Illinois Online Sports Betting

Whether you’re a fan of the Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks or Bulls, the Illinois legislature has gone all-in on giving bettors within the state the opportunity to place online sports bets on the home team – well, the professional ones anyway. 

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker officially signed the sports betting bill into law on June 28th, 2019 and just under nine months later, on March 9, 2020, the first legal wager in Illinois was placed at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. Timing was not on their side as the very next day, almost every major sports league shut down thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Online sports betting was set to go live shortly after retail took off, but with the closing of all the casinos in the state, in-person registration was now impossible. On June 4, 2020, an executive order from Governor Pritzker temporarily lifted the in-person registration requirement and on June 18, 2020 the first online sportsbook, BetRivers, went live.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Online Sportsbooks in Illinois

Thanks to an executive order from Governor Pritzker, the in-person registration requirement has been temporarily lifted, leading to the first online sportsbook to go live on June 18, 2020.

Online SportsbookLand Based PartnerLaunch Date
BetRiversRivers Casino June 18, 2020
BetAmericaArlington Park RacetrackTBD
Barstool SportsbookHollywood Casino AuroraTBD
Caesars SportsbookHarrah's MetropolisTBD
PointsBetHawthorne Race CourseTBD
BetMGMPar-a-Dice CasinoTBD
FanDuel (pending)Fairmount Park RacetrackTBD
DraftKings (pending)Harrah's JolietTBD
Delaware NorthJumer's Casino Rock IslandTBD

BetRivers

  • Launch: June 18, 2020
  • Retail Partner: Rivers Casino Des Plaines
  • Tech Partner: Kambi

BetRivers was the first online sportsbook to go live in the state thanks to an executive order lifting the in-person registration requirement. Remote registration is available and first mover status gives BetRivers a decided leg-up on the competition. Bettors will enjoy a solid mobile app, stellar desktop interface and plenty of betting options.

BetRivers is one of the most popular casino/sportsbooks, both retail and online, in Pennsylvania, and will look to continue its dominance in new states like Illinois.

PointsBet

  • Launch: TBD
  • Retail Partner: Hawthorne Race Course
  • Tech Partner: PointsBet

PointsBet, which already operates online sportsbooks in states like New Jersey and Iowa, was one of the first online operators to commit to the state. It announced in July 2019 that it would bring its premium online sportsbook to Illinois in conjunction with the Hawthorne Race Course. As a part of the 20-year agreement, PointsBet will cover Hawthorne’s online sportsbook presence, in addition to sponsoring its retail sportsbook at the Chicago-area race track.

Aussie-based PointsBet is one of the up-and-comers in the online sports betting industry. It offers an elite tech platform, in addition to unique ways to interact with games, like PointsBetting. PointsBetting creates a high risk, high reward way to sweat a game until the final play. Every point matters.

More to Come

The Barstool online sportsbook could make its first appearance in the Land of Lincoln. Penn National Gaming, which recently purchased a stake in the Barstool brand, owns three casinos in the state. Its Argosy Casino property, located just north of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, is the only one that has currently applied for a sports betting license.

BetMGM is likely to enter the market through an access deal with Boyd Gaming, who operates the Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria. Similarly, El Dorado Resorts, who operates two William Hill books in Iowa, is expected to get involved through the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.

Expect most major online sportsbook operators to compete for their piece of the pie in Illinois.

DraftKings and FanDuel

Notably absent from this list are two of the largest names in the industry, DraftKings and FanDuel. In Illinois, the two DFS giants have been placed in what many are describing as a penalty box. Casino owners within the state initially petitioned for a three-year ban for the operators, labeling them as “bad actors” due to the belief that their DFS sites are operating illegally within the state, and should be considered gambling.

Legislators took a slightly more lenient approach however, setting the penalty box term at 18 months. 540 days after the first master license is awarded, the state will begin receiving applications from online bookmakers. It will take them an additional 90 days to vet the applications, and award the three permitted online licenses.

Getting Started with Illinois Online Sports Betting

Age

In order to bet on sports in Illinois you have to be 21 years old. This goes for both brick-and-mortar, and online sportsbooks. This is a pretty standard requirement across all of the US states with legalized sports betting. 

Location

You have to be in the state of Illinois to place a bet on sports. Illinois online sportsbooks will employ sophisticated geolocation software to guarantee that all bettors are physically located within the state. Browser-based sportsbooks will require a special plugin to satisfy this requirement, while mobile devices will use their built-in GPS chips.

It is not, however, required for bettors to be Illinois residents. Those visiting, or simply enjoying a nice layover at O’Hare, are welcome to sign up and make a wager.

Restrictions

While wagering on professional leagues around the world is no problem, there are some restrictions when it comes to collegiate betting. In fear of student-athletes becoming targets of those trying to influence action, it is not legal to wager on in-state college teams.

In addition, Illinois online sportsbooks will not accept bets from banned individuals, or those that have self-excluded.

Registration

Before the global pandemic that shut down sports leagues and closed casinos, in person registration was required, but thanks to an executive order from the governor, remote registration is now temporarily allowed for online sportsbooks.

When creating an online sports betting account, users are typically prompted to provide a few essential details including their name, address, and social security number for tax purposes.

Banking Options

Illinois is expected to offer many of the same deposit and withdrawal methods that have powered online sportsbooks in other states. They include:

  • PayPal
  • Credit/Debit Cards (traditionally Visa + MasterCard)
  • ACH / eCheck
  • Bank Transfers
  • PayNearMe

In addition, depositing and withdrawing in person at the cage of the partner casino, is a major perk of the regulated sports betting market in the United States. 

