Illinois sports bettors can expect to avoid the in-person registration requirement for online sportsbooks for the first half of 2021. This means unfettered access to all five of the state’s online sports betting apps and websites.
But that’s not news to thousands of Illinoisians – the state has already become the fourth largest sports betting market in the country.
Illinois Sports Betting Updates
- Illinois Takes First Step Toward Online Casinos – Illinois legislators introduced HB 3142 in February 2020, which would create the Internet Gaming Act and authorize casinos to offer online casino gaming in the state.
- Governor J.B. Pritzker Extends Mobile Registration – The Illinois Governor has once again suspended in-person registration until March 8, 2021.
- DraftKings Launches In Illinois – On August 5, 2020, DraftKings Sportsbook launched in Illinois in partnership with Casino Queen in East St. Louis. The app currently offers a 20% deposit bonus up to $1,000 for new members.
- FanDuel Launches In Illinois – On August 28, 2020, FanDuel Sportsbook joined the Illinois market in partnership with Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria. If you’re not already a member, you can place a risk-free bet up to $1,000 at FanDuel Illinois.
- In-Person Registration Requirement Suspended Again – On August 21, 2020, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker suspended the in-person registration requirement for the second time, and has since renewed that order through January 2021. That means you can sign up at any Illinois online sportsbook remotely.
- PointsBet And William Hill Launch In Illinois – PointsBet Illinois launched on September 12, and William Hill Illinois launched on September 15, 2020. Those are the fourth and fifth options to enter the market, respectively.
- Illinois Sports Betting Hits $435 Million – In January 2021, the Illinois Gaming Board released their most recent sports betting revenue report: $435 million in October 2020, making it one of the largest markets in US sports betting. Online bets consisted of 95% of total wagering, and estimates suggest that the state could see more than $5 billion in sports wagers by the end of 2023.
The 5 Best Illinois Sports Betting Apps
FanDuel Illinois Sportsbook (9.5/10)
- Welcome Bonus: Risk-free bet up to $1,000
- Retail Partner: Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria
- Available via desktop, iOS, and Android
- Mobile app rated 4.7 out of 5.0 in App Store
- Features of FanDuel Illinois: Great daily parlay offers, tons of ongoing promotions, quality loyalty program, same login as FanDuel DFS
The FanDuel Illinois Sportsbook offers an exceptionally smooth and intuitive platform that’s a joy to navigate. And that’s on top of the hyper-competitive odds and some of the best parlay deals in the state.
In Illinois, FanDuel is offering a risk-free bet up to $1,000 for new members. If the bet is won, you keep the winnings and the wager. But a losing bet is refunded in site credits, which then need to be bet a single time (in any combination) before you can cash out.
While DraftKings offers a better welcome bonus, FanDuel often offers better odds on certain events. Joining both may be a smart move to compare win potential before placing a bet.
PointsBet Illinois Sportsbook (9.25/10)
- Welcome Bonus: Two risk-free bets up to $2,000 with code BIGBONUS
- Retail Partner: Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney
- Available via desktop, iOS, and Android
- App rated 4.6 out of 5.0 in the App Store
- Key features: Unique “Points Betting” feature for totals, huge number of promotions every day, “no Juice” spreads on certain events, tons of market depth for MMA and international sporting events
PointsBet is a new name in US sports betting. But the Australian company is already making waves in New Jersey, Iowa, and Indiana, and it’s sure to continue its trajectory as a top-tier sportsbook brand as it grows in Illinois.
The PointsBet Illinois Sportsbook offers new members two risk-free bets up to a total of $1,500 with code BIGBONUS. You can place up to $500 risk-free on a fixed-odds bet, and up to $1,000 on a “Points Betting” wager, which is the platform’s most unique feature. Losses are funded as site credits that must be wagered 1x.
With Points Betting, you choose a totals wager, such as NBA total points or NFL passing yards. When the game ends, you receive a multiplier based on how accurate you were.
But that multiplier applies to both winning and losing bets. For example, if you bet the over on 200 total points for an NBA game and it ends in 210 total points, you’d win a 10x multiplier. But if you bet the under on that same game, your lost wager is multiplied by ten.
