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Illinois online gambling

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Checked by Lorella F.Melanie H.

Illinois online gambling had its biggest break in March 2022, when the in-person registration requirement for online sports betting was permanently scrapped.

With first-time gamblers now able to register remotely at any of the state’s online operators, the number of licensed sites to choose from is expected to increase sharply. 

Of course, quantity does not guarantee quality. Our experts delved into the workings of Illinois gambling so you can skip the work and get straight to the fun.

Jump to your area of interest by choosing one of the cards below, or you can move right ahead to our curated list of the best Illinois gambling sites.

Best online gambling sites Illinois

Given how new it all is, it can be tricky to figure out the ins and outs of gambling in Illinois. Here, we cut to the chase by bringing our experts’ top four all-rounders. 

These sites bag the crown for best Illinois gambling sites because they passed the Time2play ranking system with flying colors, receiving our experts’ highest scores across a number of objective criteria. Below, you’ll find our top Illinois sports betting sites, social sportsbooks and DFS sites, ranked according to our independent and informed reviews.

Sportsbook logo Odds rating Bonus Go to sportsbook Button Show more T&C
1
Caesars sportsbook review
90/100 Expert rating by Ian Z. 94% Playscore based on Up to $1,000 back as a Bonus Bet on your first wager
Play now

Good to know

  • Excellent rewards program
  • Fast payouts
  • Bet on 20 different sports

9 payment methods

PayPal
Visa
Discover
MasterCard
VIP Preferred
Bank Transfer
Skrill
PayNearMe
Play+
2
BetMGM review
85/100 Expert rating by Anna M. 91% Playscore based on Up to $1,000 back in Bonus Bets
Play now

Good to know

  • Strong odds on football
  • Stellar customer support
  • Live streaming and live data

14 payment methods

VIP Preferred
Visa
MasterCard
TAPPP
PayNearMe
PayPal
Skrill
Play+
Bank Transfer
American Express
Discover
Cash at Casino Cage
Check
e-Check
3
Sportzino logo
Sportzino review
84/100 Expert rating by Paul P. 91% Playscore based on Up to 200,000 Gold Coins + 9 Sweeps Coins
Play now

Good to know

  • 41 sports
  • Early Withdraw option
  • Politics and entertainment betting

6 payment methods

Visa
MasterCard
Discover
ACH Network
Skrill
Trustly
4
BetRivers review
83/100 Expert rating by Ian Z. 86% Playscore based on Second Chance Bet of up to $250
Play now

Good to know

  • Many regular promotions
  • Huge number of sports
  • Trusted by many state licensors

6 payment methods

PayNearMe
MasterCard
PayPal
Play+
Discover
Visa
5
ownersbox logo
OwnersBox review
80/100 Expert rating by Anna M. 87% Playscore based on 100% match up to $500
Play now

Good to know

  • Twist on the traditional
  • User-friendly DFS platform
  • Available in 37 states

7 payment methods

Bank Transfer
Visa
MasterCard
Discover
American Express
ACH Network
Check
6
Fliff logo
Fliff review
80/100 Expert rating by Ramona D. 83% Playscore based on 100% up to $100 FC
Play now

Good to know

  • Good sport selection
  • Offers college sports
  • Available in 41 states

5 payment methods

PayPal
Visa
Bank Transfer
MasterCard
Skrill
7
ParlayPlay
ParlayPlay review
78/100 Expert rating by Anna M. 86% Playscore based on 100% match up to $100 + $5 Promo Pick
Play now

Good to know

  • Mix of DFS with sports betting
  • Members Club rewards
  • Available in 27 states

4 payment methods

Visa
MasterCard
Discover
ACH Network
8
Thrillzz review
67/100 Expert rating by Paul P. 81% Playscore based on Sign up and get $3 in Free Coins
Play now

Good to know

  • Six ongoing promos
  • Major soccer events available
  • High-value welcome bonus

7 payment methods

Visa
MasterCard
American Express
Discover
Apple Pay
Skrill
Bank Transfer

Can you gamble online in Illinois? What’s legal when it comes to Illinois online gambling? Up to March 2022, the waters were still quite murky. Sure, you could place an online sports wager, but first, you had to actually visit the retail outlet to register in person. 

