After a long hard road of political and legal battles, Illinois finally offered online and mobile sports betting starting in early March 2020. Unfortunately, the global pandemic had different plans. The start of legal gambling in Illinois has been a little rocky and there have been some changes to the way it works along the way. But now, online and mobile sports betting in the state is finally up and running.
The first land-based sportsbook, BetRivers, at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, IL opened on March 9, a week before casinos across the state shut down. This caused problems for Illinois sports betting because while online and mobile betting was permitted, the law stipulated that bettors had to open their accounts in-person at a land-based sportsbook for the first 18-months of the new law being in effect.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has since signed two emergency declarations lifting this restriction and allowing Illinoisians to create their accounts online. Creating an account without visiting a sportsbook remains in effect in Illinois as of mid-September 2020.
As the world tries to return to some semblance of normalcy and professional sports comes back around the world, sports betting in Illinois is now in full effect. There are multiple in-person, online, and mobile sportsbooks where people can place bets while physically in the Land of Lincoln such as BetRivers, DraftKings at Casino Queens, William Hill sportsbook, PointsBet, and more. Here we will go through everything you need to know about online sports betting in Illinois.
BetRivers is the land-based and online sportsbook arm of the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines Illinois. This was the first legal sportsbook to open in Illinois on March 9, 2020. Because COVID-19 shut down casinos throughout the state, the betting app was not launched until June 18, 2020.
The app is powered by Rush Street Interactive, a Chicago-based gaming casino gaming company that operates casinos in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York. The online sportsbook offers a host of benefits to users. BetRivers provides up to $250 as a bonus match on your first deposit, delivers live streaming sports where you can watch your bets unfold live, and offers the latest in in-game betting as well.
BetRivers allows users to bet on 15 different sports from dozens of leagues around the world. They have a clean, well-organized, and easy to use online platform as well as an Android app.
On August 3, 2020, William Hill opened its first legal Illinois sportsbook in partnership with the Grand Victoria Casino Elgin. The casino and sportsbook are located in Elgin, IL, just outside of the city of Chicago.
William Hill is a London-based bookmaker that has been around since 1934. The company mainly operated in the UK and a few other parts of Europe until the early 2000s when it expanded across the pond. It moved into the US market in 2012, starting in Las Vegas, NV. It now operates in many states that allow legal sports betting such as New Jersey, Iowa, and West Virginia.
The company offers online betting as well as mobile betting through both Android and iOS apps. You can bet on 14 different sports and many additional types of events with William Hill. They have live, in-game betting for users and will match your initial deposit up to $150.
DraftKings, a leader in daily fantasy sports that now offers sports betting as well, opened its Illinois sportsbook on August 5, 2020. Partnering with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, IL for the retail end of their sportsbook, DraftKings now accepts bets online as well.
DraftKings started as strictly a daily fantasy sports outfit in 2012 and created their sportsbook service in 2012 when New Jersey legalized online sports betting. They have set up partnerships with various professional sports leagues and teams over the years and have grown rapidly. They became a publically traded company in April of 2020.
The DraftKings sportsbook app is available on both iOS and Android platforms and allows for pre-match and live bets on 19 different sports around the globe. They also offer special “oddsboosts” which give bettors more favorable odds on certain, popular bets.
The latest entrant into the world of Illinois sports betting is PointsBet, which announced on August 31, 2020, that it would soon be opening locations in Illinois. This will allow the company to register players and start taking bets online. They are currently looking at four locations in Illinois: Hawthorne Race Course (Cicero), Prospect Heights, Oakbrook Terrace, and Crestwood.
PointsBet is an Australian-based company that launched in the U.S. only last year. They claim to be the most user-friendly app as well as the fastest, which is why they teamed with (super-fast) Chicago Bears legend Devin Hester to promote their coming app in Illinois. They have also partnered with NBC Sports to provide betting options across the network’s platforms.
The Illinois version of the app’s look and feel isn’t yet known, but the user-interface on the company’s standard app is very simple and concise. They offer bets, both pre-match and in-game, on over 20 sports as well as novelty bets on things like politics and entertainment.
