Illinois law permits most forms of gambling. Between the state lottery, horse racing betting, land-based casinos and sports betting, residents have access to a wide range of gaming options.
Legal forms of gambling in Illinois currently include:
- Poker, slots and table games: Brick-and-mortar casinos
- Lottery: Authorized retailers and online
- Horse Racing: Live at race tracks, off-track betting facilities (OTBs) and online betting
- Sports Betting: Retail sportsbooks and online sports betting apps
- Daily Fantasy Sports: No specific legislation for DFS but presumably legal online
- Charitable Gaming: Bingo and raffles
- Slots and video poker machines: Bars, restaurants and truck stops
Legal Illinois Gambling Sites and Apps
Illinois Online Gambling
Three forms of online gambling are legal under Illinois law while a third is merely tolerated under an uncertain legal status. Online racing betting, sports betting and the lottery are all explicitly legal under Illinois law.
Illinois Online Horse Racing Betting
Mobile racing betting apps and websites that are licensed by the IL Racing Board (IRB) may offer their services to customers. A full list of licensed racing betting sites (also known as advance deposit wagering operators or “ADWs”) can be viewed here at the IRB website.
Illinois Online Sports Betting Apps
Illinois authorized retail sportsbooks and mobile betting apps in 2019. The first retail sportsbooks at casinos launched in Spring 2020 and mobile betting followed suit three months later. The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) maintains a complete list of licensed sportsbooks and mobile betting operators here.
Illinois Online Lottery
The IL Lottery website offers instant win games and sells tickets to major draw games online. Customers must be 18 or older, located in Illinois, and have a valid in-state address to sign up for online accounts.
Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports
The legality of daily fantasy sports has never been firmly settled one way or another, but major operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel accept customers from Illinois and have so far faced no major pushback from lawmakers or regulators.
Online Gambling Law in Illinois
Illinois law prohibits all forms of online gambling that have not been specifically authorized by the legislature.
720 ILCS § 5/28-1 provides an extensive list of gambling-related offenses. Included among those is a provision that specifically addresses online gambling:
(12) Knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates an Internet site that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value by means of the Internet or to make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet. This item (12) does not apply to activities referenced in items (6), (6.1), and (15) of subsection (b) of this Section.
This can be roughly translated to: if it isn’t legal and licensed, it is illegal. The laws dealing with legal forms of online gambling and sports betting will be addressed in greater detail below.
Illinois is home to ten riverboat casinos, which are set to be joined by up to six more casinos as a result of a large gambling expansion package approved in 2019. All mainstream forms of gambling are allowed at casinos. This includes slots, video poker, keno, table games and live poker.
The Illinois Gaming Board provides a complete list of approved games here.
List of Casinos in Illinois
|Argosy Casino Alton||Casino Queen|
|Harrah’s Joliet||Grand Victoria Casino|
|Hollywood Casino Aurora||Hollywood Casino Joliet|
|Rivers Casino Des Plaines||Par-A-Dice Casino|
|Harrah’s Metropolis||Jumer’s Casino & Hotel|
Casino Laws in Illinois
Casino gambling came to Illinois in 1990 with the passage of the Illinois Gambling Act, formerly known as the Riverboat Gambling Act. This made Illinois the second state behind Iowa to authorize riverboat casinos. The first IL casinos opened in 1991.
Riverboats were required to leave the docks during the first eight years of legal gambling. This changed in 1999 when lawmakers amended the Riverboat Gambling Act to remove the provision, allowing casinos to remain docked and to construct permanent structures such as add-on hotels.
SB 690: Gambling Expansion in Illinois
The Riverboat Gambling Act was further amended with the passage of SB 690 in 2019. The new gaming expansion bill changed the title of the Act to the Illinois Gambling Act and authorized the construction of six additional casinos, including a large casino in Chicago.
SB 690 also increased the number of gaming positions (which are slot machines or seats at table games) for existing casinos, authorized additional video gaming terminals across the state, authorized the construction of an additional racetrack and allows existing race tracks to install electronic gaming machines.
Additionally, licensed casinos are now permitted under SB 690 to launch retail sportsbooks and mobile betting apps. An additional three online-only licenses were also made available beginning 18 months after the issuance of the first sports betting license to a land-based casino. The online-only licenses differ from those issued to casinos in that online operators may apply for these licenses without having to partner with a local casino.