Now that this requirement is no more, Illinois gambling laws have finally started making more sense. To keep things simple, all you need to know is that online sports betting is perfectly legal, as are online lotteries. 

What remains unavailable are real money online casinos and online poker. The Internet Gaming Act is poised to change this state of affairs, but so far it shows no signs of actually being implemented. The good news is that social casinos are freely and legally available.

You do need to be 21 years of age to put down an online sports wager in the Land of Lincoln, although online lotteries are open even to 18-year-olds.

Gambling verticalOffline legal ageOnline legal ageOnline since
Casinos21n/an/a
Social casinosn/a21June 2019
Sportsbooks2121June 2019
Social betting appsn/a21June 2019
Poker21n/an/a
Lottery1818September 2020
Video gaming terminals21n/an/a

Illinois betting sites — legal since 2019

Illinois online gambling was made legal back in June 2019, when Governor J.B. Pritzker officially signed The Sports Wagering Act which opened the doors wide for sports betting in Illinois. 

However, the first retail sportsbook wager took almost a full year to become reality, when sports journalist Eddie Olcyzyk made Illinois gambling history by betting $100 on the White Sox at the Rivers Casino on March 9, 2020. 

Online sports betting was to take even longer, with BetRivers sportsbook beating everyone else to the finishing line and going live on June 18, 2020. But even then, the situation stayed somewhat weird, as Illinois gambling laws required players to first register in person, which kinda defeated the whole purpose of online gambling sites. In short, the Prairie State had a friends-with-benefits arrangement with online gambling, without fully committing.

March 2022 happily changed all this, and Illinois online gambling is now official and accessible entirely remotely, even for those seeking to lay down a sports wager for the first time. To date, there are seven online sportsbooks offering legal online gambling in Illinois, offering a variety of markets and betting options on a par with the likes of New Jersey sports betting.

The sportsbook sites ranked highest by our experts offer over 25 different sports, including a huge variety of markets for the most popular sports in Illinois, like NFL, NBA and NHL, with especially good odds and offers on homegrown teams like the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Bears. College betting, so far, is only legal at retail outlets, so don’t expect to find it at any of the Illinois online gambling sites recommended by our experts.

Social casinos — the best legal alternative to online casinos in Illinois

Much like the Nevada and the Maryland online gambling landscape, Illinois online casinos have hit a massive stumbling block, with the Illinois Internet Gaming Act remaining frozen in limbo for the foreseeable future.

If you’re wondering how to gamble online in Illinois, there is an alternative. Social and sweepstakes casinos are perfectly legal under Illinois online gambling laws as they do not require real money to play their games.

There is a distinction to be made between social casinos and sweepstakes sites. Platforms like BetRivers.net social casino, for example, operate on a purely ‘just for fun’ basis, which means that you can never win real money playing there. Sites like FortuneCoins sweepstakes casino, on the other hand, also offer real money payouts on specific games, although you will never be obliged to spend your own cash before you can play. 

Because they’re not strictly classified as gambling, social and sweepstakes casinos don’t require an Illinois Gaming Board license. This means there’s more than plenty to choose from – and to get confused by. It’s worth remembering that since they aren’t regulated, it is even more important to make sure you don’t wind up on a site that’s less than reputable.

The top-ranking sites that made the cut with our experts satisfy a very specific set of criteria. Most social casinos tend to offer less game variety than normal online gambling sites, but we still expect a good selection, like Gambino Slots, which has over 100 slots. We also like to see a good mix of reputable software providers, together with the social version of popular online slots. Thus, BetRivers social casino scores very high with us, with classic NetEnt slots like Gonzo’s Quest and Starburst slot present and correct.

