Online Gambling in Illinois: Best Casinos and Betting
Gambling has been a big part of Illinois’ identity for decades - some say centuries - now. Horse racing was among the early forms of gambling in the state, which then went on to become the first one in the United States to legislate a state lottery.
Since then, gambling has evolved and, quite naturally, picked up an online presence. We’ll go in-depth into all possible avenues involving online gambling in Illinois: the platforms you can use, the legality of them, the traditional and off-beat gambling options available to bettors, and a bit of history on the evolution of online gambling in Illinois.
Laws for Online Gambling in Illinois
As of May 2022, online gambling in Illinois is still illegal. Although sports betting legalization has gone through with encouraging speed in Illinois, as it has in many other states across the USA, online gambling is still largely operating in a gray area.
What Online Gambling is Banned in Illinois?
As things stand, gambling in Illinois is only legal in sanctioned land-based casinos, several riverboat casinos (legal since the Riverboat Gambling Act of 1990), some sports betting and daily fantasy online platforms, and at racetracks.
Lotteries and bingo are also allowed, as is pari-mutuel betting, as long as you are above the age of 18. The minimum age to play at casinos is 21.
Illinois Sports Betting
Following the incorporation of the 1992 Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), sports betting was, more or less, made illegal all across the United States by Federal Law, barring some forms of state lotteries and pari-mutuel betting on horse racing.
Illinois sports betting takes place at select brick-and-mortar casinos throughout the state. Here is a list of the best land-based casinos in Illinois.
Top Illinois Land-Based Casinos
Illinois Casino Name
Argosy Casino Alton
746 slots, 12 gaming tables
1000 slots, 34 table games, poker room
Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino
872 slots, 29 table games
East Saint Louis
980 slots, 27 table games
Grand Victoria Casino
1088 slots, 42 table games
Harrah's Joliet Casino
838 slots, 23 table games
1100 slots, 26 table games
Harrah's Metropolis Casino
826 slots, 30 table games, poker room
Rivers Casino Des Plaines
983 slots, 58 table games, sportsbook
Hard Rock Casino Rockford
625 slots, 55 table games, electronic table games
Bally's Quad Cities Casino
847 slots, 30 table games, poker room
Rivers Casino Des Plaines
Rockford Casino by Hard Rock (temporary location)
Bally’s Quad Cities Casino & Hotel (previously Jumer’s)
Other Forms of Legal Gambling in Illinois
Illinois Horse Racing
Horse racing is a big draw in Illinois, and an industry that comes with a significant history. It is also completely legal to engage in gambling on horse racing in Illinois, with a minimum wager requirement generally accepted as $2, unless specified otherwise.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Illinois allows residents to play daily fantasy sports, though it hasn't always been that way.
Illinois State Lottery
The Illinois state runs its own lottery and has done so for a few decades now. This is fully sanctioned and legal, and now has an online presence as well. You can engage in classic lottery formats like Powerball, Pick 3, and Lucky Day Lotto.
Timeline of Illinois Lottery Gambling
While real money gambling in online casinos is not a regulated, sanctioned, or legal reality in Illinois at the moment, there is the option of sweepstakes casinos, which simulate real money gambling and can even match up, in a roundabout way.
Key Differences Between Real Money Casinos and Sweepstakes Casinos in Illinois
Online gambling in Illinois with real money
Sweepstakes gambling in Illinois
As of May 2022, deemed illegal and doesn’t come with protections
Legal in all states, recognized by the Illinois Gaming Board
Only offshore online casinos that operate for Illinois residents can be used; participation completely at the discretion of the platform owners
Can be accessed from any location in the United States; no laws related to residency
Requires real money to be deposited in offshore accounts
Can be played either with or without real money; legal recourse available in case of any trouble
Requires some level of expertise and experience; usually no room to learn within your budget
Virtual currencies drive this engine and you can learn on your own time without any financial damage
Beyond sign-up bonuses with stringent playthrough rules, not a lot of freebies come your way
Most sweepstakes casinos will give you free virtual currency to continue playing if you write to them
History of Legal Gambling in Illinois
While the presence of lotteries and racetrack bets offered gambling avenues for decades in Illinois - it was the 9th state to legislate a state lottery - Illinois has a complicated gambling history.
For now, you can indulge in online gambling in Illinois through these avenues, while the full legalization of gambling in online casinos could yet take a while; as many as three senate bills have attempted to bring it home between 2013 and 2018, but have fallen short due to reasons like bureaucracy, and in some cases not being able to get through the House of Representatives.
Online Gambling Illinois FAQ
Can I gamble online in Illinois?
Online gambling is currently illegal in Illinois, in that there are no specific laws or statues by which it is specifically made legal. While the operation of online casinos in Illinois is illegal, as per Section 28 of the Illinois Criminal Code, there are no specific laws about the legality of playing at online casinos as a resident of Illinois.
What gambling sites are legal in Illinois?
Section 28 of the Illinois Criminal Code forbids any online casinos from being operated within Illinois. However, there are many offshore gambling sites that can be accessed from Illinois. While these casinos are not based in the United States, many of them are legitimate, licensed entities that must operate within the laws and regulations of their licensor country.
Can you gamble at home in Illinois?
According to Illinois law, any sort of real money gambling, no matter where it's done in the state, is illegal. Real money gambling is considered a Class A misdemeanor, and carries a prison sentence of up to two years. Despite being illegal, home-based gambling is unlikely to be prosecuted in Illinois.
Can you gamble online at 18 in Illinois?
Yes, but Illinois players will be gambling at offshore online casinos. These exist in a legal gray area. While you won't be fined or prosecuted for playing online, you won't have the legal protections or consumer protections that players in legal online casino states have. We recommend that Illinois players avoid online casinos.
When can I gamble online in Illinois?
Online casino gambling exists 24/7 in Illinois, but it's at offshore gambling sites that don't offer legal protections to players. We recommend avoiding Illinois online casinos until the state legislature regulates online gambling.
When will Illinois online casinos launch?
Licensed Illinois online casinos aren't likely to launch anytime soon. When Illinois legalized land-based sports betting, that was the best chance for legal IL online gambling to pass.
Since it didn't happen, players can expect land-based casinos to block any online casino initiatives. They want players to visit their brick-and-mortar venues, which are more profitable due to players needing hotel rooms and restaurants.
What forms of legal gambling does Illinois have?
Illinois has 11 licensed land-based casinos. It also has pari-mutuel betting at 5 horse tracks, plus 21 off-track betting facilities (OTBs). Illinois also has charitable bingo centers in places live Granity City, Creve Coeur, and Mount Zion.
The state's bars and restaurants also can house a limited number of video lottery terminals (VLTs), if the city in which they're located legalize such gambling.
Illinois doesn't have legal online casinos or poker sites, though.