Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Illinois?
Illinois online and retail sports betting was signed into law in 2019, and BetRivers accepted the first online sports wager on June 18, 2020. Six online sportsbooks are currently operating in Illinois, with several additional operators eventually expected to join the marketplace.
Illinois sports betting law includes a requirement for in-person registration to open an online account. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and temporary closure of casinos, Gov. JB Pritzker issued an executive order in June 2020 suspending the in-person requirement and allowing remote registration. The executive order briefly lapsed, then was renewed until April 3, 2021, when in-person registration was reinstated. It should expire around the end of 2021.
For now, that means Illinois bettors who want to sign up for an IL DraftKings sportsbook account must visit Casino Queen in East St. Louis, near the Illinois/Missouri border. Access to FanDuel Illinois requires registration at FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing (formerly Fairmount Park) in Collinsville. The state’s four other online sportsbooks – Barstool, BetRivers, PointsBet and William Hill – all have more convenient locations in or around the Chicagoland area.
Impact of In-Person Registration
Remote registration fueled massive growth and in less than a year Illinois was among the nation’s top-5 markets in sports betting handle. That momentum is now likely to slow until in-person registration expires. Remote registration was especially helpful for the industry’s two most popular national operators: DraftKings and FanDuel.
The two sports betting giants controlled more than 70% of the market during the first two months of 2021. But neither has a land-based partner located within 250 miles of Chicago, which will allow their four online sportsbook competitors to make up ground during in-person registration.
Another quirk in Illinois’ sports betting law is a mandatory extended waiting period before the state’s three online-only sports betting licenses can be awarded (all current mobile operators must have a land-based partner).
Purposely written to benefit the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos, the law includes a provision that mobile-only licenses cannot be granted for at least 18 months after the first sports wagering license is awarded (June 2020). That means no online-only licenses or remote registration until 2022, barring a change in law or new executive order by the governor.
Taxes, Licensing, and Regulation
Illinois sportsbooks pay a tax rate of 15% of gross adjusted revenue, which ranks about average nationally, but higher than its neighbors. The tax rate in Indiana is 9.5%. In Iowa, it’s 6.75%, one of the lowest rates in the nation. Illinois casinos and racetracks pay $5 million for a master sports wagering license. The initial license fee for a pro sports venue is $10 million. The state’s three online-only sports betting licenses are each priced at $20 million, an expensive barrier to entry in the Illinois bettors.
Who Gets a Sports Betting License
Under Illinois sports betting law, casinos, racetracks, off-track betting facilities and up to seven professional sports venues (must have a minimum seating capacity of 17,000) are eligible to apply for a sports betting license. Only one mobile "skin" (partnership) is permitted for each retail sportsbook, racetrack and pro sports venue.
Who is In Charge of Licensing?
The Illinois Gaming Board awards all sports betting licenses and is responsible for overseeing the state’s gaming industry, including sports betting. The board has five members, each selected by the governor.
Number of Sportsbooks
Six online sportsbooks are currently operating in Illinois. Seven casinos and two racetracks offer in-person sports betting. A gambling expansion bill in 2019 authorized six new land-based casinos, including one in Chicago. Each of those casinos can apply for a sports betting license. In addition, up to seven Illinois sports venues can open sportsbooks at or within five blocks of their facility. The Chicago Cubs have already announced plans to open a retail sportsbook at Wrigley Field.
Estimated Size of the Market
Illinois is one of the largest sports betting markets in the U.S. Though still a new industry, sports betting handle in Illinois reached nearly $2 billion in 2020, trailing only New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The return of in-person registration is likely to stall the state’s online sports betting growth. Expect Illinois to regain its momentum in 2022 when remote registration returns and retain its place as a top-5 betting market.
Online Legal Illinois Sportsbooks
Instead of waiting 18 months to apply for an online-only sports betting license, the fantasy sports powerhouse forged a path into the Illinois betting market by partnering with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, where it operates both online and retail sports betting. Review DraftKings IL to find it is one of the most recognized brands in the sports wagering industry and offers bettors a wide selection of betting markets and promotions. A solid option for live betting.
