Operating under the master license of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, this brand is the first legal brick-and-mortar and online sportsbook in Illinois. It has a strong presence in the Chicago market, so expect it to be a contender for market share for the long haul.

Is it legal to bet on the NFL in Illinois?

Yes. Illinois legalized sports betting in July 2019 and the first legal sportsbook launched in March 2020. As long as you’re at least 21 years or older and physically within Illinois state borders when you make your wager, it’s perfectly legal. You do not have to be a legal resident of the state.

To place bets online, however, you will have to register your account at the facility partner associated with the online sportsbook you wish to use. It’s a one-time visit. In some places, you can register without even getting out of your car.

The in-person registration requirement should expire in late 2021. Actually, Gov. JB Pritzker has suspended the mandate because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Being able to tell whether you’re using a legal sportsbook is relatively easy.

You will see a disclaimer denoting registration with the Illinois Gaming Board on the app or website near the bottom of the page. If the sportsbook you’re using does not disclose that registration requirement, it’s an offshore sportsbook.

There aren’t any explicit regulatory or statutory restrictions on NFL wagers in Illinois, so sportsbooks are essentially free to take any NFL bets they feel comfortable accepting.

Some types of bets are much more common than others, however.

How to bet on NFL games in Illinois

The odds that most bettors are most familiar with are also the lines you’ll see when you first open up the NFL section of your favorite sportsbook. It’s simple once you understand the jargon.

Moneyline

In these markets, you’ll see just two pieces of information: The teams playing in the game and a set of corresponding American odds. They will look like this:

  • Indianapolis Colts +150
  • Chicago Bears -280

In these types of markets, you’re simply betting on who you think will win the game. How many points the teams score and the winning team’s margin of victory are both completely irrelevant.

Tips for reading NFL moneyline odds:

  • The home team is always on the bottom.
  • The favorite will always have negative odds and the underdog will always have positive.
  • The greater the difference between the odds, the more confident the sportsbook is that the favorite will win.

Point spread

This type of bet is often referred to as the spread. In these markets, the sportsbook is sharing with you its prediction for the difference in the score between the losing and winning team in the game. The lines will look like this:

  • Indianapolis Colts +9.5 -110
  • Chicago Bears -9.5 -110

It’s common to see a half-point in football spreads. This is called a hook, and acts to prevent bets from ending in a push (neither the house nor you win the bet), as it’s impossible to score just half of a point in football.

The odds after the spread tell you what your payout will be if you win. It’s also common to see identical odds on both sides of these markets.

Your task in betting this market is deciding whether or not you agree with the sportsbook’s assessment. Essentially, this example says the sportsbook expects the Chicago Bears to win this game by at least 10 points.

If you agree, then you would bet Chicago -9.5. If the Bears win this game and by at least 10 points, you would win. If the Colts were to win the game by any margin or the Bears win but by less than the spread, you would lose.

If you think the book got it wrong, then you would bet Colts +9.5. If Indianapolis wins by any margin or Chicago fails to cover (wins by less than the spread), you would win.

Point total

In a similar fashion, this is often just referred to as a total. It’s a market on the amount of points that both teams will cumulatively score in the game.

New bettors should note that it’s not how many points one team or other will score, but how many points that both teams combined will account for in the game. The markets look like this:

  • Over 56.5 -110
  • Under 56.5 -110

The first number is how many points the sportsbook believes both teams will combine to score in the game. The hook (that half-point) prevents a push (neither the book nor you winning the bet). The last number is the payout if you win.

In these markets, you have to decide whether the sportsbook was too generous or not generous enough.

If you think the two teams will score more points than the book predicts, you’d bet the over. If you think the book’s total is too high, you’d bet the under. Which team wins the game or how many points the teams score separately mean nothing in these markets.

How do prop bets work in the NFL?

Proposition bets can be on a wide array of facets of an NFL game.

These can include player or team statistics, specific events within a game, and/or which team will be the first to achieve a particular part of the game. Some examples are:

  • How many yards will Mitch Trubisky throw for? Over/Under 229.5
  • Will the Bears score a defensive or special teams touchdown? Yes/No
  • Will the first score of the game be a field goal? Yes/No

How does live betting work on the NFL?

