Legal, regulated sports betting is available in Illinois to anyone 21 or older and located within its borders.

Legislation signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2019 authorized mobile sports betting apps and retail sportsbooks at casinos, racetracks, and sports stadiums.

The IL sports betting law originally called for in-person registration, requiring users to register an account in-person at a casino before placing online wagers. However, executive orders signed by Governor Pritzker in response to the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily ended the in-person registration requirement.

Currently, Illinois permits mobile registration from licensed sportsbook apps. Residents and visitors to the state may now sign up to bet online from anywhere within state lines.

Illinois Betting Sites

Rank
Betting Site
Bonus
Rating
Visit
2
Two Risk Free Bets Worth Up to $1,000 in Total21+ to Play, T&Cs Apply
3
$500 Deposit Bonus + $500 Risk-Free Bet21+ to Play, T&Cs Apply
4
$300 Risk Free First Bet18/21+ to Play, T&Cs Apply

Illinois permits online horse racing betting, lottery ticket purchases, and daily fantasy sports for 18 or older customers.

Mobile Sports Betting in Illinois

Mobile sports betting is legal and operational in Illinois. The launch of the BetRivers Sportsbook in June 2020 kicked off the legal online and mobile wagering era in Illinois.

Online sportsbooks that are now open or close to opening:

Casinos, racetracks, and stadiums that hold sports betting licenses may launch mobile apps under their brand names. Casinos and racetracks licensees may accept customers from across the state, while stadiums have a 5-block radius in which they may accept wagers in-person or through mobile apps.

The authors of Illinois’ sports betting law required customers to show up in-person at a casino in order to register for online betting accounts for the first 18 months of the market’s launch. However, the arrival of coronavirus in 2020 resulted in all Illinois casinos closing their doors indefinitely and officials rethinking the in-person registration provision.

This in turn led to Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing multiple executive orders to waive the in-person registration requirement. Today, bettors may sign up and bet online from any desktop or mobile device without visiting a casino.

Illinois lawmakers also included a provision in the law intended to delay the entry of former daily fantasy providers FanDuel and DraftKings.

Neither operator was specifically named in the law, but as the Chicago Sun Times reported, local gambling interests lobbied lawmakers to craft the legislation in a way that would impose a waiting period on FanDuel and DraftKings.

While it is commonly referred to as a “penalty box,” supporters of the provision called it a “regulatory waiting period” designed to give local operators a chance to play catch up to the major DFS operators that may have operated counter to state law and procured a large player database in the process.

Rivers Casino legal representative Paul Gaynor explained his client’s position this way:

We just think that if someone has engaged in an illegal anti-competitive behavior, and hasn’t benefited the state at all, and has thumbed their nose at the regulators, they shouldn’t get the benefit of that illegal conduct.

Lawmakers partially acquiesced and wrote the law in a way that would allow land-based casinos to begin offering mobile betting upon approval. Meanwhile, three online-only sports betting licenses would only be up for grabs 18 months after the first license was issued to a casino operator and at a cost of $20 million each.

However, FanDuel and DraftKings both managed to skirt the penalty by partnering with local casino operators and leaning heavily on those operators’ brands. Regulations issued later in Illinois require casino operators that launch mobile betting platforms to prominently feature the casino’s brand but do not preclude online operators from co-branding.

As a result, DraftKings partnered with Casino Queen East St. Louis and the facility agreed to rebrand itself as DraftKings at Casino Queen. FanDuel partnered with Par-A-Dice Casino and features Par-A-Dice branding prominently on its app.

Illinois Retail Sportsbooks

Casinos, racetracks, off-track betting facilities (OTBs) and seven of the state’s largest sports stadiums may launch on-premises sportsbooks under IL law.

Eight retail sportsbooks have launched to date, seven of them at casinos. Additional sportsbooks at racetracks and stadiums are also set to launch in the future.

Seven of Illinois’ ten casinos have applied for sports betting licenses and all host active sportsbooks today. Harrah’s Joliet, Harrah’s Metropolis, and Jumer’s Casino have not yet detailed what plans they may have for sports betting.

Hawthorne Racetrack is home to PointsBet Sportsbook, which leaves two permanent racetracks yet to launch retail sportsbooks:

  • Fairmount Park (licensed)
  • Arlington Park (license pending)

One of the more unique aspects of the IL sports betting law is a provision allowing up to seven sports stadiums to apply for licenses to operate sportsbooks. Stadiums that acquire these licenses may take wagers in-person as well through mobile devices within a five-block radius.

Wrigley Field Sportsbook

DraftKings was the first sports betting provider to take advantage of Illinois law provisions that allow major sports stadiums to construct sportsbooks. In September 2020, DraftKings announced a major partnership with the Chicago Cubs that includes constructing a “best in class” sportsbook at Wrigley Field and mobile betting in the general vicinity of the stadium.