Owned and operated by Chicago-based Rush Street International, BetRivers provides Illinois bettors a hometown option while aggressively expanding its brand nationally. The BetRivers Illinois app and online interface offer one of the least-restrictive welcome bonuses in the industry, with bettors required to wager bonus money only one time before redeeming. Online partner of Rivers Casino Des Plaines was the first mobile sportsbook to accept a legal wager in Illinois.
Partnered with Hawthorne Race Course, a thoroughbred/harness racing track in suburban Chicago. The operator offers some of the best prices of any sportsbook in the state and an incredible number of live bets on the NFL, NBA and MLB games. Offers unique PointsBetting format, a more high-risk, high-reward form of wagering in which bettors can win more or less than their original bet depending on how correct their wager is. The Illinois PointsBet sportsbook is intuitive, and comes highly recommended to bettors in the state.
Like DraftKings, FanDuel found a way into the Illinois marketplace without having to endure an 18-month waiting period for an online-only license. They initially struck partnership deal with Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, then purchased Fairmount Park in Collinsville and rebranded the thoroughbred track to FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing. FanDuel is a major player in every state in which it operates sports betting. The FanDuel Illinois app is one of the most player-friendly in the industry.
William Hill Sportsbook
Former British bookmaking giant is now under the Caesars Entertainment umbrella after a recent purchase. As the dominant retail sports betting provider in Nevada, William Hill is an equally formidable online competitor. The betting app is clean and straightforward without a lot of clutter, making it easy to quickly find the sports and games you want. William Hill IL has partnered with Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.
Barstool is the most recent online sportsbook to enter the Illinois marketplace (March 2021). The well-known sports media and pop-culture brand has pivoted aggressively into sports betting after Penn National Gaming purchased a substantial stake in the company in September 2020. Bettors can play and/or follow the bets of Barstool Sports personalities. Partnered in Illinois with Penn National Gaming-owned Hollywood Casino Aurora, BarStool is welcomed in the state.
Other Potential Operators
Although we can't say these operators are definitely going to be licensed in the state, it is likely.
BetMGM has applied for an Illinois license, though the state’s decision to reinstate in-person registration may delay BetMGM’s plans to enter the market. The online arm of gambling giant MGM Resorts is a strong competitor in nearby Michigan and Indiana. As in other states, the BetMGM sportsbook in IL will offer online betting on Illinois NBA games, as well as all the other popular sports.
Global sports betting operator has pending license application and potential partnership deal in place with Argosy Casino Alton. Unibet has aggressively forged partnerships with several pro sports franchises in both the U.S. and Europe. Expect Unibet Illinois to offer lucrative bonus offers and an assortment of bets on the NHL in IL, as well as the PGA, soccer and more.
Formed by a partnership between media giant, FOX, and The Stars Group (parent company of PokerStars), FOX Bet Illinois is expected to make a debut very soon. The brand is already in Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Known for competitive offers, including risk-free bets, a great loyalty program, and a great app, FOX Bet will certainly be welcomed by bettors.
Canadian-based operator has a potential partnership in place with Harrah’s Joliet. TheScore is available in four states, including Indiana and Iowa.
Illinois lawmakers passed a gambling expansion bill in 2019 that will allow for six more casino locations, including one mega-facility in Chicago. Expect several other sportsbook operators to come forward when it becomes clear who will be operating those casinos and remote registration returns. In addition, the state’s seven eligible pro sports venues will be looking for online sports betting partners.
How Online Sports Betting in Illinois Works
The process of wagering in the Land of Lincoln online is fairly simple.
Step 1: Choose a Legal IL Sportsbook
Signing up for more than one Illinois online sportsbook account is a good idea. Having multiple sites allows you to compare odds at IL sportsbooks and prices and take advantage of competing free bet bonus offers. Make sure you’ve selected a legal site that is licensed and regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board. Avoid all offshore-based sportsbook sites, which are unregulated and offer little or no legitimate oversight.
Step 2: Sign Up at the Online Operator
Bettors have a half-dozen legal online sportsbooks to choose from. Take time to visit and examine several or all of them. That will help determine which offer the betting markets, bonus offers and payment options that work best for you. Read our reviews and recommendations to gain additional insight, then go through the registration process so you can take the next step.
