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Gambling In Illinois: Full Overview 2020

Illinois Global State Header
Online Casino
Online Poker
Online Sports
(legal since: 06/28/2019)
Online Lotto
(legal since: 2009)
Online DFS
(legal since: 06/28/2019)

As more and more states legalize gambling activities around the country, many of them have Illinois to thank for showing them the way. Illinois has been one of the states that has been ahead of the game in the way of wagering legalization and has been one of the first states to have multiple types of wagering throughout its history. Today, Illinois has a strong set of options for bettors to choose from, as this guide to wagering throughout the state will illuminate. With casino, the coming addition of sports betting, and poker action to be had, it’s no surprise that many gamblers are enjoying what casinos Illinois has to offer. In Illinois, however, the situation is the same as in some other states. Online casinos are not yet regulated, the same applies to online poker.
Online sports betting could theoretically already be made legally, but there are still no licensed operators.

Illinois gambling history and social importance

History: An extensive background

When it comes to casinos Illinois was the first state to have them, even if they weren’t necessarily legalized at the time. This was in the 1800s, where riverboat casinos were being run in the state without being state-sanctioned. Since then, things have been much more legitimate, as Illinois was the first state to have a state lottery. That addition took place in 1974, and has been going strong ever since. In the early 1990s, riverboat casinos were made formally legal, bringing the origins of wagering in Illinois full circle.

In 2011, it was finally legal for land-based casinos to take shape, which meant that casino gaming could finally take place away from the water. How many Illinois casinos are there? As of now, there are currently 10 operating casinos in Illinois, which has given players a strong set of betting options to choose from without having to do too much traveling to get to them. And with exciting wagering additions being made, the history of betting in Chicago is only starting to take off with more chapters to be written.

Social importance: Part of Illinois lore

In terms of social importance, gambling in Illinois has been woven into the state’s history. Just like Chicago was synonymous with the prohibition era in the United States, Illinois and its illicit riverboat gambling is synonymous with the early stages of betting in the USA. Today, Illinois casinos with hotels have become more popular than the riverboats, and have helped turn betting into a true experience throughout the state. As a whole, there are still a lot of things that Illinois is discovering from a betting perspective, but the fact that betting was such an interesting part of its history is what makes it a vital part of the social history of Illinois.


Legal situation of casinos and online casinos in Illinois 2020

Land-based casinos: A nice selection

There are currently 10 casinos Illinois has to offer those who want to take part in casino gaming action. Illinois casinos locations go throughout the state, from East St. Louis to Joliet and East Peoria. There are some relatively big casino brands that offer land-based options here, with Harrah’s, Hollywood, and Rivers casino all being a part of the list of those that offer casino gaming. Compared to the riverboats that pioneered the industry throughout Illinois, this has been quite the upgrade. Fortunately for those in Illinois, taking part in the gambling that these casinos have to offer is perfectly legal. Here is a list of the casinos that are available throughout Illinois.

  • Casino Queen – East St. Louis
  • Harrah’s Joliet – Joliet
  • Harrah’s Metropolis – Metropolis
  • Hollywood Casino Aurora – Aurora
  • Grand Victoria Casino – Elgin
  • Hollywood Casino Joliet – Joliet
  • Agrosy’s Alton Belle Casino – Alton
  • Rivers Casino – Des Plaines
  • Par-A-Dice Casino – Peoria
  • Jumer’s Casino & Hotel – Rock Island

Legal situation for land-based casinos: Lots of legal choices

When it comes to land-based casino gambling Illinois has made it legal to take part in the games that are on offer at each facility. Illinois gambling laws have also made it legal for there to be video wagering machines at locations like truck stops and bars, which is another way that bettors can get their action in at physical locations. Between the casinos that exist in-state and the fact that bettors can have their fun on things like slots and video poker from bars and truck stops, there is a nice selection of land-based casino betting choices to be had.

Online casinos: Nothing in-state

Players who want to enjoy an online casino Illinois has to offer may be disappointed in the fact that there are no state-specific casino sites that can be accessed. This is because there has been no formal legalization or ban on online casino play, which is something that players will want to keep in mind if they want to take to their favorite games from an online perspective. As a whole, bettors in Illinois have a decent situation going here, as they are able to take to offshore casino sites instead of being relegated to fewer online options through state-sanctioned casinos.

