Illinois Online Gambling Guide

There’s never been a better time to get involved in betting online in Illinois, with the state moving towards a more open-minded view on gambling across the board. Sports betting has been legal in the state for over a year now thanks to the fall of PASPA - the controversial and unconstitutional law that was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Here, we’re going to examine the current state of online gambling in Illinois. Whether you want to hit the slots, find the nearest riverboat casino, or indulge in the wonders of sports wagering, we’ve got everything covered.

States across the USA have warmed to the idea of online gambling in recent years, many of which are situated near Illinois. As a seemingly direct result of this, there’s been something of a push for a more open-minded approach to all forms of betting in the state.

Sweepstakes Casinos

Right now, the only type of online casino allowed in Illinois is a sweepstakes casino. This is because online gambling for real money is illegal at the time of writing, so customers aren’t permitted to wager funds in exchange for the opportunity to win cash rewards.

Rather, players can win sweepstakes prizes that can be exchanged for cash. It’s a clever workaround, although it obviously isn’t as easy to get familiar with as a standard online casino.

This applies to online poker rooms too, by the way. The only way you can enjoy everything that online poker has to offer is by visiting any one of the online sweepstakes sites. They’re just as easily accessible as a normal online poker room and the only difference is in how rewards are dished out. 

Sports Gambling

Sports betting is completely legal in Illinois and has been since 2020. In June of that year, BetRivers opened its virtual doors to an influx of customers eager to place their first wager on a wide variety of top sports action. The state has since seen a multitude of apps set up services, so expect more movement in this particular category over the course of the next decade or so.

Another form of sports betting that’s permitted in Illinois is DFS, also known as Daily Fantasy Sports. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that DFS betting is definitively not gambling, so it’s not going against any laws written into the constitution.

Moreover, horse racing bets are also available throughout the year in Illinois. The popular racing site, TVG, allows interested customers to place wagers on their chosen outcome of a horse race of their choosing. Not only that but there are also some other avenues open to bettors invested in the horse racing industry via other apps and sites.

Gambling Laws in Illinois

Ilinois go back as far as the mid-to-late 1920s when pari-mutuel horse-racing bets were first allowed to be wagered. It wasn’t until the 1970s when the first state lottery was held though, leaving a huge gap between the first legal bets and the opening lottery.

From 1990 onwards, riverboat gambling rose in popularity following the announcement of its legality in the state. Another step forwards was taken in 2009 when VGT’s (Video Game Terminals) began being planted at licensed casinos.

We’re now heading into a new decade, and with that, we’ve seen further improvements to gambling laws in IL. One of these is the allowance for a so-called “Mega Casino” being built, along with six other retail casino venues scattered across Illinois. As an additional positive note, race-tracks have recently been given the all-clear for opening up casino services. In turn, some have started referring to these tracks as “racinos.”

As is the case in each state, there are reasons behind every law relating to gambling. The rules set out by Illinois are quite a mixed bag, with some forms of gambling strictly prohibited, while others are more or less encouraged.

For starters, sports fans are allowed to place bets on all the latest sports action taking place all around the world, every day of the week. On the contrary, online casinos cannot be established in Illinois. As things stand, IL is far from laying down the groundwork in terms of creating a friendly atmosphere for interested betting sites. For now, players must stick to sweepstakes casinos.

Under the law, all games of chance are illegal in Illinois. This means that any game in which there is chance and skill involved cannot be played online - including poker, controversially.

This is enforced by making the act of partaking in illegal gambling (outside of a licensed venue) a Class A misdemeanor. Only bettors over the age of 21 are allowed to play games at a licensed, regulated casino in Illinois. Any establishment found to be serving customers below that age limit is liable to punishment.

What Are the Online Gambling Laws?

If you’re a fan of online casino gaming, the online gambling laws in IL don’t make for pleasant reading. Despite the fact it’s unlikely players will be prosecuted for playing at an online gambling site, there’s a risk these services may be taken down without warning.

To make things absolutely clear, we’re going to write out the exact wording included in Illinois’ law. The following sentence is describing what is considered illegal gambling over the internet:

“Establishes, maintains, or operates an Internet site that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money...or to make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet.”

As you can see, the lawmakers that wrote that piece are not particularly fond of online gambling. Any change made to this law would require a dramatic change in stance and wording.

As a direct outcome of this law, offshore sites are illegal in Illinois. This translates to any site that offers the above-mentioned features, meaning that even platforms based in other parts of the world are not actually permitted to provide those services in Illinois.

The Governing Body For Gambling in Illinois

The Illinois Gaming Board is a five-person board with all members personally appointed by the Governor of the state. This board aims to create a fairer, more accessible, and better gambling environment for everyone based in Illinois.