Step 3: Register at a Physical Sportsbook
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decision in April 2021 to reinstate in-person registration means bettors must visit and register at a land-based casino, racetrack or off-track betting facility to open an account with that casino’s online partner. Not sure where to register? Here are the locations:
- Barstool: Hollywood Casino Aurora
- BetRivers: Rivers Casino Des Plaines
- DraftKings: DraftKings Sportsbook at Casino Queen, East St. Louis
- FanDuel: FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing (formerly Fairmount Park), Collinsville
- PointsBet: Hawthorne Race Course, Stickney, or two off-track betting facilities: Club Hawthorne in Crestwood, Player’s Pub & Grill in Prospect Heights.
- William Hill: Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
Step 4: Deposit Money Into Your Account
Before you can make a bet, you must fund your account. Online sportsbooks have plenty of options for payment methods. Pick one you are comfortable with, start a bankroll, collect your welcome bonus and dive right in!
Step 5: Place Your Bets!
As soon your initial deposit appears in your account balance, you can begin your sports wagering journey. Navigate the site, find the sport and games you wish to bet and examine the odds. When prepared to make a wager, look for the virtual bet slip (usually on the top right side of your screen). Enter the type of bet and amount you plan to wager. The bet slip will display your selection and potential winning payoff. To finalize the wager, click "bet" or "confirm" to complete the process.
Online Sports Betting Options
Whether you prefer straight bets, parlays or teasers, online sportsbooks offer all the betting options available at traditional brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and more, including live wagering.
In-Game Wagering and Live Betting
Live wagering, also called in-game betting, is perhaps the fastest-growing segment in the industry. For live wagers, bets are placed after a game or event has started. Odds are continually updated in real-time based on what is happening in the game at that moment. Depending on your sportsbook operator, the depth of wagering choices can be virtually limitless. Wagers and odds may be offered on the second half of a game, the second quarter or on nearly every single play.
Sports You Can Bet On Right Now
NFL Betting in Illinois
The NFL is the No. 1 betting sports league in the U.S. It’s also No. 1 in Illinois, according to wagering statistics provided by the Illinois Gaming Board. The tradition-rich Chicago Bears, one of the NFL’s original franchises, claimed nine league championships prior to the NFL-AFL merger and won Super Bowl XX in 1985. Recent history hasn’t been as kind: The Bears, who play in the NFC North Division, haven’t won a playoff game since 2010.
Futures betting on the NFL in IL is available nearly year-round (the Bears are listed in the 50-1 range to win Super Bowl LVI). The NFL preseason begins in August, followed by the regular season and playoffs. The Super Bowl played in February, is annually one of the biggest sports betting days of the year. Illinois bettors legally wagered nearly $46 million on Super Bowl LV in 2021.
MLB Betting in Illinois
With the Cubs and White Sox, Chicago is one of only two U.S. cities (along with New York) to have two Major League Baseball teams within the same city limits. (Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area each have two teams in the same metro area). The Cubs, who play at iconic Wrigley Field on the city’s north side, won the 2016 World Series to end a 108-year World Series drought, the longest in MLB history. The White Sox play at Guaranteed Rate Field on the city’s South Side. They last won the World Series in 2005, their first championship since 1917. It should come as no surprise that bettors will able to bet on MLB games in Illinois, as soon as the season opens (futures will also be allowed).
NBA Betting in Illinois
The Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls enjoyed one of the NBA’s greatest dynasties during the 1990s, winning six championships with a pair of three-peats. Recent success has been more difficult to come by: The Bulls haven’t experienced a winning season since 2015-16. The Bulls play home games at the United Center, which they share with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. The NBA is the No. 2 betting league in the state, trailing only the NFL, according to Illinois Gaming Board figures. The Illinois NBA sportsbook will likely be offering exclusive promotional offers when the season opens. Be sure to keep an eye out for those!
