Illinois has long been a refuge for gamblers from Decatur to Chicago and everywhere in between. With horse racing and casinos, online gambling and land-based wagering are never hard to find. Now you can add legal sports betting - both online and in-person - to the mix.
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The Illinois Gambling Act of 2019 legalized online sports betting throughout the state. Unfortunately it did not address online casino gambling, which remains illegal. But online gamblers in Illinois can still play all their favorite table games and online slot machines with our list of recommended social casino sites.
RELATED: Check Out The Top Online Sportsbooks in Illinois
Social casino sites are perfectly legal in Illinois. The best ones, such as Chumba, have a huge inventory of games like blackjack, 3-card poker and slot games based on the ones you’d find at a land-based casino. Sites like Chumba automatically provide a certain number of coins and sweeps coins for new users. These are totally free and players don’t need to make any sort of deposit.
The sweeps coins can then be used to enter tournaments or contests that award prizes – including real money. These are technically classified as sweepstakes rather than gambling, which is why social casinos are legal in Illinois. They’re a great way to practice and play all your favorite casino games with no risk whatsoever. They can also lead to actual prizes and cash.
Stick with social casinos over offshore casinos, which are not legal and come with plenty of risk. These sites could fold at any moment with no incentive to return players’ funds or deposit winnings in their account. And you never know who is behind these sites, which can often be tied to additional criminal activity. Handing over your name, Social Security number and other personal information to unlicensed vendors isn’t smart. Plus, you have lo legal recourse in the US against the sites.
Our list of recommend social casinos provides the same entertainment value on all your favorite casino games with none of the headaches.
Unfortunately, there’s no timetable for fully legalized online gambling in Illinois. The good news is online sports betting is legal, having launched in June 2020 with BetRivers. DraftKings and FanDuel followed suit.
Retail sportsbooks had already started accepting legal bets in Illinois and had a head-start on the online-only sports betting sites. The state had also required in-person registration for online sports betting, but that requirement was suspended amid the coronavirus three times and remains in effect until at least Oct. 17, 2020.
Legal online sports betting in Illinois is good news, as some may have been tempted to use offshore sportsbooks. Offshore sportsbooks are risky from a financial standpoint – since they aren’t regulated, you could have trouble withdrawing funds in a timely fashion or disputing wagers. Same goes for offshore online casino sites, whose games haven’t been vetted like legal casinos to ensure fairness.
Stick with legal online betting in Illinois with social casinos and mobile sportsbooks until other options become available.
|Casino||City||Address||Hours of Operation|
|Casino Queen||East St. Louis||200 S Front St.||8 a.m.-4 a.m.|
|Harrah’s Joliet||Joliet||151 N Joliet St.||8 a.m.-6 a.m.|
|Harrah’s Metropolis||Metropolis||100 E Front St.||8 a.m.-6 a.m.|
|Hollywood Casino Aurora||Aurora||1 W New York St.||Open 24 hours|
|Grand Victoria Casino Elgin||Elgin||250 S Grove Ave.||8:30 a.m.-6:30 a.m.|
|Argosy Casino Alton||Alton||1 Piasa St.||8 a.m.-6 a.m.|
|Rivers Casino||Des Plaines||300 S. River Rd.||Open 24 hours|
|Par-A-Dice Casino||East Peoria||21 Blackjack Blvd.||8 a.m.-4 a.m.|
|Jumer’s Casino & Hotel||Rock Island||777 Jumer Dr.||7 a.m.-5 a.m.|
Located just off the Mississippi River, this Illinois gambling spot offers popular slot machine games with progressive jackpots, high-stakes areas and video poker machines. Table game options include 3-card poker, baccarat and Texas Hold ‘Em. There are four dining options, including Prime Steakhouse, along with a hotel and RV park.
Located near Lake Michigan in Northeast Illinois, Harrah’s Joliet has more than 1,000 slot machines including favorites like Lightning Link and Diamond Blaze. Blackjack, craps, 3-card poker and roulette are just a few of the multiple table game options and the poker room is open from 8 a.m.-5 a.m. every day. There’s a buffet and two additional restaurants, as well as a 200-room hotel.
This Harrah’s location in Southern Illinois has standard table game offerings including roulette, craps, blackjack, Mississippi Stud and more. There are 800 slot machines lining the gaming floor, and Harrah’s Metropolis offers casino credit for those who qualify. The 252-room hotel has a variety of room and suite options.