In 2019, the Illinois legislature passed a law legalizing sports betting, as did the neighboring states of Indiana and Iowa. While their fellow “I” states opened sportsbooks that same year, it took until the spring of 2020 for the first sportsbook to open in Illinois.
The state missed the opportunity to capitalize on the 2019 football season because of political wrangling around the new law. One of the provisions that lawmakers eventually decided on was a clause meant to protect Illinois sportsbooks at the beginning from the big, national, and international providers.
The so-called “penalty box provision” was set up so that Illinois gamblers could bet both online and on their mobile device. But to create an account, they were required to physically visit a land-based sportsbook. This provision was set to run for the first 18-months of the new sports betting law.
When sports betting in Illinois was finally set to begin in early March, 2020, it was poised to take advantage of one of the biggest sports betting events of the year, the NCAA college basketball March Madness tournament. Unfortunately, days before the annual betting-fest was set to kick-off, the COVID-19 pandemic took hold throughout the United States. Sporting events, including the NCAA tournament, were canceled or postponed, and on March 13, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) ordered all casinos to shut down.
As sports began to return in the summer of 2020, Governor Pritzker signed two emergency declarations allowing bettors to open online betting accounts. The proviso that these sites have a land-based casino partner within the state remained. This has led to many of the big online sports betting players rushing to partner with casinos in the state.
As casinos started to open again, some of the major national and international online sportsbooks began to partner with land-based Illinois casinos to open their sportsbooks. This enabled them to register bettors from Illinois before the 18-month moratorium on unregulated online betting ended.
Getting Illinois bettors up and running led to the partnering of William Hill and the Grand Victoria Casino Elgin, DraftKings and Casino Queen, and FanDuel and Par-A-Dice Casino located in East Peoria, IL, among others. We have yet to see if any other big online sportsbooks follow suit or if that is the extent of it until the 18-month window is over.
One of the best parts of the new sports betting laws in Illinois is that you can now bet right from your mobile phone. This means that whether you are on the couch or in the stands at the game, you can place bets whenever you want. There are some interesting wrinkles to Illinois’ mobile sports betting regulations though that you should know about.
Right now, you can place a bet through an app on your mobile phone or by using your phone’s browser. There are several mobile sportsbooks providers that you can use. The catch is that these providers must currently have a land-based sportsbook in the state. While the pool is limited, there are still some great options like BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, and PointsBet.
The most interesting, and somewhat controversial, piece of the law that legalized sports betting in the state is the requirement that, while fans are free to bet on mobile wherever and whenever they want, they have to open their mobile account in person at a land-based sportsbook. This part of the law, designed to help protect the retail sportsbooks in the state, is in effect for the first 18-months of the law.
As mentioned above, there has already been an exception put into place. Governor Pritzker signed an emergency declaration to help casinos and sportsbooks that said bettors could open up accounts online for a small period of time while COVID-19-related regulations prevented a large influx of people in sportsbooks and casinos. This goes for mobile app accounts as well as online.
Once you have your mobile account set up, you are free to bet on any sporting events that the app of your choice offers. This includes North American pro sports leagues, international leagues and events, and most college sports. The only exception to this rule is that you are not allowed to bet on in-state colleges or any collegiate athletics event contested in the state.
This means that you cannot bet on any of the colleges that are in Illinois, even if they are featured on the mobile app in other states. This includes colleges like DePaul, University of Illinois, Illinois State, Northwestern, Chicago State, and others. You cannot bet on these schools in Illinois whether they are playing a home game or one in another state. You also cannot bet on any collegiate event in the state. This means that if there were NCAA tournament basketball games in the state or a college football bowl game, bettors cannot bet on them.
The last thing to know about mobile betting is that the apps work in concert with the GPS function of your phone. The Illinois sports betting law states that bettors must be physically located in the state of Illinois in order to place a bet. Your phone will keep track of this and if you go beyond state lines, you are no longer eligible to place a bet. You do not have to be a resident of the state to place a bet; you must only be physically present in Illinois.
There are a few things you need to know about betting online in Illinois.