NHL Betting in Illinois
The Chicago Blackhawks, one of the original six NHL teams, have won six Stanley Cups, most recently in 2014-2015. They compete in the Central Division and have one of the most loyal fan bases in sports, having sold out more than 500 consecutive home games. While spread betting (‘puck line’ ) is available in hockey, moneyline wagers are the most popular NHL betting trend in Illinois, as well as the United States.
Other Pro and College Sports Betting in Illinois
The Chicago Fire has been a member of Major League Soccer since 1998 and won one MLS Cup. The Chicago Sky is an original member of the WNBA and reached the league finals in 2014. Illinois sportsbooks provide wagering on NCAA major college sports such as football and basketball. State law does not permit wagering on any collegiate games involving Illinois-based teams. The state has 13 Division I college basketball programs and seven programs (FBC and FBS) in football.
An amendment to the state’s Sports Wagering Act that would repeal the prohibition of wagering on in-state college games was reintroduced in the General Assembly in February 2021. State Rep. Michael J. Zalewski, the bill’s sponsor, said state bettors are already wagering on games involving Illinois-based teams by crossing the state line to Indiana and Iowa.
What Types of Bets Are Allowed?
The menu of wagers for Illinois sports bettors run the whole gambit, from point-spread betting to parlays, teasers and live betting, which is only available with online sports betting.
- Spread bets: Favorites give points, underdogs get points, and the sports betting site balances the odds at around -110. If the Bears are -3 vs the Packers, they need to win by 4 or more for Bears winners to cash their bets.
- Moneyline: Betting on who will win with no spread involved. Favorites are represented with negative numbers and underdogs have positive numbers. The Cubs -130 vs the Cardinals +120 means you must bet $130 to win $100 on the Cubs but would win $120 with a $100 bet on the Cubs.
- Totals (Over/under): Betting on whether the total points, runs or goals goes over or under a total set by the Illinois sports betting site.
- Parlays: Combing multiple bets onto one ticket. While the potential payout goes up exponentially the more "legs" you add, so does the risk as every bet must-win for the parlay to pay.
- Teasers: These bets, often tied with parlays, shift the odds of all the bets by a set number of points in the bettor's favor in exchange for a lower potential payout.
- Futures: Bets on events that occur later, such as the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup, the Bears won-loss total or the AL Cy Young award.
- Proposition bets: Bets that are not tied to the outcome of content, such as which team scores first, if a player will hit a homer or if a QB will have more than 24.5 completions.
- Live wagering (in-play): Bets made while a game is live. Typically will be spread, moneyline, total and prop bets with odds constantly shifting as sportsbooks use computer algorithms to make second-by-second updates.
Betting on an App
Sports betting apps offer bettors the convenience of wagering from their smartphone or other mobile devices 24 hours a day, 7 days from week, from anywhere inside the state. All the Illinois sports betting apps are available for iOS and Android devices and are free to download. Most of the sports wagering apps include start-of-the-art technology that allows bettors to do everything they could do on their home or laptop computer, whether it’s making wagers, comparing odds, requesting withdrawals or contacting customer support. It’s estimated between 80% and 90% of all legal sports bets are placed on apps.
Daily Fantasy in Illinois
Daily fantasy sports operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel operate in Illinois though state law fails to make clear whether it’s a legal activity. In 2015, a non-binding advisory opinion by the state’s attorney general concluded that daily fantasy sports was an illegal form of gambling and violated state law. Five years later, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that some fantasy sports contests are games of skill and permissible under state law. Though state lawmakers have never passed daily fantasy sports legislation, DFS operators, buoyed by the Illinois Supreme Court ruling, continue to operate in the state.
Illinois Sportsbook Bonuses & Promotions
Illinois sports betting is a competitive industry, so online operators offer new and existing customers a variety of incentives, such as bonuses and promotions.
Bonus offers come in many forms. The most popular are a small no-deposit welcome bonus; a match of up to 100% on your initial deposit; and a risk-free first bet. Free bets at IL sportsbooks provide free money, but generally include some form of wagering requirement, meaning you must wager the bonus money a specific number of times before it can be redeemed from your account. It’s important to read terms and conditions before claiming your bonus.