This Illinois riverboat casino on the Fox River offers more than 1,000 slot machines and four restaurants. Traditional table game options like blackjack and baccarat are readily available and the location will soon open the Aurora Sportsbook for legal sports betting in Illinois. Hollywood Casino Aurora also has a poker room open daily.
Located just 40 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, this casino has more than 1,100 slot machines and video poker options. Table games like baccarat, high card flush and craps are easy to find and the poker room opens daily at 8:30 a.m. Dining options include Buckingham’s Steakhouse and the Indulge Show Kitchen Buffet.
Another strong riverboat casino option for legal gambling in Illinois, the Argosy opened one of the first two legal sportsbooks in Illinois in March 2020, making it a great site for sports wagering as well. That area includes 36 massive TVs and odds-display monitors. Gamblers can also get their fix with slot machines and table games like blackjack, roulette and 3-card poker.
Opened in 2011, Rivers Casino is just a short drive from O’Hare International Airport and includes nearly 1,100 slot machines and standard casino table games. They also opened the BetRivers sportsbook in March 2020, open daily from 10 a.m.-12 a.m. The Lotus cocktail bar brings in live DJs at 10 p.m. every weekend for after-hours entertainment.
This East Peoria casino offers a dozen table games like blackjack, craps, Mississippi Stud, let it ride and much more. Four restaurants are located on property and the 202-room hotel offers amenities like shuttle service, full gym and gift shop.
Located off the Mississippi River just east of the Iowa border, this Illinois casino has a three-star hotel including amenities. The gaming area has close to 1,000 slot machines and video poker options along with games like craps, roulette and blackjack.
It’s difficult to say which casinos would offer legal online casino gambling should Illinois move to legalize it in the coming years. Land-based casinos usually have the opportunity to partner with gaming operators for a license before online-only operations, but Illinois has yet to fully embrace legal online gambling.
In the meantime, social casinos are a great alternative. You can play all the same games offered at a land-based Illinois casino without having to deposit any funds. And you can still win real cash prizes with the best social casino sites like WinStar, LuckyLand and Chumba.
Most certainly. Assuming Illinois eventually moves to legalize online casino gambling, a rich variety of mobile casino apps would soon follow. These are increasingly popular for online gaming and provide a cleaner, on-the-go version of the online casino site.
Any land-based casinos that partner with operators such as Caesars or 888casino would roll out a mobile app as soon as the product was ready to launch. Since gamers will have a lot of options if that happens, it will be important to shop around a bit and find the mobile casino app that works best for you in terms of interface and variety of games offered.
Roulette would be a great option for legal online gambling in Illinois, especially among players familiar with some of the strategies. Methods like the James Bond strategy and Reverse Martingale work exactly the same with casino sites and mobile apps – it’s all about money management and precise wagering. Plus, online roulette comes with the added bonus of having the entire board to yourself. No need to sweat it out and try to keep track of your stack among a huge sea of chips on a busy night at the casino.
Legal online lottery is already available for gambling in Illinois. It was the first state to offer online lottery when it launched the program in March 2012. It comprises a significant portion of the state’s $3 billion in annual lottery revenue and works just like the tickets you’d buy at any retail store. Sign up for an online account with the Illinois Lottery and start playing. Pretty simple.
Legal social casinos in Illinois already offer plenty of options for online slots, with games based on the same ones you’d find at any land-based casino. Online slots at real-money online casinos are very popular and would be included with any legislation for legal online casino gaming in Illinois in the future. New players will find it very similar to playing slot machines at land-based casinos, without having to wait for a seat at your favorite game.
Illinois poker tables are becoming easier to find, but the same doesn’t hold true for internet poker. Real-money online poker in Illinois is still illegal. The proliferation of other gaming has not pushed Illinois lawmakers to allow online poker. The sweeping 2019 bill focused mostly on sports betting and in-person options, leaving internet poker unresolved.
That doesn’t mean online poker won’t come. Illinois lawmakers are clearly open to most forms of gambling, and online poker players in the state should be optimistic this will extend to their favorite game in the not-too-distant future.
Social casinos are a great place to practice and play online blackjack legally in Illinois. Real-money online blackjack has the same set of rules as standard land-based casinos but allow players to play at a much faster pace. This saves a lot of time not having to wait for other players to finish their hands, but it’s also extremely beneficial from a practice standpoint. With hands moving quickly, it doesn’t take long for a player to understand key situations like when to double down, whether to split 8s, etc. And you don’t have to tolerate those few dealers who look a little too happy when they pull blackjack.
