With Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzer recently legalizing Illinois online sports betting, the Praire State is set to become a Midwestern gambling hub, which bodes well for online sports bettors.
The law allows Illinois operators to open retail and online sportsbooks. It also paves the way for a number of new casinos across the state.
Pritzker’s law lays a sturdy foundation on which legal online sportsbooks can grow and flourish in Illinois. The Illinois Sports Wagering Act allows Illinois casinos, horse tracks, and certain sporting venues to apply for a sports betting license. Additionally, 18 months after issuing its first retail license, the state plans to permit three online-only sports betting licenses.
Illinois’ sportsbook presence is primarily retail-based as it currently stands. However, the state’s laws allow for mobile betting. It’s safe to expect a flurry of partnerships in the coming months as land-based properties partner with online providers. Though few have been formally announced, there are a fair number of existing partnerships likely to expand into Illinois with online sports betting sites.
Rivers Casino Des Plaines is partially owned by Rush Street Gaming, who powers the BetRivers sportsbook app in other regulated states. Once they have an online license for an Illinois online sports betting site, we expect a BetRivers sportsbook to emerge from this partnership.
Caesars owns two Illinois casinos: Harrah’s Joliet and Harrah’s Metropolis. Interestingly, Caesars and Eldorado are merging, which throws more possible partnerships into the mix. Between them, the companies have partnerships with Stars Group (who operates FOXBet in the US), Scientific Games, and William Hill. It’s likely that one of these partnerships will yield an online sportsbook in Illinois.
Penn National Gaming owns the Argosy Casino in Alton, Hollywood Casino in Joliet, and Hollywood Casino in Aurora. The company has partnerships with multiple online entities. Of them, DraftKings is likely to be a top contender for launching an online sportsbook in Illinois.
Illinois’ gambling expansion makes the state a hotbed for possible sportsbook and online gaming growth, so more partnerships will no doubt arise in the state.
Illinois hosts 11 retail casinos, all of which are expected to apply for a sports betting license. Those properties will likely seek out online partners to launch digital sportsbooks.
The state’s three race tracks, Arlington Park, Hawthorne, and Fairmount Park, are expected to apply for licenses as well.
Finally, the Illinois law that permits sports betting also allows for up to seven licenses for sporting venues. This means that renowned arenas like Soldier Field, The United Center, and Wrigley Field can apply for sports betting licenses. A few are expected to do so. And there’s always the possibility of online partnerships with these venues as sports betting picks up popularity in the Prairie State.
Illinois legislation has so far focused on sports betting and land-based casinos. J.B. Pritzker’s new gambling law, signed in June 2019, marked a historic shift for Illinois. The bill authorized six new casinos, 20 sportsbooks, and a number of new seats at gaming tables allowing for casino expansion.
Outside of land-based gaming, the law powers Illinois’ sports betting growth in the online space. The state will allow online sportsbooks operated by land-based license-holders. Meanwhile, three online-only licenses will become available as well, likely in 2021.
State law prohibits online casinos and online poker in Illinois. If sports betting proves successful online, the state could change its stance and begin to build a framework for the legalization of other forms of online gambling.
Illinois’ online gambling portfolio is somewhat of a mixed bag. The state widely supports certain forms of online gaming and staunchly opposes others. However, with the current landscape showcasing the rapid growth of online gaming, Illinois is likely to draft new legislation to take advantage of digital gambling opportunities in the future.
As we covered above, online sports betting will come to Illinois players soon. Expect big names like BetRivers, DraftKings, and FanDuel to form partnerships and launch online sportsbooks in the Prairie State.
Anyone over 21 years old located within the state of Illinois will be able to participate in sports betting. Bettors do not need to be an Illinois resident. Geolocation software will ensure, though, that only those within state lines can place a wager. Age verification will be required by providing a valid social security number.
Illinois prohibits online casinos. There are a number of land-based properties that offer slots and table games, but the state has shown no intent to legalize them online. The state has shown a growing interest in gaming as a whole, however. And with the introduction of online sports betting, it’s possible Illinois could loosen its laws to allow for online casinos in the future.
For now, players can find play-for-fun casino apps or the sweepstakes-model casino sites we outline below.
Like online casinos, online poker rooms are prohibited to Illinois players.
Legislation often pairs online poker and online casinos. If Illinois moves to legalize online casino gaming, it’s likely that poker will be included (or follow quickly).
Illinois’s legislation is murky with regard to Daily Fantasy Sports contests run by the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel. In 2015, the state’s attorney general issued an opinion declaring DFS illegal under Illinois law. Just recently, however, the state Supreme Court partially reversed that decision by stating that some DFS contests require skill and are legal in Illinois.
