Illinois Online Poker 2022: Top Legal Poker Sites in Illinois

Our Illinois online poker guide gives players all they need to know to choose the best online cardrooms. We analyze Illinois gambling laws, focusing on the specific poker laws that affect which games you can play. We discuss the latest Illinois gambling legislation while giving recommendations for the best riverboat casinos and online gambling sites that host poker. Keep reading for information on the most trusted online poker sites in Illinois.

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      Ignition Poker

      After launching in 2015, Ignition Poker has quickly become one of the more popular online poker sites on the Internet. With anonymous tables, customized cards and tables, and a fast-fold variation of Zone Poker, players will love this Bitcoin-friendly site. Plus, the sign-up bonus alone is enough to put a smile on your face.

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      Betonline Poker

      Whether you’re an advanced poker player or new to the game, BetOnline Poker has you covered. Choose from top poker games like Hold’em and Omaha or try your luck on more advanced games. Considered one of the best online poker sites for players around the world, BetOnline features deposit bonuses and about 300 real-money players online looking for opponents.

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    BlackChip Poker

    Known for their fast payouts, this is an online poker site not to be missed. Great for players of all levels, Black Chip Poker offers top games like No-Limi Hold’em, Sit & Go, Seven-Card stud and more. There are also tournaments, an ample sign-up bonus, and a Bitcoin-specific match offer that’ll grow your bankroll considerably.

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    Americas Cardroom Poker

    Known for their fast payouts and excellent deposit bonuses, Americas Cardroom is can't miss online poker site. Great for players of all levels, Americas Cardroom offers top games like No-Limit Hold’em, Sit & Go, Seven-Card stud, Omaha and more. There are also weekly tournaments with huge cash prizes and industry-leading sign-up bonus.

*Terms and Conditions apply to all bonus offers on this website. Visit operator for details.

The Top Illinois Online Poker Sites

The sheer number of Illinois online poker rooms can confuse newcomers. We only recommend a handful of poker sites that fit our standards for fun, safety, and fairness. For players who might not know where to start, we include a quick list of factors that set our top choices apart.

Bovada Poker: $500 Signup Bonus

Bovada Poker offers a $500 welcome bonus plus access to one of the biggest online poker communities in the US gaming market. Bovada provides anonymous poker games, bad beat jackpots, and Zone Poker. If you enjoy casino gaming, live casino games, and sports betting, Bovada Poker gives players the ability to bet on poker, casino games, and sports games with one player account.

In addition to all of that, Bovada Poker is one of the oldest and most respected online poker sites. Bovada is the US successor to Bodog Poker, the world-famous Canadian poker site.

Ignition Poker: $1100 Signup Bonus

Ignition Poker offers many of the advantages of Bovada Poker but with a welcome bonus that's more than twice the size ($1100). Like Bovada, Ignition offers players favorites like anonymous tables, Zone Poker, and bad beat jackpots. It also offers jackpot sit'n go events for mobile poker players.

Ignition Poker also provides players with a chance to play casino games and live dealer games with the same account. With deposit methods like Visa, MasterCard, and Bitcoin, the only thing it lacks that US players might want is online sports betting.

BetOnline Poker: $1000 Signup Bonus

BetOnline Poker is for card players who want to play a maximum number of game variants. Currently hosting more than a half-dozen forms of poker, BetOnline Poker also supports bad beat jackpots, turbo events, and sit'n go's. When you play at BetOnline, you can use over a dozen deposit methods while receiving a $1000 welcome bonus.

BetOnline also has casino games, two live dealer casinos, a sportsbook, and a racebook. Much like its sister site, Sportsbetting.ag, BetOnline Poker is all about player choice.

BlackChip Poker - $1000 Signup Bonus

BlackChip Poker offers a $1000 welcome bonus for players who enjoy No-Limit Texas Hold'em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud. Crypto players should enjoy BlackChip Poker. Not only does it allow Bitcoin deposits, but it also offers an enhanced Bitcoin bonus for first-time depositors.

BlackChip Poker features access to one of the largest US poker communities, as it shares players with the famous America's Cardroom.