The six new casino licenses may be awarded to casinos located in each of the following locations:
- Danville (Golden Nugget Casino to be built in Danville)
- Cook County
- Williamson County
Illinois casinos are subject to three taxes:
- Admissions tax: $3 to $5 per person based on annual number of visitors to each casino
- Slots tax: Graduated tax ranging from 15% to 50% based on annual adjusted gross receipts
- Table games tax: 15% of AGR up to and including $25 million; 20% of AGR for anything above $25 million
Illinois Sports Betting
Illinois legalized sports betting via the 2019 gambling expansion bill that also authorized additional casinos.
Under the IL sports betting law, a variety of operators may apply for licenses to launch retail sportsbooks and mobile betting platforms:
- Licensed Casinos: Land-based casinos may apply for a license to launch retail sportsbooks on premises and up to one mobile betting platform each for statewide access.
- Racetracks and OTBs: Racetracks and off-track betting facilities (OTBs) may apply for licenses to offer sports betting on-premises. Each racetrack may also launch a mobile betting platform.
- Stadiums: Up to seven stadiums may be awarded licenses to offer in-person betting and mobile betting within a five-block radius. Stadiums must have a seating capacity of at least 17,000 to be eligible for a sports betting license.
- Standalone Mobile Operators: Up to three sports betting licenses will be issued to standalone online betting operators. The first mobile-only sports betting license is to be issued no sooner than 18 months after the first casino sportsbook license is awarded.
- State Lottery: The IL Lottery has been given permission to launch up to 2,500 sports wagering terminals during the first year of operation and up to 5,000 terminals after that. Terminals may only offer parlay-style wagers and the program is only scheduled to run until 2024, after which a decision to renew it or not will be made.
Illinois Online Sports Betting
Each casino that acquires a sports betting license it also permitted to launch a mobile sportsbook offering statewide access to customers 21 or older.
Five mobile sportsbooks have launched in Illinois to date and more are sure to follow in time.
Some of the most popular Illinois online sportsbooks include:
An additional operator, Golden Nugget Online, announced in November 2020 that it will launch mobile betting in Illinois after it completes construction of a new land-based casino in Danville.
Unibet Sportsbook also has firm plans to offer mobile betting in Illinois. Kindred Group, parent company of Unibet, is partnered with Penn National Gaming to offer online betting through Argosy Casino Alton and has applied for a license from the state gaming board.
theScore.bet , the online betting extension of the popular sports news and media app theScore, plans to enter the Illinois market in the second half of 2021. According to a March 2021 press release, theScore is partnered with Harrah’s Joliet Hotel & Casino to offer mobile betting in Illinois.
Signing up for Online Betting in Illinois
Bettors may sign up for online sports betting accounts from anywhere in Illinois.
State law required in-person registration for the first 18 months, but that provision expired in March 2022. Now, bettors can download the Illinois sports betting apps of their choice, register, deposit, and wager from anywhere within state lines.
List of Illinois Retail Sportsbooks
The first retail sportsbooks launched in March 2020. As additional IL sportsbooks go live, we will update this page with detail on each.
- BetRivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino Des Plaines
- Argosy Casino Alton Sportsbook
- DraftKings at Casino Queen
- Grand Victoria Casino Sportsbook
- Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Aurora
- Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Joliet
- PointsBet Sportsbook at Hawthorne Race Course
- PointsBet Sportsbook at Club Hawthorne Crestwood OTB
- FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing
Sports Betting Laws in Illinois
The Illinois Sports Wagering Act was passed as part of a massive gambling expansion in the state in 2019. It permits the state’s casinos, race tracks, lottery retailers and seven largest sports venues to offer betting on sports. The licensing fee is up to $10 million for commercial entities offering in-person betting. The tax rate is 15 percent with an additional two percent for wagers made within Chicago.
There is a fee that varies depending on the type of establishment. Existing horse racing tracks must pay five percent of the previous year’s race handle, not to exceed the lowest amount paid by a casino. Future race tracks pay $5 million. Casinos pay five percent of gross gaming revenue, not to exceed $10 million. Sports venues must pay $10 million.
The law allows land-based casinos and race tracks to partner with third-party operators to launch mobile betting, but a provision in the law designed to support local facilities requires such partnership to run under the brand name of the physical casino unless the casino has an 80% stake in the company with which it is partnered.
The sports betting management services provider application form provided by the IGB explains:
If the Sports Wagering Operation will be offered over the Internet or through a mobile application, confirm the website/application will be under either the same brand as the Organization Licensee is operating under or a brand owned by a direct or indirect holding company that owns at least an 80% interest in that Organization Licensee on June 28, 2019.
The Illinois Lottery will also be able to offer sports betting in a test period through January 1, 2024. The three mobile-only operators must wait 540 days to apply after the issuance of the first sports betting license to a land-based operator.