Daily promotions such as parlay insurance, odds boosts and free contest entry are offered to retain existing players. Each sportsbook operator also typically offers its own loyalty reward program, in which accumulated points can be redeemed for sportsbook cash or prizes, depending on the player’s level of wagering.
How to Deposit Money and Cash Out Winnings
Illinois online sportsbooks offer a wide range of deposit and withdrawal options. Deposit methods vary by operator, but the following are generally accepted: online banking; e-wallet (PayPal, Skrill); credit/debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, others); Play+ & prepaid cards; PayNearMe; and cash at casino cage (of the affiliated land-based casino). Deposits can be instantaneous, depending on the method used. Fees vary, depending on your financial institution. Credit cards generally charge higher fees. Some banks may decline to process gambling transactions. Minimum deposits are generally as low as $10.
Simply go to the Cashier tab at your online sportsbook website or sports betting app, select your deposit method and amount.
Players can request to withdraw funds from their account at any time. Withdrawals take longer to process than deposits, usually requiring up to 48 hours for approval. Some sportsbooks provide an email that allows players to track the status of their withdrawals. Players who make withdrawals for the first time are usually asked to provide a photo ID. Among the most popular options are online banking, Play+ card, e-wallets, check by mail and cash at casino cage (of the affiliated land-based casino).
Illinois Sports Betting Revenue
Sports betting in Illinois is still in its early stages, yet the state posted impressive numbers in 2020. That was despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced retail sportsbooks to temporarily close, and the confusing back-and-forth between in-person and remote registration.
Betting handle (total amount wagered) was $1.88 billion in 2020, the fourth-highest total of any state in the U.S., trailing only New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania, and ahead of neighboring Indiana, which launched online sports betting about eight months earlier in 2019.
Illinois sports betting revenue (subtracting payouts from total handle) exceeded $125 million in 2020. In January 2021, Illinois sports betting handle reached a monthly all-time high of $581.6 million.
Illinois Monthly Sports Betting Revenue
Illinois sports betting figures reported so far in 2021 (per Illinois Gaming Board):
|Month||Total Handle||Online Handle||Total Revenue|
Remote registration was in place for both months. The state’s betting numbers were expected to dip beginning in April 2021, when in-person registration was reinstated.
Illinois Teams with Sportsbook Sponsorship Deals
Professional teams are lining up with sportsbooks for partnership deals, and it's no exception in Illinois. Among the top sports betting sponsorship deals with Illinois-based teams or entities:
Chicago Cubs and DraftKings
The Chicago Cubs and DraftKings have agreed to an exclusive sports betting and daily fantasy partnership.
Chicago Bears and PointsBet
The Chicago Bears and PointsBet have agreed to an exclusive sports betting partnership.
Michael Jordan and DraftKings
Former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan joins DraftKings' board of director as special advisor.
Each of the major sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) has their own sports betting partners. For example, FanDuel with MLB and PointsBet with the NHL.
Land Based Retail Sportsbooks in Illinois
There are nine retail sportsbooks at Illinois casinos and racetracks, and you will need to register in-person for your sports betting account until about the end of 2021. A brief look at each:
Rivers Casino Sportsbook
The first casino sportsbook to open in Illinois is in northern Chicago suburb, two miles from O’Hare International Airport. In-person registration location for BetRivers online sportsbook.
DraftKings at Casino Queen, East St. Louis
Located in East St. Louis, across the Mississippi River from Missouri. In-person registration location to sign up for DraftKings online sportsbook access.
Grand Victoria Elgin
Located about 40 miles west of Chicago. In-person registration location for William Hill online access.
Hawthorne Race Course
Oldest continually run family-owned racetrack in North America is located about 10 southwest of Chicago in Stickney/Cicero. In-person registration location for PointsBet online access. Hawthorne also offers retail sports betting and in-person registration at two off-track betting locations: Club Hawthorne in Crestwood and Player’s Pub & Grill in Prospect Heights.
Located in East Peoria and home to retail FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook.
Hollywood Casino Aurora, Joliet
Both are owned by Penn National Gaming. Visit the Aurora location (on Fox River, about 40 miles west of Chicago) to register for Barstool online sportsbook.
FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing
Formerly known as Fairmount Park, located in Collinsville, about 15 miles east of St. Louis. In-person registration location for FanDuel online sports betting in Illinois access.
Argosy Casino Alton
Located in suburban St. Louis, operated by Penn National Gaming. Currently without an online sportsbook partner, though a deal with Unibet is pending.
Illinois Online Gambling Restrictions
A few restrictions under state law that Illinois sports bettors should be aware of:
In-person registration was reinstated in April 2021. Bettors who do not have an online sportsbook account in Illinois must register at the casino affiliated with the online operator they want to access. Illinois players who already have an online sports betting account do not need to re-register.
Bettors must be age 21 or older to place a legal online sports wager in Illinois.
There is no state residency requirement to bet with an Illinois online sportsbook. But all legal wagers must be placed from inside the state. All of the Illinois gambling sites use geolocation technology to accurately pinpoint a bettor’s location. Wagering attempts made from outside state lines are automatically rejected.
No wagering is accepted on college sports involving Illinois-based teams. Wagering is only accepted on sporting events and is prohibited on non-sporting events such as the Academy Awards or political elections.
Self Excluded Bettors
Self-excluded bettors are individuals who have voluntarily entered the Illinois Gaming Board self-exclusion program, which precludes them from participating in sports wagering due to problem gambling or other reasons.
Illinois Sports Betting FAQ
Illinois is home to the following retail sportsbooks: Argosy Casino Alton, Casino Queen (East St. Louis), FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing (Collinsville), Grand Victoria Elgin, Hawthorne Race Course (Stickney/Cicero), Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet, Par-A-Dice Casino (East Peoria), Rivers Casino Des Plaines and off-track betting facilities in Crestwood and Prospect Heights. The state is also home to six online sportsbooks, with more likely on the way.
Visit any retail sportsbook in the state or sign up for an Illinois online sports betting account, and you can place wagers on sports betting apps or on your laptop/desktop.
Yes. Illinois tracks offer live thoroughbred or harness racing. Bettors can wager at the track, at off-track betting facilities and through online wagering sites such as TVG, TwinSpires, NYRA Bets and Xpressbet.
Online sports betting in Illinois was signed into law in 2019. BetRivers Sportsbook accepted the state’s first legal online sports wager on June 18, 2020.
Yes. You can be a resident of any state. However, you must be physically located in Illinois when placing a wager.
All Illinois sports bettors are eligible to receive promotions and bonuses from the state’s online sportsbooks. Signing up with more than one operator allows bettors to claim multiple bonus offers and promotions.
That’s for each bettor to decide. For example, DraftKings sportsbook offers a larger sign-up bonus than BetRivers but also requires more substantial betting requirements before bonus money can be redeemed. Players should choose the bonus or promo offers that best fit their individual betting style.
Chicago is one of the best sports cities in America, with teams in each of the most popular leagues: Bears (NFL), Cubs and White Sox (MLB), Bulls (NBA) and Blackhawks (NHL). The state is also home to a pair of popular Big Ten college sports teams: the University of Illinois and Northwestern.
The Illinois Gaming Board oversees the state’s gaming industry, including sports betting. The board is responsible for licensing and enforcement of all state gaming laws.
The Illinois sports betting tax rate is 15% of gross adjusted revenue. Illinois sportsbook operators are also required to pay steep licensing fees, generally ranging from $5 million to $20 million. Online bettors are subject to a 4.95% tax rate. Use our tax rate calculator to figure what you will have to pay.
Responsible Gambling In Illinois
The Illinois Gaming Board allows bettors to enter a self-exclusion program, which prohibits them from participating in sports wagering at any facility in the state for a specific period or permanently. The state also provides access to several local and national problem gambling support groups, such as the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous.
Chet Fussman is a writer for IllinoisBet.com. Fussman is a former horse racing writer and longtime sports editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. He's a poker and blackjack player and frequent sports bettor, who plans to send the U.S. Supreme Court a thank-you card for clearing the way for states to adopt sports wagering. Fussman's philosophy: Don't let the bad beats overshadow your winning ones.