To do this, regulators must oversee all actions taken by the various casinos and sportsbooks in the area. By looking for issues, the board can determine which services offer proper and acceptable forms of gambling while also accumulating information that can be used when developing future laws and regulations.

According to the official wording on the Illinois Gaming Board website, the board “Assures the integrity of gambling and gaming in Illinois through regulatory oversight of riverboat and casino gambling, video gaming, and sports wagering in the State.”

The Board has the right to revoke licenses attributed to any of the legal gambling establishments in Illinois if they feel the business is not fit for purpose, or if they decide that the sportsbook, casino, or riverboat is acting in a way that misleads its customers.

The Difference Between Domestic & Offshore Operators

There are various reasons that players may want to create accounts at one of the many offshore, illegal websites operating against lawmakers’ wishes and setting up shop in Illinois. After all, with so many regulations written up to specifically prevent particular types of gambling, players are more or less forced onto these unregulated platforms.

The risk in doing this is far more sinister than it may seem at face value. In spite of the fact most of the offshore casinos appear friendly and fit for use by customers, there’s no way to guarantee that’s definitely the case.

These offshore sites are not bound to the licensing regulations that must be met by online sportsbooks and retail casinos in Illinois, meaning there’s no incentive for offshore operators to protect their customers in Illinois. As a result, nobody’s personal data is secure on these sites.

At legal online sportsbooks, riverboat casinos, and land-based casinos in Illinois, players can rest assured that their information will always be safe. This is because the law dictates that domestic operators must adhere to important safety regulations in order to maintain the integrity of gambling in IL, as is explained in part by the Illinois Gaming Board’s website.

For this reason, we recommend that players avoid offshore casinos and sportsbooks. By signing up and playing at regulated casinos and sports betting sites, you’re ensuring the following:

  • Your data will be safe
  • You will not be breaking the law
  • There’s no risk to your funds
  • Games will be fully tested & fair

Gambling Categories in Illinois

With so many different ways to win money and enjoy yourself in Illinois, it can often be difficult to find the right category for you. Quite a lot of the time players will search far and wide for their favorite games when in reality the best option was always staring right at them.

That’s why we’re going to give our readers a head start here by going through the most popular gambling categories one by one. Hopefully, this will help you find the right type of online betting for you.

Sports Betting in Illinois

Sports fans in Illinois were understandably overjoyed to hear that sports betting would be permitted in the state from June of 2019. Following the announcement of the signing of an executive bill that would allow for sports wagering, bettors were then given even further positive news - they could bet online too.

As expected, with the new sports betting services came new laws. These prevent sports teams from fixing the outcome of events and stopping anyone underage from placing bets. Some of the most popular websites used by sports bettors in IL are BetRivers, DraftKings, PointsBet, FanDuel, and William Hill.

As a result, coaches of sports teams and any other employees of sports franchises are not allowed to use online sports betting platforms in any capacity. Moreover, players must prove their identity and age to create an account with any of the sportsbooks in Illinois. Other sports betting laws include:

  • Bettors are restricted from betting on collegiate events
  • Those on self-exclusion lists cannot place wagers
  • All customers must be within Illinois’ state borders when betting

Online Casino in Illinois

As we mentioned earlier, the only forms of online casinos that are legal in Illinois are sweepstakes casinos. Despite being permitted to bet in other ways when inside Illinois, online casino gaming is a notable exception and there are no ways to circumvent the restrictions upheld by lawmakers.

However, we should mention that since states in close proximity to IL have enjoyed major success from their online casino sites, the state may decide to loosen its restrictions on the exciting betting format.

For now, the door on online casinos is firmly shut, though. Sweepstakes casinos that offer online casino games in Illinois include the likes of:

  • Chumba Casino
  • Funzpoints
  • Luckyland Slots

Poker in Illinois

Much like online casinos, bettors are not allowed to play online poker in Illinois unless it’s via a sweepstakes casino. The only option when it comes to online poker in IL is Global Poker, which is - of course - a sweepstakes service.

Remember that sweepstakes casinos must offer free gaming for all, and they use a dual-currency system. They’re not like ordinary online casinos as such, so they may be a little hard to grasp at first. Nevertheless, it’s perfectly acceptable to instead visit any one of the legal, licensed retail poker rooms in Illinois. Poker rooms can be found at:

  • Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
  • Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
  • Hollywood Casino Aurora
  • Harrah’s Joliet

Lottery in Illinois

The state lottery in Illinois commenced in 1975. People from all areas of the community congregated in their local shops to purchase tickets, and that still continues today in 2021. Nowadays, things have moved forward in some ways, and although people still line up to get their lottery tickets, they now have the opportunity to get them online too.

Buying tickets can be done online by visiting the Illinois Lottery website, accessible from both iOS and Android devices. Here, users are able to purchase MegaBall tickets, standard lottery tickets, play smaller-scale games, and much more.

