Illinois residents, it’s time to bet! Inhabitants of Illinois are now able to bet in both retail and online sportsbooks in the Prairie State. Thanks in part to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Illinois has joined other states with legal, regulated sports betting. In June 2019, Pritzker signed a $45 billion capital plan, part of which included sports betting.
Illinois sports betting made its official debut in March 2020, as BetRivers Sportsbook welcomed the state’s first legal wager.
Online sportsbooks went live in the summer of 2020, and can take remote registrations for online betting through at least Sept. 19 thanks to a new executive order from Pritzker.
The guide below is your complete resource for all things sports betting in Illinois. We have all the latest in updates, news and great bonus offers from the top online sportsbooks in the Land of Lincoln.
Updated: March 1, 2021
Although Illinois’ 10 casinos were able to get on the same page for sports betting, internet gambling is proving more difficult.
Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association says he’s hopeful lawmakers see online casino gambling as a way to advance the industry.
Illinois lost roughly $200 million in casino tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Several issues in a recently filed bill, including in-person registration for online gaming accounts and a maximum of three skins, are causing disagreements within the industry.
The casinos and racetracks in the state can also offer online sports betting. Illinois has avoided demanding that bettors sign up for accounts in person. Since around 80% of sports betting now goes online, that will help get market traction right from the off.
Apart from the basic sports betting at the lottery sites, the best sports betting apps in Illinois will be high-tech and very up-to-date.
The licensees will partner with technology platforms and international brands to deliver their Illinois sports betting apps. Those new to sports betting as well as old hands will find that online sports betting is much more entertaining than it used to be.
Bonus: $50 + $1,000
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One of the top sportsbooks in the nation made its online and mobile debut in Illinois in Aug. 2020. DraftKings, off of an access deal with Casino Queen in East. St. Louis, has quickly become a go-to option. The IL sportsbook app, which has continually received high marks, is available for both iOS and Android users.
Features abound with everything you need to get down to business being easily accessible to boot. Top options include live betting, where you can stay on top of current offerings with ease. Placing bets is a snap, and winning wagers are paid out in a flash. The same holds true for all of the other markets and bet types available.
An exclusive sign-up offer is available for our readers. To gain access, just click here to visit DraftKings. You’ll get $50 in free bets for doing so, as well as a 20% match on your first deposit up to $1,000. DraftKings has been a big deal in all markets entered to date, and the same thing is happening here at home.
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FanDuel made its debut in Illinois to much fanfare in Aug. 2020. The company gained access to the market via a deal with Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino in East Peoria. FanDuel has been well-received in all markets entered to date, and it has been the same story here. Illinois residents have found a lot to love about the online and mobile offering.
The app is available for both iOS and Android users. When you’re ready to get started, click through on our exclusive links to complete the registration process. FanDuel is offering our readers a risk-free bet up to $1,000 on their first deposit, so be sure to take this step before signing up.
If the bet is a loser, you’ll get refunded the amount of your wager in credits up to the max offer. That’s a great reason to try out FanDuel, but that’s not all there is to see here. This is one of the best apps you’ll find for sports betting. It’s visually appealing and easy to use, all while offering up plenty of bells and whistles.
Use bonus code: LEGAL300
In Sept. 2020, William Hill made its online and mobile debut in Illinois on a deal with Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. The app is available on both iOS and Android.
You can get started playing instantly, but be sure to click through on our links before signing up. That will give you access to a fantastic sign up offer of a risk free bet up to $300 on your first deposit. All you need to do is enter the William Hill promo code LEGAL300 while registering and you’ll be good to go.
As for the app itself, it’s a great setup that works like a charm. William Hill offers up a wide range of sports and bet types, and the odds and lines are among the most on point across the industry. This is an operator that has become a major player in all markets entered to date, and the same story has developed here in Illinois.
Bonus code: BETBONUS
Australia-based PointsBet entered the US market as a relative unknown in Jan. 2020. That has changed in big league fashion in a short period of time. PointsBet has expanded operations across several states, including Illinois. The official launch took place in Sept. 2020 via a deal with Hawthorne Race Course.
PointsBet has quickly established a presence on the retail, online, and mobile fronts. The app is slick and intuitive and available on both iOS and Android. Our readers can gain access to an exclusive sign-up offer in the form of a pair of risk free bets worth up to $2,000. Just click on our links to set up your account and use the code BETBONUS.
The platform itself is a solid one, and the company has even introduced a whole new way to get in the game. Known as PointsBetting, users can adjust the frisk to their comfort level and be rewarded accordingly for winning wagers. PointsBet has become a very popular destination for sports bettors, and it’s more than worth taking the time to check it out.