America's Cardroom - $2000 Signup Bonus

Speaking of America's Cardroom, ACR is a great choice for US poker players. In fact, America's Cardroom features the biggest deposit bonus among all of the online cardrooms we recommend. America's Cardroom has a big, established poker community, which means it offers huge guaranteed prize pools most nights of the week.

America's Cardroom also features a huge array of ongoing promotions like The Beast Points Race, the Cage events, and the $10 million Venom promotion.

Playing Online Poker for Real Money in Illinois

Player online poker for real money isn't allowed at Illinois sports betting websites. Instead, you'll have to play online at offshore sites. Also, home poker games is illegal as long as cash or anything of value exchanges hands. For live poker, you'll need to play at a riverboat casino or at a charitable organization's poker night.

  • Offshore Online Poker Sites: Play at offshore online cardrooms like Ignition, Bovada, or BetOnline. You won't have consumer protections, but these sites are licensed in other countries.
  • Illinois Riverboat Casinos' Poker Rooms: Enjoy cash games and tournaments in Illinois' casinos. Walk into one of 11 different casinos for card games, including the Hollywood Casino's in Alton and Joliet and the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.
  • Charitable Poker Nights: Under the Charitable Gaming Act, registered charitable organizations can have poker nights for fundraising purposes. These are few and far between.

Gambling Laws in Illinois

TYPE OF GAMBLING

GAMBLING LAW EXPLAINED

Definition of Gambling

Plays a game of chance or skill for money or another thing of value; or knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates an internet site that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or another thing of value. To make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the internet.

Online Poker

Illinois lawmakers have made several attempts to legalize online poker and online casinos in the past decade. All have failed. A 2017 online poker bill was combined with a land-based casino expansion bill. It passed the Illinois Senate but not the House. Talks of a similar omnibus gambling bill in 2018 and 2019 stalled.

Live Poker

Live poker is allowed in the various riverboat casinos in Illinois. Poker rooms can offer tournaments and cash games alike.

Land-Based Casinos

The Riverboat Gambling Act allowed for 10 riverboat casinos. In 2017 and 2018, the restrictions have been loosened somewhat, giving rise to the expectation that more casinos might be added in coming years. Also, land-based casinos could replace the riverboat venues.

Sports Betting

Since March 2020, retail sportsbooks have been legal in Illinois. On December 20, 2021, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 3136 into law, which would legalize sports betting. As of March 2022, online and mobile sports betting is legal on licensed online sportsbooks. The minimum gambling age is 21.

Daily Fantasy Sports

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in April 2020 that certain types of daily fantasy sports are legal. Head-to-head daily fantasy sports is now legal, though other types of DFS are not. This overruled a decision by Illinois's former Attorney General in 2015. The ruling took place in the Dew-Becker vs Wu case.

Other Types of Betting

Illinois legalized horse racing, pari-mutuel bets, as well as charitable bingo, raffles, pull-tabs, poker runs, and jar games. It also allows Native American gambling and video gambling terminals (VGTs).

Best US Poker Promotions in 2022

US online poker sites feature more than simple welcome bonuses. Players should be prepared to encounter many different bonus offers, promotions, and other rewards when playing poker online. Here is a sampling of the best poker promotions on offer.

  • Welcome Bonus: The best US poker sites offer bonuses between $500 and $2000, with America's Cardroom's $2000 poker bonus a top example of this kind.
  • Bitcoin Welcome Bonus: Many top US online cardrooms have special Bitcoin bonuses. For instance, Bovada offers $3000 for credit card deposits but $3750 for Bitcoin deposits.
  • Bad Beat Jackpot: If your strong hand is beat by a truly overpowering hand, you'll receive a big bonus. Ignition, Bovada, and BetOnline all have bad beat jackpot promotions.
  • Sunday Majors: It's a tradition in online poker that the Sunday tournament is the biggest of the week. BetOnline Poker's Sunday Majors is a good example.
  • Progressive Knockout Tournaments: BlackChip Poker's "The Venom" promotion is a good example, with over $5 million guaranteed for this massive poker event.

Poker Formats & Variants

One of the reasons poker is so popular is the large number of variants and formats offered. Below is a list of the most popular forms of poker, with a guide to the variants most often associated with each game type.

