Just over a year ago, a bill to legalize sports betting in Illinois passed, and it was officially signed into law later that month. The law legalized retail sportsbooks in Illinois as well as permitted online sports betting sites.
In March 2020, the state’s first legal sports bet was placed, just in time for March Madness. Then the coronavirus shutdown occurred a week or so later, shuttering all live betting venues in the state.
But in June 2020, the Governor issued an executive order to allow Illinois bettors to register and bet on online sportsbooks remotely. This rule was shortlived, however, and currently, new bettors need to complete registration in person.
In the meantime, here’s what folks in Illinois can look forward to when the live sportsbooks are up and running again.
Live Sportsbooks Operating In Illinois
Rivers Casino Des Plaines Sportsbook (BetRivers)
Address: 3000 S River Rd, Des Plaines, IL 60018
Located in Des Plaines, Illinois, the Rivers Casino has a brand-new sportsbook with all the fixings. They have a wall of TVs and a 26-seat bar with video poker.
Sports betting is open every day from 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM, while food is served until 9:00 PM and drinks until 3:00 AM.
Rivers Casino is currently the only operating sportsbook with an online option: BetRivers. The platform is available on their website as well as via an Android app.
While the iOS version is listed in the App Store, it says “coming soon” when you download it (at the time of writing this article).
If you’re over 21 and physically located in Illinois, you can register, deposit, bet, and withdraw winnings through the BetRivers platform right now. Bettors need to visit the Des Plaines casino, though, to complete in-person registration.
BetRivers is also available in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.
Argosy Casino Alton Sportsbook (Penn National)
Address: 1 Piasa St, Alton, IL 62002
The Argosy Casino Alton Sportsbook is the second live sports betting venue to launch in Illinois. Servicing the St. Louis area, it takes advantage of the state’s more liberal gambling laws to invite players from both Missouri and Illinois.
This sportsbook is located inside the casino next to the 99 Hops House beer garden. It has 36 big-screen TVs as well as individual viewing stations. The odds-display monitors are also visible from practically anywhere in the sportsbook.
The self-serve kiosks are also available every day from 9:00 AM to 3:00 AM (same hours as the casino itself).
Argosy does not currently offer an online sportsbook or app.
Grand Victoria (William Hill)
Address: 250 S Grove Ave, Elgin, IL 60120
Grand Victoria launched their sportsbook on August 1st.
Legal sports betting in Elgin is operated by one of the best and most respected sportsbooks in the world: William Hill.
By partnering with the Chicagoland Grand Victoria Casino, William Hill is a go-to betting hub for folks located in and around the third-largest city in America. Currently, only the retail William Hill sportsbook is live but we expect the online platform to launch shortly.
Sports Betting Partnerships In Illinois
|Live Venue||Operator||Date Sportsbook Opened||Illinois Location|
|Rivers Casino||Rush Street Gaming||March 9, 2020||Des Plaines|
|Argosy||Penn National||March 12, 2020||Alton|
|Grand Victoria||William Hill||August 1, 2020||Elgin|
|Hollywood Aurora||Penn National||TBD||Aurora|
|Hollywood Joliet||Penn National||TBD||Joliet|
|Casino Queen||DraftKings||TBD||East St. Louis|
|Arlington International Racecourse||Churchill Downs||TBD||Arlington Heights|
|Par-A-Dice||Boyd Gaming||TBD||East Peoria|
|Jumers||Delaware North||TBD||Rock Island|
|Fairmount Park Racetrack||(Likely) FanDuel||TBD||Collinsville|
Upcoming Sportsbooks In Illinois
Hollywood Aurora (Sportsbook TBD)
The Hollywood Aurora sportsbook will likely launch sometime in 2020, definitely by early 2021. While there aren’t many specifics to go on, there will be at least three self-serve kiosks as well as four teller windows. Of course, numerous TVs and a full-bar will also be in play.
What may be the most exciting part about this sportsbook is its central location within the casino. If you also like to play slots, cards, or table games, the sports betting will only be a few steps away from the action.
Because the Hollywood casinos and Argosy both partner with Penn National for sports betting, all three will likely launch an online version simultaneously.
