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Online Gambling in Illinois: an Expert Guide

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Gambling in Illinois

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Our Guide to Online Gambling in Illinois

Illinois approves of a wide range of gambling, as it is the sixth-most populous state in the United States and has a large, vibrant gambling industry. The state has legal riverboat casinos, racetrack betting, video lottery terminals, and charitable gambling.

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Illinois Online Gambling FAQ

Illinois Gambling Laws

Illinois licenses and regulates several forms of gambling. The Illinois State Lottery is legal and the state is a part of the Mega Millions and Powerball multi-state lottery association. Illinois has pari-mutuel wagering on horse races at six racetracks and 23 off-track betting facilities.

Relevant state code: 18-3801 et seq.; 54-2501 et seq.

Illinois allows many forms of gambling, though its attorney generals have taken public stances against unregulated and unlicensed gambling in the past.

The state has a broad view of what constitutes gambling, which gives regulators and law enforcement broad authority to prosecute illegal gaming. Notice the broad definition in the relevant code.

Section 28-1

A person commits gambling when he:

Plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value

Riverboat Gambling Act

(230 ILCS 10/3) (from Ch. 120, par. 2403)

3. Riverboat Gambling Authorized.

(c) Riverboat gambling conducted pursuant to this Act may be authorized upon any water within the State of Illinois or any water other than Lake Michigan which constitutes a boundary of the State of Illinois. A licensee may conduct riverboat gambling authorized under this Act regardless of whether it conducts excursion cruises. A licensee may permit the continuous ingress and egress of passengers for the purpose of gambling.

Native American Gaming Compact Act

(230 ILCS 35/5) 

5. General Assembly approval of Native American gaming compacts.

Before the Governor may enter into a compact with a Native American tribe authorizing the Native American tribe to conduct gambling in Illinois, the Governor must submit a request for authority to enter into the compact to the General Assembly. The Governor must include with that submission a copy of the proposed compact.

If the General Assembly enacts legislation authorizing the Governor to enter into the compact within 30 session days after the submission of the request by the Governor to the General Assembly under subsection (a), the Governor may enter into the compact. If the General Assembly does not enact legislation authorizing the Governor to enter into the compact within 30 session days after the submission of the request by the Governor to the General Assembly under subsection (a), the Governor may not enter into the compact.

Video Gambling Act

(230 ILCS 40/5)

5. Definitions. As used in this Act:

“Video gaming terminal” means any electronic video game machine that, upon insertion of cash, electronic cards or vouchers, or any combination thereof, is available to play or simulate the play of a video game, including but not limited to video poker, line up, and blackjack, as authorized by the Board utilizing a video display and microprocessors in which the player may receive free games or credits that can be redeemed for cash.

The term does not include a machine that directly dispenses coins, cash, or tokens or is for amusement purposes only.

“Licensed establishment” means any licensed retail establishment where alcoholic liquor is drawn, poured, mixed, or otherwise served for consumption on the premises, whether the establishment operates on a nonprofit or for-profit basis. “Licensed establishment” includes any such establishment that has a contractual relationship with an inter-track wagering location licensee licensed under the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975, provided any contractual relationship shall not include any transfer or offer of revenue from the operation of video gaming under this Act to any licensee licensed under the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975.

(230 ILCS 30/) Charitable Games Act

(230 ILCS 30/2) (from Ch. 120, par. 1122)

  • 2. Definitions. For purposes of this Act, the following definitions apply:
  • “Charitable games” means the 14 games of chance involving cards, dice, wheels, random selection of numbers, and gambling tickets which may be conducted at charitable games events listed as follows: roulette, blackjack, poker, pull tabs, craps, bang, beat the dealer, big six, gin rummy, five card stud poker, chuck-a-luck, keno, hold-em poker, and merchandise wheel.
  • “Charitable games event” or “event” means the type of fundraising event authorized by the Act at which participants pay to play charitable games for the chance of winning cash or noncash prizes.
  • “Qualified organization” means:
  • a charitable, religious, fraternal, veterans, labor, educational organization, or other institution organized and conducted on a not-for-profit basis with no personal profit inuring to anyone as a result of the operation and which is exempt from federal income taxation under Sections 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), 501(c)(8), 501(c) (10) or 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code;
  • a veteran’s organization as defined in Section 1.1 of the “Bingo License and Tax Act” organized and conducted on a not-for-profit basis with no personal profit inuring to anyone as a result of the operation; or
  • An auxiliary organization of a veteran’s organization.
  • “Religious organization” means any church, congregation, society, or organization founded for the purpose of religious worship.
  • “Sponsoring organization” means a qualified organization that has obtained a license to conduct a charitable games event in conformance with the provisions of this Act.
  • “Veterans’ organization” means an organization comprised of members of which substantially all are individuals who are veterans or spouses, widows, or widowers of veterans, the primary purpose of which is to promote the welfare of its members and to provide assistance to the general public in such a way as to confer a public benefit.

DOES ILLINOIS HAVE LAND-BASED CASINOS?

Illinois has nine riverboat casinos.

Neighboring Indiana passed laws to allow its riverboat casinos to move inland to brick-and-mortar casinos, which allow for more gaming space, convention halls, live concert venues, and other attractions. The Indiana cities of Gary and Hammond are suburbs of Chicago, meaning Indiana’s land-based casinos compete directly with Illinois casinos.

That is why Illinois has allowed Rivers Casino to move onto dry land, with other casinos to be built in the future: so players could continue to play their favorite table games.

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