Illinois Sports Betting
Sports betting is strong in Illinois. State lawmakers moved forward with landmark sports betting legislation in 2019. Gov. J.B. Pritzker officially signed the approved bill into law on June 28, legalizing both online and retail wagering in the state.
Illinois Sportsbook New Player Bonus Offers
Fast forward about 9 months, wagering officially launched on March 9, 2020, with the Rivers Casino Des Plaines accepting the first bet. Illinois’ 12 million+ residents (and even more commuters and visitors) have access to a legal, regulated sports betting market.
BetRivers online sportsbook took the first online sports bet in the state on June 18, 2020.
This page will cover all aspects of the Illinois sports betting scene – from retail casinos to online sites, sign-up, deposits, and important rules. We’ll break it all down.
General Illinois Sports Betting Info
While sports betting is legal, there are a few restrictions that will apply for potential sports bettors in Illinois.
You have to be 21 years or older in order to bet on sports in Illinois. This applies for making wagers at a retail sportsbook, or betting online.
The other notable restriction is that all wagers with an Illinois state-licensed sportsbook must be placed in the state. You can set up your account, deposit, check lines, and even withdraw from your bankroll from anywhere. But at the time you hit the ‘Place Bet’ button, you have to be physically inside the state of Illinois or you’re breaking the law.
Online sportsbooks use sophisticated geo-tracking software that accurately pinpoints your location. If they can’t determine where you are, you can’t bet. It’s not worth attempting to fool the system, either. If you’re caught cheating with a VPN, you’ll get the boot.
Unique State Laws
The Illinois sports betting market does have a few quirks that make it a little different than what you’ll find in other states. In the U.S. each individual state is able to customize its laws exactly as they see fit. Here are some of the more unique rules in Illinois:
In-State College Betting
For college sports, Illinois encourages you to root, root, root for the home team…you just can’t bet on them. All in-state collegiate athletics are off-limits. For example, bettors are not able to wager on the Fighting Illini, Northwestern, Loyola, DePaul, etc. However, in a head-scratching move that was apparently designed as a compromise, the state legislature changed the law to allow retail casinos to offer wagering on in-state college teams.
Thankfully any NCAA contest that doesn’t include an Illinois-based team is still fair game for online betting.
Official League Data
Illinois, along with Tennessee, is among the first states that require sportsbooks to purchase official league data from sports leagues. Requiring the purchase of official league data essentially cuts the various leagues in on the betting apparatus. The leagues then use the extra income to invest in the security and integrity of its games, making sure they are not compromised.
Taxes and Licensing Fees
Illinois is a big state, with hefty start-up costs. If you’re looking to run an online sportsbook in the state, you’ll need deep pockets.
- License Application: $250,000
- License Fee: $3 – $20 million depending on the type of license
- Retail Sportsbook/Race Track: $3 million
- Sports Venue: $10 million
- Online-only: $20 million (max 3 allowed)
- License Renewal (required every 4 years): $1 million
- Tax: 15%
The “Rebuild Illinois” plan, which contributes to infrastructure and education, will be the main beneficiary of the states’ sports betting profits.
Online Penalty Box
After reading over the Illinois sports betting rules, its fairly obvious that they weren’t written to benefit online-only operators. The state will only approve 3 such licenses, they cost twice as much, and they didn’t become available until 18 months after the first standard license is awarded in the state.
These stipulations were included in the Illinois law in order to specifically serve as setbacks for operators like DraftKings and FanDuel. Retail casinos in the state have long felt that their online DFS operations constituted gambling and were therefore illegal under state law. As a result, state legislators initially arrived at an 18-month’ penalty box’ to keep DraftKings and FanDuel from entering the Illinois online sports betting market, and give existing casinos a leg up.
However, both DraftKings and FanDuel weren’t OK with remaining on the sidelines, or forking over the $20 million online fee intended to slow them down. DraftKings finalized a market access arrangement with the Casino Queen East St. Louis (now known as DraftKings at Casino Queen), and officially launched on August 5, 2020. FanDuel entered a partnership agreement with the Par-A-Dice Casino East Peoria and began accepting wagers on August 29th.
So far the only sportsbook operator to fork over the hefty fee for an online-only license has been BetMGM, which went live in the state in March 2022, over 18 months after the first online bets were accepted. Caliente Interactive, a large Mexican sportsbook, shocked industry observers in April 2022 when the company announced it would be the second online-only operator to enter the state. Since that announcement, nothing has happened, so it is unknown when or even if Caliente will end up launching in Illinois.