Hollywood Joliet (Sportsbook TBD)
While the Hollywood Joliet sportsbook hasn’t launched inside the casino yet, it sounds like it’s going to combine the best of both Hollywood Aurora and Argosy.
Rather than next door to 99 Hops House, the sportsbook will be inside it. And the five self-serve kiosks, more than 40 big screens, and five wagering terminals make it a more robust offering than the Aurora version.
However, because Hollywood Joliet, Hollywood Aurora, and the Argosy in the St. Louis area all partnered with Penn National, the odds and offerings will likely be the same across the three properties.
As already mentioned, they’ll all launch the online platform at the same time as well.
Harrah’s Joliet & Harrah’s Metropolis (Sportsbook TBD)
While a solid six-hour drive apart, the Harrah’s casinos in both Joliet outside of Chicago and Metropolis in southern Illinois have the same sportsbook status: there is no status.
As far as we know, both sites have licenses to operate a live sportsbook. We also know that the Caesar’s brand, which owns Harrah’s, will launch an online sportsbook product in Pennsylvania in 2020 or 2021. This means Illinois won’t be far behind.
Beyond that, we can’t find any information about the sportsbook to come to the two Harrah’s casinos in Illinois. But since they spent millions on each license, there will be one in both locations, guaranteed.
Casino Queen (Sportsbook TBD)
Interestingly, the Casino Queen sportsbook will likely launch online at the same time (or possibly before) it takes in-person bets.
Initially, DraftKings, FanDuel, and any other online-only sportsbook would have to wait 18 months after sports betting legalization before they could launch in Illinois. Both sportsbooks announced partnerships with Illinois casinos to get around this restriction.
In July 2020, DraftKings announced a partnership with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois. The partnership will allow Casino Queen to offer a retail sportsbook as well as online sports betting.
We know that DraftKings has an online sportsbook platform set up and ready to go. They’ve received glowing reviews from the states they’re already available in, and it’s also the most renowned Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) outlet in the country.
Hawthorne Racecourse (Sportsbook TBD)
PointsBet partnered with Hawthorne Race Course to set themselves up as a sports betting powerhouse across the state. Not only will they have a full-service sportsbook at the racecourse, they’ve already been approved to launch a sports betting site and app. They also announced plans to open off-track betting locations across the state.
So, while millions of people will be within driving distance of this historic Cicero racetrack (20-minute drive from The Loop), the entire state will be able to wager on PointsBet in the very near future.
In fact, we’d be surprised if the PointsBet online sportsbook for Illinois doesn’t launch before September 2020.
Arlington International Racecourse (Sportsbook TBD)
The prospect of a sportsbook and casino at the Arlington International Racecourse is a tumultuous affair. As reported by the Sun Times in January 2020, two companies were jockeying to buy the site from racing giant Churchill Downs.
But since then, they’ve locked down a sports betting license. They’ve also recently started hosting races without spectators while taking “off-track bets” from the on-site sports bars and restaurants.
Otherwise, it’s been all quiet on the purchasing front. Will Arlington become a major racino? Or will its close proximity to Rivers Casino scare away would-be investors? We won’t know the answer for months.
Par-A-Dice (Sportsbook TBD)
Par-A-Dice is a riverboat casino in East Peoria owned by Boyd Gaming, which has several sportsbooks in Las Vegas as well as elsewhere across the country.
As reported by the Heart of Illinois (an ABC affiliate), talks of opening a sportsbook at Par-A-Dice is complicated by the lack of space. As it stands, there’s no real spot for it in the existing riverboat casino, and a land-based location may be necessary.
We couldn’t find any news of plans on that front, and it’s likely been put on hold because of the coronavirus. But with Boyd’s extensive sportsbook experience already established in the US, they’ll likely roll something out within the next few years.
Jumers (Sportsbook TBD)
Jumers of Rock Island is owned by Delaware North, which operates sportsbooks in West Virginia and elsewhere. While there’s no news on when Jumers will join the ranks of Illinois sportsbooks, it will likely happen within the next few years.