DraftKings Illinois Sportsbook (9.75/10)
- Welcome Bonus: 20% deposit bonus up to $1,000
- Retail Partner: Casino Queen in East St. Louis
- Available via desktop, iOS, and Android
- Best mobile app in Illinois (4.8 out of 5.0 in the App Store)
- Features of DraftKings Illinois: New promos and special offers added daily, free daily tournaments and tournaments with huge prize pools, popular loyalty program, works seamlessly with DraftKings DFS
The DraftKings Illinois Sportsbook is second to none. With the best mobile platform for both iOS and Android devices, a lucrative welcome offer, and extremely competitive odds, DraftKings tops the list of options in the state.
The welcome bonus is a 20% deposit match up to $1,000. To receive the maximum amount, you’ll need to deposit $5,000. DraftKings Illinois will then match each $5 in real-money with $1 in bonus money which then must be wagered 1x before it can be withdrawn.
If you’re going to use the maximum amount and plan on betting $6,000 anyway, then this is the best welcome bonus. But for most of us, the 100% deposit bonus up to $250 offered by BetRivers is the better deal.
BetRivers Sportsbook Illinois (8.5/10)
- Welcome Bonus: 100% first deposit match up to $250
- Available via desktop, iOS, and Android
- Retail Partner: Rivers Casino in Des Plaines
- 1x wagering requirement on bonus money
- Features of BetRivers Illinois: High-quality loyalty program (iRush Rewards), integrated live streams of select events, special offers in the “House Bets” section, PayPal available as deposit and cashout method
The BetRivers Illinois Sportsbook offers a robust sports betting platform, with somewhat competitive odds and some interesting special offers. However, it shines brightest in the promotions and reward category.
BetRivers Illinois will double your first deposit up to $250, and the amount is tied to a mere 1x wagering requirement. That means you only need to bet the full amount (using any combination of bets), and whatever is leftover is yours to withdraw.
The BetRivers Illinois mobile app is currently subpar. And they do not consistently offer much better odds than other options. But they compensate well for those significant downsides with lots of free chances to win.
- Welcome Bonus: Risk-free bet up to $300
- Retail Partner: Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin
- Available via iOS and Android (no desktop)
- Key Features: Huge market depth, unique options for international sports, simple, straightforward platform, quality odds that compete well with competitors
The William Hill Sportsbook in Illinois brings a century-old sports betting brand from the UK to a state with a sizable European and Mexican soccer fanbase.
That’s where William Hill really stands apart from the other options in the state. They have an impressive market depth for international events, and their odds are competitive across the board.
But beyond that, William Hill largely falls short. They offer the worst welcome bonus in the state, with a risk-free bet up to $300, and a loss is refunded in site credits that need to be wagered a second time before cashout.
The other promotions are few and far between, and the app is having a lot of issues too, which is an even bigger problem when they don’t offer a desktop version of the site.
All Illinois Sportsbook Apps
|Sportsbook||Bonus Offer||Retail Partner||Launch Date|
|BetRivers||100% Deposit Match Up To $250||Rivers Casino||June 18, 2020|
|DraftKings||20% Deposit Match Up To $1,000||Casino Queen||August 5, 2020|
|FanDuel||Risk-free Bet Up To $1,000||Par-A-Dice Casino||August 28, 2020|
|PointsBet||Two Risk-free Bets Up To $1,500 With Code BIGBONUS||Hawthorne Racecourse||September 12, 2020|
|William Hill||Risk-free Bet Up To $300||Grand Victoria Casino||September 15, 2020|
How To Place A Bet In Illinois
Step 1: Find The Right Sportsbook
You can safely join any of the five legally-licensed online sportsbooks in Illinois.
You can also do so from anywhere in the state, as Governor Pritzker has suspended the in-person registration requirements via Executive Order, and will likely renew that order throughout 2021.
If you’re unsure which to join, consider choosing the platform with the best odds on an event you like. You can view the odds at all sportsbooks (except William Hill) before joining by visiting their website.
Step 2: Download The App Or Bet Via Desktop
If you’re using Apple’s App Store, make sure the app is specific to your state. In the case of FanDuel, DraftKings, and PointsBet, the same sportsbook app applies to all legal states. But you’ll need to download BetRivers Illinois and William Hill Illinois specifically.
For Android users, you’ll need to visit the desktop version of the website and download the app directly from the sportsbook. The Google Play store does not list sports betting apps.
