Does Illinois have sports betting? You better believe it. The Land of Lincoln went all-in on sports betting in 2019 to boost tax revenue, and the result is a robust selection of both retail and mobile wagering options. There are eight betting apps available in Illinois, which at times last year was the country’s second-biggest online betting state behind New York.

Indeed, the sports betting potential is huge in Illinois, which ended 2023 with four straight months above $1 billion in handle. So where to wager in this market that’s taking off like a rocket? 

Illinois Sportsbooks Features & Promos

Sports betting demand is clearly huge in Illinois, and the state is crazy for sports. Yet there are just eight online sportsbooks—all of them partnered with retail facilities. The fee to obtain one of the state’s three online-only licenses is a hefty $20 million, and as of yet there have been no takers, leaving Illinois somewhat limited as far as betting outlets.

But that can work to the consumer’s benefit, making it easier to compare the features that can make or break a mobile sports betting app. It all comes down to personal preference—do you want lower bet minimums, higher odds boosts, live streaming or a broader selection of betting markets?

Illinois Sports Betting Legal Path

The impetus behind legal sports betting in Illinois came from Gov. J.P. Pritzker, who included projected sports betting revenue in his state budget to pressure lawmakers to get serious on the issue. That’s exactly what happened, and Pritzker in 2019 signed a sports betting bill that allowed retail and online wagering. The first physical and online sportsbooks in Illinois opened in early 2020, though the retail locations were temporarily shuttered by the pandemic.

The pandemic also exposed one flaw in the sports betting law, which originally required all registration to take place in person. That caveat was dropped in 2022, a move that opened the door to the billion-dollar monthly handle seen now, as well as the possibility of online-only sportsbooks in the Land of Lincoln.

Additional Illinois Legal Betting Path Details

Here are some key questions regarding Illinois' sports betting rules.

  1. How old do you have to bet to bet in Illinois?

    Players must be at least 21 years old to wager on sports in Illinois.

  2. How many sportsbooks operate in Illinois?

    Illinois is home to 8 active online sports betting sites.

  3. Can you bet on college sports in illinois?

    Betting on college sports in Illinois is limited to in-person wagers.

  4. Can you play daily fantasy in illinois?

    Daily Fantasy Sports are available to Illinois bettors.

  5. can you bet on Esports in Illinois?

    Esports are not yet legal in Illinois.

  6. Can you bet on Politics & Entertainment in Illinois?

    Politics (i.e. election results) and entertainment awards (i.e. Academy Awards) are not permitted in Illinois.

  7. Do you have to go to a retail location in Illinois to register a sports betting account?

    Remote registrations is now allowed throughout Illinois.

Home Field Advantage 

Michael Jordan. Da Bears. The Curse of the Goat. Fans cheering throughout the national anthem during Blackhawks games. Illinois is as steeped in sports lore as any other state in the union, and the passion is second to none. With more than 9 million people in metro Chicago and nearly 13 million in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln is a massive sports market—a fact further evidenced by its $1.3 billion sports betting handle in December of 2023.

Illinois has a major presence in all four of the country’s major sports leagues, with five Chicago teams spanning from the northern suburbs to the city’s Southside:

NFL: Chicago Bears

A flagship NFL franchise since 1923, the Bears made the playoffs with regularity until the late 1990s, when successful seasons suddenly became fewer and much further between. The 2023 campaign ended with a third consecutive losing record, but Bears still pack fans into Soldier Field, proof of an allegiance that transcends wins and losses. Other Illinois teams may own more championships, but Chicago is a Bears town, and the NFL is the cornerstone of Illinois’ sports betting rise.

MLB: Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox

Both of Chicago’s long-suffering baseball teams have won the World Series within the last two decades, the White Sox in 2005 and Cubs in 2015. The Cubs have emerged as something of a regular playoff contender, amazing given the sad sack franchise they were for most of the 1900s. For the White Sox, success has been more intermittent. And yet both teams give Illinois sports bettors plenty to work with over the course of their 162-game seasons.

NBA: Chicago Bulls

The six titles won by Jordan and company from 1991 to 1998 remain a standard that every modern NBA team is measured by. It’s been an inconsistent road since then for the Bulls, who made the playoffs 10 times in 11 seasons between 2005 and 2017, but have gotten there just once since. But even in down years, the Jordan legacy remains. That era made the Bulls a household brand that persists to this day, and a magnet for public money both inside and outside Illinois. 

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks

An Original Six franchise competing since 1926, the Blackhawks’ six Stanley Cup championships include a franchise-best run of three in six years between 2010 and 2015. Things were really lean before that, and have been really lean since, with just one playoff berth in the last seven seasons. But the legacy of the Blackhawks runs deep throughout the state, making them an Illinois betting staple.

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