Once the COVID-19 crisis hit, some brands were hit harder than others. It looks like Delaware North had to furlough thousands of employees and will likely need to reevaluate planned sportsbook launches in IL and elsewhere.
For now, Jumers remains a large casino servicing the Quad-City area, and they reopened on July 1, 2020, with health and safety protocols in place.
Fairmount Park Racetrack (Sportsbook TBD)
Last but far from the least promising, the Fairmount Park Racetrack might be purchased by FanDuel in the near future.
If that happens, the FanDuel Sportsbook won’t have to wait that 18 months and could offer online sports betting soon after the deal goes through.
But therein lies the problem. While DraftKings is ready and waiting to dive into the Illinois market, FanDuel is a step behind. The Illinois gaming board approved FanDuel for a temporary operating permit, but FanDuel has yet to announce and official partnership.
The good news is that Fairmount Park will have a sportsbook at some point, and if the negotiations continue in a positive direction, it could be before the NFL season.
Legal Sports Betting In Illinois
Who Can Open A Live Sportsbook?
Only specific types of venues can receive a sports betting license. Right now, that includes the 10 casinos in the state as well as the three racetracks.
Professional sports venues can also open sports betting windows, including Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, Soldier Field, United Center, and so on.
It’s likely that the racetracks will also offer off-track betting venues that will include both horse racing and sports betting.
When Will There Be More Legal Sports Betting Apps And Sites?
Right now, BetRivers is the only legal online sportsbook in the state of Illinois.
But PointsBet has been approved to launch, and we’ll definitely see DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, and others in the near future. Our estimate is that you’ll have at least three different sports betting apps to choose from before the 2020 NFL season-opener.
Although the Governor temporarily suspended the requirement that bettors register in person due to COVID-19 concerns, that suspension was short-lived. As much as we anticipate a plethora of online sports betting apps to launch in Illinois, this in-person requirement may slow the availability of full betting.
What Type Of Sports Can You (And Can’t You) Bet On In Illinois?
Under the Illinois gambling laws, you can bet on almost every professional and college sport in Illinois except for in-state college teams. This means that fans of local favorites, like Northwestern and the Fighting Illini will not be able to bet on games that occur both in Illinois or nationwide.
While betting on esports is not illegal in Illinois, the American sportsbooks usually only take those bets for major tournaments.
It is illegal to bet on high school sports and minor league sports in Illinois. Sportsbooks also won’t be offering bets on political outcomes, TV competitions, or the weather. (Some illegal sites take those kinds of bets, but no legal US sportsbook offers that, at least as far as we know.)
The Types Of Bets Taken At Retail Sportsbooks In Illinois
As it stands, the sportsbooks can take any type of bet as long as it’s on an unrestricted college sport or any professional level contest. These include:
A moneyline is also known as a straight bet. Simply bet on which team you think will win, it’s as simple as that. The score is irrelevant.
The point spread is like a moneyline bet except the score matters. If you bet on the favorite, they have to win by a certain amount for a payout. If you bet on the underdog, they either need to win or lose within a certain number of points.
Futures are where you bet on which team or athlete will win an event in the future. For example, betting on who will win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the playoffs.
Prop bets are where the bookmaker will offer odds on specific in-game events or player performance. Examples include who will take the first field goal, or which player will win MVP.
In-play (also known as live betting) is wagering on a game after it’s begun.
A parlay is when you bet on multiple outcomes, and all of the bets need to be successful to win. Doing this will dramatically increase the payout versus betting on each event individually.
Round Robin vs. Teaser
Both Round Robins and Teasers are parlay bets with a twist. For the Round Robin, you can still win a payout even if you don’t guess every event correctly. A teaser is the same as a standard parlay except you get to adjust the points spreads.
Over/Under (AKA Total)
To bet the O/U, you choose whether the total points scored by both teams combined will be above or below the number listed by the bookmaker.
