The Illinois online sports betting industry first became a reality just over a year ago in the summer of 2019 when Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 690. The bill expanded Illinois casino laws, allowed for the construction of six new land-based properties, and legalized sports betting in the state.
Developments over the following year shaped the Illinois betting landscape and staged the state to become a midwestern gambling leader. Most notably, BetRivers became the first online sportsbook to launch in Illinois. We expect other operators to join in very soon.
As it stands, Illinois seems to be ready for a big boost in revenue thanks to its welcoming and open attitude towards online betting. Though the Land of Lincoln is in its sports betting infancy, new operators are ready to join the fray and make Illinois a full-fledged online sports betting hub.
Illinois Online Sports Betting
The Illinois sports betting market looks poised to explode with rapid growth as operators prepare to launch. Here’s a rundown of the current market in Illinois, including some operators who haven’t launched yet but are expected to join the market in the coming weeks and months. The Illinois Gaming Board offers up-to-date licensing information on its website.
BetRivers is the official online sportsbook of Illinois’ Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. Rush Street Gaming owns a stake in Rivers and operates the casino’s online sportsbook.
June 18, 2020, marked the launch of BetRivers online sportsbook, making it the first to go live in Illinois. Players can access BetRivers via desktop at the sportsbook’s website, on iOS devices via mobile browsers (there’s no iOS app yet), and on Android devices via mobile browsing or by downloading the Android app from the BetRivers website.
To bet using a mobile device, you first need to register and download a Geolocation app that will confirm you are within Illinois state lines.
See our full BetRivers Illinois Sportsbook Review.
DraftKings’ team-up with Casino Queen allows it to avoid a potential 18-month waiting period that Illinois put in place for operators looking to offer online-only sportsbooks. The state designed the waiting period to give local and in-state businesses a headstart with sports betting. As part of the partnership, the riverboat casino in East St. Louis will rebrand as DraftKings at Casino Queen.
DraftKings Sportsbook launched on August 5, 2020. New players will need to visit Draftkings at Casino Queens to finish the registration process.
See our full DraftKings Illinois Sportsbook Review.
Upcoming Illinois Online Sportsbooks
PointsBet, like DraftKings, looks ready to launch in Illinois. The Australian company partnered with Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, IL, for a sports betting license. They also plan to open three off-track-betting locations in addition to the sportsbook location. It’s possible we could see an August 2020 launch for PointsBet in Illinois.
With no launch date confirmed but licenses and partnerships in place, PointsBet is ready to join the Illinois sports betting scene. The provider features a number of unique and specific betting types for America’s most popular sports, which they outline on their website.
See our full PointsBet Illinois Review.
FanDuel received a temporary operating permit in Illinois, though it has yet to lock down a fully licensed land-based partner. The company is clearly readying itself to catch up and enter the market alongside competitors DraftKings and PointsBet. FanDuel’s Illinois landing page is already live, offering a $50 bonus to early-bird registrants.
As for a partnership that will allow FanDuel to circumvent the 18-month online-only waiting period, Fairmount Race Track in Collinsville, IL, looks the most likely candidate. However, rumors indicate that FanDuel isn’t just seeking to partner with the track. Instead, some sources indicate that FanDuel is in talks to buy the venue, sports betting license included.
Penn National Gaming owns three Illinois casinos: Argosy Casino in Alton and Hollywood Casinos in Joliet and Aurora. The state already licensed the company in Illinois. Penn National partnered with Barstool to provide online sports betting.
There’s no firm launch date set for Barstool sportsbook in Illinois yet, but Penn reopened its Illinois properties on July 1, 2020. This could mean an online sportsbook launch is imminent.
Illinois Online Sports Betting Partnerships At A Glance
|Online Sportsbook||Illinois Partner|
|BetRivers||Rivers Casino Des Plaines (Rush Street Interactive)|
|FanDuel||TBA, rumored to be in talks to purchase Fairmount Race Track|
|Barstool||Penn National Gaming (Owns Argosy Casino, Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet)|
Guide To Betting Online In Illinois
Looking to bet online in Illinois? Here’s some helpful information to know.
Online sportsbooks offer lucrative promotions to bettors. Illinois will be a particularly competitive market, so you’ll likely find a bevy of great bonuses on the state’s sports betting sites.
Deposit Match Bonuses
Deposit match bonuses are common in the online sports betting world. When you sign up and make a deposit, the sportsbook will match that deposit. These bonuses usually have a high maximum, sometimes up to $500.
Deposit matches typically only apply to your first deposit with a sportsbook, but some will match your second or third as well if you’re lucky. BetRivers currently offers an initial deposit match up to $250 in Illinois.