  • Flop Games: A game with a flop of community cards. Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Pineapple, and Courchevel are examples of flop poker.
  • Stud Games: Seven-Card Stud is the most popular version of the game. Razz is a popular game of stud in offline tournaments.
  • Draw Games: Five-Card Draw once was the most popular poker game. Now, it's mainly used for table poker games and video poker.
  • Lowball Poker: Building the hand with the lowest rank wins the pot. Razz is among the most popular lowball poker games.
  • Hi-Lo Poker Games: The highest hand receives half the pot, while the lowest hand receives the other half (if a hand qualifies). Omaha Hi-Lo and Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better are popular games of Hi-Lo.

Types of Online Poker Events

Beyond the game rules, players will encounter a variety of online poker events. Each event type provides players with a different challenge, along with different prize amounts. Of course, the best online poker sites offer a wide range of bet sizes and potential prizes.

  • Cash Games: The player joins an ongoing cash game with the rules and bet sizes of their preference. Compete against the same players over the hours and learn their style.
  • Scheduled Tournaments: Often have the biggest jackpots and prize pools. Join a big tournament event any day or night of the week. Expect the event to last multiple hours.
  • Sit & Go Events: A single-game tournament. Sit & go events begin when the table is filled. It often plays like a final table of a tournament.
  • Jackpot Sit'n Go's: A 3-player sit & go designed for mobile poker players. The winner takes the prize money.

Advantages of Online Poker Sites

Players might wonder why they should play online poker instead of a land-based poker game. Here are a few of the reasons you might prefer online or mobile poker to the live game.

  • Bigger Jackpots: Local poker rooms have a decent variety of blinds, but their tournaments tend to be limited by the local poker community. Online poker tournaments have guaranteed prize pools in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
  • Wide Variety of Games: Online poker sites offer a wide variety of poker events and game formats. Choosing a game is also easier because the schedule is easily accessed and easy to read.
  • Convenience: Live poker requires travel, plus an additional time commitment to get to the event. Online poker events provide the ultimate convenience for people with busy schedules.
  • Shorter Events: Those who play turbo events and sit'n go events can play an exciting brand of poker with a full conclusion in an hour or two. Most cash games or bigger tournaments take longer.

Latest Illinois Poker Law Updates Through 2022

Since 2020, several statewide law changes and court cases have affected Illinois gambling laws. Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law a bill in 2020 that legalized land-based sportsbooks in the riverboat casinos. A year later, Pritzker legalized online and mobile sports betting apps in partnership with those same gaming venues. Online sportsbooks began operating in March 2022.

Also, a 2020 Illinois Supreme Court case affects the status of some daily fantasy sports in the state. A $100 million lawsuit challenging a 2015 Illinois AG ruling was upheld on appeal, allowing for heads-up daily fantasy sports contests. This doesn't mean all DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel are legal but the ruling opens the door for DFS players in the state.

Which Online Poker Sites Are Illegal?

At present, Illinois doesn't have legalized online poker sites, though residents can play at offshore online poker sites like Bovada Poker, Ignition Poker, and BetOnline Poker. Bills from 2017 to 2019 would have regulated online poker, but those bills failed in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Which Illinois Casinos Have Live Poker?

Riverboat casinos in Alton, Aurora, Elgin, Joliet, and Rockford all have poker rooms. The full list of live poker rooms includes Argosy Casino Alton, Hollywood Casino in Aurora, Rivers Casino Des Plaines, Par-a-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria, DraftKings at Casino Queen in East Saint Louis, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Harrah's Joliet Casino and Hotel, Hollywood Casino Joliet, Harrah's Metropolis Casino, Bally's Quad Cities in Rock Island, and Hard Rock Casino Rockford.

Famous Illinois Poker Players

Illinois poker history is rife with famous card players. Its history goes back to the 19th Century, as Wild Bill Hickok was born in Homer, Illinois in 1837. Of course, Hickok had the most infamous poker hand in the history of the game -- the Dead Man's Hand -- because Hickok's murder took place during a poker game in 1876 in Deadwood, South Dakota. The Dead Man's Hand is an Ace of Diamonds, Ace of Clubs, 8 of Clubs, 8 of Spades, and Queen of Hearts.