Casino Logo Odds rating Bonus Go to casino Button Show more T&C
1
WOW Vegas logo
WOW Vegas review
94/100 Expert rating by Anna M. 92% Playscore based on 1.5 million WOW Coins + 35 free Sweepstakes Coins
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Good to know

  • Daily log-in bonus
  • 1,000+ slots to play
  • 35 SC on first purchase

8 payment methods

American Express
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2
Ding Ding Ding review
91/100 Expert rating by Paul P. 82% Playscore based on 100,000 Gold Coins + 2.5 Sweepstakes Coins
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Good to know

  • Cryptocurrency purchases
  • Over 960 games
  • 9 live games

15 payment methods

Visa
MasterCard
American Express
Discover
Google Pay
Cryptocurrency
Bitcoin
Ethereum
Litecoin
Bitcoin Cash
Tron
Tether
Dash
ACH Network
Gift cards
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Zula logo
Zula review
89/100 Expert rating by Paul P. 87% Playscore based on Up to 100,000 GC + 10 SC
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  • Monthly raffles
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3 payment methods

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4
Sweepsteaks Ltd
Stake.us review
88/100 Expert rating by Claire S. 96% Playscore based on 250,000 Gold Coins and $25 Stake Cash
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  • Exclusive Time2play bonus
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11 payment methods

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Bitcoin Cash
Cryptocurrency
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EOS
Ethereum
Litecoin
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5
Spree.com review
88/100 Expert rating by Paul P. 79% Playscore based on 1,000,000 Gold Coins + 2.5 Spree Coins
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  • 750+ games
  • 3 live games available
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5 payment methods

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McLuck social casino logo
McLuck review
88/100 Expert rating by Charlie S. 90% Playscore based on 57,000 Gold Coins + 27.5 free Sweeps Coins
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  • Exclusive Time2play bonus code
  • 150% bonus on $9.99 package
  • Live casino games

4 payment methods

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Chumba review
88/100 Expert rating by Claire S. 87% Playscore based on 2,000,000 Gold Coins and 2 FREE Sweeps Coins
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  • Free virtual currency daily
  • Compete for extra rewards
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9 payment methods

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Skrill
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RealPrize review
87/100 Expert rating by Paul P. 82% Playscore based on 100,000 Gold Coins + 2 free Sweeps Coins
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Pulsz review
87/100 Expert rating by Claire S. 84% Playscore based on Up to 367,000 Gold Coins + 32.3 free Sweepstakes Coins
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Good to know

  • Social media and VIP rewards
  • Regular tournaments and contests
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8 payment methods

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Jackpota logo
Jackpota review
87/100 Expert rating by Paul P. 80% Playscore based on 7,500 Gold Coins + 2.5 Sweeps Coins
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Good to know

  • Live social casino
  • Table games available
  • High-value welcome bonus

8 payment methods

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MasterCard
Google Pay
Apple Pay
Skrill
ACH Network
Bank Transfer
Gift cards

Poker at social casinos — legal since 2019

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The Illinois gambling landscape is yet to embrace online poker. There are retail poker rooms aplenty, with the likes of BetRivers, the Grand Victoria and Bally’s Quad Cities renowned for the level of service and the high standards of the poker room hosts.

Poker gambling in Illinois also extends to charity poker, which is a very well-organized affair but – alas – also landbased. Organizations like Chicago Charitable Games and Central Illinois Charitable Games host regular weekend tournaments at licensed venues with 10 – 25% of revenue going towards the named charity of the week.

Where does that leave online poker? Much like online casino, it all depends on when the Internet Gaming Act becomes part of Illinois gambling laws. Until then, many social casinos offer a reasonable portfolio of poker games. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly BetRivers.net, which impressed our experts with the variety and level of software.

Other forms of gambling in Illinois

Don’t be fooled by the roller-coaster ride that’s been the Illinois gambling journey so far. Residents in the Prairie State love a flutter or two, and not only on sports betting or casino games. Lottery and bingo are both huge, and there is a big tradition of horse racing, with an outing to one of the physical racetracks considered a big day out. 