Risk-free first bets pop up at sportsbooks from time to time, giving you some insurance on your first wager with the site.
With a risk-free bet bonus active, you can place a wager and if you lose, the sportsbook will return the money (or in some cases a portion of it) to your account. If your bet wins, the offer expires. It’s a nice safety net, especially for those who might be nervous to place their first sports bet.
No Deposit Bonuses
No deposit bonuses are small in amount but easy to redeem. Sportsbooks that offer these will usually give you a bonus of anywhere between $5 and $30 just for signing up. No deposit required, just as the name implies.
There are plenty of other bonus types, though they’re not as common as the ones we cover above. Also keep an eye out for loyalty and rewards programs at Illinois sportsbooks. These reward you for frequent or long-term play and can earn you special perks.
Betting On Illinois Teams
Because there’s no federal law that regulates sports betting, states can employ their own legislative framework for sportsbooks. As a result, sports betting options can vary from state to state. In Illinois, many sports are available, and there are only a few restrictions.
Da Bears, Da Bulls, And Other Illinois Pro Teams
Illinois is home to five pro sports teams in the four most popular US sports: The Bears (NFL), Cubs (MLB), White Sox (MLB), Bulls (NBA), and Blackhawks (NHL). The state is also home to the Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer) and Chicago Red Stars (National Women’s Soccer League). Suffice it to say that Illinois has a strong professional sports presence.
The good news for fans of Illinois pro sports teams? You can bet on all of these professional sports online in Illinois.
Illinois College Sports
For fans of major Illinois college teams such as Northwestern, U of I, and Illinois State, there are no sports betting options.
Though Illinois’ sports betting law allows for college sports betting, the legislation prohibits wagers on any match involving an in-state school. This includes matches played out of state that include an Illinois college. March Madness and NCAA football are fair game as long as an Illinois school isn’t involved.
Esports Betting In Illinois
The possibility of esports betting in Illinois is currently murky at best. While some states with online sports betting include specific legal language about esports events in their legislation, Illinois does not. However, the state does specifically prohibit betting on non-sporting events such as elections and awards show results.
The complete absence of esports from Illinois sports betting legislation could be viewed as a positive sign. The state made no moves to directly prohibit esports from its sportsbooks, so lawmakers could potentially amend the law to allow esports betting in the future.
On the other hand, the legality of esports betting could come down to the definition of esports. If esports are categorized as non-sporting events in Illinois and lumped in with elections and awards shows, betting on them could be prohibited.
BetRivers currently has no esports bets on its online sportsbook, suggesting that operators may opt to wait for official regulations before they offer esports on their sites.
Sportsbooks Coming Soon To Illinois
BetRivers will soon be joined by some major competitors in Illinois as other operators gear up to enter the market.
DraftKings is the likeliest contender for the next-to-market now that the company is partnered with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Australian sportsbook operator PointsBet formed a partnership with Hawthorne Racecourse in Illinois. The company is expected to launch a sportsbook in the state soon.
Penn National Gaming’s Barstool partnership looks like it’ll take shape in Illinois within the coming weeks as well. Penn recently reopened its three Illinois properties, which could signal a speedy sportsbook launch.
FanDuel will certainly launch an Illinois sports betting site, though timing remains unclear. Rumors have been swirling that the company will purchase the Fairmount Racetrack to secure its sports betting license in Illinois. Beyond the rumors, no firm news has emerged about FanDuel in Illinois just yet.
Check out our list of Retail Sportsbook Locations In Illinois.
Legal Betting Vs. Illegal Betting In Illinois
To protect your personal information and your money, it’s crucial to avoid illegal, offshore, or grey market sites. Legal sportsbooks have natural advantages over their offshore counterparts.
What To Look For
When you head to a sports betting site, the first thing you should do is scroll all the way down to the bottom of the homepage. Legal and licensed sportsbooks will include licensing information and links to the government agencies that regulate them. BetRivers, for example, has the Illinois Gaming Board’s seal at the bottom of their page and links to the organization’s site.
The Illinois Gaming Board is a great resource for determining whether you’re using a legitimate sportsbook. The organization has a full list of sports betting license holders in Illinois. You can check whether your preferred operator is regulated by the IGB on that page.
Legal Betting Advantages
Betting with a legal and licensed operator gives you more sports betting options to enjoy. First and foremost, legal operators protect your data with high-level encryption and offer plenty of safe payment methods. Offshore and grey market operators are only beholden to the laws of the country where they base operations, so they’re inherently risky.
You’ll also have more robust betting options. Legal sportsbooks have access to official league data, so they can offer in-play and proposition bets. Illegal operators don’t have the luxury of that data, so their bets are limited.
