Physical sportsbooks and online sports betting are now live in Illinois.
The state legislature passed a bill allowing for Illinois sports betting at riverboat casinos, horse racetracks and sports facilities in spring 2019. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who helped push the complicated legislation passed the finish line, signed S 690 into law in June 2019.
Rivers Casino Des Plaines took the first legal Illinois sports wager on March 9, 2020. Online sports betting went live later in the summer of 2020, although online accounts must be started at physical sportsbooks.
Sports betting apps in Illinois
Online sports betting got off to an interesting start in Illinois in 2020. For now, there are two apps available in the state — BetRivers and DraftKings Sportsbook. Both are available for people in Illinois to place wagers, but you have to register for an account at the casino or racetrack associated with the sportsbook app.
BetRivers became the first online sportsbook to launch in Illinois on June 18, 2020. For a short time, people in Illinois could register an account online, make a deposit, and immediately start placing bets at BetRivers.
Pritzker responded to the realities of the coronavirus pandemic by issuing an executive order suspending the in-person registration requirement. The order superseded the law’s stipulation that people register for online sports betting accounts in-person for the first 18 months.
He rescinded that order later in July, however forcing prospective bettors to once again register in person.
Late in 2021, three online-only sportsbooks licenses will be available. Illinois brick-and-mortars were given an 18-month head start to the online market.
As major sports start to get back underway in the US following the pandemic, additional Illinois sports betting apps are sure to come online. For now, the options for Illinois residents is:
DraftKings Sportsbook inked a deal with the Casino Queen in East St. Louis in order to offer sports betting in the state; right now, sportsbooks must partner with a land-based entity to offer mobile wagering. While DraftKings had hoped to take advantage of remote registration in the state, Pritzker rescinded his order before the app could go live.
Anyone wishing to use the DraftKings Sportsbook app must complete their registration at the Casino Queen, which is not far from St. Louis, Missouri.
DraftKings has been one of the early leaders in the rapid expansion of US sports betting as it has launched online sportsbooks in a number of states.
The first sports betting app in Illinois comes from Rush Street Interactive, which is the online arm. Would-be bettors would have to go to Rivers Casino Des Plaines near Chicago to register their BetRivers accounts.
BetRivers already offered online sports betting in a number of states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Recent Illinois sports betting and DFS stories
Legal sports betting options in Illinois
People within the borders of Illinois can now bet on professional, collegiate, and international sporting events.
The only legal requirements are that you are over 21, inside state lines, and not on a self-exclusion list. There is no requirement to be a permanent resident of Illinois.
There are some restrictions for betting:
- Bets can only be taken on sports, not on non-sporting competitions such as elections and the Oscars.
- Personnel involved in sports leagues (officials, coaches and so on) can’t bet on their own sports
- Wagers are not allowed on in-state collegiate teams.
There are also illegal offshore websites that offer sports betting in Illinois. Websites not listed on this page are not authorized to operate in Illinois.
Without regulation from the state, these offshore betting apps can’t be counted on to pay out winnings and have been known to disappear with people’s money. The safest option is to play with a reputable licensed sportsbook.
Most popular sports to bet on in Illinois
The sixth-most populous state in the US, Illinois has a good mix of successful and popular teams in every major sport. It’s one of the few states where there’s a legitimate argument as to which is the favorite team. And even when the teams don’t win, the fans are faithful and they’re characters.
NFL betting in Illinois
The Chicago Bears only have one NFL playoff appearance in the past decade, and yet they’re still probably the most popular team in the state in any year that one of the teams below isn’t winning a championship. Their last Super Bowl championship was in 1985 when coached by Mike Ditka, but to die-hard fans, Da Bears can do no wrong.
MLB betting in Illinois
Illinois residents have a love-hate relationship with the Chicago Cubs, but they love them even when they hate them. In ending more than a 100-year drought and breaking the curse of the billy goat by winning the 2016 World Series, the Cubs captured the attention of a state the way few teams in the country can.
More than 5 million people attended the championship parade. Also, Wrigley Field is a mecca where every baseball fan wants to go to attend a game at least once in their life.
The Chicago White Sox are usually an afterthought to the Cubbies, except in 2005 when they captured their first World Series title in 88 years.
NBA betting in Illinois
Michael Jordan put the Chicago Bulls in the argument for most popular team in the state during his 13 years and six NBA titles with the team in the ’80s and ’90s. But the ‘Last Dance’ was more than 20 years ago and the Bulls have only made it past the conference semifinals once since.
NHL betting in Illinois
The Chicago Blackhawks are the most successful team in the state in recent times, winning three Stanley Cups in the past 11 years. However, they’ve faded to the back of the pack by not making the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.
Illinois and Daily Fantasy Sports
Although the legality of daily fantasy sports in Illinois is murky, leading DFS websites such as DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo! and Fantasy Draft operate in the state.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan opined that DFS constitutes illegal gambling under state law in late 2015.
Fantasy sites that continued to operate in the state got some validation in April 2020 when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that some DFS is based on skill and therefore not illegal gambling.
Illinois has had many failed legislative attempts to regulate DFS dating back to 2015, including an early attempt to make it part of the sports betting legislation that passed in 2019.
Is horse racing legal in Illinois?
Yes, Illinois has a long history with horse racing and horse betting. Illinois currently has three racetracks — Arlington International Racecourse, Fairmount Park, and Hawthorne Race Course.