This type of betting is also often referred to as in-game betting because the odds move as the game progresses. Typical examples of live bets for NFL games include:

  • How many points a team will score in a certain quarter
  • Which team will have more offensive yards in a half
  • Which player will score the next touchdown for the Bears

As technology improves, the frequency, variety, and volume of these wagers will increase. At some point, you may be able to legally wager on the result of each play in an NFL game.

How does betting on NFL futures work?

The NFL futures market provides bettors the chance to stay involved with the game they love all year round. Futures are wagers on outcomes that won’t be known until later, sometimes months down the road.

These are bets that require a long-term perspective, but they can be quite lucrative when you make the right call. Futures odds become available during the NFL offseason.

The biggest markets will be unveiled right after the current year’s Super Bowl is in the books, while others will be sprinkled in between then and the start of training camp. Here are some of the most popular NFL futures you’ll have to choose from:

  • Super Bowl
  • Division and conference winners
  • Teams to make or miss playoffs
  • Team regular-season win totals
  • Individual awards — MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.
  • Season-long player props — TDs, yards, sacks, etc.

Odds for NFL futures are typically listed in descending order with favorites up top, long-shots on the bottom and all other choices somewhere in the middle. The key is to find the selections that you’re interested in at the best possible price.

For some bettors, that means placing bets soon after the odds are released and waiting to the end of the season. Other handicappers take a more active approach and remain engaged with futures constantly as they hunt for the best prices and opportunities.

The futures market also makes for a handy research tool as you get set to tackle another NFL season. Regular season win totals can give you a good overview of what to expect in the coming campaign, a tidbit that can be helpful for handicapping the early part of the season.

NFL schedule explained

In a typical season, each NFL team will play four preseason games and 16 regular-season games. That calendar usually runs from August through late December.

Regular-season games are typically played on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays. Each team plays a game in all but one week for 17 weeks of the regular season. The off week is a bye week that occurs at some point during the season.

The winners of the eight NFL divisions plus the two nondivision winning teams in each conference with the best winning percentages qualify for the playoffs.

They play a single-elimination tournament that culminates in the Super Bowl on the first Sunday in February each year.

How to stream or watch NFL games live

As NFL games are some of the most essential live sporting events for advertising purposes, many broadcast channels and streaming platforms carry them.

If you have a cable, livestreaming or satellite subscription, you can check your channel guide for NFL games during the appropriate times.

  • Thursday Night Football: You can watch “TNF” on Fox and the NFL Network. Alternatively, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can stream these games live using that platform.
  • Regular-season, Sunday day games: CBS and Fox own the rights to most of the regular-season Sunday daytime games. Fox has the rights to most of these games in which an NFC team is the home team, so that will be of most interest to Bears fans. AT&T has the out-of-market streaming rights to these games and you can access that with a DirecTV Sunday Ticket package.
  • Sunday Night Football: “Football Night in America” is an NBC product. You can watch Sunday Night Football on your NBC affiliate regardless of where you live. Alternatively, you can stream the game using the NBC app with your TV provider credentials.
  • Monday Night Football: ESPN carries Monday Night Football. If you have an ESPN+ with a TV provider subscription, you can stream it using the ESPN app.

Playoffs games and the Super Bowl

In the wild card round, ABC adds to this mix. The other three wild card games are shown on CBS, Fox, and NBC. All AFC divisional and conference championship round games are shown on CBS while all NFC divisional and conference championship round games are on Fox.

The coverage of the Super Bowl rotates each year between the aforementioned broadcasters. Super Bowl LV in February 2021 will be shown on CBS. If you don’t pay for any streaming or TV service, you might be able to pull in games on broadcast ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels. In Illinois, those are:

ABC

  • Champaign – WICD 15 (semi-satellite of WICS)
  • Chicago – WLS-TV 7
  • Harrisburg (Paducah, Kentucky) – WSIL-TV 3
  • Moline (Davenport, IA) (Quad Cities) – WQAD-TV 8
  • Peoria – WEEK-DT2 25.2
  • Rockford – WTVO 17
  • Springfield – WICS 20

CBS

  • Champaign – WCIA 3
  • Chicago – WBBM-TV 2
  • Chicago – WMEU-CD 48.3 (Simulcast of WBBM-TV)
  • Peoria – WMBD-TV 31
  • Rock Island (Quad Cities) – WHBF-TV 4
  • Rockford – WIFR-LD 23
  • Springfield – WCIX 49.2 (simulcast of WCIA)