Using GPS tracking, online sports bets will only be allowed from inside the state’s borders. However, if you are over 21, you do not have to be an Illinois resident to do this. You can be a resident of any state; you must, however, be within the state’s borders.
For the first 18-months at least, you have to go to a physical sportsbook that offers online betting to register. This has been put on hold twice by the Illinois governor, though, due to COVID-19.
Right now, you can only use online vendors with a physical location in the state. There are currently three online-only licenses available but it has not been announced who those will go to. Once the 18-month in-person only registration period is over in 2022, we should know more about this.
Rivers Casino is located in Des Plaines, IL, right next to O’Hare airport, one of the two major Chicago-area airports. They offer the BetRivers sportsbook which was the first one in Illinois to open on March 9, 2020. The sportsbook is open from 10 am to 12 am every day.
The casino itself was opened in 2011. In 2019, a majority ownership stake in the casino was purchased by Churchill Downs, Inc. and the property is run by its minority ownership group, Rush Street Gaming. The casino does not have a hotel on site but does feature several highly-rated restaurants on-property.
Rivers Casino offers a ton of great casino gaming in addition to the BetRivers sportsbook. There are over 1,000 slot machines that range in price from $0.01 to $100. There are also more than 65 table games in the casino. These games include poker, blackjack, craps, baccarat, roulette, and more.
Casino Queen is a former riverboat casino located on the banks of the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, IL, on the Illinois/ Missouri border. This is the home of the DraftKings at Casino Queens sportsbook, which was announced on August 5, 2020. The sportsbook is open from 8 am to 3 am every day.
The casino opened in 1993 and originally was strictly a riverboat casino on the Mississippi River, hosted on a boat called White Star One. The casino built a hotel to add to the property, which opened in 2000, and in 2007, they were able to open a true land-based casino thanks to changing gambling laws in the state.
In 2020, Casino Queen offers 1,000 slot machines, 34 table games, and 38,00 square feet of casino space. In addition to the hotel, the casino also offers guests an on-site RV park. There are several restaurants on-site. The former sports bar, Sevens, is currently being renovated to become the physical home of the DraftKings sportsbook.
Par-A-Dice is a riverboat casino located on the banks of the Illinois River in East Peoria, IL in the middle of the state. This is the home of the FanDuel sportsbook, which was announced in late July 2020. When the physical sportsbook opens, the hours will be from 3 pm to 11 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 11 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Par-A-Dice was opened as a riverboat casino in 1991 but was docked in 1999 when state gambling laws changed. The casino itself is still on the docked boat, which now offers four decks of casino gaming.
The property features an award-winning hotel and five-star restaurant. It also features a fitness center, gift shop, and several meeting and ballrooms. There is a wide range of table games to play here too, such as blackjack, craps, roulette, 3-card poker, Mississippi Stud, and mini baccarat.
Hawthorne Race Course is a historic horse racing venue just southwest of Chicago in Stickney, IL. In July 2019, it was announced that Hawthorne and PointsBet entered into a 20-year partnership agreement for PointsBet to become the legal sportsbook operator at the horse track. The actual sportsbook is rumored to be opening by late 2020.
Hawthorne Race Course was opened in 1891 and is the longest continuously run, family-owned racetrack in North America. It is considered one of the top ten thoroughbred race tracks in North America. The main track is one mile long and features one of the longest home stretches in the country.
In addition to adding a sportsbook to the Hawthorne grounds, the track is also going through a full renovation where a full casino will be added as well. There is no announced timetable for either of these to be open thanks to COVID-19 delays, but you can sign up for updates on the track’s website.
The Argosy is another riverboat casino located on the Mississippi River in Alton, IL, on the Illinois/Missouri border. They now offer a sportsbook simply known as The Sportsbook. It has self-serve kiosks that are available during normal casino hours, 8 am to 3 am every day. They also have attendants in The Sportsbook now from 10 am – 11 pm every day.
The casino was opened in 1991 as a working riverboat casino but permanently moored in 1999 due to changing Illinois laws. The casino is still on the boat, though, and as a result, they do not offer hotel accommodations on site. The casino has 800 slots and 12 table games.
