After an uneven debut, legal sports betting in Illinois is quickly gaining momentum, especially online.
Three mobile sports betting apps are operating in the state, with several more on the way. Gov. J.B. Pritzker suspended in-person registration for a second time in 2020, making it easier for bettors to set up online accounts. Seven in-person sportsbooks are operating and DraftKings recently announced a deal with the Chicago Cubs to open a retail sportsbook at Wrigley Field. Put it all together and Illinois may eventually live up to its potential as one of the top sports betting markets in the U.S.
Sports betting got off to a slow start in 2020 when the first casino-based sportsbook temporarily closed less than a week after opening due to the coronavirus pandemic. Confusion over in-person registration requirements, and a state law that delays the openings of online-only operators for at least 18 months, added to the dysfunction.
But as the 2020 NFL season opened, Illinois sports bettors had more choices than ever, with online/retail operating partners joining the state's marketplace in rapid fashion.
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Gambling.com’s experienced team reviews betting sites from around the world. Our reviewers sign up for accounts, place wagers and use a specific methodology to evaluate the overall mobile and online betting experience. Among the key factors we consider:
License and security: Gambling.com only reviews sites that are legal, licensed and regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board. Offshore-based sportsbooks lack proper regulation and oversight, are not reviewed, and never recommended.
Welcome/bonus offers: Online sportsbooks offer a variety of bonus offers and promotions to sign up new players. We help determine which are the most lucrative and restrictive.
Mobile/App: All betting apps are not the same. We test each sports betting app to determine ease to use, layout, number of wagering options and overall mobile betting experience.
Odds and wagering: Pricing is key to sports betting success. Illinois bettors should always be on the lookout for the sites that offer the most player-friendly odds and prices.
Payment methods: Sports bettors want a site that offers convenient deposit and withdrawal options.
Yes. Illinois lawmakers approved sports betting legislation in 2019 and Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law. The bill allows for both online and in-person sports betting.
BetRivers, using its Rivers Casino Des Plaines license, was the first online sportsbook to go live on June 18, 2020. DraftKings sportsbook and FanDuel sportsbook also recently went live after securing retail partnerships. Several other notable online sportsbooks are expected to launch soon, including PointsBet, William Hill and Unibet.
Online wagering was a key component of Illinois’ sports betting bill. Neighboring states Indiana and Iowa already allowed online sportsbooks and Illinois would not be competitive without mobile. About 80% of all legal sports bets are placed online, a percentage expected to grow even higher the next few years.
Meanwhile, online sports betting powers DraftKings and FanDuel were able to enter the Illinois market without having to endure the 18-month “penalty box” for online-only operators. Both struck deals with existing casinos or racetracks, allowing them to immediately offer online sports betting.
|Online Sportsbook||Land-Based Partner||Launched|
|BetRivers||Rivers Casino Des Plaines||June 2020|
|DraftKings||Casino Queen (East St. Louis)||August 2020|
|FanDuel||Par-A-Dice Casino (East Peoria)||August 2020|
|BetRivers||Rivers Casino Des Plaines (Rush Street Intl.)||March 2020|
|Sportsbook at Argosy Casino||Penn National Gaming||March 2020|
|DraftKings at Casino Queen||Casino Queen||August 2020|
|William Hill||Grand Victoria Casino (Caesars)||August 2020|
|Hollywood Aurora||Penn National Gaming||August 2020|
|Hollywood Joliet||Penn National Gaming||August 2020|
|FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook||Par-A-Dice Casino (Boyd Gaming)||September 2020|
|PointsBet||Hawthorne Race Course||TBD|
Address: 1 Piasa Street, Alton
About: Located 25 miles north of St. Louis. Operated by Penn National Gaming. Sportsbook area includes 36 65-inch or bigger HDTVs.
Address: 3000 South River Road, Des Plaines
About: BetRivers property, owned and operated by Chicago-based Rush Street International, was the first sportsbook to accept a legal sports bet in Illinois after opening in March 2020. Located two miles north of O’Hare International Airport. Sportsbook features LED High Definition Wall to watch games.
