You are allowed to bet on sports, play the lottery, and bet on DFS online in Illinois. You are not allowed to play at online casino websites or poker platforms yet.
Illinois online gambling is legal for sports bettors and horse racing fans, but not yet for casino enthusiasts or poker players. Anyone in the Prairie State who wants to play casino or poker games can only do so at the famous riverboat casinos that operate here, but many hope that this will change at some point in the future. Only time will tell whether or not such optimism is warranted.
In this Illinois Online Gambling Guide, we will provide an overview of what forms of betting you can enjoy in the state. Where online gambling is legal, we will tell you exactly what’s on offer and how to get involved. In those areas of interest where online gambling isn’t yet legal, we’ll tell you what the offline alternatives are – if any – so that you can enjoy your favorite pastimes in person.
Sports betting in Illinois was given a massive shot in the arm when it was announced that remote registration with licensed sportsbooks would be possible from March 5, 2022.
Prior to that date, registrations had to be made in person, which meant that bettors needed to take the time (and not inconsiderable effort) to visit a land-based sportsbook. Now, we’re glad to say, you can sign up with any legal sportsbook in the state via your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Once signed up, sports bettors in Illinois have hundreds of betting markets to explore, if not thousands. Every sport you can think of is available for betting with one sportsbook or another, including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, and golf. You can even bet on sports that tend to be far more popular overseas than in the US, such as cricket and rugby.
Betting on college games is permitted, but if you want to bet on Illinois college teams you’ll find that the options are more limited. Bets on in-state teams can only be placed before a game has started, so you won’t be able to bet in play. Prop bets on in-state teams are also prohibited.
Illinois Sports Teams to Bet On
There are quite a few professional sports teams in Illinois, so anyone in the Prairie State who wants to support their local athletes will have numerous opportunities to do that. Here are just some of the biggest teams that are based in the state, along with the leagues they play in:
Chicago Bears in the NFL
Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL
Chicago Bulls in the NBA
Chicago Cubs in MLB
Chicago Fire in MLS
Chicago White Sox in MLB
The state also has dozens of professional teams that play in smaller leagues such as the American Basketball Association, the American Hockey League, and the American Association of Professional Baseball.
Types of Bets Available in Illinois
Having a comprehensive range of sports to bet on at Illinois gambling sites is impressive enough, but you’ll also find an equally impressive selection of markets to bet in for any given event. Take a football game, for example. As well as being able to bet in the spread market, you will also have the opportunity to bet on the moneyline, totals, and any number of prop outcomes.
Live betting is also available in Illinois. This allows you to make bets even when games are already underway, so when wagering on basketball, for example, you could potentially bet from the tip-off to the final buzzer. The only caveat is that live betting isn’t available on in-state college games, as mentioned earlier.
Online Casinos in Illinois
While the Prairie State is a genuine land of opportunity for online sports betting fans, it doesn’t offer anything for those who want to play casino games online. No online casinos are legal in Illinois, and although that situation could change in the future, there are no signs of it happening any time soon.
The good news for fans of roulette, slots, blackjack, and similar games is that Illinois does have quite a few riverboat casinos. Riverboat casinos have been legal in this state since 1990, and the first venue was opened in Alton in 1991. Although having to visit a casino in person is far less convenient than being able to play online, at least Illinoisans have that option, which is more than can be said in some other states.
Horse Racing in Illinois
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Horse racing has a long history in Illinois, but there are currently only a couple of racetracks that are still in operation. Those are Fairmount Park in Collinsville and the Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney. Both are perfectly handy for anyone who lives locally, but by far the easiest way to bet on horse racing is to do so at Illinois online gambling sites.
Many online sportsbooks offer horse racing betting markets, and these cover both in-state races as well as those that take place in other states and around the world.
You can make all the bets that you can make at the track, including exotic bets such as exactas and trifectas. However, there’s no standing in line and you can take advantage of bonus offers and special odds that are only available online.
Online Poker in Illinois
Online poker is not legal in Illinois, and that situation doesn’t look likely to change in the very near future. This puts poker players in much the same position as those who like to play casino games, with traditional casinos being the only places they can go to participate in their chosen pastime.
There are many players in this state who would like the law to change to allow online poker. Unfortunately, online poker is often the last form of online gambling to be legalized if the experience of other states is anything to go by, so online casinos are likely to be made legal first.
Daily Fantasy Sports in Illinois is currently thriving, but its legality has had something of a confusing past. DFS sites have never explicitly been legalized, and so they occupied a so-called ‘grey area’ as to whether or not they were legal to participate in.
However, in 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court judged that a fantasy sports contest is legal if it involves sufficient skill to be considered distinct from a game of chance. That judgment opened the doors for DFS companies, including FanDuel and DraftKings, to operate in the state with a high degree of confidence.
Illinois Lottery Games
The Illinois Lottery was founded in 1974 to raise money for the General Revenue Fund, but the law was changed in 1985 so that lottery proceedings could go to the Common School Fund instead. As is the case in most states where a lottery has been running for several decades, the number of games that can be played has increased over time.
The available range of games currently includes a variety of in-house draw games as well as the two big multi-state lottery games that Americans love: Powerball and Mega Millions.
Lottery tickets can be purchased from over 7,200 retail locations by anyone who is aged 18 or older. It is also possible to purchase lottery tickets online from the official Illinois Lottery website.
The main advantage of playing online – apart from the obvious convenience – is that tickets are personally associated with the purchaser, and can’t be lost or stolen. If your online ticket wins, you will be notified of the fact by email, just in case you forget to check the results yourself.
eSports in Illinois
Betting on eSports at Illinois online gambling sites is not currently legal in any broad sense. The Illinois Gaming Board can approve betting on particular eSports events, but the pastime isn’t generally permitted.
This could change at some point, but for the time being it is best to think of eSports betting as being unavailable in the Prairie State.
The Future of Illinois Online Gambling
Online gambling in Illinois has gotten off to a good start with the legalization of online sports betting and the recently introduced ability to register remotely with sportsbooks.
However, there is still plenty of room for expansion, and many Illinoisans would be very happy to see online casinos and online poker rooms being made legal in the years ahead. Whether or not that will happen, only time will tell, but we don’t expect any developments to be made in that direction in the immediate future.
Illinois Online Gambling FAQs
Common questions about online gambling sites and apps in Illinois.
Can you gamble online in Illinois?
In Illinois, you can bet on sports online, use horse racing betting sites, and daily fantasy sports sites.
Can I play slots in Illinois?
Right now, Illinois online casinos are still illegal. Online gambling operators have only launched sportsbooks.
Can I bet on sports online in Illinois?
Yes. American Gambler includes the best legal Illinois sports betting sites and mobile apps.
Can I play Blackjack online for real money in Illinois?
No. Real money online casinos with table games, such as Blackjack and Baccarat, are illegal to use in Illinois.
If you have followed theScore, you will already know how good the site is for sports news and score updates across the world. It is also a betting site in a select number of states around the country, called theScore Bet, which is one of the best around to integrate news, scores, and betting.
Might online sportsbook giant Bet365 be eyeing the newly-opened Illinois online sports betting app market? Certainly, there’s an opportunistic connection already in place that could enable such a desire to come to fruition for Bet365.
Bet on horse races near Chicago at these two wonderful tracks: Arlington International Race Course The Arlington International Race Course is located in Arlington Heights, Illinois and has been in business since 1927. The racecourse features a six-story grandstand and has lush gardens sprinkled amongst the property grounds.