The Sportsbook is located next to the Hop House restaurant, one of three on property. Argosy is in the process of ramping up their offerings. Wagering is allowed in football, basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball, golf, tennis, auto racing, rugby, cycling, boxing and MMA, and cricket. They also say that more professional and collegiate options will be available soon.
The Grand Victoria Casino Elgin is located in Elgin, IL which is about 40 miles west of downtown Chicago. They have partnered with international sports betting purveyor William Hill to offer a full-service sportsbook starting on August 3, 2020. The sportsbook is open from 10 am to 11 pm Monday thru Thursday, 10 am to 12 am on Fridays, 8 am to 2 am Saturdays, and 8 am to 11 pm on Sundays.
Hyatt opened the casino in 1994, and it was later taken over by Mandalay< then MGM Mirage, and in 2018, Caesars bought the property. The casino has three onsite restaurants to choose from as well as a ballroom and several meeting rooms for larger events.
The casino gaming floor is just under 30,000 square feet and the casino offers over 1,000 slot and video poker machines. There are also 36 table games to choose from. The casino also has a dedicated live poker room and high-roller room which are currently closed due to COVID-19 regulations.
The Hollywood Casino Group actually offers two sportsbook locations: the Hollywood Casino Joliet in Joliet, IL, south of Chicago; and, the Hollywood Casino Aurora in Aurora, IL, located on Stolp Island in the Fox River. The Aurora location is open 10 am to 10 pm every day while the Joliet sportsbook is open 11 am to 10 pm on the weekdays with slightly longer hours on the weekends.
These casinos are both former riverboat casinos now owned and operated by Penn National Gaming, and these sister casinos serve the greater Chicagoland area, offering a wide range of casino gaming opportunities.
Both the Hollywood casinos have 50,000 square foot gaming floors, table games, and around 1,000 slot machines each. The Aurora sportsbook is located at Center Stage and the Joliet sportsbook is inside 99 Hops House.
There are several other locations that have been granted the opportunity to open sportsbooks but as of September 2020 have not yet done so. They include two horse racing tracks, Fairmount Park in Collinsville, IL and Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, IL. Also, Harrah’s Joliet Casino may be joining the sportsbook ranks as well soon.
Placing an online sports bet in Illinois is easy. Here are the steps to follow.
In Illinois, you have to choose an online sportsbook provider for now that has a land-based, retail sportsbook and casino partner. Also, different online providers have different deals and promotions. For example, BetRivers will match your first deposit up to $250 while a vendor like William Hill only matches up to $150. You may also choose based on what app you like best, what sports they offer, or what type of deposit or withdrawal options they give you.
Depending on the state of the COVID-19 regulations in Illinois when you sign up, this may have to be done in person at a sportsbook or, in special circumstances, you will be able to do it online. When creating the account you will need to verify your identity and that you are over 21 years of age by entering info such as your name, address, date of birth, email, and more.
Before your first bet, you will need to fund your account. While every provider will vary slightly, they all make it relatively easy and give you multiple options. These options include things like online banking direct deposit, ACH, PayPal, credit or debit cards, and more. You can also fill your account with cash at the land-based sportsbook affiliated with the online account. Withdrawing money may not have quite as many options but is also quite easy.
Check out leagues, sports, and matches available. Find the odds you like and place a bet on the team or player you think will win you money! Make sure you take advantage of the helpful tips, guides, and research options that most sites offer to help you along the way.
When Illinois passed The Sports Wagering Act (230 ILCS 45) in June 2019, it legalized sports betting in the state. Of course, the Act comes with multiple rules and restrictions so that the state could have close control of the industry and profit from it. Here are some of the major rules and restrictions that the law comes with.
For bettors, the main restrictions are that you have to be 21 years of age or older and you have to be physically located in the state to bet. GPS-enabled online and mobile devices track this and you don’t have to be a state resident as long as you are physically in the state. You also have to pay income taxes on your winnings. Where and how much tax vary by state. You are also not allowed to bet on Illinois collegiate sports.