For all online sportsbooks except William Hill, you can also bet directly on the website using the browser on your mobile device or computer.
Step 3: Make A Deposit And Get The Welcome Offer
Make a deposit using one of the baking methods offered by your preferred sportsbook. The most common options include:
- Credit/Debit Card
- Online Bank Transfer
- PayNearMe retailers (7Eleven, Walgreens, CVS, etc.)
You can also deposit in your online sportsbook account and receive winnings in cash at the partnering casino cage. For example, BetRivers deposits and cashouts are accepted at Rivers Casino Des Plaines.
You may also need to provide a promo code during signup or deposit. In some cases, the promo can be automatically applied.
Step 4: Place Your Bet
If you’re using a promotion, make sure you read the terms and conditions. For example, a risk-free bet usually only applies to your first wager, and the odds must be -200 or longer.
Otherwise, simply select the bet you want to place, and add the amount you want to wager into your bet slip. The sportsbook will automatically generate the amount you stand to win.
Illinois Legal Sportsbooks
The legally licensed sportsbooks available in Illinois are some of the highest quality brands in the world. And with the ability to register on these sites and apps remotely, it’s simply not worth the risk of joining an illegal site.
One of the biggest reasons to avoid an illegal sportsbook is the fact that you’re not protected from fraud. If the website disappears, if they refuse to pay out your winnings, if they allow your information to be compromised, you have no legal recourse.
The Illinois Gaming Board regulates state-licensed sportsbooks, and also offers dispute resolution directly on their website.
Remember, you’re legally obligated to report net winnings from gambling every year, and they’re subject to income tax at both the state and federal level. The online sportsbooks in Illinois are obligated to provide tax documents and make it easy to receive them if needed.And, yes, the sportsbook will report net winnings to the IRS and the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Illinois Sports Betting Revenue
According to the sports wagering monthly reports offered by the Gaming Board, Illinois sportsbooks handled close to a billion dollars in bets across the different sportsbooks between March and October.
In October 2020 alone, sports bettors in the state wagered $435 million. That translates to $42.2 million in revenue for the sportsbooks and $6.3 million in tax revenue for the state.
The top three most popular sportsbooks in October 2020 were:
- DraftKings ($141 million wagered)
- BetRivers ($115 million wagered)
- FanDuel ($106 million wagered)
Based on the fact that 94% of those wagered were placed on mobile devices, and given the NFL playoffs, Super Bowl LV, and March Madness, that trend is only expected to continue.
Experts believe that the total amount wagered in Illinois could exceed $5 billion within the first three years of legalization.
How Illinois Compares To Other States
When Illinois first launched legal online sports betting in March 2020, the in-person registration requirement made the Indiana and Iowa laws more appealing. But since Governor Pritzker suspended that requirement via executive order, that’s no longer a factor.
However, Illinois currently offers five online sportsbooks. Indiana offers ten, including top-tier choices like BetMGM, Unibet, and Caesars Sportsbook. Iowa offers seven and also boasts BetMGM, which has an app quality that’s on par with DraftKings.
Further, Illinois does not allow betting on in-state schools, whereas you can bet on all collegiate sports in Indiana and Iowa. But you cannot place in-game bets on college sports in Iowa, while Illinois and Indiana allow it.
Thankfully, Illinois has most of the best online sportsbooks, and remote registration will likely be available for the entire year. So unless you’re determined to bet on the University of Illinois or Northwestern football, you have all sports betting action you need in-state.
Illinois Betting Successes And Failures
Illinois Sports Betting Success
The immediate and gradually increasing popularity of sports betting in Illinois has been a success that’s expected to continue. As the sixth-largest state in the US—and with Chicago boasting some of the biggest professional sports teams in the world—a lack of legal sports betting pushed the pastime underground.
Another major success was the Governor suspending the in-person registration requirement. The requirement to leave home, drive to the closest casino, and register for just one online sportsbook would be a major hurdle in normal times. But during COVID-19, that became all the more unreasonable.
Thankfully, the Governor continues to renew the executive order suspending that requirement, and legal sports betting in Illinois continues to gain in popularity as a result.
Where Could Illinois Improve Online Gambling
Several line items in the state’s sports betting regulations have received a significant amount of criticism.
