March 5, 2020, became the official birthday of legal sports betting in Illinois: the long-lasting negotiations ended with a Sports Wagering Act allowing online and retail betting on sports all over Illinois. The Governor was reluctant to sign all necessary legalization bills and acts, so no wonder sports betting came to Illinois with a range of nuances and limitations. It didn’t prevent major sportsbooks from expanding their services to Illinois: despite a significant decrease in the revenues due to the Covid-19 pandemics, industry giants like FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetRivers gained their loyal customer pool.
This review will highlight the key points of legal sports betting in Illinois to become your guide on wagering laws and the best online sports betting sites legal in the Prairie State. We will give you all nuts and bolts on sports betting legislation and provide you with some insights into how the first attempts to push legalization turned into the latest sports betting bill.
How do online sports betting work in IL?
Before you rush to join Illinois sportsbooks, claim your welcome bonuses, and place your NFL and NBA bets, it makes sense to understand the state’s current betting rules. One of the most inconvenient ones is that you need to register a sportsbook in person: the standard procedure of online verification does not work here.
Besides, there is a difference between sports when it comes to available betting markets, and, after all, you probably might want to know some insights into the legislation procedure? We collected all the relevant information in the next several paragraphs.
Illinois sports betting laws
Unlike many states, where the process of making sports betting legal was directly related to tribal casinos, Illinois didn’t need to spend time on such negotiations. There are simply no powerful tribes to own gambling venues in the Prairie State. Thus, the rules of Illinois sports betting online and in-person are relatively straightforward, and here are the essential facts you must know:
Online sports wagers are legal at online sports betting apps and sites approved by The Illinois Gaming Board;
Offshore sports betting sites are not prohibited, but if you have any issues with them, you won’t get any support from local authorities;
There are currently six IL sports betting apps owned by the gambling companies with the Illinois Gambling Board sports betting licenses;
To register at Illinois sports betting apps and online sportsbooks, you must create an account and visit retail locations to confirm your identity in person. We will enlist all venues for in-person betting and registration further in this review;
The Illinois sports betting law prohibits offering wagers on local college sports teams; everyone who wants to bet on some NCAAF or NCAAB game or player props must opt for offshore betting.
A little bit of history for the most curious readers: here is how the sports betting legislation process was developing in Illinois:
August 2018 saw the first mention of sports betting legalization, and lawmakers organized the first hearing on the possible new regulations;
February 2019: the next step took more than half a year. Still, it’s pretty fast compared to other states: in February, lawmakers already started to prepare the first draft of the future Illinois sports betting bill;
March 2019: lawmakers faced the first hurdle: the Rivers casino owner Neil Bluhm filed an action against the daily fantasy sports providers FanDuel and DraftKings: according to him, their services were against the Illinois law;
June 2019: The sports betting law is signed! The lawmakers managed to solve the DFS issue by allowing online sportsbooks to enter the market after eighteen months but approving immediate licensing for retail venues. At the end of the year, Illinois Gaming Board began to accept license applications;
March 2020: Pretty expectedly, Rivers Casino became the first licensed gambling brand in the state and opened a retail sportsbook;
June 2020: The Government came up with the in-person registration rule for online sportsbooks, although online sports betting has not started yet;
August 2020: DraftKings enters the Illinois betting market as the first online betting site;
October 2021: The in-person registration rule will not last forever! The Governor released a new amendment to the law that will stop in-person registration in March 2022.
Offshore vs legal Illinois sportsbooks
Illinois legislation does not insist on using only legal sportsbooks. Still, it is, of course, recommended: at least you will know where to apply if you face any issues with a bookmaker. Obviously, it is always safer to gamble at some sites approved and regulated by your local authorities, so what considering some doubtful offshore sites at all?
First, offshore does not necessarily mean ‘doubtful’: many reputable sportsbooks like MyBookie or BetOnline have never been registered within the USA.
They have gained a loyal customer pool within years of existence. Another thing that may make you opt to wager at non-US sportsbooks is the offer quality: for instance, if you choose to bet at a European site, you will find much more diversity for your experience. Just a quick fact: an average European sportsbook may offer odds for about fifty sports, while a good American platform can involve no more than ten disciplines.
The same is true for betting markets: while offshore MyBookie or SportsBetting.ag can offer college sports props without any limitations, you won’t find them at the US-regulated sites. The reason is that the law doesn’t allow local bookies to include a range of markets related to collegiate events.
How to choose a perfect online bookie in IL?
Of course, we don’t know what a perfect bookie means, particularly for you. Probably you require a very extensive betting line with various exotic sports disciplines or unusual bet types. Some pay much attention to user experience and customer support, while the others’ priority is safe and quick payments.
