Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Illinois?
Not quite. While 2018 has seen a number of prospective bills introduced to legalize it, sports betting is not yet legal in Illinois.
Legislators in the state are proceeding carefully, and have indicated a desire to hear from stakeholders before a formal vote is held on the issue. A number of hearings have taken place over 2018 to determine the exact nature of any bill, with advice from regulator and industry speakers.
Sports betting legalization is happening, but it is happening slowly.
Illinois, just like every other state in the US, was given the opportunity to decide their own laws around sports betting when the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban in May 2018. Since then, many states have already passed bills to legalize sports betting.
The Prairie State has proceeded more slowly than some but momentum is growing.
Experts expect a sports gambling bill to make it in front of the General Assembly sometime in 2019.
This page has all the information you need about online sports betting in Illinois.
We take a close look at the history of gambling in the state right up to the Supreme
Court decision which changed the game in 2018. We also discuss exactly what the current situation is, and what we can expect for the future of sports betting in Illinois.
We’ll explore some of the most popular sports that Illinois residents can expect to bet on when sports betting is finally legalized and we’ll also break down the situation when it comes to whether betting on fantasy sports and DFS is legal in Illinois.
If it has to do with sports betting in Illinois you can find it on this page.
If you’re curious about other parts of the country, check out our state by state guides to legal US sports betting.
The History of Online Sports Betting in Illinois
Sports betting has been illegal in Illinois for a long time. In fact, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), signed into law in 1992, made sports betting illegal in almost every state in America.
But that is not to say there is no tradition of gambling in the State.
Illinois currently has 15 active casinos, offering everything from slots to table games and live poker. The casino tradition began in 1991 when the first riverboat casinos were established. Another important thing to understand about Illinois is that casino revenues are taxed at one of the highest rates in the entire country.
This suggests that while not averse to gambling, the Prairie State likes to make sure it generates money for public services. Since the Illinois is clearly motivated by tax revenue, sports gambling has to be appealing to the state’s budget makers.
It’s also in keeping with the state’s historical attitude towards gambling that the move towards legalized sports betting has been methodical and well thought out.
Horse racing has been legal in Illinois since the 1920’s, and a remains hugely popular form of gambling today. Illinois was also one of the first to introduce a state lottery, which has been in effect since 1974. The lottery even has an online component, a hint that the state is more ready to embrace online gambling in the future.
Overall, gambling has a rich history in Illinois, which means they are more prepared than many states to make the most of the opportunity to legalize sports betting. That opportunity arrived in 2018.
The Current Online Sports Betting Situation in Illinois
PASPA, which had effectively banned sports betting in almost every state in the country since it was signed in 1992, was overturned by the Supreme Court in May 2018. What this effectively means is that there is now no federal barrier to legalizing sports betting anywhere in the US. Now the decision rests with each state independently.
Plenty of states have wasted no time getting in on the action. Right across the US sports betting bills are being debated, prepared, passed or enacted.
Since the SCOTUS decision some states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have already implemented fully legal sports betting. Others are just waiting on the red tape to be completed. Some have stayed away altogether and plenty more are still debating the form sports betting should take before a bill is introduced and voted on.
Right now Illinois finds itself in the last category.
A number of bills have been drafted in Illinois since PASPA was repealed. Hearings have been held, but none have yet been voted on. Rep. Lou Lang has been the biggest instigator behind the movement towards legalization. He has indicated a desire to use sports betting taxes to contribute to sorely needed public funding. Online gambling has also been included in the conversation.
While there has been some opposition from anti-gambling lobby, the movement has been steadily gathering support. Lang has said he hopes to have a bill in front of the House of Representative in early 2019.
Which Online Sports Betting Sites Are Legal in Illinois?
At the moment, there are no online sports betting sites that are legal in Illinois. However, it is possible to access unregulated offshore sports books.
Since they are not hosted in Illinois, they are not technically illegal in the state, but not legal either. Betting with unlicensed offshore casinos and sportsbooks comes with risks since the sites aren’t subject to US laws and regulations.
With steady progress being made towards legalization in Illinois, waiting until fully legal online sports betting comes to Illinois is the safest bet.
What Sports Can You Bet on Online in Illinois?
Right now? None. However, as the hearings and debates continue it won’t be long before sports betting is legal and residents of Illinois have a long list of options when it comes to sports they can wager on.
Illinois has a huge sports culture including pro franchises and popular college teams. When sports gambling does arrive, it’s going to be welcomed with open arms by millions of sports fans.
In this section we’ll run down the most popular teams and sports in Illinois that we expect to attract the most action.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the major sports teams in Illinois are based in Chicago. In the NFL, the Chicago Bears are one of the most storied franchises in the history of the sport.
For this reason we expect a lot of people in Illinois to be interested in legal ways to bet on the NFL.
The Bears have nine division titles, and one Super Bowl in 1985. Playing out of Soldier Field, the Bears have the highest number of players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You can expect some bets on them adding to their haul of titles once sports betting comes to Illinois.