Top Illinois Online Sportsbooks
Online registration is now available for all Illinois online sportsbooks. The state’s first online book, BetRivers, launched on June 18th, 2020.
As per state law, each casino/racetrack is eligible to host one online skin on its license, plus there will eventually be three online-only operators that aren’t tied to an existing retail casino. Here’s our complete overview of all online and b+m sportsbooks in the state.
- Retail Partner: Rivers Casino Des Plaines
- Retail Launch: March 9, 2020
- Tech Partner: Kambi
- Mobile Launch: June 18, 2020
BetRivers and its parent company Rush Street Gaming officially opened the Illinois sports betting market by accepting the state’s first retail sports bets on March 9, 2020, at the Rivers Casino Des Plaines. Following in their own retail footsteps, BetRivers’ online sports betting platform was also the first operator to take sports bets online.
Sports bettors are treated to a top notch sports betting mobile app and tons of betting options. BetRivers has a rapidly growing presence within the regulated sports betting market in the U.S. The company operates online sportsbooks in numerous states including Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Colorado.
- Retail Partner: Casino Queen East St. Louis
- Retail Launch: August 5, 2020
- Tech Partner: SBTech
- Online Launch: August 5, 2020
DraftKings is officially out of the penalty box. The company joined forces with the Casino Queen, located just across the Mississippi River from Saint Louis, and officially opened for business on August 5th, 2020.
Synonymous with Daily Fantasy Sports, DraftKings is now developing its reputation as one of the biggest online sportsbooks in the world. Products are available in states throughout the country, and it’s now possible to register online and bet from anywhere in Illinois.
- Retail Partner: Hawthorne Race Course
- Retail Launch: TBD
- Tech Partner: PointsBet
- Mobile Launch: September 12, 2020
PointsBet is on its way to becoming a household name in the world of sports betting. A relatively young company, Australia-based PointsBet has established itself as a major gaming player in the United States. Its first online sportsbook launched in New Jersey, and has since expanded the operation to additional states including Iowa, Colorado, Indiana, and now Illinois. Partnerships for new states are already on the way.
As of September 2020, PointsBet offers its exciting online sportsbook through a pact with the Hawthorne Race Course, which is located just outside of Chicago.
- Retail Partner: FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing (Fairmount Park)
- Retail Launch: September 10, 2020
- Tech Partner: IGT
- Mobile Launch: August 29, 2020
Due to the aforementioned ‘penalty box’ that Illinois built into its sports betting laws, the road to launch for FanDuel was quite long. However, FanDuel sportsbook got the ball rolling in September 2020 and is live in Illinois.
The company first paired with the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, allowing it to circumvent the “online-only” restrictions. It has since shifted its license to the Fairmount Park race track, which rebranded to ‘FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing’. A FanDuel sponsored retail sportsbook remains available on site at the Par-A-Dice Casino. Online wagering is available through a computer, plus iOS and Android mobile apps.
- Retail Partner: Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
- Retail Launch: TBD
- Tech Partner: William Hill
- Mobile Launch: September 15, 2020
The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin is the company’s partner for Illinois, where a full service Caesars themed sportsbook is available. The sportsbook initially launched in the state as William Hill, before being renamed and relaunched as Caesars Sportsbook in August of 2021.
- Retail Partner: Online License
- Tech Partner: GVC
- Mobile Launch: March 5, 2022
MGM’s marquee online sports betting platform is expected to arrive in Illinois, though their partner is yet to be confirmed. BetMGM has already found success in New Jersey, West VA, Indiana, Nevada, and Colorado – and has announced an expansion to both Pennsylvania and Michigan, making it one of the most active online books in the country.
PENN Entertainment’s situation is one of the more interesting ones at this time, as the company has announced a partnership with ESPN. ESPN BET will soon be available in this state
The most recognizable sports entertainment brand in the United States is one of the biggest moves we’ve seen in an era with sports betting legal.
Circa Sportsbook (coming soon)
- Retail Partner: New American Place Casino
- Retail Launch: TBD
- Tech Partner: Stadium Technology
- Mobile Launch: TBD
Circa is known among industry pros as a great sportsbook, mostly because they accept very large wagers and have a huge selection of prop bets and available markets. The operator announced in May 2022 that it will be coming to Illinois through a partnership with New American Place Casino, a Waukegan casino that will likely offer a Circa Sportsbook at some point in the future.
- Retail Partner: Online-only
- Retail Launch: N/A
- Tech Partner: TBD
- Mobile Launch: TBD
Caliente.mx is a popular sportsbook in Mexico, but it is unknown in the States. Industry observers were shocked when the company announced its plans to enter the Illinois market through an online-only license. Little else is known about this surprise development, but we will update this page as additional details are revealed.