Our top-rated IL sportsbooks include it all and a bit more: we carefully look into every aspect of sports betting sites before we dare to recommend them to our readers. In the next block, you will find ever-working tips on how to choose the best online sportsbook in Illinois or any other state and country. Yes, our guide is pretty universal, although we are focusing on the particular region at the moment.
License and legality
A short intro: a sportsbook can be licensed but illegal in your country. On the other hand, a bookie without any license can operate without violating any laws. Now that you know it, we can explain: our sportsbooks ratings involve exclusively licensed bookmakers legal in Illinois. It means that they have a license from the Illinois Gaming Board and thus can safely work within the state. There are offshore bookies, too: they can hold licenses as well, for instance, the one from The Curaçao Gaming Control Board and accept US bettors, but with some nuances. The major con of offshore betting is that the local gambling commission won’t support you if there are any disputes between you and a bookie. Anticipating your next question, we must mention that remote license grantors are not too eager to protect you too.
Finding a licensed sportsbook is half the battle, but it’s the same essential to know what the other users speak of it. Take some time for research as we do: probably a bookie was caught stealing deposit money? Or hundreds of customers claim that they had to wait for their payouts for a month or so?
Of course, not all comments and reviews are relevant: some of them are simply fake, while the others are not actually related to the bookmaker’s customer approach. Moreover, gambling sites and apps usually receive more negative feedback than most businesses: people often lose money when they make sports bets, after all. Still, if a sportsbook’s rating is extremely low, and some respectable independent reviewers list it as ‘non-reliable’, we recommend avoiding it.
Available betting markets
The number of sports you can select from and betting options for each of them depends on the software provider that cooperates with a particular sportsbook. Bookies rarely offer their own software and odds, making bettors rely on their partners, and you don’t always know who is responsible for the portfolio.
Meanwhile, a generous selection of sports shows a provider’s quality: the more options are available, the better is usually the overall betting experience.
Things become more complicated when you deal with US-bookies: unlike British ones, offering up to fifty variants of sports, American sites are much more limited. They typically include the most popular disciplines and focus on the top major sports leagues of the USA: NFL, NBA, MBL, and NHL. Obviously, we can’t base on the European standards here and regard a bookie as good if it offers odds for at least ten sports.
Odds and Lines
Another important thing is the line quality. Are the odds updated quickly? Can you make any wagers besides a money line, spread betting, and totals some time before the event starts? Finally, are the odds competitive?
In most cases, it’s enough to take a quick look at the sportsbook’s pre-match and live sections. If it’s a couple of days left before an event, and you see no updates, this sportsbook is probably not your choice. The same concerns live betting: when there are only a couple of minor events in the line, the bookie might be not worth your attention.
Still, it all remains a matter of taste, but we recommend you to stick to bookmakers with the high-quality lines and good odds: why choose a bookie with a 5%-7% margin when there are ones with 2%-3%?
All Illinois sportsbooks went live with their native iOS and Android apps, so you won’t have any issues with getting a top-notch mobile experience. Still, if you prefer offshore betting, finding or downloading an app might become more challenging: it won’t either exist or be available for your region.
If there is no app, a mobile version is also an option: if it is perfectly adapted for various mobile devices screens, of course. Make sure you can make everything offered at the website when you use a browser app: deposit, withdraw, contact customer service,
When a sports event goes live, the betting experience comes to a new level of thrill. Why miss this opportunity? Still, we must admit that US bookmakers are rarely superior when it comes to in-play wagers. However, there are still exceptions: for instance, DraftKings offers a large variety of markets for tennis, soccer, and football games.
If you are keen on betting life, make sure that your sportsbook regularly updates the live section and covers more events than a couple of top-tier tournaments. Live Stats, Match Center, Cash Out, and Live Streaming options will also be helpful.
Brief Guide to Sports Betting in Illinois
You are ready to place your first wager but a bit confused about where and how you can do it? Don’t worry; we are here to help.
Below is a sports betting guide that will uncover all details about retail and mobile sports betting options and probably give you some wagering ideas.
Popular Sports Betting Markets in Illinois
Illinois is home to dozens of professional and amateur sports teams, including the ones from the top US leagues. Luckily, Illinois sports bettors bettors don’t suffer from any restrictions and can back their home teams and players without any limitations. The offer you can find at IL sportsbooks does not depend on legislation: it involves all bet types, including game and players props for pre-match and live betting events. The only exclusion is related to college sports: like in some other states, you can’t enjoy NCAAB or NCAAF prop betting, and live markets for such sports are also prohibited. Besides, it’s not allowed to back your home teams: anti-match-fixing legislation is wide awake.