The Illinois Lottery has also been authorized to enter the sports betting business to a limited degree. Under the new law, the IL Lottery may place up to 2,500 sports betting kiosks throughout the state over the first year of the law being in effect. After that, the lottery may place an additional 2,500 kiosks over the course of the following year to bring the total to 5,000 machines.

IL Lottery betting kiosks are not permitted to offer full-fledged sports betting; they may only offer parlay-style wagers. The details of exactly how those wagers would work have yet to be ironed out.

Additionally, the launch of sports betting kiosks is contingent on the IL Lottery finding an operator willing to pay the one-time licensing fee of $20 million in return for managing the program. That may be a tall order as the program is set to expire on 1 January 2024.

Illinois Sports Betting Law

Illinois legalized sports betting with the passage of SB 690 in June 2019.

Under SB 690 (pg. 226), Illinois may issue licenses to casinos, racetracks, off-track betting facilities (OTBs), and large sports betting venues to operate retail sportsbooks. Licensed casinos and racetracks may also offer statewide mobile betting while licensed stadiums may accept wagers either in-person or via mobile devices within a five-block radius.

Licensing fees for casinos and racetracks are priced according to a percentage of the previous years’ revenue up to a maximum of $10 million.

Online operators may either partner with a local land-based casino operator or wait for one of the three online-only licenses that will be issued 18 months after the launch of IL sports betting.

Key Illinois Sports Betting Rules

  • Are in-person sportsbooks authorized? Yes
  • Are online and mobile sports betting authorized? Yes
  • Where may sports betting take place? Casinos, racetracks, and sports stadiums may apply for licenses to operate in-person sportsbooks and offer online betting
  • Sports betting kiosks: Illinois Lottery may operate up to 5,000 kiosks that will accept parlay-style wagers only
  • Minimum age to bet on sports in IL: 21
  • Restricted Events: No wagers allowed on Illinois college teams, minor league events, and K-12 events
  • Restricted Wagers: Pro sports teams may ask the Illinois Gaming Board to prohibit certain types of wagers if they are concerned such wagers will impact the integrity of their games
  • Data Mandate: Licensed operators must purchase official data from the leagues for settling in-play wagers
  • Tax rate: 15% on adjusted gross sports wagering receipts
  • Additional local tax: An additional 2% tax to be collected from operators located in counties with a population above 3 million. Money collected from this tax is earmarked to support that county’s criminal justice system.
  • Self-exclusion: The Illinois Gaming Board and Department of the Lottery maintain a voluntary self-exclusion program for people who wish to restrict themselves from wagering

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The legislation that eventually legalized sports betting in Illinois was not the first of its kind. Illinois lawmakers had been considering the issue even before the Supreme Court overturned the federal sports betting prohibition.

Lawmakers introduced two bills in 2018 that sought to legalize sports betting pending the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on PASPA:

  • HB 4214: A simple placeholder bill to create the Legalization and Regulation of Sports Betting Act
  • SB 2478: Would have created the Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act. This bill was also short on details but did discuss “electronic” sports betting, presumably in reference to mobile/online betting.

Horse Racing Betting in Illinois

Illinois is home to an active horse racing industry complete with parimutuel wagering at racetracks, OTB locations, and licensed betting sites. The Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975 (full text here) establishes the legal framework for horse racing and parimutuel wagering in the state.

Online Horse Racing Betting

Advance deposit wagering (online racing betting) is legal in Illinois for residents 18 or older at licensed betting sites. The IL Racing Board regulates online betting, issues licenses to ADW providers, and maintains an up-to-date list of active licensees here.

Horse Racetracks in Illinois

Illinois is home to three permanent racetracks that hold live race days most of the year along with three fairs that host live harness races each year.

Off Track Betting Locations (OTBs)

Illinois also licenses off-track betting (OTB) at specific locations throughout the state. As the name suggests, OTB facilities allow you to place wagers on horse races at locations other than the actual racetrack. Each track may authorize a certain number of OTB locations for a total of 43 possible facilities.

Currently, two dozen OTB facilities are licensed by the IRB.

Illinois Racing Board

The Illinois Racing Board (IRB) oversees horse racing and parimutuel wagering in all its forms across the state. The Board was established in 1933 and is responsible for issuing licenses to racetracks and racing personnel, ensuring the integrity of parimutuel wagering, collecting taxes, distributing revenue, and much more.

Illinois Fantasy Sports

A 2020 Illinois Supreme Court decision ruled daily fantasy is a contest of skill and, therefore, not subject to state laws on gambling, which is heavily regulated. As a result, the legality of fantasy sports was affirmed in Illinois.

The 2020 decision court decision countered a 2015 Attorney General opinion that found DFS contests meet the state’s definition of gambling and are therefore illegal under state law. Moving forward, fantasy sports contests are treated as contests of skill in Illinois.