Live dealer online games might be available if and when Illinois moves to legalize online gambling. Live dealer options can be harder to find even in states like Pennsylvania where it is currently legal. Games like online blackjack are basically the same, the difference being there’s a person dealing real cards in front of a camera. It provides more of the land-based casino element if that’s what you’re looking for, but the experience isn’t much different than you’d find at any legal online casino.
Legal online casinos continue to add more payment options as a once-difficult process is now much easier.
Credit/debit cards are most familiar for a lot of players but can be tricky. Some banks still decline the payments even dealing with states in which online gambling is legal. Make sure to talk to your bank if this is your only option.
The Play+ card has a much higher success rate and is accepted by many of the best online casinos. Rather than deposit with the casino directly, players can add money to a Play+ card – basically an online debt card – then deposit to the casino using their Play+ account.
PayPal is even easier if you already have an account. Simply move the funds from PayPal to the online casino. And signing up for an account is a pretty simple process regardless.
Bank transfers and Automated Clearing House payments are another common method, while many social casinos like Chumba accept e-wallets such as Skrill. Simply add money to your Skrill account and transfer to the online casino.
All of these payment options and more should be available for legal online gambling in Illinois once it becomes a reality.
Online gambling in Illinois would come with a lot of perks for players if it becomes a reality. All the best online casino sites offer a variety of bonuses and promotions for new accounts. It’s a great incentive that players should definitely take advantage of while signing up for various online casinos.
Some sites will offer a matched deposit up to $500 for players. That means if you make an initial deposit of $500, the casino will add $500 to your account, and you’re doubling your money right at the start. Some of these bonuses will come with a play-through requirement, meaning you have to wager a certain amount before you can access the bonus funds.
There are also no-deposit bonus offers that are typically smaller than a deposit match but don’t require an initial outlay by you. Those may also have playthrough requirements, so – as with all bonuses – be sure to read the terms and conditions.
Free spins are another good bonus option for online slot machine players. Basically, the online casino site puts a certain number of credits into a player’s account that they can use for free spins. They can keep any money the free spins make and don’t lose anything if they’re duds – though, again, you may be required to playthrough those winnings a set number of times.
Refer-a-friend promotions area also popular in online gambling circles. Get someone signed up for the same site you play with and the online casino will deposit a thank-you bonus. Sometimes the friend will need to wager a certain amount before the bonus kicks in, but then those funds are as good as yours.
The Illinois General Assembly first legalized pari-mutuel horse racing in 1927. This was part of a booming horse racing scene at tracks like Arlington Park, which is now owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated.
Illinois was one of the first states in the nation to offer a state-run lottery game in 1974, a practice that now generates approximately $3 billion in annual revenue. The Horse Racing Act of 1975 followed soon after to provide more regulation and oversight for the industry.
It was also one of the first states involved in riverboat gambling by approving such casinos in Illinois in 1990, assuming the boats were running due to a technicality. This was standard practice until a 1999 provision ruled the boats could operate as riverboat casinos while stationary.
The Video Gaming Act of 1999 allowed for the instillation of gaming machines at certain locations such as clubs, truck stops and bars with liquor licenses. Illinois also introduced legal online lottery play in 2012.
Finally, Gov. JB.Pritzker signed a bill in 2019 legalizing sports betting in Illinois online and at licensed land-based sportsbooks. The bill did not include online casino gambling, but Illinois remains well-positioned with nearly a dozen land-based casinos and fully legal sports betting.
ILLINOIS SPORTS BETTING HANDLE, APRIL vs. MARCH
|Total handle||Mobile Handle||Retail Handle|
|Change||Down 15.2%||Down 15.7%||Down 2.6%|
Updated June 9
State’s first sportsbooks open, ushering in a new era for Illinois sports betting.
Sports betting at casinos and via the internet is approved by lawmakers. The moves are part of a massive gambling expansion bill that allows an unprecedented number of new gaming stations and permits a new mega-casino near Chicago. The bill is one of the most expansive measures in the country and furthers Illinois’ reputation as one of the most well-rounded gaming states in the nation.
The state begins its foray into lottery ticket sales online. Run by the state government, the site offers Mega Millions and Lotto tickets. The site has grown, selling millions of dollars in tickets annually.
Lawmakers approve the Video Gaming Act, which greatly expands the number of gambling options in the state. Nightclubs, truck stops and bars with liquor licenses are allowed to install video gaming terminals.