Unlike other types of betting in IL, bettors only need to be 18 years old to partake in the state lottery. In allowing younger people to play, lawmakers have opened up avenues for more people to change their lives for the better.

Bingo in Illinois

Under most circumstances, bingo is illegal in the state of Illinois. This is because the rules and regulations surrounding bingo are so strict, and there are various forms that need to be filled out and requirements to be met before anyone is allowed to play the game.

The first thing to know about bingo - both offline and online - is that the establishment planning to host the game must have obtained a bingo license from IDOR (Illinois Department of Revenue).

Moreover, providing bingo equipment to any person or business that does not have a bingo license is illegal. To be eligible for a bingo license, organizations need to be:

  • Non-profit 
  • Been in existence for five or more years
  • Free of previously convicted felons

There are also all kinds of forms and sheets of information that must be filled out in order to obtain the right to host bingo. These are known as the Form RB-3, Form RB-40, and Form RB-32.

Most forms are required to be sent within 30 days of the planned bingo night. Unfortunately, online bingo for real money is prohibited in Illinois and we can’t see that changing anytime soon.

Horse Racing in Illinois

Unlike other forms of gambling in IL, horse-racing wagers are found virtually everywhere. Bettors in the state can bet online, off-track, and live at the races. Surprisingly, it’s one of just a number of states to provide these features. It’s also legal to bet on the outcome of horse races from the age of 18 in Illinois.

The most notable online platform when it comes to betting on horse races is TVG. The site is available on both mobile and desktop devices, including the likes of Android and iOS.

Of course, sportsbooks also allow customers to wager on their favorite horse racing events, however, we recommend TVG due to the fact it’s dedicated almost all of its resources to the sport. On top of that, the service is available 24 hours of the day and night.

If you prefer betting live at the race track, you can visit any one of the following tracks in Illinois:

  • Hawthorne Race Course
  • Fairmount Park Racetrack
  • Arlington International Racecourse

With loads of OTB’s (Off-Track Betting) sites sprinkled across the state of Illinois, there’s always an opportunity to get involved in the latest horse racing action. By law, up to 43 OTB’s are permitted to open up in IL, leaving room for more than the current 23.

Legal Online Sportsbooks in Illinois

After the legalization of in-person and online sports betting was announced, it wasn’t long before sportsbooks started opening their doors and onboarding customers.

Revenues for these betting companies are through the roof, and at one point this year Illinois was just second, behind New Jersey, in terms of sports betting revenue in the form of tax.

This means that when you wager in IL, you’re also giving back to the community. Here, we’re going to detail each of the available legal online sportsbooks in the state.

DraftKings Sportsbook IL

DraftKings started its operations within Illinois back in August of 2020 and instantly became a household name in the industry. Available on both iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as tablets and desktops, DraftKings is easily accessible for customers of all betting experiences and allows for a wide range of wagers across a variety of genres.

One of the most notable features you’ll find at DraftKings is the live betting service. Odds are updated instantly using this feature, bringing players even closer to the biggest sports events. Bettors have the opportunity to bet on soccer, NFL, NHL, NBA, and some other massively popular sports at DraftKings.

FanDuel Sportsbook IL

Getting in on the fun around the same time as DraftKings, FanDuel also arrived on the scene in August 2020. Much like other sportsbooks that have set up shop in Illinois, FanDuel enjoyed success more or less instantaneously and received rave reviews across the state.

What makes it even better is that the site can be used on multiple types of devices, including Android and iOS platforms. By heading to the relevant app store, you’ll easily find the FanDuel mobile sportsbook.

All the same payment methods are available on mobile and desktop, so there’s no need to be concerned about a lack of options in terms of deposits and withdrawals when deciding between the two.

It’s also worth noting that all the most popular sports, including rugby and soccer, have odds available at FanDuel.

PointsBet Sportsbook IL

Native to Australia, PointsBet has enjoyed success since arriving in the US. Particularly in Illinois, where users have flocked in their masses to create accounts with the website.

The sportsbook opened up operations in January 2020 and launched in IL following a deal with Hawthorne Race Course in September of that year. To sign up at the site, customers need to visit the racecourse itself as online registrations are restricted.

Perhaps the best aspect of the PointsBet sportsbook is that there’s virtually no difference between the website and mobile app. All the features are identical, and the sole factor that operates differently is the menu system. Otherwise, the entire platform is exactly the same.

William Hill Sportsbook IL

The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin struck a deal with William Hill that allowed the sportsbook to take on customers from September 2020 onwards. As is expected from such an operator, William Hill supports ample payment methods for players to choose from. Some of these include:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • Prepaid card
  • E-check
  • PayPal

The online app works perfectly, too. Users are able to download the William Hill sportsbook free of charge from the app store relevant to their mobile device, whether that’s iOS or Android.