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is also growing consistently after a March 2020 decision by the Illinois Supreme Court determined such games to be based on skill, rather than chance, opening the door wide for operators.

illinois-state-lottery-numbers

Lottery

The Illinois state lottery has been going strong since 1974, and its online version has now grown into an even bigger mammoth. Although it went online in 2012, the launch of the app in 2014 took it to even higher levels despite generating objections from lottery ticket vendors on the basis of loss of revenue. But this was only a precursor of things to come as, in 2021, the Fast Play lottery platform was introduced.
bingo-card-and-numbers

Bingo

Bingo is easily available at licensed venues across Illinois, however only charitable, educational or religious organizations can apply for a license as long as these operate on a non-profit basis. Because the end purpose is related to charity, the minimum age is reduced from 21 to 18. The game comes with a whole raft of regulations, the most important being that no prize can exceed $5.
horse-racing-betting

Horse-racing

It didn’t really require Illinois gambling laws to legalize sports betting for players in the state to enjoy a spot of wagering on the horse races. Horse-racing enjoys a strong tradition in the Land of Lincoln and, even before 2019, was made legal via the Illinois Racing Board. Wagers could already be placed as early as 1927. They were legally formalized at the state’s two racing tracks in 1975, complete with pari-mutuel wagering, where you can l
daily-fantasy-sports-betting

Daily Fantasy Sports

May 2020 proved to be a big turning point for Daily Fantasy Sports in Illinois, with the Supreme Court formalizing the legality of head-to-head DFS contests. This successfully overturned a previous 2015 Attorney General advisory memo that had classified DFS games as illegal games of chance that violated state gambling law. Players can specifically thank FanDuel for this, given that the subject of the suit was one of its NBA-based games. If you’re

Offline gambling: Riverboat casinos in Illinois

Illinois opened its first riverboat casino in Alton in 1991, a year after the Riverboat Gambling Act made casinos legal, as long as they continuously moved along the river while gambling was taking place. The first riverboat casino license was granted to the Alton Belle, a spectacular three-deck riverboat with 296 slot machines. Nine other licenses soon followed and revenue from riverboat gambling surpassed that from horse-racing by 1992.

In 1999, a new Riverboat Gambling Act was signed, making it legal for waterway casinos to be permanently docked. There was still a ‘but’ – casinos needed to be located on a riverboat. Hold my beer, exclaimed Rivers Casino in De Plains, as it clapped back with the most lucrative ‘challenge accepted’ in history. They simply dug a pit on land, filled it with water and plonked a casino on top. Sorted.

The legal anomaly was finally addressed in 2019, when Governor Pritzker signed a law allowing the 10 state casinos to move to actual dry land, thus changing the face of casino gambling in Illinois forever. Today, four riverboat casinos remain in operation, with the rest operating from normal premises across the Land of Lincoln.

Riverboat casinoLaunch dateSportsbook
Grand Victoria Casino  Riverboat Resort25th October, 1994Yes
Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel25th February, 1993Yes
Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino14th February, 1992Yes
HC Aurora20th July, 1993Yes

Video gaming terminals in Illinois 

2009 saw a further development on the Illinois gambling news front, thanks to the introduction of The Video Gaming Act. This made it legal for a set of licensed establishments to host video gaming terminals (VGTs). The main categories of shops allowed to apply for a license are limited to venues with a liquor license, truck stops, veteran clubs and fraternal organizations.

Today there are over 11,000 video gaming machines scattered around the state, bringing in significant revenue and new business for venue owners. The success of these gaming machines is one of the reasons the Internet Gaming Act in Illinois has met with such controversy and remains stuck in limbo, with VGT operators loath to have to share their revenue with online casino operators.

Two people playing on a slot machine terminal

How we rate the best Illinois gambling sites

All the gambling sites you see recommended here are licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board. But for a site to earn a place on our experts’ top rankings it means it went beyond that, satisfying a list of objective criteria and beating others to score the highest points. You’ll find a detailed breakdown of our points-based system on the page Time2play Methodology.

Meantime, here’s a quick rundown of our criteria to get a better idea.

IGB License

Of course, if a site is not licensed by the correct authority – in this case, the Illinois Gaming Board – then it won’t feature on our listings. Sites that try to bypass this and operate anyway throughout Illinois are blacklisted by our experts.

Additional seals of trust mean brownie points for that operator, and if an operator is licensed in multiple states it also scores higher for the reason that it has been subjected to additional scrutiny by other bodies. BetRivers sportsbook, for example, is licensed in 11 states and has won the EGR and Global Gaming Awards. No prizes for figuring out why it scores so highly with our experts.

