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Legal online sports betting touched down in Illinois in March 2020, but the timing was not advantageous. The COVID-19 pandemic grounded things to a complete halt almost immediately after they began. A small group of brick-and-mortar sportsbooks were open for less than one week before Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered the closure of casinos across the state.
The break in the cloud for Illinois sports bettors is that online registration has been readily available on and off since June because of these circumstances. Illinois residents and visitors already have had access to a handful of the leading online sportsbooks such as BetRivers, PointsBet, and William Hill. DFS-turned-sportsbook giants DraftKings and FanDuel have joined in — and a lot sooner than initially expected.
This page will review the status of online legal sports betting in Illinois and outlines what sports bettors in the Land of Lincoln need to expect in the coming months and years.
Online sports betting started in Illinois on June 18, 2020, when the Rivers Casino went live through their online alias, BetRivers Sportsbook. The timetable for online sports betting was sped up and thrown into dismay when on June 4, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an Executive Order, waiving the requirement for the bettor to physically be located at a casino/sportsbook to establish access to mobile sports betting account. As a result, patrons could register for online sportsbook accounts from mobile devices or computers rather than at a physical casino — until late July when Pritzker let this order lapse.
Then on August 20, J.B. Pritzker reinstated the Executive Order, allowing Illinois sports bettors to once again open accounts without the need to venture into public spaces among the COVID-19 pandemic. The order was extended on September 19. Check out our news blog to stay up to date on all the latest sports betting news.
With obligatory in-person registration currently suspended via Executive Order, there is a window that Illinois bettors will want to take advantage of. Currently, it is possible to sign up over the internet with any of the online sportsbooks in the state – check our table above for the complete list of Illinois online sportsbooks.
In-person registration is still available at brick-and-mortar casinos. Remember, registration is only valid for that specific sportsbook. New accounts are required for every online sportsbook you want to play at.
When registering at a sports betting website, bettors will need to provide their name, date of birth, home address, and the final four digits of their Social Security number as part of the Federal verification process.
The legal age for sports betting in the state of Illinois, whether it be online or at a physical land-based casino, is 21. It is 18 for horse racing wagers, which may cause some logistical issues down the road as all three racetracks in Illinois have applied for their sports betting licenses and are expected to have retail sportsbook operations with mobile capabilities once approved.
Illinois online sportsbook operators utilize geolocation security technology, like other states that have legalized online sports betting. The quality of these geolocation services is vital since two states, Indiana border Illinois, and Iowa, that also offer online sports betting. A third state, Kentucky, has sports betting in its legislative pipeline.
The sports bettor does not have to be an Illinois resident to place a bet, but only in the state when the bet is placed. A strong Wi-Fi signal or cellular service provider should be enough for the geolocation tracker to confirm the point of origin. Being close to a neighboring state could lead to confusion from time to time. If you have problems with geolocation, our guide can help fix geolocation sportsbook problems.
Aside from the age and physical location requirements, Illinois betting law also has a specified list of people who are not allowed to place wagers in the state. On top of this, the IGB has the authority to either ban bettors or allow their name to be placed on a self-exclusion list. Those lists serve as a safety mechanism to help individuals protect themselves.
In terms of betting choices, the IGB defines a sporting event as:
“A professional sporting or athletic event, a collegiate sporting or athletic event, a motor racing event, or any other event of relative skill authorized by the IGB.”
While this appears to give sportsbooks a vast net in terms of offerings, specific events such as eSports require special approval from the state’s gaming board for wagering to be legal.
While the Illinois Sports Betting bill 2019 legalized sports betting allows for creating five new casinos across Illinois, including one in downtown Chicago, including as many as three racinos statewide, there are still plenty of existing options across the Land of Lincoln. Ten casinos in Illinois are eligible for the Master Sports Wagering license.
Illinois only allows one mobile skin per entity, which means every casino can have only a single online or mobile partner. But with the number of potential brick-and-mortar casinos and the three stand-alone mobile licenses, there will be multiple online operators competing for bettors’ attention. That list includes:
All three racetracks in IL have all applied for their sports betting licenses. Of the three, Fairmount Park and Hawthorne have applied for racino licenses, while Arlington Park chose not to. Arlington Park’s parent company, Churchill Downs Inc, has a majority stake in the Rivers Casino in nearby Des Plaines. Both the Hawthorne and Fairmount will offer sports betting at their track, at three OTBs each via digital platforms. Hawthorne is partnered with PointsBet Sportsbook, while Fairmount has a deal with FanDuel.
Despite substantial efforts to slow them down, Fanduel and DraftKings Sportsbook were not deterred. DraftKings reached an agreement with the Casino Queen East St. Louis, now appropriately known as the DraftKings at Casino Queen, and was just the second online sportsbook to launch in the state. FanDuel struck a similar deal with Fairmount Park, but it appears that FanDuel will go live online in Illinois through a branding partnership with the Par-A-Dice Casino.
Illinois offers its bettors a full menu of wagering options, including:
After registering your online account, the next step is to deposit money into your account. As with other states, Illinois offers multiple options available to bettors that are both speedy and convenient for accessing money.