College Football is popular in Illinois too, with the Illinois Fighting Illini and Northwestern Wildcats programs both competing in the Big Ten Conference.
Thanks in large part to one Michael Jordan, Chicago is home what might be the most iconic team in NBA History. The 90s belonged to the Chicago Bulls, when they picked up an incredible six NBA Championships in eight years.
In 1996 the Bulls set win records that would not be broken until the current Golden State Warriors 2016 campaign. Led by Jordan, the Chicago Bulls became one of the most recognisable and marketable teams in all of sports. The Chicago Sky represent the city in the WNBA.
From that mid 90s Bulls team, we know that Chicago residents are no strangers to amazing sporting stories. The most recent one came in 2017 when the Chicago Cubs ended their record 108-year World Series drought. Millions of people flooded the streets of Chicago, in one of the biggest parties in sporting history.
The Cubs home in Wrigley Field is one of the most well-known in Major Leage Baseball.
That victory brought the Cubs World Series total up to 3, tying them with their local rivals the Chicago White Sox. The heated crosstown rivalry between the two teams means that there will be a lot of Chicago residents just waiting to bet against their rivals as soon as legal sports betting is introduced.
There are also almost a dozen more minor league teams scattered around the state.
Chicago is home to one of the Original Six NHL teams: the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have an impressive six Stanley Cups to their name, including three victories since 2010.
They currently share their United Center home with the Chicago Bulls. The sheer concentration of some of the biggest names in American sports shows that Chicago is a sports mad city. The Chicago Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs also represent the state in the AHL.
Soccer is popular in Chicago, with the City playing home to the Chicago Fire. The Fire have won one MLS cup in their time and have attracted some of the biggest names in European soccer to the city towards the end of their careers.
College sports are also popular in Illinois, with the state currently home to 13 programs that compete in the NCAA Division 1. There are a number of race tracks in the state which have hosted NASCAR and other motor racing events.
Golf is a popular pastime for Illinois residents, and there are several top level courses to choose from. The state has hosted the US Open 13 times.
Is Betting on Fantasy Sports Legal in Illinois?
All the major DFS sites including FanDuel and DraftKing currently accept players from Illinois so for now at least you can bet on fantasy sports.
The actual laws around it, however, are something of a grey area. Currently there are many thousands of fantasy sports players who are currently wagering real money in Illinois with no problems but there is no law that explicitly indicates that fantasy sports are legal to bet on.
A couple of bills have been introduced in the last number of years, but none have passed. So even though the current legal situation isn’t 100% clear, any bill to legalize sports betting would likely clear up the issue once and for all.
Is There No Deposit Sports Betting in Illinois?
At the moment, there is no legal sports betting in Illinois, online or otherwise. It may be the case that some offshore sites offer no deposit sports betting. However, such sites are unregulated and not strictly legal. We advise waiting for legal options which are almost certainly coming soon.
When legalized sports betting does come to Illinois you can expect the same bonuses and promotions we see in other jurisdictions, including no deposit bonuses and free bets.
What Is the Future of Online Sports Betting in Illinois?
As we’ve said, the future looks extremely promising. Since PASPA was repealed there has been a steady increase in interest for legalizing sports betting in Illinois.
To date legislators have held a series of hearings with advice being offered from representatives of the major leagues, regulators and other industry speakers. At the moment, it is a case of putting all of this information together and creating a bill that works best for Illinois.
That should happen in early 2019. Rep. Lang has been positive about the progress made so far, and has said he is putting the final touches on his third draft of a legalization bill.
The biggest incentive for many legislators is the opportunity to help alleviate some of the financial problems in the state. The removal of PASPA opened up a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for each state. The legalization of sports betting could go a long way towards generating vital funding.
The House of Representative is due to reconvene in January 2019. Hopefully a bill will be in front of them not long after that. Illinois has proceeded cautiously so far, but sports betting is getting there, slowly but surely.
Will Online Sports Betting Ever Be Legal in Illinois?
Barring something unforeseen, we expect online sports betting to become legal in Illinois within the next two years.
There is still some opposition, but it looks like it will get there soon. The sheer number of hearings and potential bills towards the end of 2019 give a good indication of which way the wind is blowing.
The state needs revenue and a regulated sports gambling industry is too good an opportunity to pass up, especially in a state with a massive sports community and a progressive attitude towards other forms of gambling.
Sports Betting Coming Soon to Illinois
Illinois has been progressing slowly but steadily towards sports legalization. The noises coming from legislators in the state have suggested they are more than ready to take advantage of the huge financial opportunity this industry represents.
The repeal of PASPA has opened the door to a hugely valuable industry. Illinois will not want to miss out on it.
And remember, Illinois residents are no strangers to gambling. There are already more than a dozen casinos and race tracks scattered around the state. Add to that the fact that Chicago is one of the most iconic sporting cities in the US and it’s only a matter of time before a bill is passed and residents are free to bet on sports safely and legally.
When sports betting does arrive to Illinois, residents will be ready.