It feels like not long ago when Illinois sports betting was first legalized, but, in reality, it’s been over two years.
Sports wagering in the Land of Lincoln was passed into legislation in 2019, and the first bet was placed in March 2020 at Rivers Casino.
Since then, the industry has continued booming in Illinois and various states across the US.
But another online gaming industry that has grown on the same trajectory as sports betting is iGaming. Except, the difference between the two is lost on even the most seasoned sports bettors.
Let’s sort through it all and learn exactly what iGaming is.
What is iGaming?
IL online casinos are not, yet, legal in the state. But in jurisdictions where both are legal — Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ontario, etc. — the term iGaming applies to more than just the casino part of a sportsbook operator’s website. iGaming encapsulates all the gaming options offered on a mobile betting app. In fact, in Ontario, the government body that oversees all online gambling is called iGaming Ontario.
iGaming is defined as any online wager on the outcome of upcoming games or events. In Illinois, this includes bets on a Chicago Bears game, playing daily fantasy sports or, one day possibly, gambling at a virtual casino.
The iGaming and online casino market is booming not just in the Prairie State or in the US; it’s gone worldwide. Just in the last year, many of the sportsbooks we are accustomed to in Illinois now operate in Ontario. DraftKings, Caesars, PointsBet and BetMGM are just of the few sportsbooks that now have a presence in our neighbors to the north.
Licensed iGaming is available in many countries worldwide. Some countries on the list include: Mexico, Germany, Italy and Ireland to name a few.
How to know if you’re betting safely
When registering an account on a sports betting or online casino website, it’s important to do so with a licensed gaming operator instead of an offshore sportsbook or online casino. The most popular offshore sites are Bovada, MyBookie and BetOnline. But they are all illegal in Illinois.
Offshore sportsbooks and online casinos operate outside the US and aren’t held under the same regulations as licensed US-based sportsbooks.
Because of this, it’s possible for an offshore sportsbook user to have their account balance wiped out and never returned. Money deposited into a licensed sportsbook is under protection by regulating bodies from each state with legalized sports wagering.
How to spot an offshore sportsbook
The website for an offshore sportsbook and online casino may look identical to a licensed sportsbook. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to decipher whether the operator is legal, or not.
Step one is to look at the top of bottom of the website for the state’s gaming regulation seal. In Illinois, the emblem is an eagle holding a red ribbon in its mouth. You can also look for a logo that says RG, which is the Responsible Gaming emblem. If you see those things, you’re on a licensed sportsbook.
The second step is to check the website’s URL. If it ends in something like .ag, .lv or .eu, that means you’re on an offshore site. Those are all indicators of which country the website operates in. Licensed US sportsbooks will also have URLs ending in .com.
Finally, keep an eye out for the option to deposit cryptocurrency as playable betting funds. Offshore sportsbooks often accept cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin as a deposit. This is a tell-tale sign you’re on an offshore site, as licensed sportsbooks only accept real-money deposits.