How Do I Know That Online Sportsbooks In Illinois Are Fair?
Illinois sports bettors, especially newcomers to the industry, may be skeptical about using an online sportsbook. Even though offshore and legally iffy operators exist, Illinois has a number of measures in place to reassure you that the state’s online sportsbooks are fair, safe, and secure.
The Illinois Gaming Board
The Illinois Gaming Board oversees most gambling operations in the Prairie State. The government organization regulates land-based casino gambling, video gaming (such as video lottery terminals in bars and restaurants), and sports betting.
The IGB uses two independent testing laboratories to check that every operator is fair and reliable in what they’re offering to consumers.
The organization has a great website full of resources and information. For sports bettors, the licensing page is particularly helpful. It lists all Illinois sports betting license holders, their address, and the date the license becomes effective. If you want to be sure your chosen sportsbook is fair and licensed, it’s a great place to start.
Why Should You Trust Online Sportsbooks?
Sportsbooks, like any other gambling company, operate their businesses for profit. And they only make money if customers use their products. Outside of regulations and laws that require them to adhere to high standards of practice, sports betting operators are also simply incentivized to offer you reliable and safe customer experience.
For this reason, sportsbooks have full-time customer support teams dedicated to assisting you with any issues. They include their licensing information on their sites. If you’re on the fence about the trustworthiness of a sportsbook company, consider this: FanDuel once paid out an $82,000 win even though it was caused by a pricing error.
How You Get Paid If You Win
Most Illinois online sports betting sites offer withdrawals via direct deposit or online wallets services such as PayPal. If you win a significant amount of money, usually over $1000 or $2000 (limits depend on the sportsbook), you can have a check mailed to you. In some cases, you can funnel your winnings to a debit or credit card. Essentially, legal sportsbooks work hard to give you flexible and easy payment options.
Payouts are handled straight from your sports betting account. Sportsbooks have a dedicated page for deposits and withdrawals where you can view your options for account funding and cash-outs.
Illinois Online Sports Betting FAQ
Illinois allows a wide variety of bets at its online sportsbooks. Parlays, moneyline bets, spreads, futures, round robins, and many more bet types are available.
In terms of actual sports allowed, Illinois only prohibits bets on in-state college teams (even if they’re playing out of state) and youth matches such as high school football or the Little League World Series.
Yes. NCAA Football, March Madness, and other college sporting events are available on Illinois sportsbooks. The catch? You can’t bet on any game or match involving an Illinois school. Unfortunately for fans of Northwestern, U of I, NIU, and other Illinois schools, the Land of Lincoln’s laws prohibit these bets, whether played in Illinois or out-of-state.
No. Right now, there are no esports bets available in Illinois. In fact, esports is absent from the state’s legislation.
Whether esports betting becomes legal in Illinois could be determined by how lawmakers categorize esports in general. Illinois betting laws prohibit wagering on “non-sporting events” such as elections or awards shows. If esports end up in that same category, they could be prohibited.
However, given the rise of esports in recent years and their mainstream popularity, regulators could flesh out regulations that allow esports betting in the Prairie State. For now, it’s up in the air and could go either way.
Fortunately for bettors, Illinois sportsbook operators shoulder most of the tax burden. Operators pay 15-17% on land-based sports betting and 15% for online sports betting. There’s also a $1 million annual renewal fee for operators to stay licensed in Illinois. Initial licensing fees are $10 million for land-based and $20 for online-only sports betting.
If you win significant amounts of money at an Illinois sportsbook, your winnings may be taxed as income by both Illinois state and the federal government.
Illinois allowed for up to 20 sportsbook licenses as part of its initial legislation: 10 for the state’s existing casinos, three for the state’s racetracks, and up to seven for large sports venues. License holders can also offer online betting.
In addition to those licenses, Illinois is offering three online-only licenses, though they will only be granted following an 18-month waiting period that began in March 2020. This is intended to give in-state operators a head start.
DraftKings will offer sports betting in Illinois shortly. DraftKings formed a partnership with Casino Queen, a land-based casino in East St. Louis, Illinois. The company will launch online sports betting using Casino Queen’s license in addition to operating a retail sportsbook on-property.
FanDuel will join the Illinois sportsbook market soon. The company already launched its Illinois landing page with an early-bird sign-up bonus. Along with competitor DraftKings, FanDuel was recently granted a temporary license for sports betting in Illinois.
It’s possible that FanDuel will buy Fairmount Park Racetrack to secure its full license in Illinois. However, that purchase is only a rumor at this point. FanDuel could possibly seek other avenues to secure an Illinois license. Either way, expect sports betting from FanDuel in the Land of Lincoln soon.