Legal situation for online casinos: Offshore play possible

Illinois gambling laws do not formally make online casino play legal or illegal. As a result, it is possible for players to play at an online casino through offshore sites without having to worry about breaking the law. That is because, again, no such laws exist regarding online casino gaming for those in Illinois. However, we strongly advise against playing on such offshore websites. They are not subject to US law and are only partially accessible to US authorities. If there are any problems playing at the offshore provider, you have no chance. Withdrawals are not guaranteed, personal information is not safe - there are many negative aspects of offshore providers.

Market prediction for the future

As far as the future of the casino industry is concerned, it isn’t likely that anything is going to change anytime soon here. The physical casino industry took until 2011 to get started, and the only change that might take place is the addition of other physical locations down the road. The online casino Illinois situation is one that nobody may want to alter, as the state doesn’t have to worry about regulating it as the law currently stands, while bettors have more choices by going offshore than they might through land-based operators having an online casino component.

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Legal situation of sports betting and online betting in Illinois 2020

Land-based betting operators/racetracks: Coming soon

For now, betting on sports at physical locations in Illinois isn’t something that can be done legally. However, that is going to be changing in the near future thanks to the passage of legislation that will allow for that sort of action sooner rather than later. For now, though, there is no ability for bettors to wager on sports at land-based facilities, at least until different casino operators are able to get their licenses and the official launch of sports wagering in Illinois takes place once and for all. For sports fans and bettors alike, that time can’t come soon enough.

Legal situation for land-based betting operators/racetracks: Laws passed

For sports gambling Illinois has finally passed legislation that will allow them to offer sports wagering at physical locations. This was done in June of 2019 through Senate Bill 690, which passed by a resounding 46-10 margin to allow for the implementation of sports wagering both at physical locations and online. There are a few interesting things to note about this passed bill, specifically the fact that it does not allow for wagering on games involving Illinois college sports teams, such as the Illinois Fighting Illini. However, it is more than enough to satisfy sports bettors for now.

Online sports betting: Not there yet

Regarding online gambling Illinois finds itself in the same boat as their sports betting situation at physical casinos. As of now, it is a waiting game until the legalization of that activity turns into the licensing and operation of online gambling on sports. One thing that sticks out about the current legalization climate in Illinois is the fact that major players in the sportsbook industry DraftKings and FanDuel will be forced to operate under the umbrella of a land-based operator for the first 18 months of sports wagering in the state, something that has continued the feud between those two operators and Illinois as a whole.

Legal situation for betting sites: Becoming legal

While sports wagering is now legal thanks to the passage of SB 690 in June of 2019, there still isn’t any sports betting that is being done for now. This is because the process of legal sportsbooks being licensed and made ready to operate is going on. As of now, it is anticipated that there will be sportsbook action to be had throughout online sportsbooks in Illinois by late 2019 or early 2020, but there has been no confirmation of any launch dates or anything else that would make the timeline feel more concrete to the bettors who are craving sports wagering.

Market prediction for the future

In the future, sports betting is going to be one of the most intriguing forms of wagering throughout Illinois. The fact that bettors will be able to take on sports wagering both in-person and online is exciting for those who wish to get involved. In terms of predicting the future of the sports betting market there, one should look toward neighboring Indiana, who has had a decent handle on the action at in-person facilities while its online wagering options get ready as well. Bettors should be able to expect a similar experience from this midwestern state.

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Legal situation of poker rooms and online poker in Illinois 2020

Land-based poker rooms: A dozen poker rooms

When it comes to Illinois casinos near Chicago or other parts of the state, there is certainly no shortage of poker playing options at land-based locations. There are a total of 12 poker rooms to be had throughout Illinois, including a couple of charitable games facilities to go along with the 10 casinos that exist throughout Illinois. Given the ratio of poker rooms to casinos, it’s clear that poker is a priority throughout Illinois, which makes for a solid experience with options so that players can find the location that they enjoy playing at the most.

Legal situation for land-based poker rooms: Legal dealing

Is poker legal in Illinois casinos? Yes it is. Unlike the riverboat casinos of the 1800s in Illinois, poker players here can take part in everything that the 12 poker rooms throughout Illinois have to offer without worrying about the legality of things. This was a product of the legalization of casino gaming that started with the riverboat casino legalization of the 1990s. Since then, games like poker and other casino favorites have been legal at land-based locations, which has made the poker scene throughout the state what it is today.