Once online sportsbooks start accepting bets we will have detailed notes on all of the available banking methods on our individual sportsbook reviews.

Illinois Retail Sportsbooks

Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, like online books, are new to Illinois. BetRivers and Argosy Casino Alton were the only two retail books that went live before the shutdown happened, but many more are on the way. Bettors are able to wager on sports, in person, at any licensed location. There are currently 10 casinos and 3 eligible race tracks that can apply for a sports betting license in the state. Also included in SB0690 was the approval for six new casino licenses, one of which is expected to become Chicago’s first inner-city casino. Here are all of the places you can bet on sports:

Betting Kiosks

The Illinois Lottery is entering the sports betting business. The new law allows for the Lottery to establish 2,500 sports betting kiosks in the state during the first year of regulated betting. Similarly, an additional 2,500 kiosks may be added in the second year. These kiosks will not be fully functioning sportsbooks though, only offering action on parlay wagers.

Once the bet has been placed, a ticket is printed. If it wins, the ticket holder can redeem it like they would a lottery ticket at any participating location.

Sports Venues

Illinois also included a stipulation that allows for its prominent sports facilities to operate its own sportsbooks. Any venue that seats more than 17,000 persons, of which there are currently seven in the state, is eligible to open its own sports betting facility on site. For Illinois that includes stadiums like Wrigley Field (Cubs), Soldier Field (Bears), and the United Center (Bulls).

Participating sports facilities will be able to offer sports betting at, or within a 5-block radius of the venue.

Retail Casinos and Racetracks

BetRivers and Argosy Casino Alton opened their retail sportsbooks just before the Covid-19 shutdown, but others were not so lucky and missed the opportunity to open their doors. Once casinos are able to re-open, we expect almost all casinos on the following list to begin taking bets.

Casino / TrackRetail LaunchAffiliation
Rivers Casino Des PlainesMarch 9, 2020BetRivers
Argosy Casino AltonMarch 12, 2020Penn National
Hawthorne Race CourseTBDPointsBet
Hollywood Casino AuroraTBDPenn National
Hollywood Casino JolietTBDPenn National
Harrah's MetropolisTBDHarrah's
Harrah's JolietTBDHarrah's
Grand Victoria Casino ElginTBDWilliam Hill (projected)
Par-A-Dice Casino East PeoriaTBDBetMGM (projected)
Arlington Park RacetrackTBDChurchill Downs Inc.
Jumer's Casino Rock IslandTBDDelaware North
Queen Casino East St. LouisTBDTBD
Fairmont Park RacetrackTBDTBD

PASPA Paves the Way

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) due to a challenge from the state of New Jersey. This landmark decision opened the door for states beyond Nevada to launch sports betting in the US.

Either through grandfathered laws or newly approved legislation, more than a dozen states, including Illinois and neighbors Iowa and Indiana, have implemented or are poised to begin some form of legalized sports betting. NJ online sports betting is flourishing, and online sports betting in PA is also finding its stride.

Taxes and Fees

In Illinois sports betting license holders will be taxed at the rate of 15% of the adjusted sports wagering receipts. This rate is relatively high for the industry. In comparison, neighboring Indiana uses a tax rate of just 9.5%.

When it comes to fees, simply applying for a license warrants a $250,000 payment. If approved, depending on the type of facility, a master sports betting license will run you between $3 – $10 million. That includes casinos, racetracks, and sporting venues. Licenses are valid for 4 years, and can be renewed for an additional 4 years at the cost of $1 million. Those vying for one of the three coveted online-only licenses will be required to pay a steep $20 million license fee. 

Fees paid are used to help fund the “Rebuild Illinois” plan, which covers roads, mass transit, bridges, schools, universities, and other important projects within the state.

Illinois Long Bullish On Gambling

Rome wasn’t built in a day is the cliché, well neither is Illinois online sports betting. 

The most recent law is the latest in a rich, or not-so-rich, history of gambling in Illinois:

1800s: Illinois was home to unlicensed riverboats and the riffraff drawn to them. 

1920s:  Betting on horses was legal and the height sophistication and popularity. In 1921, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and seven teammates were found not guilty on conspiring to throw the World Series but still banned from baseball. About the same time, Prohibition and the rise of Al Capone, Charlie Birger and other gangsters profiting from bootlegging and illegal gambling while battling “untouchable” Eliot Ness.

1979: The Land of Lincoln legislated a state lottery to benefit education.

1986: Licensed charity gambling was OK’d.

1990s: Riverboat casinos in 1991 were required to cruise rivers while open then allowed in ’99 to drop anchor with gambling complexes built around them at permanent docks.

2000s: In 2001, Illinois was the first state to sell lottery tickets online. In 2009, the state approved the Video Gaming Act but it took two years to implement due to court challenges. To many, the payout hasn’t been worth it. The Casinos Act passed muster in 2011, expanding casinos away from rivers, allowing games offered at pari-mutuel racetracks to include slot machines.

2019: Governor J.B. Pritzker officially signed SB0690 into law on June 28, 2019, legalizing sports betting in the state of Illinois.

2020: The first regulated sports bets were placed in the state!

Keep this page in mind for all your future Illinois online sports betting news and updates!

(Chicago Cubs Photo: Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

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