Fox

  • Bloomington (Peoria) – WYZZ-TV 43
  • Chicago – WFLD 32
  • Quincy – WGEM-DT3 10.3
  • Rockford – WQRF-TV 39
  • Springfield – WRSP-TV 55
  • Urbana (Champaign) – WCCU 27 (satellite of WRSP-TV)

NBC

  • Chicago – WMAQ-TV 5
  • Decatur (Springfield) – WAND 17
  • Peoria – WEEK-TV 25
  • Quincy – WGEM-TV 10
  • Rockford – WREX 13

Which NFL team is most popular in Illinois?

Illinois is home to the Chicago Bears. The Monsters of the Midway have loyal and passionate fans across Illinois, and they also have quite the national following. The franchise also holds the distinction of being one of the league’s oldest teams, with roots that trace back to the early days of the NFL. Here are the Chicago Bears, by the numbers:

  • Established: 1920
  • Super Bowl wins: One, Super Bowl XX in 1985
  • Super Bowl appearances: Two, last in 2006
  • NFL championships: Eight, last in 1963
  • Conference championships: Two, last in 2006
  • Division titles: 19, last in 2018
  • Playoff appearances: 26, last in 2018
  • Retired numbers: 14, most in NFL
  • Hall-of-famers: 30 primary players and nine who spent time with the Bears

Some of the greatest players in NFL history have suited up for the Bears, a list that includes names such as Walter Payton, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus.

While the club has just one crown in the Super Bowl era, the Bears claimed nine NFL championships in the years preceding the AFL-NFL merger.

The team snapped a lengthy postseason drought in 2018, but failed in a quest to return to the postseason the following year. Here are the details on where you can catch the Bears in person:

  • Stadium: Soldier Field
  • Address: 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605
  • Capacity: 61,500
  • Opened: 1924
  • Renovated: 2002-03

Chicago Bears’ biggest rivals

The Bears make their home in the NFC North division. They share residence in what has been nicknamed the “Black and Blue” division with the following:

  • Detroit Lions
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Minnesota Vikings

These three clubs are the biggest rivals for the Bears. Each of the clubs plays the others twice per season — once at home and once away.

That translates into six divisional affairs over the course of the 16-game NFL regular season, and some of the biggest highlights of the Bears’ season. On a historical basis, here’s how the Bears have fared against these three teams through the 2019 season:

  • Lions: 102-74-5
  • Packers: 94-98-6
  • Vikings: 55-60-2

The Bears and Packers are viewed as having one of the best rivalries in the NHL. Historically, this is also the most-played matchup in league history.

Following the AFL-NFL merger, the teams were assigned to what was known as the NFC Central division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the party in the 1970s as an expansion team. The league realigned to its current configuration in 2002. The division makeup has remained the same since that point.

Here’s a look at which squads have racked up the most NFC North crowns over that span.

  • Bears: Four, last in 2018
  • Lions: Zero
  • Packers: 10, last in 2019
  • Vikings: Four, last in 2017

Five of the top players to come from IL

Hundreds of players who were born in Illinois have made it to the NFL. Choosing the five best of all time is a little challenging as a result, but here are our choices for some of the leading NFL players to come from Illinois.

John Lynch, S

  • Career: 1993-2008
  • 1x Super Bowl champion: Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Oakland Raiders, XXXVII, 2002
  • 2x first-team All-Pro
  • Member of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ and Denver Broncos’ rings of honor
  • 26 career interceptions

Rodney Harrison, S

  • Career: 1994-2008
  • 2x Super Bowl champion: New England Patriots over Carolina Panthers, XXXVIII, 2003; and Patriots over Philadelphia Eagles, XXXIX, 2004
  • 3x first-team All-Pro
  • Member of San Diego Chargers’ and New England Patriots’ 50th anniversary teams
  • 34 career interceptions

Charles Tillman, CB

  • Career: 2003-15
  • 1x first-team All-Pro
  • Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, 2013
  • Named one of 100 greatest Chicago Bears of all time
  • 38 career interceptions

Donovan McNabb, QB

  • Career: 1999-2011
  • 2nd overall pick in 1999 NFL draft
  • 6x Pro Bowl selection
  • Number retired by Philadelphia Eagles
  • 234 career passing TDs

Simeon Rice, DE

  • Career: 1996-2007
  • 1x Super Bowl champion: Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Oakland Raiders, XXXVII, 2002
  • 1x first-team All-Pro
  • NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, 1996
  • 122 career sacks

Tips for betting on the NFL

In many ways, betting on NFL games is just like betting on any other sporting event. It’s important to realize that the sportsbook has worked its “juice” (its interest in offering the market) into the odds. The operators base odds on the results of decades of data and proven algorithms.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win, however. As the old saying goes, that’s why they play the games.

