Illinois lawmakers passed sports betting legislation in June 2019 almost a year after the Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was unconstitutional. Bill SB 690 was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker and then nine months later, on March 9th 2020, the first legal sports wager was placed at Rivers Casino.
The legislation allows for retail sportsbooks at casinos, racetracks, off-track betting shops, and professional sporting group venues. Mobile sports betting is also allowed but didn’t launch until June 18th, 2020.
Customers who want to use the state’s mobile sports betting apps must register in-person at a retail sportsbook. This requirement was removed during the covid-19 pandemic as retail sportsbooks were forced to close. The in-person registration requirement was then reinstated in April of 2021.
Who regulates Illinois sports betting?
The Illinois sports betting market is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board. The board is responsible for handling operator applications, issuing licenses, and ensuring that the state’s licensed sportsbooks operate within the state’s legal gambling code.
Which legal sportsbooks are available in Illinois?
The River Sportsbook at Rivers Casino Des Plaines was the first retail sportsbook to launch in Illinois and accepted its first bets in March 2020. The forced closure of casinos and businesses during the global pandemic resulted in a significant delay in the launch of the retail industry. However, on June 11th 2020, the Illinois Gaming Board approved seven applications for retail sportsbooks.
Following this approval, William Hill launched its first retail outlet in Illinois at the Grand Victoria in Elgin on August 1st 2020. Just four days later, DraftKings opened its retail location at Casino Queen in East St. Louis. This was then followed by Hollywood Casinos retail launches on August 20th in its Aurora and Joliet properties.
Par-A-Dice Casino was next to launch on September 10th 2020 with PointsBet launching at Hawthorne Racecourse on September 30th.
|Casino||Retail Sports Betting Partner||Launch Date|
|Rivers Casino Sportsbook||BetRivers||March 9th 2020|
|Sportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton||Penn National||March 12th 2020|
|DraftKings at Casino Queen, East St. Louis||DraftKings||August 5th 2020|
|Grand Victoria||Caesars (formerly William Hill)||August 6th 2020|
|Hollywood Casino Aurora||Penn National / Barstool||August 20th 2020|
|Hollywood Casino Joliet||Penn National / Barstool||August 20th 2020|
|Par-A-Dice Casino||FanDuel||September 10th 2020|
|Hawthorne Race Course||PointsBet||September 30th 2020|
As many as 10 casinos, seven professional sporting venues, and three racetracks can apply for sports betting licenses so there’s certainly some scope for the retail industry to expand further.
Sports betting apps in Illinois
Illinois has three available mobile sports betting licenses that don’t require a partnership with an existing land-based casino, racetrack, or sporting venue while there are also retail license holders that have yet to launch mobile apps.
As with the retail sports betting industry, this means that there is room for further expansion and we fully expect to see more operators added to this list as time goes by.
These are the current mobile sportsbook operators and their casino partners.
|Mobile Operator||Casino Partner||Launch Date|
|BetRivers||Rivers Casino Sportsbook||June 2020|
|DraftKings||DraftKings at Casino Queen||August 2020|
|FanDuel||FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing (Fairmount Park)||August 2020|
|Caesars (formerly William Hill)||Grand Victoria||September 2020|
|PointsBet||Hawthorne Racecourse||September 2020|
|Barstool Sportsbook||Hollywood Casino Joliet||March 2021|
FanDuel had originally partnered with Par-A-Dice Casino to offer mobile sports betting but once its partnership agreement with Fairmount Park was ratified, the operator moved its mobile license over to the racetrack. However, BetMGM is expected to take over the Par-A-Dice mobile license in the near future.
Bally’s, and Unibet are also expected to enter the mobile sports betting market in the coming months but a launch date has yet to be decided.
Daily Fantasy Sports in Illinois
Daily Fantasy Sports contests have been a bone of contention in Illinois since a 2015 opinion issued by the Attorney General that all fantasy sports should be considered illegal gambling. Almost five years later, an Illinois Supreme Court ruled that some DFS contests should be considered games of skills and are therefore not subject to gambling laws relating to games of chance.
This was a huge breakthrough given that the previously considered illegal activity carried out by DFS operators FanDuel and DraftKings had curtailed their efforts to launch mobile sports betting apps in the state.
However, despite the court’s ruling, the state’s position on DFS contests is still unclear as the Illinois Gaming Board has yet to issue any guidelines for operators.
What about online poker in Illinois?
Now that Illinois has successfully managed the launch of retail and mobile sports betting, there is hope that the online casino and poker industry will be looked upon favorably by local lawmakers.
And there certainly is hope. Back in 2017, the State Senate passed HB0479 but it then stalled in the house where it died without moving any further.
However, in February of 2021 HB3142 also known as the Internet Gaming Act was introduced. This would allow operators to launch online casinos with any existing sports betting license holder being granted an iGaming license within 30 days.
There has been plenty of support for the bill and a study has been commissioned that will look into the viability of a launch and the projected revenue for the state. This study must be complete by October 2021 when representatives are expected to vote on the bill.
Image credit: dgphilli / CC BY-NC 2.o
Illinois sports betting frequently asked questions
What is the legal age to place a sports bet in Illinois?
Gamblers must be 21 years of age or older to place a bet at an Illinois sportsbook.
Is mobile sports betting legal in Illinois?
Yes, all retail sports betting license holders can launch one mobile sports betting app. The first app launched in June 2020.
What sports can I bet on in Illinois?
You can place bets on the majority of professional and college sports although betting on in-state college teams is prohibited.
How do I deposit money into an Illinois sports betting account?
The majority of Illinois sportsbook apps will allow you to deposit using the following methods — credit/debit card, online banking, PayPal, Skrill, PayNearMe, Echeck/ACH Transfer, Casino Cage payments at the app's partner casino/racetrack.
Can I use an Illinois sports betting app when out of state?
No, you must be physically located in Illinois to use a state-licensed sports betting app.