When the state legalized sports betting, it only made the issue more complex. The law originally suggested an 18-month penalty period for operators who offered illegal DFS sites during the period when the state deemed such sites illegal. Essentially, violators from years past would need to wait a year and a half before launching an online sportsbook in Illinois as a retroactive penalty.
FanDuel and DraftKings, among others, still offer DFS in Illinois. As the state legislature is still working out the legal kinks, Illinois players should use the sites with caution.
Illinois lottery players have the benefit of online play for draw games such as Powerball and Mega Millions. The state lottery also sells instant games online. The digital offering makes Illinois one of only six states where online lottery play is widely available to residents.
In the absence of online casinos or poker rooms, Illinois players may encounter sweepstakes based gambling sites.
These sites allow players to purchase in-game currency with no monetary value, which they use to play casino or poker games. When making a purchase, players earn “Sweeps Coins,” which can be redeemed for real money. The companies that run these sites also allow players to redeem mail-in offers for free Sweeps Coins. This lets them operate legally under a sweepstakes model.
Sportsbook operators are constantly in competition with one another. They compete to draw players to their sports betting sites, which often means lucrative bonuses for new and loyal bettors alike.
Illinois will be no different. Once online operators join the state’s betting landscape, they will likely offer similar bonuses and offers.
When you start sports betting, you’ll find a variety of offers and bonuses available to you. Taking advantage of them is a win-win because you receive extra benefits for playing, and the sportsbook gets your business. Playing on multiple sportsbooks can maximize your bonus potential.
Here are some of the most common bonus types you’ll encounter:
Some sportsbooks will advertise a small dollar amount to use on your first bet when you sign up, usually between $10 and $30.
This is a great starting offer because it doesn’t require a deposit and allows you to start betting right away.
Many sportsbooks will match your first deposit (or two). Once you make your initial deposit, the operator will match the amount and credit your account. Sometimes these bonuses offer a match up to $500, so they can be especially valuable if you plan to make a sizable first deposit.
Always check the terms and conditions surrounding deposit matches. You may need to make the deposit within a certain time period to redeem the offer.
Risk-free bet offers require you to first place a bet with your own money. Operators will usually cap how much you can wager for your risk-free bet, so check the conditions surrounding the offer.
How they work is fairly simple. If your risk-free bet loses, the sportsbook will refund it in the form of another bet. It’s basically a second-chance offer in case your first wager doesn’t win.
Online sportsbooks offer programs that reward players over the long-term. Sometimes bonuses can be tied to land-based partners (for example, a meal discount). More often, however, the programs will offer milestone bonuses, such as a $100 bet bonus after you spend $1,000 total on the site.
Keep an eye out for loyalty and rewards accounts. They can provide a lot of added value to your online sports betting experience.
Sports betting sites are regulated by government agencies. The Illinois Gaming Board is in charge of regulating sportsbooks in the state. They grant licenses only to those operators who adhere to the state’s laws and regulations governing sports betting.
Sports betting sites in legal jurisdictions also use high-level encryption to protect your data and payments. This is a standard that offshore or grey market sportsbooks do not uphold.
A few operators will be required to wait for 18 months before launching online apps in the state due to a complex legal issue relating to Daily Fantasy Sports. Others, like BetRivers, will be able to launch their online and mobile sportsbooks sooner.
Apple has specific restrictions that require gambling apps to be developed in its programming language, so not every operator will offer an iOS app. However, mobile betting will still be possible through your phone or tablet’s browser.
The sports betting legal landscape is complex in Illinois, so legislators and operators have a lot to work out. Once mobile and retail sports betting are active and in full swing, it’s possible that Illinois could revise its laws to allow online casinos.
For the time being, sweepstakes casino and poker sites remain the only option for players.
DraftKings and FanDuel are very likely to release sports betting apps in Illinois, though they’re not available yet.
Due to legal issues with Daily Fantasy Sports, the two sportsbook operators may have to wait until well into 2021 to release their products in Illinois.
However, neighboring Indiana has authorized sports betting. DraftKings and FanDuel users can bet in Indiana, provided they’re over 21 and located physically within Hoosier State lines.
To play at a casino or participate in sports betting in Illinois, you must be 21 years or older.
Horse racing and Daily Fantasy Sports are notable exceptions. Anyone 18 years or older can participate in those forms of gambling.
For now, this remains uncertain.
Illinois law will place certain restrictions on some operators involved in a Daily Fantasy Sports dispute, but many operators will launch online sportsbooks in the state whenever they can.