Address: 200 South Front Street, East St. Louis
About: DraftKings sportsbook opened a temporary retail location inside East St. Louis casino and will soon open permanent site. A major destination for St. Louis residents, with sports gambling not legal in Missouri.
Address: 21 Blackjack Boulevard, East Peoria
About: The newest retail sportsbook to join the marketplace after receiving approval from the Illinois Gaming Board on Sept. 9, FanDuel sportsbook is located in East Peoria along the Illinois River.
Address: 250 South Grove Avenue, Elgin
About: Caesars-owned casino is located in suburban Chicago and operated by William Hill, which has expanded sportsbook operations into nearly a dozen states. Sportsbook located on the main casino floor.
Address: 1 West New York Street, Aurora
About: One of three Illinois casinos owned by Penn National Gaming. Speculation is Hollywood Aurora may eventually be branded a Barstool Sportsbook (Barstool brand was purchased earlier this year by Penn National). Casino is located about 40 miles west of Chicago on the Fox River.
Address: 777 Hollywood Boulevard, Joliet
About: Hollywood Joliet Sportsbook opened the same day in August as sister property Hollywood Aurora. Casino is located about 45 miles southwest of Chicago. Sportsbook is part of 99 Hops House craft beer emporium, one floor above main casino gaming area.
Additional Illinois retail sportsbooks are expected to open soon. The state’s sports betting bill allows sports wagering at casinos, horse racing tracks and large sports venues. Several partnerships have already been announced, including PointsBet with Hawthorne Race Course; and DraftKings with the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.
The apps allow for wagering on any smartphone or mobile device; provide for in-play betting; and contain all of the payment and cash out functionality available on your browser. Nearly every sports betting app is compatible with iOS and Android operating systems and can be downloaded for free.
One of the advantages of online sports gambling is the number of available bonus offers and promotions for new and existing customers. Some popular examples:
Free bet: Often offered to new players who make an initial account deposit. It’s a free bet, though in some cases only the prize amount of the bet will be returned if you win.
Deposit match: Make your first deposit and your online sportsbook will match that amount up to 100%. Often includes wagering requirements that must be reached before all bonus money can be redeemed.
Odds boost: Online sportsbooks will boost the odds on a specific team or point spread, providing a more favorable payout to bettors.
Parlay insurance: To cash a parlay ticket, all teams in a parlay must win. With parlay insurance, if only one of your team loses, the site will refund your wager. Generally, parlays must include a minimum of four or five teams to qualify for insurance.
Loyalty programs: The more you wager with a specific site, the higher the rewards, usually in the form of cash back, prizes and free bets.
Illinois allows wagering on all the major pro sports leagues, major college sports and a large number of international sports. Illinois prohibits wagering on games involving in-state college teams.
All of the most popular sports betting options are available, including:
Point spread: A team is favored by a certain number of points. A bettor can choose the favorite or underdog with their respective odds.
Moneyline: A wager on a team to win a game. No point spreads. The moneyline odds for each team are set by the sportsbook.
Parlay: A single bet linking two or more games. All games must win for the parlay to cash. The more teams in the parlay, the higher the odds and payoff.
Over/under: A wager that the combined score of both teams will be over or under the number set by the sportsbook.
Futures: A wager to be determined in the future, such as betting on a team to win next year’s NCAA Tournament or World Series.
In-game betting: Online bets placed during the game. Online sports operators set in-game betting odds based on computer algorithms that change as play progresses.
Signing up for an Illinois online account is easy, though the state law that bettors must first register at the physical casino partnered with your online sportsbook created some confusion.
Due to the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker three times issued an executive order suspending the in-person registration requirement (his first order expired and was not immediately renewed). For now, no in-person registration is required through at least Oct. 17, 2020.
That means bettors can sign up for an online account from home in a matter of minutes. First, choose your online operator and visit the website by clicking on the operator’s offer above. You will be prompted to register for an account and asked to provide name, date of birth, address and last four digits of your Social Security number (to verify your identity). Once your account is set up, make a deposit, claim whatever bonuses are offered, and you are ready to wager. You can also download the mobile betting app for the convenience of betting on the go.