Online poker: Offshore poker only

Looking at online gambling Illinois finds the poker scene to be similar to what is going on in the world of online casino action. That is to say that there are no Illinois-specific ways to get involved with online poker. Compared to places like Nevada and New Jersey that allow players to do as they please with state-sanctioned online outlets, Illinois may be behind the curve there. There are numerous offshore providers, which are theoretically not prohibited, as there is no law against it. However, we strongly advise against playing with such providers.

Legal situation for online poker: Not legal or illegal

From a legal perspective, there is nothing that currently makes online poker in Illinois explicitly illegal. Just like other midwestern states like Iowa and Indiana, online poker exists in something of a gray area in the state right now. Without anything being passed to make online poker legal or illegal, players are able to take to offshore poker sites that are regulated outside of the state and outside of the United States that will accept players from Illinois. However, we strongly advise against playing with such offshore poker sites.

Market prediction for the future

Given all of the money that exists in the online poker market across the United States and across the world, any look at the future of the poker industry in a state would be remiss if it didn’t think that the state would get involved with regulating the activity in the future. However, there do not appear to be any plans to do that at this time, and the already loaded suite of options for poker players at land-based locations makes it unlikely that there are going to be any changes to the physical poker playing options that exist either.

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Legal situation of lotteries and online lottery in Illinois 2020

Lottery play is something that often gets overlooked in the betting industry, but Illinois was the first state to allow lottery play through the Illinois Lottery in the 1970s. Since then, they have been ahead of the game with lottery action, as players can take part in lottery play both offline and online depending on their preferences. Illinois was one of the first states to sell lottery tickets online, which has made them a leader in the lottery space.

With the popularity of online scratch cards and other forms of lottery gaming being as popular as they are, the decision to allow for the lottery to be enjoyed in multiple ways has been a smart one. In fact, the online lottery capabilities in Illinois were first made legal in 2001, which was in the early days of the mainstream internet. Illinois wasted very little time in getting their operations off the ground in this regard.

Legal situation of daily fantasy sports in Illinois 2020

Daily fantasy sports finds itself in an interesting position within Illinois, as it isn’t explicitly illegal right now but hasn’t been made fully legal either. This has prompted something of a legal battle between Illinois and the major players in the industry, DraftKings and FanDuel, who want the explicit legalization of daily fantasy sports betting to take place. There have been lawsuits that have taken place between the companies and the state and other entities regarding the legal status of DFS.

The point that bettors should care about, though, is the fact that they are currently allowed to utilize sites like DraftKings, FanDuel, and other prominent daily fantasy sports betting companies while the legal situations are being figured out. Given the fact that DFS is becoming overwhelmingly legalized throughout the country, it is highly unlikely that players will have anything to worry about with the legal status of these operators in the future either.

Illinois Gambling

Legal situation of social casino in Illinois 2020

Social casino gaming is not illegal in Illinois, although there is again no law to regulate this kind of action. Just like real money online casino play doesn’t have any statute that makes it legal or illegal, players in Illinois can look forward to a similarly unregulated experience with social casino action. Of course, the big difference between social casino gaming and traditional casino gaming is the fact that there isn’t any real money involved. Unless someone decides to buy chips or other forms of play money from these operators, there is no actual cost of playing these games. These games can include casino-type games like poker and slots, only without the actual gambling component to them. Instead, players are able to compete with friends and others through social media sites and other hubs for this type of gaming, where there are leaderboards and ways to track who is winning the most.

Conclusion: A pioneer, but growing

Are Illinois casinos legal? Yes, they are legal, unlike the original days of wagering in the state that saw unsanctioned riverboat casinos running throughout Illinois. Today, there is legal land-based casino and poker action, with the inclusion of sports betting soon to come. Online bettors will be happy to know that they can play online casino and poker games without having to worry about any legal ramifications through offshore operators. And sports bettors will be excited to see that legal land-based and online sports wagering is coming soon to the state as providers get set to offer that within the coming year. As a whole, the wagering menu in Illinois is a strong one, and it is only getting stronger as more legalization means more options for each bettor. While Illinois was one of the pioneers of betting compared to other states, it is looking more and more like it is catching back up with the other states as it adds more choices on what can be bet on.

Betting typeLegal status
Land-based casinosCasino and poker, sports coming soon
Online gamblingUnregulated, sports coming soon
Sports bettingComing in 2019 or 2020
LotteryOffline and online
Daily fantasy sportsUnregulated
Minimum gambling age21