As the United States sees sports gambling expansion in a number of states, it only makes sense that Illinois would get involved. With the land of Lincoln enjoying a rich sporting culture, betting is a natural fit for the state, which is on the cusp of offering a wide array of sports wagering options. In this guide to Illinois sports betting, find out what is legal for sports bettors in Illinois and what they can expect in the future.
Legal sports betting was officially codified into law in Illinois when governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB 690 into law in June of 2019. According to the successful sports betting bill, the Illinois Gaming Board would oversee sports betting activity throughout the state.
The law stipulates important details related to the gambling industry in the state, such as the tax rate of 15%. It also stipulates that a portion of the state’s gaming fund can be allocated to the assistance of those with a gambling problem if deemed necessary, including those impacted by sports gambling, as a precautionary measure.
But in terms of what bettors are allowed to do as a result of the new betting laws in Illinois, there is a lot to dive into as well.
Both retail sportsbooks and online sportsbooks will be available throughout the state of Illinois, with the potential for a number of both types of sportsbooks being present thanks to the framework of the legislation. Like New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Iowa, bettors in Illinois will be able to wager at physical locations that obtain sports betting licenses and through their mobile devices at approved sportsbooks.
These physical locations, which will include casinos and racetracks, will allow the use of kiosks and transactions at a traditional betting window. Online and mobile betting are also approved under Illinois law, with bettors being allowed to wager on sports online as long as they are located within state lines. This will allow bettors in Chicago and remote parts of the state to have the same online betting access as one another, once online sports betting is up and running in the state.
As of now, bettors are only able to do their sports wagering in person at a limited number of physical locations. This is due to the fact that licenses are still in the process of being issued to betting locations and mobile operators in the state. For now, this means that the only way to place a sports wager in Illinois is to go to one of the currently operational sportsbook locations and place a bet. During events where these locations are not open, such as the coronavirus pandemic, bettors are not able to place legal sports wagers.
As of now, there are only a small handful of sportsbooks that are open and operating in Illinois. Those sportsbooks are the Aragosy Casino in Alton and Rivers Casino Des Plaines. While online sports betting is not yet permitted, Rush Street gaming, responsible for Rivers Casino, is allowing users to sign up for their BetRivers sportsbook in anticipation of a future launch.
As licenses are issued to additional operators, bettors should expect physical casinos such as the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and the Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet to receive consideration. Riverboat casinos and off-track betting facilities could also be added to the list of physical locations that get the nod in the future. Illinois law could even allow for physical sports betting in venues such as Wrigley Field and the United Center in the future.
Good news for punters in the state, as some of the major sportsbooks have been given licenses to operate. They are FanDuel, DratsKings, PointsBet, Caesars and BetMGM with BetRivers already in operation. With this, punters are left with variety of sportsbooks to wager their bets on.
Below, are the list of sportsbooks that can be used in Illinois.
DraftKings Sportsbook is one of the top sportsbooks in Illinois. Its best features include its cash-out option, which allows bettors to close their tickets before the end of the game. The betting carousel that tailors itself to each user is also an innovative addition. However, DraftKings could stand to improve promotions for existing customers.
BetMGM is one of the top options in several legal markets. The same story is expected to unfold now that it’s available in Illinois. Top features include a huge menu of available sports and bet types, as well as innovations like Edit My Bet and Easy Parlay. However, navigation could be a bit smoother on the web platform.
PointsBet is an Australian sportsbook that has been one of the notable success stories among overseas sports betting companies. It has distinguished itself with an aggressive approach to expansion and its namesake product, PointsBetting. The promotion lineup for existing users also is impressive. The app itself is serviceable but could use some tweaks in terms of its navigation, as not everything is easy to find.
BetRivers Sportsbook is the closest thing to a “home” sportsbook that Illinoisans have. It is the exclusive online gambling partner of the Chicago Bears, and its parent company has its headquarters on North Michigan Avenue. BetRivers is one of the few sportsbook apps to maintain a dedicated rewards program — iRush Rewards — for sports bettors. However, the app itself is still a work in progress, with many functionalities still in need of smoothing.
Caesars Sportsbook is a top-flight sports betting app that represents its preeminent corporate brand. One of the elements of Caesars’ sports betting presentation that stands out is its extensive library of daily odds boosts. At any one time, there may be more than 50 boosted bets that players can use. Caesars is a fine sportsbook, but don’t expect to be blown away by slick design features or flashy elements — it’s a very meat-and-potatoes presentation.
FanDuel Sportsbook has risen in the past few years to become one of the best sports betting apps in Illinois. FanDuel’s main appeal is its ease of use. It is also one of the best places to find same-game parlay options. However, FanDuel is still working out some bugs with regard to its biometric login functionality and its customer support response.
There is a strong selection of sports gambling options to be had in Illinois, including the ability to bet on all of the local professional teams throughout the state. Bettors can wager on the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL in Illinois. This means that bets on the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks are all possible, as are bets on other teams and events in those leagues such as the Super Bowl and NBA Finals.
College sports betting is also available, with wagering on NCAA March Madness and the college football season highlighting the collegiate sports offerings up for grabs. It should be noted that bettors in Illinois are not permitted to bet on college sporting events involving teams from Illinois. This means that teams like the Illinois Fighting Illini and Depaul Blue Demons are not able to be wagered on.