But for both sports bettors and sportsbook operators, the biggest failure seems to be the licensing issue with mobile-only brands. The Illinois Gaming Board has until Spring 2022 to approve three mobile-only licenses, which cost $25 million apiece. Assuming there are any takers, approval would mean the end of the in-person registration requirement.
Until then, it’s up to the renewal of the executive order. So it might be a good idea to register now while it’s available.
It’s also disappointing that only ten mobile licenses can be approved. Illinois has a population that could support far more. For example, New Jersey has 14 options and about 4 million fewer people.
Legalization Effort In Illinois
It’s easy to say that legal sports betting wouldn’t exist in Illinois if it weren’t for the push by Governor Pritzker. Just six months into his first term, the Governor garnered bipartisan support for a gambling expansion. This included a casino in the City of Chicago as well as sports betting.
However, state senators have been pushing for this initiative since at least 2018, when the Supreme Court repealed the law restricting legal sports betting in the US. And, really, New Jersey lawmakers and voters are responsible for attempting to legalize sports betting in their state in 2011. That triggered a challenge in the federal courts, and New Jersey eventually prevailed on behalf of all US states, ending Nevada’s monopoly on legal US sportsbooks.
Meanwhile, Indiana and Iowa also legalized sports betting, and both states were faster with their rollout than Illinois. This meant Chicagoans would travel to Indiana to bet on sports, as Horseshoe Hammond offered Windy City bettors free shuttles to and from Chinatown and other locations.
But when Governor Pritzker replaced Bruce Rauner, sports betting was quickly on the docket, and the state legalized online and retail sportsbooks in March 2020.
Timeline For Illinois Sports Betting
June 28, 2019- Governor Pritzker signed the Gambling Act into law, which expanded gambling regulations considerably, including legalized sports betting.
September 1, 2019- Indiana launches sports betting, creating easy access for Chicagoans who still don’t have a legal option in-state.
March 9, 2020, 12:00 PM- Rivers Casino in Des Plaines began accepting the first legal sports bets in Illinois at their retail BetRivers Sportsbook.
March 16, 2020- All casinos shut down for 14 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the BetRivers Sportsbook.
June 11, 2020- By this day, seven sports betting licenses were granted to seven gambling properties: Rivers Casino, The Argosy, Grand Victoria Casino, Par-A-Dice, Casino Queen, Hollywood Casino Aurora, and Hollywood Casino Joliet. Each could also launch an online sports betting brand.
June 18, 2020- BetRivers launched online, becoming the state’s first legal sports betting website and app. Through an Executive Order, the Governor also suspended in-person registration requirements.
July 2020- On the first, retail casinos and sportsbooks could reopen in Illinois at 50% capacity with six feet of social distancing. Late in the month, the Governor reinstated the in-person registration requirement.
August 2020- DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook launch in Illinois.
September 2020- Not only did PointsBet and William Hill launch in Illinois, the Governor again suspend the in-person registration requirement, and has every month since.
October 2020- Illinois sports betting hits its record $435 million in wagers in one month, and about 95% of those wagers were placed online. The sportsbook market is officially off to the races.
Illinois Professional Sports Teams
Betting on the NFL is the most popular wager in Illinois, and the Chicago Bears are the most popular NFL team in Illinois. The Monsters of the Midway are an institution that dates long before the days of Coach Ditka. And they’ve recently been making it to WildCard rounds at the playoffs, so the future isn’t looking half bad.
Since the double three-peat days of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, the team has seen more downs than ups. But they remain one of the most popular sports teams in the world, and folks in Illinois love to bet on the NBA – and Bulls games in particular.
For decades, the Chicago Cubs offered the best live sports experience in Illinois that you could attend for under $10. But those days are behind us now that the Cubbies broke their 108-year World Series drought in 2016. And while ticket prices are none too cheap, they’ve been a contender for another ring every year since, which makes for great betting action.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005, and they’ve had some great teams in the years since. And while the South Siders don’t receive the kind of national attention the Cubs enjoy, they’re a popular team in Illinois that inspires plenty of wagers.
Seeing the Chicago Blackhawks play in-person at United Center is absolutely electrifying. Combined with the excitement of placing bets, and that’s an irresistible level of excitement that thousands will enjoy when the crowds return post-coronavirus.