Products

For online sports betting we like to see a big variety of sports and markets to bet on, as well as the quality of the bets. Usually we’d expect 50+ markets to bet on, with an average odds payout of 97%. The 150+ markets offered by FanDuel sportsbook secure it a top-tier position with our experts, as does the fact that it offers college games betting.

Real money online casino sites are as yet unavailable, but our casino review criteria also applies to social casinos that rank high on our list. We like to see a good variety of games offered by a mix of reputable providers, which is why BetRivers social casino’s 450+ games get our thumbs up.

Live gambling

A very important criteria both for our top-rated social casinos and our sportsbooks. Once again, BetRivers sportsbook is our star performer with one of the best and smoothest in-game live betting odds experience we’ve played. The site delivers an especially stellar performance for pro football betting. 

Live gambling is not something that many social casinos offer, but our experts have scoured a gagillion sites to find our top performers. Even in this area, BetRivers social casino leads the pack with 21 live casino games. 

Gambling apps

In 2021, 95% of online gambling in Illinois took place via mobile, according to the state licensing authority. Which makes a top-notch gambling app pretty damn important in our view. For social casinos, this means that the majority of games need to be accessible by mobile, whether on a dedicated app or via the browser. Needless to say, the player’s experience needs to be seamless. Sportsbook apps should replicate the same features available on desktop, including live betting, with an optimized mobile interface.

Payments

In Illinois the most popular online payments are easily available at our highest-ranking sites and we expect to see an average of eight or nine deposit and withdrawal options here. ACH, American Express, Discover, PayPal and PayNearMe are the most popular methods here, so our experts will deduct points if they don’t find them. Fast payouts also count for a lot on our scoring system, with the top-performers promising instant or few hour cashouts.

Platform

A stressful user experience is the opposite of fun. Is registration simple to do and completed in a few steps? Do you have to jump through hoops to claim your bonus or will one click do it? Is it easy to search for and find your favorite games? These are all questions our experts consider before scoring their final points.

Ilinois gambling and safety

While online sports betting is fully legal across Illinois, the Prairie State is anything but lax in terms of standards and security. The Illinois Gaming Board (ILGB) regulates all forms of gambling, including retail and remote sports betting, Video Gaming Terminals, landbased and riverboat casinos.

The ILGB keeps detailed and fully accessible logs of all licensed operators throughout the state, including those that are given a temporary license and those that are still in the pre-licensing stage. Basically, if you’re on a site but you can’t find it on the official gaming board website, run away fast because it’s not legit.

The Illinois Gaming Board will only grant a license if an applicant satisfies every single safety and security requirement – and there’s a whole raft of those. The board collaborates with external entities in order to receive independently-audited information about whether an applicant deserves an Illinois license or not. 

One such entity is Gaming Laboraties International (GLI), which is a world-leader in testing and certifying gaming devices, making sure that licensees have implemented the Illinois regulatory gaming framework and delivering accreditation. 

BMM Test Labs is another auditor the Illinois Gaming Board works closely with. This company is one of the longest running and most experienced gaming testing laboratory in the industry, and their seal of approval is a guarantee of the highest technical security a gaming product can offer.

Finally, Eclipse Compliance Testing is the fourth logo you need to look for to know that an Illinois online gambling site is totally legit. The company specializes in verifying the software in electronic gaming devices and related devices. The short story? Look out for these four logos at the footer of the site where you’re planning to spend your hard-earned dollars. If they’re present, you know you’re good to roll.

Top auditors in Delaware

  • Gaming Labs International
    Gaming Labs International
  • Illinois Gaming Board logo
    Illinois Gaming Board
  • BMM Test Labs logo
    BMM Test Labs
  • Eclipse Compliance Testing logo
    Eclipse Compliance Testing

Illinois gambling laws through time

Let’s call it for what it is. The Illinois online gambling landscape has been going through quite the merry dance throughout the past three odd years. As has the retail scene before it. 

In fact, ever since the 1920s saw the legalization of horse-race wagering it has been a series of ups, downs and even what the utter heck moments, with the Prairie State flip-flopping between making casinos illegal, then greenlighting them as long as they were navigating the watercourse and removing that requirement when it became obvious that the whole thing hadn’t quite been thought through. 

