Illinois Sports Betting

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Sports Betting In Illinois

Let’s kick things off with a simple answer: yes. Sports betting is legal in Illinois. In fact, Illinois has become one of the biggest online sports betting markets in the US thanks to its large population, various sportsbook options, and dedicated sports fanbases.

The Prairie State legalized online and retail sportsbooks in 2019. In March of that year, retail sportsbooks officially launched for players in the Land of Lincoln. A few months later, June brought the launch of online sports betting.

Now, Illinoisans 21 or older can place bets online. Beyond the age requirement and physically being located in Illinois, there are no major restrictions on who can bet in the state.

As for sportsbooks, Illinois has a great variety. The following online sportsbooks are live and available in the state:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • Caesars
  • BetMGM
  • PointsBet
  • BetRivers
  • Barstool

Illinois allows betting on all major professional and college sports with one exception: you can’t bet on an Illinois college or university. This rule has been in place since the beginning of Illinois sports betting, but it may lapse in 2023, giving bettors the chance to bet on the University of Illinois or other major IL schools.

Overall, Illinois is a thriving sports betting market with a lot going for it.

IL Sports Betting Overview, Timeline, And Background

Illinois’ sports betting launch didn’t experience too many road bumps. Instead, the state had some trouble after sports betting went live, thanks to some odd choices. But first, let’s start at the beginning.

Governor JB Pritzker signed a new Gambling Act into law in June 2019. The act legalized sports betting in the state and laid the groundwork for new casinos to be built in Illinois.

While Illinois was in the throes of regulation, Indiana beat it to the punch with a sports betting launch in September 2019. Illinois residents near the border now had an easy way to legally bet on sports if they so wished.

BetRivers sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines (about 25 miles outside of Chicago) opened the state’s first retail sportsbook on March 9, 2020.

Throughout June and July 2020, online sportsbooks began to launch in Illinois. BetRivers was the first, followed by FanDuel and DraftKings. Other brands joined the fray over time.

But here’s where things got messy. Illinois launched sports betting in the early aughts of the pandemic. The state’s law required sports bettors to visit a partnered casino property to complete registration and bet online. Though the requirement was a simple one-time visit, that proved difficult for many reasons: first, casino properties are concentrated in a few areas of the state, making them hard to get to for much of the population outside of Chicago or near the Missouri border. Second, casinos closed or severely truncated operations during the pandemic, making it impossible for people to visit.

During the initial months of sports betting, Governor Pritzker suspended the in-person registration requirement. He renewed the executive order on a monthly basis for the better part of a year, then finally let it lapse. For a good chunk of 2021, sports betting hopefuls had to visit a retail property to complete the signup process.

Then in January 2022, the in-person requirement went away for good. After a tumultuous few years, Illinois bettors could now sign up completely online, no in-person visit needed. That rule stands to this day.

Which Online Sportsbooks Can You Use In Illinois?

There are seven sportsbook apps available in Illinois, and more may launch in the future.

DraftKings

DraftKings is one of the undisputed leaders in the larger sports betting world, so it’s no surprise the app is available in Illinois. DraftKings sportsbook is in full form in Illinois, with a 20% deposit match bonus up to $1,000 for new players.

From top to bottom, Draftkings is a streamlined and polished sportsbook app. New players and seasoned bettors alike will enjoy using it.

FanDuel

FanDuel is another major competitor in the sportsbook space, and it’s been live in Illinois from the state’s early days. Signing up for FanDuel gets you a no-sweat bet up to $1,000. Win and you keep the winnings! Lose and you get your bet back in site credits. No sweat, indeed.

FanDuel is one of the best sportsbook apps on the market. It’s fast, easy to use, and has a wide variety of bets and markets.

Caesars

Caesars has been live in Illinois for some time, though it originally launched as William Hill. Once Caesars bought William Hill, the company rebranded its sportsbook.

New players at Caesars get a risk-free first bet up to $1,500

BetMGM

The self-proclaimed “king of sportsbooks” is relatively new in Illinois. Without a land-based partner, BetMGM bided its time to launch once online-only licenses became available. The BetMGM welcome bonus is a $1,000 risk-free first bet.

PointsBet

PointsBet rose from humble beginnings in Australia to one of the top sportsbook companies in the world. Illinois bettors have full access to PointsBet, including its unique PointsBetting wager type. Typically the sportsbook gives new users up to $2,000 in risk-free bets: $500 as a fixed odds wager and $1,500 as a PointsBetting wager.

BetRivers

Chicago’s local sportsbook was the very first online sports betting site to go live in Illinois. BetRivers remains an excellent choice for Illinois bettors thanks to its sharp read on local sports and teams. You’ll frequently find localized Chicago-specific offers on your favorite Illinois teams.

Plus, the opening bonus at BetRivers is a 100% deposit match up to $250 with only 1x playthrough required.

Barstool

Barstool is now live in Illinois, with a $1,000 risk-free first bet available to new players who sign up.

Others On The Way

There are a few other major brands that could be expected to launch in Illinois.

Golden Nugget announced plans to launch in Illinois in tandem with a Danville casino project.

Bally Bet is another strong contender, considering Bally’s secured the bid to build the first ever casino in Chicago proper. Bally’s is likely to use its licensing to launch a sportsbook as well.

Other big names such as WynnBET or theScore might seek to launch in Illinois as well, but there’s no official word on them, yet.

