Illinois, also known as the Prairie State, is home to a wide number of major league sports teams including the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and the MLB’s Chicago Cubs. The state also contains one of America’s tallest buildings, the Sears Tower in Chicago. On top of this, Illinois is home to a flourishing gambling market with a variety of ways for residents to gamble. Illinois is one of the few US states to have taken a fairly relaxed approach when it comes to gambling laws and allows some forms of online betting.

Is it legal to bet on sports in Illinois?

While it’s legal to bet on horse racing and fantasy sports in Illinois, all other forms of sports betting are yet to be legalized. In January 2018, the Sport Betting Consumer Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Steve Stadelman, was introduced. If approved by the state legislature, the bill will allow the state law to adopt rules permitting land-based or electronic sports betting. Several other sports betting bills were introduced in 2018. While these also attempted to legalize and regulate Illinois sports betting, they were not as well received at the Sport Betting Consumer Protection Act.

In October 2018, Illinois lawmakers explored the possibility of legalizing sports betting in a sports betting hearing. Various stakeholders and experts in the Illinois gambling industry gave testimony on Illinois sports betting. The hearing was organized by Representative Robert Rita, who introduced a sports betting bill in 2017. Overall, there was a lot of support for legalizing sports betting in Illinois, though many group did give testimony. Among those who gave testimony were city and town representatives, representatives from MLB and anti-gambling groups, giving state lawmakers many different aspects to consider.

Where will I be able to place bets on sporting events in Illinois?

If sports betting does become legal in Illinois, it is likely that the state’s casinos, predominantly riverboat casinos, would be the first venues to be considered for sports betting licenses. The Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act also contains provisions to allow electronic sports betting could lead to mobile sports betting in Illinois.

What else can I bet on in Illinois?

A variety of gambling activities are legal in Illinois, including online lottery games and fantasy sports, betting on horse racing and a number of riverboat casinos. The casinos in Illinois offer a variety of casino games, including:

  •    Slots
  •    Blackjack
  •    Craps
  •    Roulette
  •    Poker (Three Card, Ultimate Texas Hold’em)
  •    Baccarat

There are 10 casinos that operate in the state.

Casino name Address Contact Email Opening times
Casino Queen and Hotel 200 S Front St, East St Louis, IL 62201, USA +1 618-874-5000 Online form Sunday – Wednesday: 8am – 4am

Thursday – Saturday: 8am – 6am

Harrah’s Joliet 151 N Joliet St, Joliet, IL 60432, USA +1 815-740-7800 Not available 24 hours
Harrah’s Metropolis 100 E Front St, Metropolis, IL 62960, USA +1 618-524-2628 Not available 24 hours
Hollywood Casino Aurora 1 W New York St, Aurora, IL 60506, USA +1 630-801-1234 hollywood.promotions@pngaming.com Sunday – Wednesday: 8:30am – 4:30am

Friday – Saturday: 8:30am – 6:30am

Grand Victoria Casino Elgin 250 S Grove Ave, Elgin, IL 60120, USA +1 847-468-7000 Online form Everyday: 8:30am – 6:30am
Hollywood Casino Joliet 777 Hollywood Blvd, Joliet, IL 60436, USA +1 888-436-7737 HCJ.Info@pngaming.com Everyday 7:30am – 5:30am
Argosy’s Alton Belle Casino 1 Piasa St, Alton, IL 62002, USA +1 800-711-4263 Not available Everyday 8am – 6am
Rivers Casino 3000 S River Rd, Des Plaines, IL 60018, USA +1 888-307-0777 rccguestservice@midwestgaming.com Everyday 9am – 7am
Par-A-Dice Casino 21 Blackjack Blvd, East Peoria, IL 61611, USA +1 309-699-7711 Online form Sunday – Thursday: 8am – 4am

Friday – Saturday: 8am – 6am

Jumer’s Casino and Hotel 777 Jumer Dr, Rock Island, IL 61201, USA +1 800-477-7747 info@jumerscri.com Everyday 7am – 5am

Are offshore gambling sites legal in Illinois?

The legality of offshore gambling sites in Illinois falls into a grey area. Article 28 of the Illinois Criminal Code appears to prohibit playing poker and wagering games, although it does not specify whether its for online or land-based games. While no one in the state has been prosecuted for online gambling, we recommend steering clear of offshore gambling and sports betting sites. These offshore sites don’t have a license to operate in Illinois, which means they aren’t subject to strict regulatory standards when it comes to protecting vulnerable players or protecting players’ funds.