Banking options include:
There are now several IL PayPal sportsbooks available to those wanting to wager in the state. It is one of the safest and fastest ways to make deposits and withdrawals with an IL sports betting site.
New players should make themselves familiar with the Welcome Bonus promotions that most Illinois sportsbooks offer upon sign-up. Check our table at the top of this page for the top Illinois sportsbook bonuses. These bonuses include new customer IL free bets, matched bets, risk-free bets, matched deposits, and no-deposit bonuses. Most promotions include a promo code that needs to be entered at the time of deposit to access the offer, and they are generally available exclusively for new customers.
As home to the third-largest city in the United States, Chicago, and is the fifth-largest state in terms of population in the country, Illinois is well embodied in all major sports.
The Chicago Cubs (MLB) are no longer baseball’s lovable losers after their improbable 2016 World Series title and compete for Windy City bragging rights with the White Sox every year.
The Chicago Bears (NFL) continue to be one of the largest calling cards in the state in terms of total fandom, and the recent success of the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL) – winners of three Stanley Cups since 2010 – has lifted the profile of hockey in the state Illinois. While the greatest to ever lace them up, Michael Jordan may be long gone, the Chicago Bulls (NBA) still accommodate the United Center.
In terms of collegiate sports, Illinois sports betting legislation prohibits betting on local college teams, which means there is no betting on Northwestern football or Illinois basketball. Bets can be placed on college teams or events that are not in Illinois, so Clemson, among others, would be fair game.
The U.S. banned all sports wagering except for some grandfathered markets in 1992 when they ordered the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, recognized as PASPA. In 2012, New Jersey filed a lawsuit opposing the constitutionality of the PASPA bill. After a lengthy battle, the U.S. Supreme Court finally overturned the act in a ruling on May 14, 2018.
For online sports betting to arrive in Illinois, finally, there was much in the way of negotiations. State representatives Bob Rita and Mike Zalewski were the primary advocates of sports betting and were met with many challenges throughout the legislative process.
The bill includes a lot of sufficient detail, including a mandate for “official league data,” a provision needing in-person registration for a minimum of 18 months, a ban on betting on Illinois collegiate events, and complicated branding rules that required an explanation from the regulatory board.
There are 23 master licenses available when including sporting venues. There are currently only three mobile-only licenses available, and each comes with a substantial price tag of $20 million. These will be up for bidding after a “Request for Proposal” in 2022.
Master licenses for other venues — casinos, racetracks, and pro sports venues — are set at an eye-watering $10 million.
The tax rate on gross revenues is set at 15%, which is on the upper end of what operators consider reasonable compared to other states. In Cook County, there is an additional 2% tax on AGR – which is a sign of the earning potential of a casino in Downtown Chicago and BetRivers’ status as one of the top retail casinos in the state.
Legalizing online sports betting in Illinois was always going to be a lengthy process, even after Pritzker signed SB690 into law back in June 2019. The Illinois sports betting bill is making a 540-day waiting period for online specific operators to submit their application to the IGB after the first Master Sports Wagering license was issued in June 2020.
This provision was a “penalty box” for online giants FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings. In 2015, they were ruled to have illegally ran daily fantasy sports contests in Illinois, according to the state’s attorney. The 540-day waiting period – which Rivers Casino owner Neil Bluhm wanted to be a minimum of three years before J.B. Pritzker and fellow Illinois lawmakers negotiated it down to just 18 months — was intended to allow retail sportsbooks the opportunity to bring their mobile sports betting apps to market and to establish themselves before FanDuel and DraftKings entered the picture.
In the year after Pritzker signed the $12 billion bill that legalized sports betting, the state’s regulatory agency took the deliberate approach. Even when the first sports wager was accepted at Rivers Casino on March 9, 2020, that 540-day clock had not even started because all seven casinos that were approved had only been granted temporary operating permits. Of those seven casinos, only two were given provisional approval to accept sports bets.
Everything changed due to COVID-19. Detecting the need for casinos to have a revenue stream while they are either closed or operating at less than 100% capacity, J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-41 into law 4 June 2020, suspending the in-person registration requirement to obtain a mobile sports betting app. The Executive Order could expire in late July but was reinstated on August 21.
The week after the Executive Order was put into place, there was an outbreak of activity. The seven casinos that had permits were granted sports betting licenses the following week, starting the 540-day clock for online-only applications.
Illinois Daily Fantasy sports have now been approved and several DFS operators are now available to players in the state.
Illinois is already well-situated with ten casinos in operation and recognized its potential in the capital gaming bill by giving horse racecourses the possibility to add racinos and sportsbooks into the mix. Additionally, J.B. Pritzker’s Executive Order augmented the timetable for online sports wagering in Illinois. Horse Racing in Illinois is extremely popular and is a sport loved by gamblers all over the globe.
Pen in the likelihood of sportsbooks being available at iconic venues such as the United Center and Wrigley Field, plus potential casino locations in downtown Chicago and across northern Illinois that can draw attention from the Wisconsin market, and the Land of Lincoln is poised to leave behind the sleeping giant moniker it has held for so long.