The Illinois Sports Wagering Act, which allowed for online sports betting in Illinois, contains a rather frustrating provision for proponents of the proliferation of sports betting in the state. The law requires that players register in person at the home casino of their chosen sportsbook for the first 18 months after the passage of the law.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown inspired Gov. Pritzker to rescind the provision temporarily. So, for now, Illinois residents can register for online sportsbook accounts from anywhere in the state.
It is necessary to be inside state lines to play, though. Each online sportsbook in Illinois uses geolocation verification software to confirm that you are physically within the borders before you are permitted to place a wager.
Though having to identify your precise location might seem invasive, it’s the price you must pay for remote access and online sports betting. No wagers can cross state lines, and it is incumbent upon the books and the regulators to ensure that every bet is in compliance.
Illinois law states that:
“Sports wagering includes, but is not limited to, single-game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under, moneyline, pools, exchange wagering, in-game wagering, in-play bets, proposition bets and straight bets.”
Therefore, some of the most popular bet types in the state are:
One type of wager deserves its own attention. The futures bet, which is a wager on events occurring far down the road, is a bet that is good for all seasons.
Futures bets are the answer for people who want to bet on their favorite sports team, regardless of the season. Even though the Chicago Bears may not be playing, you can still make a wager regarding the team’s chances to win the Super Bowl.
So, even if the Bulls miss the playoffs, there’s always next season. You can always put money on the Blackhawks bringing home the next Stanley Cup.
A futures bet can also be on individual players. If you feel confident that Yu Darvish might win the Cy Young award, there’s a bet for that. If you want to put money on Jose Abreu to win the MVP award, you can.
There are tons of different ways to bet on futures in Illinois. Here are some of the wagers you can make:
There are a few restrictions on betting in Illinois by law or rule.
The biggest no-no is on in-state collegiate sports. Unfortunately, Illinois residents cannot bet on the University of Illinois or Northwestern while inside their home state.
Wagers must also be on sporting events only. No betting on awards, elections or any other non-sports event is permitted.
Finally, if you’re involved in a particular sport as a player, referee, coach or other principal, you can’t bet on your sport. Every other sport is fine, but there’s too much of an issue with conflicts of interest for your own sport.
Illinois has plenty of locations for placing wagers throughout the state. There are casinos, racetracks, off-track betting sites, and the online sites themselves.
This section should serve as your guide for everywhere you can place a bet on sports in Illinois. We are also including a section on horse betting, even though live and online horse betting exists in a separate realm from true sports betting and has a different legal status.
However, before we get into all the different places to go, let’s discuss the state of popular sports in Illinois.
Since Illinois is home to Chicago, the third-largest city in the US, it’s no surprise that there are numerous professional sports teams to follow and games to bet. Below is a guide to all those organizations and their pertinent details.
Most betting types are available for these teams’ games when they are in season. However, the realities of some of the sports, like baseball and hockey, mean that there have to be slight alterations in the typical bets offered.
So, just be aware of the fact that some betting types might not stretch across all sports. Here are the relevant teams in Illinois.
Illinois is home to a single NFL team:
The Bears are one of the oldest teams in the NFL and one of its most storied franchises. More Bears reside in the NFL Hall of Fame than players from any other team.
Betting on NFL games tends to revolve around the teams, of course, but also some of the statistics unique to football. Bets on stats like a quarterback’s yards or a receiver’s touchdowns are common. The practice of holding numerous NFL games on Sundays means that parlay wagers are also a popular option for betting on football games.
Due to Chicago’s size, it is one of the few cities to host not one, but two Major League Baseball franchises. They are:
Both teams have won World Series trophies in the last 20 years, and both are looking to repeat. Although the two teams rarely meet, they enjoy a bitter rivalry with one another. DraftKings struck a deal with the Chicago Cubs to bring a DraftKings Sportsbook to Wrigley Field.
If you want to bet on Major League Baseball, you may find a particular oddity in place of the typical spread bet option. Because of baseball’s low scoring, sportsbooks in IL will use what’s known as a run line. A run line sets the spread at 1.5 runs, but alters the payout to be more like a moneyline than a true spread bet.
There is one NBA team that calls Illinois home, but it is a legendary franchise.
The Bulls ascended to heights few can claim in the 1990s. Michael Jordan, the player widely considered to be the greatest to play the game ever, played the vast majority of his career as a Bull and guided the team to six titles during the decade.