Betting Markets in Illinois
Chicago Bears has left a significant trace in the league’s history: with nine won NFL Championships, including one Super Bowl, and a record number of names in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it has gained a massive fan base all over the USA and particularly Illinois. No wonder NFL bets are in high demand among IL punters, and local sportsbooks are usually willing to offer lucrative promotions for games involving the Bears.
NBA Betting in Illinois
Chicago Bulls is a buzzword for all NBA fans, but the capital of Illinois also hosts another basketball team from the women’s league. Chicago Sky is one of the twelve WNBA teams, and Illinois bookies willingly include events with them to their betting lines. NBA betting offer is usually the same saturated as the NFL: props, alternative handicaps, same-game parlays, and more — the choice may reach two-three hundred unique markets.
Illinois MLB betting
The baseball betting market is also on the top of the demand: Chicago Cubs and White Sox and several minor professional and amateur teams attract much interest from the sports fan base. Although you will hardly find anything but MLB wagers in the sportsbooks offers, the number of bet types is still impressive: from futures to exotic props in pre-match and live.
NHL betting in IL
Chicago Blackhawks is a long-established National Hockey League team, and it definitely boosts the overall interest in hockey betting in Illinois. Most sportsbooks offer more than the NHL odds, though: you can find some European, Canadian, and Russian events in lines.
Best Betting Apps in Illinois
In fact, the best betting apps in Illinois are the apps released by the local sportsbooks: they mostly mirror websites’ services and provide mobile user experiences for all bettors across the state. The majority of sports bets made in Illinois are mobile bets, so we suppose the list of the available apps will be handy for you.
Illinois Retail Sportsbooks
As you already know, Illinois legislation allows in-person betting. Still, even if you prefer more modern ways of getting a gambling thrill, your sportsbook account won’t work unless you come to a retail sportsbook venue to confirm it. Thus, this paragraph will be helpful for both conservative punters or tourists and mobile bettors.
There are eight offline venues in Illinois that allow making sports wagers and betting on horse racing events. More options will come to the place soon, but at the moment, that’s about it. In fact, all legal online sportsbooks have an agreement with local casinos: the mobile-only license is twice more expensive than the combined one, and it inevitably leads to emerging brands.
So, what are the available brick-and-mortar venues offering legal Illinois sports betting? Here is the list:
BetRivers Sportsbook: Rivers Casino Des Plaines;
DraftKings Sportsbook: Casino Queen
FanDuel: Horse track at the Fairmount Park;
Caesars Sportsbook: Grand Victoria Casino Elgin;
PointsBet: Hawthorne Race Course;
Barstool Sportsbook: Hollywood Casino Joliet Penn National and Hollywood Casino Aurora;
Argosy Casino Alton sportsbook: only retail sports betting.
Despite some rules making online betting inconvenient and a total ban of digital casinos, Illinois is definitely a betting-friendly state. With retail and online betting sites, and a generous selection of offshore options welcoming IL players, it has all opportunities to develop the sports betting industry and collect large revenues from the dedicated betting pool.
According to statistics, The Illinois sports betting market suffered from Covid-19 pandemics because of the lack of online bookmakers; still, more digital betting platforms open their doors to local bettors which might become game-changing in many aspects.
Does Illinois allow sports betting?
Yes, Illinois sports betting went live in March 2020 and allowed online and retail betting at six sportsbook web and mobile apps, seven brick-and-mortar bookmakers, or any offshore sports betting sites allowing US customers.
Can I legally bet online in Illinois?
Yes, online betting is legal in Illinois unless you violate any laws, including the ones regarding the winning taxes. To register at a sportsbook app or website, you need to visit a retail venue in-person: it simplifies the identification procedure.
Can I use the DraftKings sportsbook in Illinois?
Yes, DraftKings opened its doors to Illinois punters and willingly accepted all players from 21.
Which sportsbooks are legal in Illinois?
Illinois Gaming Board issued licenses for the following online bookmakers: BetRiveres, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, Barstool, and Caesars. Besides, there is an in-person only sports betting venue called Argosy Casino Alton and a plethora of offshore bookies that are not banned, though not highly recommended, too.
Last updated on 01 Nov 2022- 12:35
Author: Harry Sunderland
As a former successful professional bettor, Harry Sunderland has developed analytical thinking skills helping him to make the right picks for sports events. His specific interest in MMA allows him to provide ... the readers with accurate ideas and create comprehensive guides and reviews on the UFC fights and combatants. Being a huge Soccer fan, Sunderland has much to tell readers about the game nuances and the most probable match outcomes.Show more
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