Online Gambling Illinois: an Expert Guide

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.

Best Illinois Online Casinos, Sportsbooks & Poker Sites 2020

Top Online Casinos
Top Sportsbooks
Top Poker Sites
Ignition Casino
Ignition Casino

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Bovada
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Cafe Casino

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Bovada
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Intertops
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Betonline
Betonline

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Ignition Poker
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Bovada Poker
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Betonline
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Online Gambling in Illinois
  • Online sports betting has been legalized.
  • Online poker and casinos have not been legalized.
  • However, you will not be prosecuted for making bets at offshore casinos or poker rooms.

Though the state’s laws are fairly permissive, Illinois still does not have licensed daily fantasy sports, which could change in the coming years, as Senate Bill 7 (S7) could amend several of Illinois’ longstanding gambling acts. You can still access daily fantasy sports sites in Illinois.

However, Illinois sports betting is now legal, and Rivers Casino in Des Plaines will move onto dry land to become the first of many land-based casinos in Illinois.

Illinois’ charitable gaming community includes tens of thousands of charity organizations and a half-dozen forms of charitable gambling. A 2013 amendment to the Charitable Games Act legalized “poker runs”, which are a popular form of charitable gaming not found in many states. Illinois also allows several forms of charitable gaming popular in midwestern and plains states, such as pull-tab games and pickle games.

Laws That Pertain to Illinois Gambling

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

online gambling Illinois

(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

online gambling Illinois

(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.

What Gambling Is Legal in the State of Illinois?

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.

Riverboat gambling is allowed. Illinois has nine riverboat casinos, while the legislature has approved land-based casinos. The state has charitable bingo for nonprofit organizations.

Illinois allows licensed bars, restaurants, and other establishments to place up to five video lottery terminals (VLTs) per venue. The state legislature approved VLT gambling in 2009. By 2017, the VLT industry generated more revenue per year than the riverboat casino industry.

A bill was passed in June 2019 which legalizes sports betting in Illinois. In fact, BetRivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino took the first legal online sports bet in the history of the state as they tried to get ahead of March Madness, the annual NCAA Tournament that was slated to be held in 2020. Illinois is one of many states that realize regulating online gambling can provide a huge financial boost for their state.

However, there is still not a legal online poker site in the state, so players looking for online poker in Illinois can go to offshore poker rooms. The same goes for online casinos in Illinois.

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Which Forms of Gambling Are Legal in Illinois?

Type of Gambling Notes and Restrictions
Online Gambling Yes to sports betting, no legalization of casinos or poker yet.
Land-Based Casinos Yes, Rivers Casino became the first to move on land.
Charitable Gaming Yes, there are a handful of bingo halls in Illinois.
Lottery Betting Yes, Illinois has a state lottery, and it allows the sale of Powerball and Mega Millions tickets at hundreds of vendors.
Minimum Gambling Age in Illinois 18 for lotteries, pari-mutuel betting and bingo. 21 for riverboat and land-based casinos.

Illinois Online Poker Laws

There have been many attempts to legalize online poker in Illinois, and it has come close to being passed before. In 2017, a bill was overwhelmingly passed by the Senate, but it failed to get through the House of Representatives. Currently, there are no online poker laws on the table in Illinois, but it is not illegal for players to play at regulated offshore poker rooms.

Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports Laws

In 2015, Attorney General Lisa Madigan gave her opinion that daily fantasy sports is illegal. This prompted a lawsuit by DraftKings and FanDuel, which itself prompted Lisa Madigan to countersue. Ironically, DraftKings and FanDuel now want both suits dropped, because Lisa Madigan (whose tenure ended in January 2019) said her opinion did not have the force of laws.

If S7 is signed into law, it looks like daily fantasy sports would be included in its passage. During the Oct. 2018 hearing, Rep. Lou Lang said he supports other forms of gambling to raise revenues – which presumably would include DFS. All that being said, players can still visit daily fantasy sports sites.

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.

Illinois Online Gambling FAQ