Betting on NBA games is fairly straightforward. In fact, because there is so much scoring during NBA games, there are many opportunities to wager on totals, individual props and so forth.
Illinois is home to a single NHL team:
The Blackhawks are one of the original NHL teams and one of its most successful in recent years. The 2010s saw the Blackhawks take home the Stanley Cup three times, and the team’s six Stanley Cups place it tied for fourth most Cups in NHL history.
Like baseball, hockey is a low-scoring affair and creates a challenge for Illinois sportsbooks who want to create a spread bet. So NHL bettors will find that they can use a bet called the puck line. It behaves identically to its run line counterpart in baseball.
Whether you sign up during Pritzker’s brief remote registration window or make the pilgrimage to one of the home casinos for Illinois’ online sportsbooks, the process for registering for an account will be mostly the same.
So, here’s what to do:
Moving money into and out of a site might seem intimidating for new sports bettors in Illinois. However, the process is largely the same as it is with any online merchant.
Sportsbooks have a vested interest in casting as wide a net as possible for banking. You should be able to find multiple options that work to deposit and withdraw on your chosen site. All legal Illinois sportsbooks are safe and secure. This means you funds are guaranteed.
Here are some of the typical banking methods that you will find on Illinois sportsbook apps:
The list of possible locations for sportsbooks in Illinois is quite long due to a particular quirk of the state sports betting law. Under the statute, the state’s casinos and racetracks can offer sports betting, which is no surprise.
However, the state is also allowing up to seven of its largest sports complexes to offer sports betting, as well. So it could be possible to bet on games that you’re attending in the very near future.
For the time being, only the following retail sportsbooks are open for business in Illinois:
Illinois is a state blessed with several options for betting on horse racing. In fact, it is one of a handful of states to have the triple threat of wagering on the ponies: live racing, off-track betting and online horse betting.
The easiest way to bet on horse races in the Prairie State is to do so through your phone or mobile device. Many of the top horse betting sites in the nation are more than happy to do business with Illinois inhabitants.
Of the sites, however, it is hard to recommend any other site over TVG. TVG is the top horse betting site in the country, and it doubles as one of the only 24-hour networks dedicated to horse racing that you can find.
Although there are other horse betting sites in Illinois, there’s no reason to mess around with second-best. If you want to bet on simulcast races from around the country on your smartphone, do it with TVG. You won’t be disappointed.
There are also several options for visiting horse tracks with live racing in Illinois. In fact, there are three active horse racing facilities in the state.
Unsurprisingly, two of them are in the Chicago area. The third serves the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Illinois is home to several illustrious annual horse races. In fact, there are three Grade I races and eleven Grade 3 races each year.
Two of the tracks also feature simulcast racing. So it’s not necessary to pick a live race day if you’re in the mood to bet.
Below are the racetracks in Illinois:
According to the Illinois Horse Racing Act, the state’s racetracks are each allotted a certain number of OTB slots that they can use to open off-track betting locations. Under the law, it is possible that the tracks could potentially open as many as 43 off-track venues in the state.
However, the three tracks have not chosen to do so just yet. State records indicate that Arlington Park has opened 10 sites, Hawthorne Race Course has 10 as well, and Fairmount Park owns three. These numbers are likely to expand or contract according to the demands of the market, so the list below is just a snapshot. Here are the OTB locations in Illinois:
Sports betting became legal as the result of its inclusion in a 2019 capital funding plan. The $44 billion plan, signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, allowed for sports betting at casinos, racetracks, select sports facilities and lottery vendors throughout the state.
The lottery vendors won’t be regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board, but by the Illinois Lottery. They will only offer “parlay wagers and fixed-odds parlay wagers.”
Bets can be placed at terminals in up to 2,500 lottery shops in the first year, with the possibility to expand this to 5,000 in year two.
Casinos and racetracks can apply for a license at the bargain price of $10 million, or 5% of their revenues — whichever is lower.
Sports venues will pay the same price for a license that permits them to offer live and online sports betting within a five-block radius of a stadium.
Over and above these licenses, there are three available for online-only providers. These cost $20 million each, without the option.
Illinois’ population bodes well for the long-term success of sports betting in the state. The number of people and the multiple homegrown professional teams that can be the subject of bets means that there will always be something to interest players in the Prairie State.
The only hang-up is the complicated political landscape that is a fixture in Illinois. The tentative situation with remote registration, for instance, indicates the potential for lawmakers to stick their fingers unnecessarily into the sports betting pot.
As long as regulators and overseers can relax, Illinois should become a haven for sports bettors in the next few years.