Users also have to register in person at one of the land-based retail sportsbooks in the state in order to use the online or mobile services. This rule was suspended temporarily for COVID-19 but will be in place until 2022.
Retail sports betting providers pay $10 million to the state for a “master license,” of which there are only about 20 available. For one of the three online-only licenses, companies will shell out $20 million. The other major regulation for providers is that they have to pay a 15% tax to the state on all net profits, which is in line with the rate in most states that have legalized sports betting.
The Decatur Staleys were the company football team of the A. E. Staley food starch company when they started in 1920. A year later, they moved to Chicago and a year after that they changed their name to the Chicago Bears. That same year, 1922, the league they played in changed its name too; from the American Professional Football Association to the National Football League.
In the last 100 years, the Chicago Bears have been one of the cornerstone franchises in the NFL. They have the most total wins in NFL history, the most players in the NFL Hall of Fame, and their rivalry with the neighboring Green Bay Packers is widely regarded as one of the best in pro football.
The franchise’s storied history includes Soldier Field, the Super Bowl Shuffle, the vaunted 46 defense, coach Mike Ditka, and all-time great players like Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary. The team has struggled a bit in the 2000s with just two playoff appearances in the last decade.
The Chicago Blackhawks were founded in 1926 and are part of the “Original Six” teams that helped found the National Hockey League. They currently play at the United Center in Chicago which they share with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.
The Blackhawks have enjoyed three distinctive winning eras over the years that have helped produce six Stanley Cups for the franchise. In the 1930s, the team was owned by their founder, coffee magnate Fredrick McLaughlin, and won two Stanley Cup trophies led by captain Johnny Gottselig. The 1960s were successful as well, as the team was stocked with Hall of Famers such as Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Ted Lindsay, and Pierre Pilote. The decade would only produce one Cup though.
Recent years have seen the most successful Blackhawks teams of all time. Led by superstars Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews, the team won three championships in the last 10 years, hoisting the Cup in 2009–10, 2012–13, and 2014–15.
Chicago’s pro basketball team is best known as the team of Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time. Along with his Scottie Pippen, coach Phil Jackson, and great role players like John Paxson, Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, and the flamboyant Dennis Rodman, Jordan’s Bulls won an incredible 6 NBA championships in the 1990s.
The post-Jordan era for the Bulls has not been nearly as successful as their 90s run. The last two decades have seen a host of top draft pick busts and devastating injures that have led to 14 seasons of .500 or below basketball and only one appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In 2020, the Bulls finished with a losing record yet again and fired Head Coach Jim Boylan after just two seasons. However, recent lottery picks for the Bulls have looked promising, and talented young players like Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, and Coby White may have the team pointed in the right direction for the future.
Long known as the “Lovable Losers” of North American professional sports, Chicago’s North-side MLB team finally broke a 108-year World Series championship drought (and the Curse of the Billy Goat) by winning the 2016 World Series.
Although they went a century-plus without a World Series, the Cubs are one of the most storied franchises in baseball history. They were founded in 1876, won the World Series in 1907 and 1908, and have played in their famous home park, Wrigley Field, since 1916. They are known for the famous poem, Tinker to Evers to Chance, not having lights at Wrigley for night games until 1988, and their legendary announcer Harry Caray singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch.
Since the 2016 Cubs broke the curse and ended the World Series-less streak, the team has been one of the top clubs in the National League. David Ross, a member of the 2916 team, is now the manager, and the team is loaded with MLB stars like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Yu Darvish.
Chicago’s other MLB team, the White Sox, may not be as universally beloved as their crosstown rival but the team also has a rich (albeit checkered) history and a rabid fan base among their fellow Chicago “South Siders.” The club began in the late 1800s as the Sioux City Cornhuskers before being bought by legendary owner Charles Comiskey in 1894. The club moved to Minnesota before settling in its permanent home on the Southside of Chicago in 1901.
These early teams produced two World Series but also created the most infamous scandal in baseball history, the 1919 “Black Sox Scandal.” Chicago gangsters convinced the team to throw a World Series game which resulted in lifetime bans for players including one of the best players of all-time, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.