This was not the first court case to have a significant impact on fantasy sports in Illinois. In 2013, New York resident Chris Langone brought a lawsuit against FanDuel.com in Illinois court. He sought to claim more than $500,000 in earnings from FanDuel, and one of its customers under an old Illinois law called the Illinois Loss Act.

The Loss Act is an old piece of anti-gambling legislation that makes gambling losses recoverable by the loser if the losses amount to more than $50. If six months pass and the victim doesn’t claim the losses, anyone may recover those losses in court. Here’s the applicable piece of the law:

(a) Any person who by gambling shall lose to any other person, any sum of money or thing of value, amounting to the sum of $50 or more and shall pay or deliver the same or any part thereof, may sue for and recover the money or other thing of value, so lost and paid or delivered, in a civil action against the winner thereof, with costs, in the circuit court. . . .

(b) If within 6 months, such person who under the terms of Subsection 28-8(a) is entitled to initiate action to recover his losses does not in fact pursue his remedy, any person may initiate a civil action against the winner. The court or the jury, as the case may be, shall determine the amount of the loss. After such determination, the court shall enter a judgment of triple the amount so determined.

The lawsuit was eventually thrown out due to Langone failing to meet the minimum threshold of recoverable money, and because FanDuel itself cannot be considered a “winner of gambling” because it simply acts as a middleman between bettors.

Online Gambling in Illinois

Illinois has flirted with legalizing online casinos and poker sites since 2013, but all efforts to date have failed. As a result, online gambling remains prohibited, aside from sports betting and parimutuel horse racing betting.

An early effort in 2013 saw lawmakers add language authorizing online gambling and poker to a larger land-based gambling expansion bill. Lawmakers ended up stripping the bill of its online gambling provisions before the bill died in its entirety. Two placeholder bills, HB 1077 and HB 1078 were also introduced in 2013 and went nowhere.

Several years passed without significant developments. Online gambling hit the radar unexpectedly in May 2017 when language legalizing online gambling was added to a daily fantasy sports bill at the behest of local riverboat casino interests.

According to local news reports, casinos in Illinois viewed daily fantasy sports as a competing business model and were originally opposed to legislation regulating fantasy sports. However, those casinos had also been interested in expanding to online gaming for quite some time. They were able to strike a deal with lawmakers and get the online gaming language added to the fantasy sports bill.

In addition to creating consumer protection regulations for daily fantasy sports, the modified bill sought to legalize online gaming and issue licenses to operators. Existing casinos, horse racing tracks, and ADW operators would have been authorized to apply for licenses for an application fee of $250,000 and a $10 million licensing fee. Operators would have been permitted to offset the hefty licensing fee against future taxes collected on gaming revenue.

The bill was put to the Illinois Senate’s vote in May and passed by a vote of 42-10, but stalled in the House and eventually died there.

Illinois Online Lottery

The Illinois Lottery is authorized to sell tickets and subscriptions online for Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto, Lucky Day Lotto, Pick 3, and Pick 4.

Customers must be 18 or older, residents of Illinois, and physically present within state lines to purchase tickets online. Players may fund their accounts via credit or debit card and make a minimum deposit of $10.

Winnings under $600 are credited instantly to players’ lottery accounts and may be withdrawn via bank transfer or check. Winnings greater than $600 will prompt the lottery to send an e-mail with claiming instructions.

Illinois was the first state to take its lottery online and is largely responsible for states gaining the authority to legalize online poker and casinos.

In 2009, Illinois and New York asked the Department of Justify to clarify its interpretation of the Federal Wire Act. Both states were interested in authorizing online lottery sales but were unsure if the plan would run afoul of federal law.

The Department of Justice responded in 2011 with an opinion that had implications extending well beyond online lottery games. In its response, the Department of Justice stated:

Having considered the Criminal Division’s views, as well as letters from New York and Illinois to the Criminal Division that were attached to your opinion request, we conclude that interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a “sporting event or contest,” 18 U.S.C § 1084(a), fall outside of the reach of the Wire Act…

With that opinion, the Department of Justice swept aside the only obstacle standing between states and legal online gambling.

Illinois Betting FAQ

Article 28 of the Illinois Criminal Code appears to prohibit the mere act of playing poker or wagering on games. The code doesn’t specifically mention the internet, but it could be interpreted to apply to bets on games anywhere with the following text:

(a) A person commits gambling when he or she:

(1) knowingly plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value, unless excepted in subsection (b) of this Section;

(2) knowingly makes a wager upon the result of any game, contest, or any political nomination, appointment or election;

Illinois has not shown an appetite for prosecuting players who visit offshore gambling sites, but there is some legal risk. Additionally, offshore gambling sites are completely unregulated, and players have no recourse if they suspect an unfair game or are refused payment of winnings.

Yes. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that fantasy sports are contests of skill and not chance. Lawmakers could still pass legislation to regulate fantasy sports or even prohibit it outright, but as it stands right now, DFS is legal in Illinois.