How To Bet On Sports In Illinois

Ready to place a bet at an Illinois sportsbook? Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Choose your preferred sportsbook: download the app or head to the website.
  2. Sign up by filling in the required fields.
  3. Make a deposit (keep in mind you might get a bonus).
  4. Find your preferred bet and select it, adding it to your betslip.
  5. Select “place bet.”

Here’s how it might work with a bet on the Chicago Fire using FanDuel Sportsbook.

  1. Head to FanDuel and log into your account.
  2. Select “soccer” from the menu.
  3. Scroll to find the bet. In this case, Chicago Fire moneyline: +195. Select the odds and add the wager to your betslip.
  4. Head to your betslip and type the amount you’d like to wager.
  5. Select “place bet” and wait a moment for FanDuel to confirm your bet has been placed.

That’s it! From there, you just have to track the match and hope your bet wins. You can use the same process for any type of bet. If you’re placing a parlay, just add multiple bets into your betslip.

What Sports Teams Are There To Bet On In Illinois?

I’ve got good news and bad news. Good news first: there’s a surplus of sports teams to bet on in Illinois. The bad news: Chicago teams are often locked in a constant rebuild cycle, so betting on them isn’t always advisable. There are a few bright spots in the Chicago sports portfolio, however. Let’s take a look at all the major teams.

MLB: Chicago Cubs And White Sox

The crosstown rivalry as old as time rages on. Cubs and White Sox fans flock to their respective stadiums in droves throughout the summer, and now betting is part of the equation. You can bet on the Cubs or Sox to your heart’s content.

Plus, DraftKings just broke ground on its retail sportsbook at Wrigley Field. When complete, bettors will be able to place wagers in-person at the famed arena.

NBA: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have been rebuilding since the Phil Jackson days, but the 2022 season brought some hope to the team with stars like DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine. The Bulls had a solid season, but they were also plagued by injuries. Now, the team is at risk of another tough recovery year.

Still, you can bet on them! And even if you’re not eager to place moneyline or spread bets on the Bulls, every sportsbook offers a wealth of props to bet on.

WNBA: Chicago Sky

The Chicago Sky claimed the 2021 NBA Title, making them one of the winningest Chicago teams of the past few years. WNBA fans can place bets on the Sky through most sportsbooks.

NFL: Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are going through it recently: offseason moves, quarterback roulette, an all-new coaching regime, and a possible move to Arlington Heights in the mid-future.

Let’s be real: the Bears are one of the NFL’s flimsiest teams right now, though the new staff seems to have lifted morale. But if you know Illinois, you know that’s not going to stop diehard Bears fans from betting on their hometown Monsters of the Midway. You’ll find all sorts of Bears bets at any Illinois sportsbook.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks share more than a stadium with the Bulls. The team is also undergoing a tumultuous rebuild period. You can still bet on them, though, with plenty of lines available at the state’s major sportsbooks.

Soccer: Chicago Fire And Red Stars

Chicago’s two local soccer teams are available on sports betting sites in Illinois. You can place bets on the Red Stars and Fire.

College Teams In Illinois

You can bet on college sports in Illinois with a caveat: no in-state teams, even if they’re playing out of state. That means no bets on Northwestern or University of Illinois teams.

However, this restriction is expected to expire in 2023.

Benefits Of Legal Online Sports Betting In Illinois

Because Illinois has been live with online sports betting for some time, it’s way safer and smarter to use legal sites than offshore options. Here are just a few reasons why.

Competitive Odds

Legal sportsbooks are competing for your business, so they’ll try to find the safe spot between profiting and giving you better odds than rival sportsbooks. Playing at legal sportsbooks in Illinois means you can shop around for the best odds and find the most advantageous lines for you. Offshore books might give you limiting options with less-than-ideal odds.

Better Bonuses

Sign up for an Illinois sportsbook and you’ll be treated to great welcome offers, sometimes giving you the potential for more than $1,000 in bets. Offshore books might have bonuses, but they’re rarely as good as what you’ll get from legal sportsbooks.

Dedicated Android And iOS Apps

Legal Illinois sportsbooks have Android and iOS apps available in the Google Play or iOS App Stores. Offshore books can’t be listed on those marketplaces.

Safer In General

Your information is better protected at a legal sportsbook because regulations require strict security measures. If you want to keep your money and data safe, you should stick with fully legal sportsbooks.

Key Take-Aways From Illinois Sports Betting Legislation

Much of Illinois’ sports betting law is pretty standard stuff. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s our attitude towards much of the state’s sports betting outlook. However, a few issues can be helpful to keep in mind for other markets looking to legalize.

First, college sports betting restrictions are archaic, and they lose sportsbooks business. Illinois is already planning to back out of its in-state college betting restriction. New Jersey, another major market with college betting restrictions, is doing the same. These stipulations usually come from legislators who haven’t embraced the potential of college betting.

Second, Illinois fumbled in a major way with its in-person registration requirement. It benefits everyone—bettors, operators, and regulators alike—to allow online registration from anywhere in the state. More business for more sportsbooks, more options for players, and less time legislating around a frankly ridiculous rule.

Mobile Sports Betting Apps Available In Illinois

Every Illinois sportsbook has an app you can download from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. Mobile betting is popular for obvious reasons: you can bet from anywhere as long as you have a signal, it’s better for live betting since you don’t need to be tethered to a computer, and the apps are optimized for mobile use.

Desktop is always an option, too. However, desktop usually requires a separate geolocation plug-in while most mobile apps will just use your phone’s GPS. It’s much easier that way.

All of Illinois’ sports betting apps are perfectly functional and usable. But the best ones, for our money, are FanDuel and DrafKings. They’re polished, have seamless menus, and load quickly.

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