Nick "The Greek" Dandalos is the most famous Illinois poker player of the 20th Century. Dandalos played the mythical heads-up game of poker versus Johnny Moss that's supposed to have inspired the World Series of Poker.

Other famous card players from Illinois are Mohsin Charania, Kevin Saul, Connor Drinan, and Gavin Griffin. Poker author Jim McManus is also from Illinois.

Here is a list of the Top 10 pro poker players in Illinois gambling history, based on their career winnings. The totals below are updated for May 2022.

  1. Connor Drinan ($11.54 million)
  2. Mohsin Charania ($6.57 million)
  3. Gavin Griffin ($5.10 million)
  4. Aaron Massey ($4.90 million)
  5. Ryan Tosoc ($4.84 million)
  6. Jason Wheeler ($4.40 million)
  7. Ravi Raghavan ($4.16 million)
  8. Kevin Saul ($3.75 million)
  9. Chris Moor ($3.57 million)
  10. Kyle Julius ($3.46 million)

Online Poker Illinois FAQ

Can I play poker online in Illinois?

Yes. Illinois card players can play at offshore online poker sites like Ignition Poker, Bovada Poker, and BetOnline Poker.

Is Online Poker Legal in Illinois?

Online poker exists in a legal gray area. Illinois does not regulate, license, and tax online poker. Illinois poker players must gamble at offshore online cardrooms. If you do, Illinois authorities have never prosecuted or fined a person for playing poker online. They aren't likely to do so in the near future, because the resources don't exist even if officials had the will to prosecute players.

Is there live poker in Illinois?

Yes. Though legal land-based poker clubs operate in Illinois, card players can play in land-based poker rooms at 11 different riverboat casinos in 10 cities throughout the state. The cities with casinos are Alton, Aurora, Des Plaines, East Peoria, East Saint Louis, Elgin, Joliet, Metropolis, Rock Island, and Rockford.

What forms of gambling does Illinois regulate?

Illinois regulates horse racing, contests of skills, video gaming terminals (VGTs), and charitable gambling. The charitable games available are bingo nights and raffles. Illinois also licenses riverboat casinos, while the state slowly is transitioning to land-based casino gambling.

How do Sweepstakes Poker sites work?

In 30 US states, sweepstakes are legal. Sweepstakes poker works on the idea that each hand of poker is its own sweepstakes contest. As you play, the randomness of the cards dealt is based on a sweepstakes game mechanic. Players are then paid in sweeps coins, which then can be cashed out for real money. Otherwise, the game plays out like a hand of poker.

How do I play online poker with friends in Illinois?

The best way to play online poker with friends for real money is at an online cardroom. You'll need to find a cardroom that allows you to [1] set up games of your own or [2] join jackpot sit & go events. Jackpot SNGs are 3-player events that start the second the game fills up. Friends can coordinate their signups for such an event.

Is online poker legal in the state of Illinois?

While Illinois does not have regulated online poker, it is legal for players to enjoy poker online in Illinois. Law enforcement doesn't charge, prosecute, or fine players for playing online. If a person operates an online poker site, they'll be prosecuted. Individuals who play online aren't prosecuted.

How old do I have to be to play poker online in Illinois?

The age limit to play poker online in Illinois is 18 or older. Players in live poker rooms must be 21 or older. 

Who can play in Illinois online poker rooms?

Any resident of Illinois who is 18 or older can play at Illinois online poker sites. Visitors to Illinois who don't reside there also can play poker online.

How far is Illinois from having legal online poker?

It's not likely to happen in the next two to three years. Any prediction beyond that timeframe is hard to consider because the online and mobile gambling industry changes every 5 to 10 years.

When will online poker be legal in Illinois?

That's uncertain. The best chance for online poker to pass was when Illinois legalized land-based sports betting. With that law passed, no major statewide gambling-related legislation is on the docket at the present. Expect years to pass before an online poker law passes.

How do I play free online poker?

Play free online poker at the same sites that offer real money online poker. Either download the poker site software or play instantly, then choose the free option when prompted.