  • Bet within your limits: Before they place any wagers, responsible gamblers know exactly how much they will stake. You should only bet money you can easily afford to lose. You likely should seek help for compulsive gambling issues if you’re betting to pay bills or using your bill money to gamble.
  • Don’t just bet the Bears because you’re a fan: While gambling should be just for fun and you should only bet money you can easily lose, winning is always more fun than losing. If you’re going to bet on the Bears to win, for example, you should because your handicapping says that’s the likely outcome. Often, emotional ties to an athlete and/or team can taint our evaluation of a sporting event. Some bettors who are successful at wagering have a hard-and-fast rule of never betting on games involving their favorites for this exact reason.
  • Focus your research efforts: There are tons of stats that look pretty and make for nice talking points. In the end, many of them don’t mean all that much. When approaching NFL handicapping, think through what impacts a game and its outcome. Included on that list are things such as teams that can move the ball or stop opponents, line play and turnovers.
  • Know when to pass: During the NFL regular season, there are up to 16 games on the weekly slate. While you can certainly bet on each of them if you’d like, it’s important to remember a simple pearl of wisdom: There’s no need to do so. If you target your efforts on a handful of games that you like best while passing on the rest, you may find the picture to be much clearer.
  • Tune out the noise: As the most popular sport in the US, the NFL receives tons of coverage. While there is plenty of newsworthy information that’s important, there’s also a lot of noise. Train yourself to differentiate “hot takes” from the actual analysis. The latter can help in your handicapping process, while the former is often nothing more than talking points.

Final thoughts on betting in IL

Sportsbooks don’t randomly put up odds with no logic behind them. The aim is to keep your money. If you want to take the book’s money, you’ll have to make informed decisions. Before placing a bet on a Bears game, you should, at minimum, answer the following questions for yourself:

  • What do the results of the last 10 games between these two teams look like?
  • How have these two teams performed in the appropriate venue recently?
  • If the venue is open-air, what’s the weather going to be?
  • Are there any injuries on either team?
  • Is either team coming in a cold or hot streak?

What forms of payment can I use to bet on the NFL in Illinois?

That’s partially up to the operator, but none will let you bet on credit. Outside of that restriction, online sportsbooks will accept most of the following:

  • Checking accounts
  • Debit cards
  • PayPal
  • Prepaid debit cards
  • Savings accounts

Of course, retail sportsbooks will accept cash. You can use many of the same payment methods to withdraw your winnings as well.

Is it smart to bet on NFL parlays?

The simple answer is there is no simple answer to this question; it depends on a myriad factors. You’ve probably seen the stories of the people who staked $2 on an 11-leg parlay and won thousands of dollars.

It does happen, but the odds of successfully doing it are astronomical. That’s because with each leg you add, your risk doesn’t just increase, it multiplies. In many cases, you would be better off betting each leg as its own wager.

A good rule of thumb for considering a parlay is to gauge your potential payout if you bet the same amount on each prospective leg as its own bet. If parlaying them together doesn’t produce a substantially better potential payout than that, it’s not a wise move.

How do I read American odds?

American odds tell you the profit if you win a bet.

There are two components — either a plus or minus sign and a three-digit number. If the odds start with a plus (like +150), that means the numbers that follow are what your profit would be if you bet $100.

If the odds start with a minus (like -110), that means the numbers that follow are how much you need to wager to make a $100 profit on your bet. Almost all the time at IL sportsbooks, these are the types of odds you will see.

When is the next NFL draft?

The 2021 NFL draft is currently slated for April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s unclear right now whether the league will allow spectators at the event.

Later this season, fans will get a better idea of where the Bears will pick. Of course, like always, trades could change that on a moment’s notice.

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