|Type of Gambling
|Is it Legal?
|Real Money Online Casinos
|Online Sports Betting
|Retail Sports Betting
Are online casinos coming to Illinois?
Probably not, but maybe. Our experts have estimated the chances that Illinois will legalize online casinos in 2024 to be 10%. It’s not much of a chance, but it’s certainly not an impossibility. In the meantime, you can use the sweepstakes and social casinos that are available to you in the state.
Sweepstakes and social casinos in IL
If you’ve never heard about sweepstakes casinos and social casino sites before, they may seem a bit hard to believe. You can play some pretty entertaining online slots in Illinois and it’s completely legal.
Your top options for sweepstakes and social casino sites in Illinois are the following:
Essentially, as long as you can play for free and the prizes are awarded as advertised, the site is good to go. Sweepstakes and social casino sites can offer a host of online casino games and poker through a dual-currency system, like coins, that allows their classification to remain valid. You can win real cash prizes at these sites.
Here are some of the options you have at your disposal:
- Slot Games: These are indistinguishable from their online casino counterparts. They can be played with both play money and real money equivalents and offer big payouts and progressive slots like a normal online casino. You can also find video poker games on sweepstakes sites, too.
- Table Games: Options for table games are decidedly more limited, but you can still find them if you prefer to play that way. Online blackjack is the most common game to find, but you can also see options for roulette, keno and Caribbean stud poker on various sites.
- Online Poker: Poker games are almost exclusively found on Global Poker, unsurprisingly. While real money online poker is not currently available in Illinois, Global Poker offers the ability to play no-limit Texas hold ’em, pot-limit Omaha and Crazy Pineapple in a cash game, tournament and sit-n-go formats.
Other legal gambling options in Illinois
There are multiple types of online and land-based gambling options that Illinois inhabitants can enjoy.
Online sports betting launched in Illinois in June 2020. BetRivers Illinois Sportsbook, owned by Rush Street Interactive (which also owns Rivers Des Plaines), became the first sports betting app to launch in the state. Since then, seven apps have joined the party, including BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet and Caesars. More sports betting apps should enter Illinois now that the in-person registration requirement expired as of March 7, 2022.
Retail sports betting is now present at most Illinois riverboat casinos, is available at racetracks and OTBs and may even be available at major sports arenas throughout the state.
Riverboat casinos have been fixtures in the Land of Lincoln for more than 30 years. There are 11 properties scattered throughout Illinois, although most are around Chicago and St. Louis, the latter across the Mississippi River in Missouri and Iowa.
Alongside the riverboats are scads of locations with video lottery terminals (VLTs). VLTs are electronic lottery machines that have little difference, functionally, from a regular slot machine. They have been part of life in Illinois since 2009 and gained full legal status thanks to the massive expansion of gambling in 2019.
In addition to the state lottery, Illinois residents and visitors can also bet on horse races through the TVG racing site. Online horse betting is available in the Prairie State through various sites.
Finally, Illinoisans and guests to the state can also play daily fantasy sports if they choose. An Illinois Supreme Court ruling in April 2020 definitively identified DFS as not gambling and has legitimized the notion of playing the game in some capacity in Illinois.
Casinos in Illinois
The casinos each offer various options for gaming, but, in general, they have slot machines and table games in wide varieties. Whether they have sports betting and poker onsite is a different matter, however.
Here are all the casino locations in Illinois:
|Argosy Casino Alton
|1 Piasa St., Alton, IL 62002
|Bally's Quad Cities Casino & Hotel
|777 Ballys Blvd., Rock Island, IL 61201
|DraftKings at Casino Queen
|200 S. Front St., East St. Louis, IL 62201
|Grand Victoria Casino
|250 S. Grove Ave., Elgin, IL 6012
|Hard Rock Rockford Casino (temporary site)
|610 N. Bell School Road, Rockford, IL 61107
|Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel
|151 N. Joliet St., Joliet, IL 60432
|Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel
|100 E. Front St., Metropolis, IL 62960
|Hollywood Casino Aurora
|1 W. New York St., Aurora, IL 60506
|Hollywood Casino Joliet
|777 Hollywood Blvd., Joliet, IL 60436
|Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino
|21 Blackjack Blvd., East Peoria, IL 61611
|Rivers Casino Des Plaines
|3000 S. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60018
All 11 have a variety of slots, including reel slots and progressive slots, plus video poker.
The Illinois Gambling Act authorizes six additional casinos to be built in Illinois in the following locations:
- Williamson County (near Carbondale)
- Cook County in either Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Rich, Thornton or Worth
The new law also allows the riverboat casinos to finally become land-based after paying a fee and obtaining regulators’ approval to do so.
The existing casinos will be allowed to expand their operations from 1,200 to 2,000 “gaming positions” should they desire, with such expansion also requiring the payment of a position fee for every added position.
Meanwhile, the new Chicago will be much bigger, with 4,000 gaming positions.
Responsible gambling in Illinois
Illinois has several measures in place to protect and assist problem gamblers.
In 2002, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) launched the Statewide Riverboat Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program for Problem Gamblers, known as SEP.
The program allows those who determine they are problem gamblers to self-exclude themselves from Illinois casinos and sportsbooks. In 2018, the IGB established the Problem Gambling Registry for Video Gaming.
Those who enroll receive regular emails providing information about problem gambling with links to problem gambling prevention and treatment resources in the state. The program is available both to Illinois and out-of-state residents.
The Illinois Department of Human Services has also developed a website to provide support and advice for problem gamblers — WeKnowTheFeeling.org — that also invites problem gamblers to contact them by phone at 1-800-GAMBLER.
The IGB site also provides additional information regarding these programs and other help for problem gamblers.
Historical overview of legal gambling in Illinois
Legal and regulated pari-mutuel betting on horse racing in Illinois dates back to 1927.
Illinois first introduced the lottery in 1974, joining the first big wave of states to do so. Later in 2012, Illinois became the first state to offer online lottery ticket sales and is still one of a limited number of states that do.
Riverboat gambling has been legal in Illinois since 1990 and, in fact, Illinois was the second state in the US to legalize riverboat gambling after Iowa. A year later, the first riverboat casino opened, the Alton Belle (then to become the Argosy Casino Alton).
For the first several years, the boats were required to leave docks and set sail at regular intervals, but that is no longer the case. At present, 10 riverboat casinos are operating either on boats or docked barges or on what are essentially land-based properties resting in shallow water.
In 2009, the Video Gaming Act was enacted in Illinois, allowing the placement of VLTs in licensed retail locations, truck stops, and veteran and fraternal establishments.
In June 2019, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Gambling Act, a law allowing for significant gambling expansion in the state. The new law permits six new casinos, including a large casino in Chicago.
It also allows the existing casinos and racetracks to expand the number of “gaming positions” they can offer, including allowing the tracks to become “racinos” by adding slots and table games.