You can spot offshore gambling sites by looking at the website’s domain name. If you see a domain that ends in .EU or .AG it does not hold a license to operate in Illinois and therefore should be avoided at all costs. If Illinois does choose to regulate sports betting, there could be some legal online sports betting sites available further down the line, which would be much safer than offshore sites.

Will it be safe to bet on sports in Illinois?

Although Illinois is fairly relaxed in its approach to gambling law and regulation, the state has managed to implement strong and effective gambling regulation. When it comes to sports betting, it’s expected that Illinois lawmakers will maintain this strong regulation, if it does become legal. This means sports betting will be fair and safe for bettors. However, it’s also up to punters to gamble responsibly and avoid betting more than they can afford to lose to keep gambling fun. Both the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling and the Illinois Alliance on Problem Gambling have a variety of resources available to help those who suffer from problem gambling and people who have loved ones that may need help. The National Council on Problem Gambling also has a number of resources to help those who suffer from problem gambling.

You can contact the National Council on Problem Gambling via:

Phone: 1-800-522-4700

Text: 1-800-522-4700

online chat

You can contact the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling via:

Phone: 1-217-652-9611

Email: icpg1@aol.com

You can contact the Illinois Alliance on Problem Gambling using an online form on its website.

 

Who regulates gambling in Illinois?

Gambling activity in Illinois is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board. When it comes to horse racing, the Illinois Racing Board is tasked with overseeing 30 horse racing tracks and off-track betting parlors across the state.

How old do I have to be to gamble in Illinois?

The legal age to play the Illinois state lottery and wager on horse racing is 18, but you must be 21 years old to play casino games.

The journey to legal and regulated sports betting in Illinois

Illinois has yet to legalize sports betting and that state lawmakers are still considering legislation. We will continue to update this page as the situation develops.

1800s – Gambling in the state of Illinois was initially a very small activity but grew throughout the 1800s with an influx of illegal riverboat casinos. These riverboat casinos thrived and many still operate in the state of Illinois to this day.

1927 – The state of Illinois legalized and regulated gambling on horse racing.

1974 – In an attempt to generate some much-needed state funding, Illinois became the first US state to permit a state lottery.

1986 – Illinois passed the Charitable Games Act which permitted charity gambling games under existing lottery legislation.

1991 – The state moved to legalize riverboat casinos. Under the Riverboat Gambling Act, the riverboat casinos in the state were authorized to offer gambling activities as long as the riverboat casinos moved along the river.

1992 – Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibiting sports betting across US states. Four states were made exempt from the law: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. These states had legal sports betting regulations in place.

1999 – The Riverboat Gambling Act was amended, and riverboats no longer have to travel along the river. This meant riverboat casinos were docked at permanent spots across the state.

2001 – Illinois expanded its lottery offerings and became the first state in the US to offer lottery tickets online.

2009 – Licensed venues were given authorization to install video gambling terminals. However, this was met with criticism from various anti-gambling parties that argued video gambling terminals would hurt local communities where the terminals were installed. On top of thi,s there was also the perception that permitting video gambling terminals would contribute to social issues such as gambling addiction and higher crime rates. Once the first video gambling terminals had been rolled out some parties argued that the state regulatory body lacked the capacity to oversee the activity.

2011 – The state passed the Casinos Act SB744. This allowed land-based casinos to operate and also permitted race tracks to expand their gambling offerings to patrons.

2018 –  In preparation for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), January 2018 saw the introduction of the Sport Betting Consumer Protection Act. The bill was sponsored by Senator Steve Stadelman.

On 14 May, the Court reached a decision. In a 7 – 2 vote it was agreed that one of the clauses in PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment, as it commandeered power from states to regulate their own gambling industries. This paved the way for all US states to decide whether or not to legalize sports betting. In the weeks after the repeal of PASPA a number of US sportsbooks launched across the country.

In October 2018, Illinois lawmakers explored the possibility of legalizing sports betting in a sports betting hearing. Although sports betting was not legalized it appeared that lawmakers were intrigued and willing to explore the topic further.

Although legislation has been proposed, the state lawmakers have yet to reach a decision and are trying to educate themselves so that they can make an informed decision.  If state lawmakers can agree on a suitable sports betting bill that covers regulation and taxation before the year is out then it is possible that Illinois sports betting could launch some time in 2019.