Riverboats are no longer required by law to be in motion, allowing licensed casinos to dock in place. Not surprisingly, this makes them easier for customers to access and helps increase revenue.
Illinois becomes one of the first states with modern riverboat casinos after lawmakers approve a measure to permit gambling on these boats, so long as they are in motion. Along with Iowa, Illinois helps jump start the riverboat casino boom of the early 1990’s, and the overall expansion of casino gambling across the country.
Illinois strengthens its most venerable gaming operation with the Horse Racing Act of 1975. The bill further regulates and promotes the industry.
Lawmakers approve a state-sanctioned lottery, putting Illinois near the forefront of early adopters of the games.
Pari-mutuel horse race betting is approved. It would develop as one of the larger, more lucrative horse racing markets in the nation in the ensuing decades.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker made Illinois one of the first states to embrace sports gambling by legalizing the practice in 2019. The state’s first sportsbooks opened in March 2020 and mobile sports betting apps began launching in June 2020. Even though mobile sports betting by law required in-person signup, Pritzker suspended that requirement at least through Oct. 17, 2020 amid the coronavirius pandemic.
Daily fantasy sports are now completely legal in Illinois after a years-long process. Then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa determined in 2015 that Daily Fantasy Sports through operators like Draftkings and FanDuel was a violation of state gambling laws.
They continued to operate in Illinois for the next five years, albeit with risk, until the state Supreme Court ruled DFS a game of skill via a 2020 decision that finally legitimized the popular contests.
Horse racing betting Illinois has been around since the 1830s, with six tracks in the Chicago area alone by 1930. The state first legalized pari-mutuel betting in 1927 and now includes legal off-track betting at nearly 40 different authorized operators across the state to go with six physical race tracks.
Rivers Casino and the Argosy Casino Alton launched the first legal sportsbooks in Illinois in March 2020. Many others are soon to follow at various land-based casinos across the state, including partnerships with companies that will handle the online sports betting side when the apps are operational.
Companies like 888sport, Unibet, Fanduel, DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM, William Hill, PointsBet are just a few of the popular operators expected to set up shop in Illinois in the coming months. BetRivers was the first to launch mobile sports betting (in June 2020), followed by DraftKings and FanDuel in August.
Illinois bettors can now get action on their favorite pro teams like the Chicago Bears, Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox. They might even be able to do so at a physical sportsbook location at Soldier Field or the United Center, which the Illinois bill allows for.
The bill does restrict betting on in-state college teams like Northwestern, Illinois and DePaul. But pro sports are up for grabs and will include the following options:
Yes, online gambling in Illinois is perfectly legal for sports wagering, social casinos and lottery. Real-money online casino gaming is not yet legal.
The legal gambling age in Illinois is 18 for lottery and horse racing and 21 for casino games and sports betting.
All of the current land-based casinos in operation would theoretically be eligible for an online gambling license should it become legal.
Online retail and mobile sports gambling, horse racing and off-track betting, online lottery, Daily Fantasy Sports, land-based casino gambling and social casinos are currently legal in Illinois.
No, tourists and visitors will be able to gamble online once Illinois makes it legal. But they must be within state borders to do so. Online casinos and sportsbooks use geolocation technology to confirm your location, as is required by regulators.
Social casinos are perfectly legal in Illinois and offer the same types of games and slot-machines you’d find at a real-money online casino. These are different than real-money online casinos and therefore offered in Illinois. Be warned: Any real-money casino site making offers in Illinois is an offshore entity and not recommended.
Gambling in Illinois is available at the state’s healthy lineup of casinos, off-track betting sites, retail sportsbooks and a number of lottery retailers.
Yes! BetRivers was the first mobile platform to launch, in June 2020, followed by DraftKings and FanDuel two months later. More are expected to follow suit soon.
The Illinois Gaming Board currently oversees the riverboat casinos and online gaming machines and would presumably assume regulatory practices for the online gambling industry.
Yes – safety is the No. 1 reason we only recommend legal online casinos and strongly advise against the use of offshore casino sites. Regulation ensures bettors can withdraw funds in a timely fashion, play traditional casino games with transparent odds, raise disputes with the operator and be assured their Social Security number and other personal information won’t fall into the wrong hands.
Gambling winnings must be included in personal income at a tax rate of 4.95%. You will also owe the IRS federal tax based off of your tax bracket.
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