Hawthorne is the oldest continually run family-owned racetrack in the US, opened in 1891. With the track based in Cicero, notorious gangster Al Capone often attended races in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Parimutuel wagering was legalized in Illinois in 1927.
There are also many off-track betting facilities in the state, and the tracks and OTBs are eligible to offer sports betting in Illinois.
Illinois sportsbooks and casinos
Illinois has 10 riverboat casinos, seven of which have obtained licenses to operate sportsbooks thus far. There are also three racetracks, all of which have submitted applications but not yet received approval from the Illinois Gaming Board.
Only two sportsbooks ended up opening in March 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic suspended sports and closed casinos around the country, delaying the rest.
Up to seven sports facilities, such as Wrigley Field and Soldier Field, have the opportunity to set up sportsbooks at or within five blocks of their arenas and stadiums.
Here’s a look at where you can or soon will be able to go to bet on sports in Illinois.
|Rivers||Rush Street Gaming||March 9, 2020|
|Argosy||Penn National||March 12, 2020|
|Grand Victoria||William Hill||TBD|
|Hollywood Aurora||Penn National||TBD|
|Hollywood Joliet||Penn National||TBD|
|Arlington Park||Churchill Downs||TBD|
Rivers led the way by opening the first sportsbook and the first sports betting app in Illinois. Rivers has an ideal location, near downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport. The BetRivers sportsbook includes a 47-foot-wide ultra HD LED video wall, five betting windows and 30 sports wagering kiosks.
Address: 3000 S. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60018
Sportsbook Hours: 10 a.m. to midnight, 7 days a week.
Argosy Casino Alton
Argosy is a popular destination for being just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO. The casino is one of three in Illinois operated by Penn National. The sportsbook features 36 television screens, 14 self-serve wagering kiosks and five teller windows.
Address: 1 Piasa St., Alton, IL 62002
Sportsbook Hours: TBD
Illinois sports betting timeline
Gov. J.B. Pritzker called for the legislature to legalize sports betting by including revenue from it in his budget proposal. However, for much of the 2019 legislative session, IL sports betting legislation made little progress.
Rep. Mike Zalewski started off the efforts by introducing H 3308, which got multiple committee hearings. In one such hearing, five proposed amendments were introduced showing what direction different stakeholders wanted to take the bill.
Zalewski whittled those options down to two amendments in May. With it becoming apparent that there was the political will to push for sports betting legislation, Zalewski introduced what he said would be the final product for sports betting in Illinois at the end of the month.
The bill was not well-received by the industry. It included unprecedented fees and delayed online sports betting for a year and a half.
In a crazy final week that saw the vehicle for the sports betting bill change several times as it ended up being put in with a larger gaming expansion and finally tied into the governor’s $41 billion capital improvements plan, Rep. Bob Rita took over the negotiations.
Rita’s big assignment was working out a compromise between the state’s leading casino Rivers and out-of-state sportsbook leaders DraftKings and FanDuel. Rivers chairman Neil Bluhm wanted the state to prohibit them from entering the Illinois sports betting market for three years as punishment for offering daily fantasy sports in the state under questionable legal circumstances.
They settled on not letting out-of-state companies to get their own licenses until after 18 months, when three online-only licenses become available for $20 million. Before then, all online sports betting apps must be connected to a brick-and-mortar property in Illinois.
Rita also capped the amount casinos would pay for an initial sports betting license at $10 million, lowered the tax rate to 15% and added an official league data mandate on in-play wagers to appease professional sports leagues.
With the Democrat-led legislature wanting to answer the call of their new Democrat governor, the legislature passed a bill to legalize sports betting on the final day of the session. Pritzker signed the bill into law on June 28.
Illinois lawmakers first expressed interest in legalizing sports betting in 2018, introducing five bills. But the efforts were more of an exploratory nature.
Rep. Lou Lang introduced the first Illinois sports betting bill in January. The Legalization and Regulation of Sports Betting Act was just five lines long.
Sen. Don Harmon followed with a bill in the upper chamber. It was notable that Harmon, the Senate President pro tempore, took an interest in sports betting. But his Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act didn’t even seek to legalize sports betting. It tasked the Illinois Gaming Board to decide to authorize or prohibit sports betting.
Three more bills followed. The most noteworthy was from Sen. Napolean Harris, a former NFL linebacker. Harris’ bill was the first one in the state to include an integrity fee and other concessions sought by lobbyists for professional sports leagues.
Illinois sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Illinois?
Yes. The first legal sports bets in Illinois were taken in March 2020.
Where can I bet on sports in Illinois?
Two casinos opened sportsbooks and one Illinois sports betting app launched so far in 2020, but more are expected soon.
Is online sports betting available in Illinois?
Yes, you can bet online from anywhere in the state for the time being. The governor temporarily waived the in-person registration requirement as a response to the coronavirus.
Can I bet on sports on my phone in Illinois?
Yes, as long as you’re physically located within the state’s borders.
Who can bet on sports in Illinois?
Anyone over the age of 21 can legally bet on sports in Illinois.
Who regulates sports betting in Illinois?
Sports betting in Illinois is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board.
Are offshore sportsbooks legal?
Offshore sportsbooks that serve customers in IL violate a number of federal laws and state laws. While bettors might not get in trouble for placing a bet an offshore site, all of them do so illegally.