State law prohibits wagers on college games that involve Illinois colleges, but there are indications lawmakers may ease that law. A bill (HB 5876) introduced in early 2021 would remove the prohibition and allow bettors to place wagers on games involving colleges in Illinois.
The Illinois Gaming Board reserves the authority to approve wagering on individual leagues and events. Operators may request permission to offer wagers on sports events not already authorized in Illinois, and the state maintains a full list of approved events for wagering here.
Poker is legal at authorized casinos only. There are no bet limits or caps on tournament buyins in Illinois.
Online poker and home poker games are illegal under gambling law. The state’s definition of gambling leaves no room for interpretation, effectively outlawing even games that take no rake. The “skill vs. chance” argument holds no sway in this regard either as state law makes no distinction between skill or chance.
720 ILCS § 5/28-1(a) defines a gambling offense as follows:
“knowingly plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value…”
Poker Laws in Illinois
The Riverboat Gambling Act covers live poker in Illinois. Any licensed casino may offer it under the table game tax agreement. All poker games, including Texas Hold’em, Omaha, stud, draw and mixed games, are legal at these casinos. Cash games and tournaments may be spread. Online poker is illegal in Illinois.
Licensed charitable groups may also host charity poker games, subject to state law.
Illinois Poker Rooms
|WSOP Poker Room at Harrah’s Joliet||Grand Victoria Poker Room|
|Hollywood Casino Aurora Poker Room||Poker Room at Jumer’s Casino|
Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) is unregulated in Illinois. The legal status of DFS is subject to debate, but all major operators, including FanDuel and DraftKings accept customers from the state.
Fantasy Sports Law in Illinois
Illinois law does not address fantasy sports and the legality of the activity remains unclear. In 2015, State Attorney General Lisa Madigan opined that DFS games are illegal under Illinois law, but the opinion was non-binding and no action was taken against DFS operators.
Fantasy sports sites ignored the opinion and continued business as usual in Illinois. A 2016 attempt to regulate DFS died in the legislature without a vote and little desire to change the current status quo has been evidenced since.
The decision of DFS operators to remain in Illinois despite the 2015 opinion may have come back to haunt them in 2019 as the major gambling expansion bill was being debated. As legislation to legalize sports betting was being discussed, local casino operators lobbied lawmakers to exclude fantasy operators (FanDuel and DraftKings in particular) from licensing as “bad actors” due to their continued daily fantasy operations after the 2015 AG opinion.
Lawmakers ultimately settled on a bill keeping online-only sportsbook operators out of the market for 18 months, giving local operators a big head start in capturing market share. Whether or not the “bad actors” argument was made in good faith or was merely cover for a desire to stymie competition up for debate.
The Illinois Lottery was established in 1974 and the first tickets were sold on July 30th of that year. The IL Lottery sells instant win games, tickets to in-state drawings and tickets to multistate drawings. Players may purchase lottery tickets and instant win games in-person at authorized retailers, online at the IL website, or through the official mobile app.
IL Online Lottery
Online lottery customers may purchase individual tickets to all draw games or subscriptions for up to twelve months’ worth of drawings. In addition, players may visit IllinoisLottery.com to play instant win games online.
Winnings of $600 or less deposited directly to players’ online accounts. If a player wins more than $600, the IL Lottery will contact the player to arrange payment. Large winnings from online purchases have been recorded in Illinois. In early 2020, one player won a $6.25 million jackpot from a ticket purchased through the IL Lottery app.
Interstate Lotto Drawings
- Mega Millions
Intrastate Lotto Drawings
- Lotto Extra Shot
- Lucky Day Lotto
- Pick 3 with Fireball
- Pick 4 with Fireball
Lottery Sports Betting Terminals
The 2019 gambling expansion law included a provision establishing a four-year pilot program during which the lottery may launch up to 2,500 sports betting terminals in the first year and up to 5,000 terminals after that.
The lottery sports betting kiosks are limited to offering parlay-style wagers and payout rates are more in line with traditional lottery games.
Illinois State Lottery Law
The Illinois Lottery Law was approved by the state legislature in 1974. Most proceeds are earmarked for the Common School Fund. Illinois Lottery players must be at least 18 years of age.
Illinois Horse Racing Betting
There are currently three race tracks and two dozen off-track betting parlors mostly located at sports bars throughout the state. The 2019 gambling expansion law also authorized the construction of one additional racetrack and gave tracks the ability to offer electronic gaming machines on premises.
IL Horse Racing Betting Sites
Online racing betting is legal in Illinois through licensed providers only. The Illinois Racing Board (IRB) provides a public list of licensed betting sites on this page.