The legalization of online sports betting in the state went through the same see-saw effect, this time round the bone of contention being in-person registration. Undoubtedly, an equally colorful round will greet the eventual legalization of online casino games. Below, you’ll find some of the most memorable highlights from the Illinois gambling laws timeline.

fruit-slot-machine
June 2009

Video Gaming Terminals legalized

The introduction of The Video Gaming Act makes it legal for licensed establishments to host video gaming terminals (VGTs). The practice opens up a new stream of revenue for bars, truck stops, veteran clubs and other licensed organization, and the take-up is immediate, with the number of machines today exceeding the 11,000 mark.

illinois-lottery-numbers
March 2012

Illinois State Lottery goes online

Illinois was the first state to green-light an official lottery back in 1974. It continued leading the pack by also being the first state to take this lottery online in 2012. The biggest lottery win recorded in Illinois is of $1 million.

Illinois Tip 03
June 2019

Sports betting and landlocked casinos legalized

On the 28 of the month, Governor J.B. Pritzker singed the massively-contentious bill that would open the doors for both retail and online sports betting. Rivers Casino becomes the first venue to set up shop on dry land.

Illinois Tip 04
March 2020

First sports wager laid down

The first legal sports bet is taken at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, a $100 wager on the White Sox to win the American League.

Illinois Tip 05
June 2020

In-person registration temporarily suspended

COVID-19 hits and there’s a silver lining for Illinois gamblers. With retail casinos shut down, new players can register online to start playing at a sportsbook.

Illinois Tip 06
June 2020

BetRivers sportsbook goes live

The first online sportsbook goes live on the 18th of the month, a full year after sports betting is officially legalized. This keeps up the brand’s tradition of being the first to enter the Pennsylvania gambling, the New Jersey online gambling scene and Colorado.

April 2021

In-person registration requirement re-instated

With Covid-19 cases ebbing, casinos re-open and it’s a mixed blessing in Illinois, where gamblers once again are required to register their online sportsbook accounts in person, a requirement that would be scrapped in March 2022.

Taxation and gambling in Illinois: how the state benefits from gambling

Illinois is one of the few states with a flat tax rate on all forms of gambling, which means that landlocked casinos, riverboat casinos, retail sports venues, online sports betting sites and Video Gaming Terminal licensees all pay a 15% tax rate. In 2021, tax revenue from gambling exceeded the previous year’s figure by 11%. This was massively aided by record lottery sales, which contributed $786 million of the total $136 billion received by the tax department.

The state also makes considerable revenue from the licensing itself, as fees range from $3 to $20 million and are notorious for being in the top tier most expensive in the US. There’s also a level of discrimination between offline and standalone online licenses. Thus, for example, a retail sports venue license costs $10 million, while a sports betting operator that doesn’t have an offline venue will pay a hefty $20 million.

Illinois Infographic on tax revenue

Latest updates

Things have now stabilized on the Illinois online gambling front as Illinoisans have really taken both retail gambling and online sports betting on board, with Governor J.B. Pritzker forecasting an increase in tax revenue from gambling. 

The only remaining question is when will players across the state be able to access online slots and casino games, given that things seem to have stalled here. The main block appears to be Video Game Terminal license-holders, who worry that their revenue will diminish once online gambling is widely available. Below, you’ll find the very latest updates and forecasts.

FAQs

Is online gambling legal in Illinois?

The state legalized online sports betting in Illinois in June 2019. Online casinos will be legalized as soon as the Illinois Online Gaming Bill passes into law, but those who wish to enjoy online casino games can safely and legally use social casinos

What online sportsbooks are available in Illinois?

There are 7 sportsbook sites in Illinois operating under an Illinois Gaming Board license. These are BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, Pointsbet and Barstool sportsbook. An eighth provider, Ballybet, is still under consideration. You will find a roundup of our expert’s favorites in the section about Illinois sports-betting.

What is the gambling age in Illinois?

The Illinois minimum age for all kinds of gambling in Illinois is 21, with the exception of the lottery which can be played by those aged 18 and over.

Are online slots legal in Illinois?

Real money online casinos have not yet been legalized in Illinois. However, you can play online slots in Illinois at a variety of social casinos. The free to play slots offered at these casinos are not considered gambling and are thus perfectly legal.

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