Illinois Sports Betting Options
We touched on this a bit earlier, but in-state collegiate sports are pretty much the lone restriction on Illinois betting sheets. Beyond that, you’ll be able to find most major markets, and a ton of available bets at your disposal when placing a bet in the state. All of the following are fair game:
- Over/Under (totals)
- In-Game/Live Wagering
Illinois Sports Betting Banking Options
Illinois online sportsbooks can be funded by a number of different banking choices. Options for each operator are slightly different, but common methods include:
- PayPal: A useful eWallet that makes for easy transactions.
- Credit/Debit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are definitely the most common, though AMX and Discover are available in some locations.
- Bank Transfer: Link your bank directly to your online account and move money back and forth quickly, and easily.
- PayNearMe: Deposit with cash at local retail stores like 7Eleven and CVS.
- Cash at the casino cage
- Paper and eChecks
- Bank Wires: A slow but extremely reliable way to move large amounts of money.
Illinois Sports Betting Platforms
Illinois has all of its basis covered when it comes to sports betting platforms. Sportsbooks are available through a web browser on your computer, and on mobile devices through optimized apps. It doesn’t matter what kind of computer you have or which type of phone you prefer – you can bet efficiently from the comfort of your home.
Notably, mobile apps will tap into the device’s built-in GPS chip to prove that you’re in the state of Illinois. When betting from a computer you’ll be required to download a plugin that will verify your location.
The Benefits of Legal, Mobile Sports Betting
If you’re even the slightest bit interested in sports betting, having access to a legal, regulated market is a huge upgrade. When its time to place a bet, legal sportsbooks offer countless benefits over your old buddy from school, the local bookie at the bar, or an offshore site.
- Security: Think of a regulated online sportsbook like it’s an extension of the casino itself. You trust your money at a casino, they’re among the most secure establishments out there – therefore you can trust that your money is safe online, too. You never have to worry that a bet won’t be honored, or that the site will unexpectedly close up shop and take your money.
- Flexibility: With an online sportsbook you can wager when you want, where you want. If you’re flying through Midway on a business trip, driving down I-80, or sitting in your apartment in downtown Chicago – you can place a bet easily, and instantly using an online sportsbook. Online books offer live, in-game wagering too – so you can interact with your event of choice more effectively than ever before.
- Easy Transactions: Simply put, depositing money to a legal online sportsbook is far easier, and far safer than doing so with an offshore site. Credit Cards, eWallets, and bank transfers – plus cash transactions at the casino are all on the table. You don’t have to mess with cryptocurrency as a deposit method ever again.
A History of Gambling in Illinois
Illinois waited until the late 70s to pursue its first legal, regulated form of gambling. It was the state lottery that got the ball rolling, with charity gaming following in the mid-80s.
Throughout the 90s the state made meaningful gambling progress and laid the foundation for what the industry looks like today. In ’91 the popular Mississippi riverboat casinos were mandated to actually sail the river, but by ’99 they were permitted to plant roots and tether themselves to gaming-centric docks. About a decade later, in 2011 the state’s Casino Act allowed for casinos to finally leave the riverbank and expand throughout the state.
Illinois began moving towards sports betting in 2018, holding hearings to outline the proposed ideas for the industry. The following year, the state was successful in moving forward with legislation with the defining bill, SB 690, passing on June 3.
On June 28, 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker inked his signature Illinois’ new sports betting law, officially legalizing it in the state. The first legal, regulated sports bets were placed on March 9, 2020, at the Rivers Casino Des Plaines.
Is it legal to bet on sports in Illinois?
Yea, it is. Online and retail sportsbooks are already live and popping up around the state. Online wagering took off on June 18, 2020 when BetRivers took the first bets.
Who oversees sports betting in Illinois?
The Illinois sports betting market is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board.
What is the legal age to bet on sports in Illinois?
Sports betting in Illinois is reserved for those 21+.
Is online/mobile betting legal?
Yes, it is, Illinois has now approved and launched both retail and online sports betting.
Can I sign-up online?
Yes you can! It’s now possible to sign up with an Illinois online sportsbook and place bets from anywhere in the state.
Can you bet at professional sports arenas?
State law allows it, but they have yet to launch. Any venue in Illinois with a capacity greater than 17,000 is now eligible to open a sportsbook on-site. Plans are in place to open sportsbooks at venues in the state, but none have opened yet. You’ll be able to place a wager at Wrigley, United Center, or Soldier Field in the very near future.