Illinois College Sports Teams
Illinois boasts 18 D1 college football teams and 22 D1 college basketball teams. The top programs include the University of Illinois, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, and DePaul, all of which are popular options for bettors across the US.
In fact, during the college football and NFL seasons, the collegiate level events were a close send to the pro games for most wagering in Illinois.
Unfortunately, it is illegal to bet on in-state Illinois teams. That means all those wagers placed in Illinois—including much of the $435 million worth in October 2020—were placed on out-of-state college football teams.
While the Fighting Illini and Northwestern Wildcats have a lot of alumni throughout the state, Chicago residents as a whole may have more love for other midwest teams. For example, you’re never more than a mile or two from a Notre Dame, Michigan, or Ohio State bar.
Further, March Madness attracts more bets than any other multi-event postseason in the US. Illinois has 30 appearances, DePaul has 18, and Northwestern has just one. That means there’s a decent chance that folks in the state can bet on all the March Madness games, and the vast majority are always fair game.
Other Sports To Bet On In Illinois
PointsBet and William Hill are two international sportsbook brands available in Illinois. As such, both offer tons of bets on the more obscure competitions.
However, for mainstream international sports like the Premier League or Champions League, all the sportsbooks will offer tons of action, particularly DraftKings and FanDuel.
You can bet on golf, tennis, MMA, boxing, and all other individual sports at the professional level in Illinois. As betting on the PGA and MMA continues to grow in popularity, the action will only get more robust as time goes on.
The Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL boasts top-tier NASCAR events, which means you could attend a race and bet on it online simultaneously. Illinois sportsbooks also offer bets on Formula 1 and other racing events.
Illinois defines a sport in a way that makes betting on esports a real possibility. Only time will tell, but in Indiana and Iowa, esports betting is prohibited, so the potential alone is promising.
Illinois Sports Betting FAQs
Yes. Online sports betting is legal in Illinois. Five licensed sportsbooks are currently available: DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, BetRivers, and William Hill. As of September 2020, you can also register at all legal Illinois sportsbooks remotely. Governor Pritzker suspended the in-person requirement by Executive Order, and he seems set to renew that policy for the majority of 2021.
You must be at least 21 years old to wager at online sportsbooks in Illinois. The same is true for betting on sports in-person at sportsbook retailers. You must verify your age and identity when you register for an online sportsbook account to ensure you’re of the legal age.
Yes. You can bet on college sports in Illinois except for in-state college teams. That means University of Illinois, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, DePaul, and all the rest are strictly off-limits. However, you can place in-game bets on out-of-state college teams, and bet on tournaments like March Madness as long as it’s not on a single-game event with an Illinois school.
No. You can bet at Illinois sportsbooks as long as you’re at least 21 years old and physically located in the state. This law applies to both online and retail sportsbooks. To place a wager, you must turn on geo-tracking to verify your location inside the state.
Yes. DraftKings Sportsbook launched in Illinois on August 5, 2020, in partnership with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, which also has a retail DraftKings Sportsbook. If you’re over 21, you can join DraftKings Illinois right now and receive a 20% deposit bonus up to $1,000. But you have to be physically inside Illinois to wager.
Yes. The FanDuel Sportsbook launched on August 28, 2020. It was part of a partnership with Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, IL, which also houses a FanDuel Sportsbook lounge inside for those who prefer in-person betting. Those who want to wager in Illinois can join FanDuel Sportsbook and place a risk-free bet up to $1,000.
More Resources On Illinois Sports Betting
- Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), which regulates and collects taxes from gambling companies, including land-based casinos and sportsbooks as well as online sportsbooks.
- Check this page of the IGB website to download PDFs of sports betting revenue reports as they’re released.
- Read the full Sports Wagering Act, which details all rules and regulations surrounding online and retail sportsbooks in Illinois.
- You can find Chicago’s breaking sports news at the Chicago Tribune online Sports Section and the Chicago Sun-Times online Sports Section.
- The Illinois College Sports News page at the Decatur Tribune and the Chicago Tribune College Sports page offer daily updates on in-state college sports.
- College Football News and ESPN’s College Football page offers nationwide coverage of college football, which will likely be more useful than in-state coverage for Illinois bettors.