Illinois online sportsbook accounts can be created from anywhere, but bettors must be physically located inside the state to place a legal wager. Online sportsbook operators use geofencing technology to track and pinpoint your location.
Illinois sportsbooks allow players to deposit or withdraw funds from their account at any time.
Most electronic deposits are processed within minutes. Note that some financial institutions will not process gambling transactions and may decline your request.
Generally, you can make withdrawals using the following methods:
A few notes about withdrawals:
It’s easiest to withdraw funds using the same method utilized for deposits, though credit/debit cards are generally not accepted as a withdrawal method.
Withdrawals take longer to process than deposits. FanDuel’s Illinois site estimates the following withdrawal times, which are typical:
2018: U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, paving the way for states to legalize sports betting. Sports wagering bills are introduced in Illinois Legislature.
2019: New and revised sports betting legislation is introduced. With many potential stakeholders involved, passage seems like a long shot, though Gov. J.B. Pritzker publicly supports a bill and includes sports betting revenue in his proposed state budget. Sports betting bill is passed on last day of legislative session and signed into law in June. The law provides for both online and retail sports betting (at casinos, racetracks, sports venues), but bettors must first register at a physical casino to set up an online account. Online-only platforms are limited to three license-holders, and each must wait 18 months before entering the marketplace.
March 2020: First retail sportsbook wager is accepted at Rivers Casino Des Plaines. Less than a week later, casino and sportsbook are ordered to temporarily close due to coronavirus.
June 2020: Governor issues emergency order temporarily suspending in-person registration requirement. BetRivers becomes state’s first online sportsbook to launch. The emergency order would lapse and eventually be reinstated through at least Sept. 19.
August 2020: DraftKings and FanDuel announce partnerships with existing Illinois gambling entities, allowing both to immediately offer online sports betting, instead of enduring state’s 18-month “penalty box” period.
September 2020: NFL season opens with seven retail and three online sportsbooks operating in the state. Several more are expected to join the marketplace before the end of the year.
You must be 21 or older to bet on sports in Illinois. When registering with one of the state’s sportsbooks, you have to verify your identity and age before you can place a bet.
All legal sports betting in Illinois is under the regulatory oversight of the Illinois Gaming Board. The board also regulates gaming at the state’s many riverboat casinos.
Yes. Illinois sports betting legislation was signed into law in 2019.
Illinois offers a variety of gambling options to choose from. With multiple casinos located throughout the state, the gaming options range from slots, to table games, such as blackjack, sports wagering and betting on horse racing.
Every one of Chicago’s professional sports teams can be bet on with the state’s licensed sports betting platforms. The Bears are an obvious hometown choice. And, with MLB betting, you can always bet on the Cubs and White Sox. You cannot wager on in-state college teams such as Northwestern and Illinois.
You don’t need to be a resident of Illinois to bet on sports. Just make sure you’re physically located within the state’s borders when you’re placing bets.
Betting on sports in Illinois with the state’s regulated providers will be safe. No matter what you wager on with the best sportsbooks in Illinois, you’re not taking any bets on your safety.
The first in-person sports bet in Illinois was placed in March 2020. The first online wager was placed three months later.
Three online sportsbooks were operating in September, with that number set to increase. Additional partnerships have already been announced and are awaiting regulatory approval to launch.
Illinois sportsbooks pay a tax rate of 15% of gross adjusted income. That’s considered about average, though sportsbooks in neighboring Indiana (9.5%) and Iowa (6.75%) pay lower rates. For casinos, racetracks and sporting venues, a Master Sports Wagering license fee costs $10 million. Online-only sports betting licenses (limited to three) will cost $20 million.
No. Sports betting is legal in nearly two dozen states and Washington D.C. The list is likely to grow as voters in Louisiana, Maryland and South Dakota head to the ballot box in November 2020 to decide sports betting referendums.
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