List of Illinois Racetracks
Each of Illinois’ three race tracks offers live racing, trackside betting, off-track betting and simulcasting. The 2019 gambling expansion also allows each track to install up to a certain amount of positions, which are defined as slot machines or seats at gaming tables.
Arlington Park and Hawthorne Race Course are each allowed up to 1200 gaming positions. FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing (formerly Fairmount Park) is allowed up to 900 positions.
Illinois Off-Track Betting Facilities (OTBs)
State laws allows each licensed racetrack to operate up to a certain number of OTBs. Fairmount Park is allowed to run up to 9 OTBs, Hawthorne Race Course may run up to 16 OTBs and Arlington Park may run up to 18 OTBs.
Visit this link for a full list of all authorized OTBs.
Illinois Horse Racing Laws
Illinois first authorized horse racing betting in 1927 while the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975 established the modern regulations governing the industry. Most notably, the Act allows for parimutuel racing on live racing and off-track betting parlors.
Online and mobile racing betting (also known as advance deposit wagering) was formally legalized in 2009 with the passage of Public Act 096-0762.
The tax rate on mobile betting is 1.75 percent of the handle with an additional 0.2 percent going to local governments. Taxes on live racing is collected through admission fees, licensing fees and the handle tax.
In 2019, a gambling expansion legalized up to 43 off-track betting parlors located at taverns in the state. These typically double as video gaming establishments. The tax rate is two percent of handle in addition to the standard rates.
Illinois charges players a 0.38 percent rake on winnings from pari-mutuel pools. This includes mobile betting.
Horseracing is the only form of legalized racing in the state. Greyhound racing is illegal in Illinois.
Horse bettors must be at least 18 years of age.
Illinois Esports Betting
eSports betting is prohibited in Illinois. Wagering on skill games is considered a criminal offense in the state so this makes it illegal for players and participants.
Illinois Video Gaming Machines
Municipalities may permit video gaming at taverns, fraternal organizations and truck stops. Taverns and fraternal organizations may have up to six machines. Truck stops may have up to 10 devices if it sells at least 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel in a month and is located within three miles of a freeway interchange.
The games permitted are slots, video poker and keno. The maximum bet is $4. The maximum jackpot is $1,199. The state takes a 34 percent tax of gross gaming revenues from video gaming. The local municipality receives five percent of that with the rest going to the state’s general fund.
This industry was created through the Video Gaming Act in 2009. It was amended to raise the tax rate and cap on machines in 2019. Video gaming players must be at least 21 years of age.
Illinois Skill Games
Illinois has one of the toughest gambling definitions in the country. Illinois Compiled Statutes 720 – 5/28-1 describes gambling, in part, as:
Knowingly plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value, unless excepted in subsection (b) of this Section;
This makes placing wagers on nearly anything illegal in Illinois if it does not occur at a licensed casino, racetrack, OTB or betting site.
Illinois Charity Gaming Laws
The Charitable Games Act and the Raffles and Poker Runs Act govern charitable gaming in Illinois.
Charities in existence for at least five years may hold a variety of games for fundraising purposes. The nonprofit organization can receive a license after two years if it is part of a national organization with five years of charitable work in the country.
An annual bingo license costs $200 per year. It allows one bingo game per week with a cumulative prize pool of $2,250 per session in most counties. In Madison, Monroe and St. Clair Counties, as well as the city of Redbud, the prize pool may be $3,250 per session. Groups that lease space for charitable gaming or provide equipment for the events must pay $200 per year for a license. A raffle-only license is $50 per year.
Charitable organizations may apply for licenses to offer the following types of games:
- Beat the Dealer
- Big Six
- Five Card Stud
- Holdem Poker
- Merchandise Wheel
- Pull Tabs
Illinois Gambling Regulator Directory
- Illinois Lottery
- Illinois Department of Revenue (charitable gaming)
- Illinois Gaming Board
- Illinois Racing Board
Illinois Gambling FAQ
Responsible Gambling Resources in Illinois
As a gambling friendly state, Illinois has done well to implement a robust responsible gambling strategy for those who feel they or a loved one may have a gambling problem. The Illinois Council on Problem Gambling offers online support and resources as well as a help hotline that can be reached at 1-800-522-4700.
The Department of Health and Human Services also maintains a problem gambling resource website at WeKnowTheFeeling.org. For help and support, gamblers can call 1-800-GAMBLER or text ILGAMB to 53342.
Gamblers can also self-exclude from all casinos and sports betting. For more information, visit this page on the Illinois Gaming Board website. The Illinois Lottery also offers self-exclusion here.