Recent years have seen happier times for the club which won its third World Series in 2005. This championship was especially notable for manager Ozzie Guillen, who became the first Latino manager to win the World Series.
The most recent addition to the Chicago basketball team is the 2005 WNBA expansion team, the Chicago Sky. The team is owned by real estate mogul Michael Alter and businesswoman and former college basketball player Margaret Stender. A year later, the team brought in two notable minority owners in the form of former Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams and her former bandmate Beyoncé Knowles’ dad, Matthew.
While the team has not yet won a WNBA championship, they did have an extended period of success from 2013 to 2016 where the team made four consecutive playoff appearances and made the 2014 WNBA Finals. The team has had an array of All-Star players over the years including Candice Dupree, Sylvia Fowles, Elena Delle Donne, and Courtney Vandersloot.
Following a few down years, the Chicago Sky have turned their fortunes around since 2018. They hired coach James Wade, who would become the 2019 WNBA Coach of the Year, and made the second round of the playoffs in 2019 as well. In 2020, the team secured another playoff appearance as well.
In 1998, the fledgling MLS, the U.S. pro soccer league, welcomed its first expansion team, the Chicago Fire. The team started out “on fire,” winning both the MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup in their inaugural season. Since then the franchise has added to its trophy collection with 3 more U.S. Open Cups and an MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2003. They have also won the dubious trophy the MLS Wooden Spoon for finishing in last place twice.
The team has become very popular in Chicago, drawing between 12,000 and 17,000 fans per game annually. They have had a mix of U.S.-born stars like Ante Razov, Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride, Sean Johnson, and CJ Sapong, and international stars such as Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
After making the playoffs in 2017, the team was left out with a losing record for the next two years. In the last three years, the club has had an ownership shakeup, did a color and logo rebrand, and had some of their top players leave.
There are several ways to fund your Illinois sports betting account. Each individual sportsbook, site, and mobile app will have slightly different requirements but most generally accept the following methods of deposit:
There are several ways to withdraw your money from Illinois sports betting accounts. Each individual sportsbook, site, and mobile app will have slightly different requirements but most generally accept the following methods of withdrawing:
Sports betting in Illinois is in its early days. There is plenty of opportunity for this type of gambling to grow within the state. There are still plenty of casinos in the state that do not have sportsbook licenses, and it stands to reason that more will apply as time goes on. Also, there is not a casino in Chicago proper currently although that may change, affording a casino an enormous opportunity.
The other big opportunity will come in 2022 when the moratorium on online-only registration ends. That will open up the Illinois sports betting market to more providers of online and mobile betting. The one area that sports betting is not expected to grow is with betting on Illinois colleges and collegiate events. This is a restriction that will most likely stay in place.
Yes, sports betting is legal at land-based sportsbooks or through certain online or mobile betting services in the state of Illinois.
The law legalizing sports betting was passed in June of 2019 but the first legal sportsbook where people could place a bet didn’t open until March 9. 2020.
You can bet on any professional or college sport the sportsbook or app offers except for in-state college teams or contests.
Yes, you can bet on a mobile app but you have to open an account in-person at a sportsbook first for the first 18-months the law is in effect (the exception being when the governor enacts COVID-related changes to this law).
You must be 21 years old or older.
You do not but for online betting, you do need to be physically in the state, which is tracked by the GPS functions of the legal betting apps.
Playing online poker is not criminalized in Illinois but it is not legal for poker sites to be operated from inside the state at the current time.
The taxes on sports betting winnings are part of your income tax, so the rate varies by winner. If you are an Illinois resident, you must file as part of your state income tax. If you live out of state, consult your local laws for where the taxes need to be paid.
Yes, you can visit the DraftKings sportsbook at Casino Queen in East St. Louis, IL to open an account (or sign up online when allowed) to start betting online.
Yes, you can visit the FanDuel sportsbook at the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, IL to open an account (or sign up online when allowed) to start betting online.
Yes, you can visit the BetRivers sportsbook at Rivers Casino in the Des Plaines, IL to open an account (or sign up online when allowed) to start betting online.