The number of sports available remains the same on both versions of the software, with snooker, soccer, rugby, tennis, MMA, and much more all displayed with odds.

Additionally, moneyline bets, parlays, totals, point spreads, and more can be used to place wagers at William Hill’s online sportsbook in Illinois.

BetRivers Sportsbook IL

Services went live in June 2020 in Illinois for BetRivers, and they haven’t looked back since. Backed and run by Rush Street Interactive - an entity that has had major success in the gambling industry - BetRivers started its journey in Illinois with a solid foundation for the future.

Although the platform lacks in terms of promotions and features compared to the sportsbooks we’ve already mentioned, it still performs to a very high standard. At BetRivers, users are ensured the following:

  • Their data is secure
  • Bets are placed instantly
  • Withdrawals are rapid

Legal Online Casinos in IL

We spoke earlier about the fact that online casinos are banned from starting their business in Illinois, and this remains true for the foreseeable future. For now, users will have to use sweepstakes sites - although these are no replacement for full-fledged, real-money online casinos.

This may cause understandable frustration amongst bettors, but rest assured that Illinois is moving in the right direction, and we may soon see further loosening of betting restrictions at online casinos. Regardless, we’ve outlined the four legal sweepstakes-based online casinos in IL below.

Chumba Casino IL

Chumba Casinos offers a wide range of fun games for newly registered customers and existing users alike. The site is professionally designed and easy to navigate, with all the information players require to utilize its facilities readily available.

However, there is one drawback; there’s no search bar. This can make finding a game quite difficult, and we hope they remedy this at some point.

There’s no mobile app available for download as of the time of writing. That said, the website works just fine on mobile devices through a browser like Safari or Chrome. Chumba Casino is closing in on 100 casino games, making it one of the more large-scaled online casinos we’ve stumbled across in recent times.

Luckyland Slots IL

Operated by Virtual Gaming Worlds, a corporation that also happens to own Chumba Casino and Global Poker, Luckyland Slots is a great choice for those seeking an experience similar to that found at online casinos. Another sweepstakes site, Luckyland slots has a wide range of top games, and finding your favorites is as easy as can be.

Arguably the best bit about Luckyland Slots is the fact that you get far more bang for your buck when participating in their special offers and promotions compared to Chumba Casino.

On the downside, it seems that Virtual Gaming Worlds have decided Luckylands slots should be restricted to around 40 slot games, which is significantly fewer than the number available at Chumba Casino. It’s worth mentioning that Bank Transfers are supported at Luckyland Slots.

Funzpoints IL

With an RTP of over 96%, Funzpoints operates a little above average in terms of overall payouts to customers. Again, it’s another sweepstakes-only platform in Illinois, but the games are just as fun as the ones found at real-money casinos.

There are daily jackpots that are free of charge to enter, as is required by US law for sweepstake sites. Essentially, the more tickets you win and the more you play, the more opportunities you’ll have to play even more casino games.

Points earned from these draws accumulate over time. Once users hit 500 points, they can switch from Standard Mode to Premium Mode. This is where the fun really begins.

In Premium Mode, users can exchange their points for real money prizes and cash rewards. As an added bonus, there’s a free Mega Wheel spin that takes place every three hours at Funzpoints.

FAQs

Can you gamble online in Illinois?

It’s legal to bet on sports events by using any of the legal sportsbooks in IL. Users are also allowed to wager on horse races at OTBs and by using online sites like TVG. Online casino gambling is not allowed unless it’s on a sweepstakes website.

What is the legal gambling age in Illinois?

For bets placed on horse races and anyone looking to purchase lottery tickets, the legal gambling age is 18. All other forms of gambling in Illinois require that bettors are at least 21 years old.

What is Illinois’ tax on gambling winnings?

All gambling winnings are subject to a flat rate of 4.95% in IL, which is the income tax in the state. However, if sports betting winnings are worth more than $600, users will be taxed at 15%.

When did gambling become legal in Illinois?

The first legal bets were placed on horse races in 1927 when pari-mutuel betting became regulated. The state lottery arrived in the early 1970s, and online sports betting was legalized in 2019 with the first wave of sports betting sites opening up not long after.

What is the best online gambling site in Illinois?

In truth, the best online gambling site is any platform in IL that operates legally and treats customers with respect. Each of the platforms we’ve mentioned follows the laws set out by lawmakers in Illinois, so we recommend you check out the one you feel fits your needs best.

Robert Miller

Robert Miller

Robert is responsible for all content on BettingGuide US. Robert previously worked as a poker dealer during his college years at MIT where he studied Computational Science and Engineering. With a great interest in gambling, Robert likes to go in-depth when writing so that you can make a wiser choice when choosing an operator.

Last updated: 7/7/2021