Illinois has had a long, sordid relationship with gambling. Much of the history is mob-driven, and while it is portrayed in movies as a lot of back-room poker games with despicable characters…oh, who are we kidding, that is pretty much how it was back then. The state has tried to intervene where possible, and while there is definitely still a behind-closed-doors gambling industry in cities like Chicago, there are far more above-board options for residents that shouldn’t make them feel as unsafe. Here is an overview of the current legal climate for gambling in Illinois, as well as a look at what could be coming.
Sports Betting in Illinois
Sports betting and Chicago have been synonymous for decades. However, all of it has been on the illegal front. Some of the biggest sportsbooks in the world have operated from back rooms and bars across the city and the state, but for the time being there are no laws allowing regulated sports betting. No matter though, people have found their way into betting on sports despite the restrictions. This can be a very dangerous way to enjoy a bet on a local game, as the collection of funds tends to be particularly aggressive. With the repeal of PASPA, the state has started efforts to introduce sports betting legislation soon to curb the illegal side of the business. It is likely that a sports betting law will be passed in Illionois in 2019
Online Sports Betting
With all the illegal sports betting that happens on street corners and is woven into the fabric of Illinois, you may be shocked to know how much is being bet at online sportsbooks as well. There’s a huge number of options for sports bettors in this black market environment, and unless the government takes steps to make it illegal to play at one of these sites, residents of the state will keep playing at these sites for years to come.
The fact of the matter is that many Illinois residents like to gamble on sports, and these online sportsbooks offer the chance to do so from the comfort of their own homes. Accessing sites from your mobile phone or laptop is easier than ever. These sites also offer bonuses and loyalty programs, which is something you aren’t likely to see with your back-alley bookmaker.
All of this makes playing at unregulated sportsbook an attractive proposition in Illinois but thankfully with the arrival of a new sports betting law soon, we expect that these illegal websites will be put out of business and replaced with legal betting options.
Horse Betting in Illinois
Horse racing has had a long, storied history in the Chicago area, and that continues today. With tracks like Arlington Park and Hawthorne, gamblers have been able to bet on local horse races for decades. Also, the tracks and the off-track betting sites offer players the chance to bet on races happening all over the country. Pari-mutuel betting is alive and well in Chicago and figures to be that way for decades to come.
Online Horse Betting
When it comes to online horse racing, Illinois is one of the few states that is very open about letting its land-based facilities offer online betting. Each of the tracks offers their won mobile and online operations. Also, players in the state have the option of using one of the companies like Twinspires or TVG to make their bets online. It is difficult to say if the state will intervene to protect the local track revenue by blocking access to the outsiders but for now, they remain an option.
Casino Gambling in Illinois
A progressive state when it comes to all forms of gambling, Illinois also offers players the chance to play their favorite table games and slots. Originally, casinos were allowed to be on riverboats as part of legislation in 1990 (they had been around in the 1800s already, so that was the precedent used to push this law though). From there, the casino landscape expanded to on-land facilities, and in 2011, a new bill passed that mandated the building of 5 new land-based properties. In this bill, the racetracks in the state were also allowed to add casino games to their floors to help prop up the slowly deteriorating horse racing business. There have been some debate recently about amending this bill, but nothing concrete has materialized.
Online Casinos in Illinois
While the state is mulling over the idea of adding online casinos to the mix, for the time being, anyone wanting to play some roulette or slots from their homes is left to choose from one of the online casinos that operate illegally. We do not recommend playing on these sites, especially because deposit and withdrawals is difficult . Players in Illinois should avoid these unregulated casinos as there is no guarantee that their real money casino play is fair or that winnings would be paid. Legal online casinos will soon become available in the state and Illinois residents should just exercise a little patience. They will soon be able to enjoy great online casino games legally, through a state licensed website.
Lottery in Illinois
The Illinois Lottery is one of the oldest in the country, having been established all the way back in 1974. It remains a major source of funding for various education programs in the state and in 2017 generated over 700 Million in funds. Players in the state can play the Powerball and Mega Millions games, along with many Pick 3 and 5 draws open only to residents of Illinois. Also, Illinois is one of the few states that have made the leap into Internet Lottery sales. You can set up a subscription online to buy your draw tickets, which is great for those of you that are forgetful and may miss a draw for that reason.
Illinois Gambling FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Illinois?
Sports betting is not legal in Illinois, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t popular. The state has a long history of bookmaking that goes back many decades. These bookmakers still exist, but competition came from the unregulated online sportsbooks in the early 200s. Today, players can choose from many of these sites that offer lines on local sports as well as events from around the world. Those being illegal, it is not recommended to play with them. Thankfully, Illionois residents should be able to gamble online legally when the new laws pass, which should be some time in 2019.
When will sports betting be legal in Illinois?
It looks like that in the wake of PASPA’s repeal in 2018, Illinois will be one of the states to pass legislation for sports betting in 2019. There have already been several hearings on iGaming over the years, and sports betting was added to the docket as soon as the changes were made federally. However, just because the state will introduce legislation doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk. Legislators in Illinois are notorious for trying to get things perfect, so we expect there to be a lot of debate on any bill that is introduced. Still, we think that the government will get something across the goal line by the end of 2019.
What is the best online sportsbook for residents of Illinois?
At the moment, there are no legal online sportsbook open to Illinois residents. There soon will be however and Betting News will provide reviews of all of them. In our reviews section, you will find reviews of all the legal online sportsbooks. As for what makes a sportsbook good or not, there are a lot of components that go into each of our comprehensive reviews. Ultimately though, it comes down to the site you will feel the most comfortable playing with, and the ones that offer you the types of bets you are looking for. Many of the sites are very well rounded, but keep an eye out for sites that take regionality into account. This means that some sites will offer promotions that are local to residents of Illinois that may have more impact than the more general offers given to the entire site.