Illinois Sports Betting Guide
The 3 Most Popular Sports For Sports Bettors In Illinois
|Sport||Major Pro Teams||Major College Teams|
|Football||Chicago Bears||University of Illinois, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, University of Michigan, Michigan State, University of Wisconsin-Madison|
|Baseball||Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox||N/A|
|Basketball||Chicago Bills||Purdue, University of Illinois, DePaul, Loyola, Cincinnati, University of Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Indiana|
The most popular sports for bettors in Illinois is professional and college football, professional baseball, and professional and college basketball. Here are the key teams located in and around the state.
Honorable mention: the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team, which brings in a huge number of bettors whenever they have a shot at the Stanley Cup.
Also, as popular as Illinois college sports are, bettors in the state will be unable to place bets on in-state college sports. This restriction is placed at both retail sportsbooks and online sports betting apps. Bettors in the state can place bets on out-of-state college teams.
Esports Betting At Illinois Sportsbooks
Betting on esports in Illinois is not illegal like it is in some other states.
However, it’s rare when you can actually bet on any of the contests at a legal Illinois sportsbook. You won’t see any everyday matchups. Instead, you’ll only have the biggest events of the year.
A good example is the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, which BetRivers listed on their betting app.
As new sportsbooks launch in Illinois and esports continue to grow in popularity, it may be easier to find bookmakers accepting those wagers.
The reason esports are banned in other states is because some pro teams employ underage players, particularly international teams. So it’s not unlikely that Illinois will end up banning it as well.
Is It Legal To Bet On Sports Outside Of Legal Sportsbooks In Illinois?
No. It is illegal to bet on sports outside of a legal sportsbook in Illinois. While March Madness pools and Kentucky Derby bar bets are commonplace across the state, it’s technically illegal unless it’s licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).
Before Illinois legalized sports betting, it was legal to bet on horse racing and Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Many offshore online sportsbooks were also taking illegal bets. And, of course, Chicago is a town full of underground bookies.
Thankfully, you have a high-quality and legal option right now in BetRivers, and plenty more online sports betting sites and apps are on the way.
Illinois Sports Betting FAQ
Technically speaking, no. Within the city limits of Chicago, there’s not yet a casino or sportsbook. However, you can travel just outside the city to Cicero, Des Plaines, Joliet, and Aurora to find a retail sportsbook.
You can also travel to Indiana, where the Horseshoe Casino has remained one of Chicago’s most popular betting destinations. There, you can also bet on Illinois college teams.
You can register at BetRivers and any other online sportsbook that launches in Illinois from anywhere in the state.
The following areas also offer a casino or racetrack that has a sportsbook or will have one in the near future:
- Des Plaines
- East St. Louis
- Arlington Heights
- East Peoria
- Rock Island
Illinois legalized sports betting in June 2019.
In March 2020, the first legal sports bet was placed. Both Rivers Casino Des Plaines and Argosy in Alton opened their live sportsbooks that same month.
In June 2020, the first legal online sportsbook, BetRivers, launched.
Yes. The two casinos in Illinois with sportsbooks as of July 2020 are Argosy in Alton and Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. On top of a full sportsbook, they both offer a full casino as well as hotel accommodations and live entertainment.
21. The legal gambling age in Illinois is 21. This includes sports betting, casino games, and poker rooms.
However, you can win money on Daily Fantasy Sports and play the lottery if you’re 18 and older.
The online Illinois sportsbooks will verify your identity before they pay out any winnings, so it’s not worth trying to bet on sports in the state until you’re of age.
No. You can’t smoke inside any buildings in Illinois, including casinos and sportsbooks. Even the riverboat casinos banned smoking.
The indoor smoking ban took effect in 2008. Sports bettors, just like slots and card players, will have to step outside to smoke.
Yes. If you have net gambling winnings over the course of the year, you need to pay both federal and state taxes.
For Illinois, the wagering tax is 15% for net winnings up to $25 million. You can find more info here.
For the IRS, it’s a bit more complicated. But you pay 25% if the net winnings exceed $5,000. Learn more here.
Yes. Betting on a game after it’s begun is legal in Illinois and offered by all the live and online sportsbooks.
In-game bets are usually prop bets but can also be standard moneyline, point spreads, and O/U. The exact live betting offerings will vary by sportsbook.