Online sports betting has officially been introduced to the state of Illinois. Thanks to Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing a $45 billion capital plan in June, 2019, efforts were put in place to bring legal sports betting to The Prairie State. The state’s first legal sports betting wager took place in March 2020, with online sports betting going live a few months later. The Illinois sports betting sector has continued to grow ever since.
And now with multiple sportsbooks making their way into the Illinois market, it can be difficult to find a preferential one. This is why we are going to make online sports betting in Illinois easier for you. We have checked into all of them, and we have the relevant information for you here. So, join us to find out more about Illinois sports betting and our recommended online sportsbooks.
What to Consider When Choosing a Site for Online Sports Betting in Illinois
When it comes to selecting your favored online betting platform in Illinois, there are certain key things to look out for at the sites. It is all fine and well to locate a sportsbook like William Hill and simply sign up to it because of the name. However, you need to know that the legal sports betting platform caters to your preferences. Further to this, you should check into certain select elements of the sportsbook as well. Therefore, if you make up one of the many Illinois bettors, here are some things to consider when choosing the best IL sports betting site for you.
Is It Officially Licensed and Legal? Now that Illinois has its own legal sports betting sector, you need to know that it possesses an official license from the Illinois Gaming Board. This ensures that everything operates in adherence with the state’s gambling laws. Furthermore, you get to rest safe in the knowledge that you are using a fair sports betting platform. Brands like Draftkings Illinois and the FanDuel sportsbook Illinois have the appropriate cerification.
Does It Have a High Level of Security?
You must always feel safe and secure in the sportsbook that you are betting at. Illinois online gambling sites should have the best technology in action so as to keep you and your personal details safe. Payments should always be sent using top-quality encryption services, so that third parties do not get their hands on it, too.
Can I Receive Beneficial Promotions?
It is not uncommon to find an online sportsbook providing special offers to its players. When it comes to selecting an Illinois sports betting site though, you should seek out one with promotions that you feel will benefit you the most. This does not solely relate to the welcome offer, either. Online betting is an ongoing activity, so the promotions should also reflect that. Find out what sort of promotions and related promo codes the site has on hand for you.
Am I Able to Use My Preferred Payment Method?
We are not all happy with having to use one specific payment method to deposit and withdraw. This is why it is always good for sportsbooks to provide a selection of supported banking options to players. From your first deposit through to your second, third and so on, you should feel comfortable with the payment method you are using. And keep in mind that if you are receiving a deposit match bonus, some payment methods may not allow you to receive it by using them.
Is There a Good Range of Markets for Me to Bet On?
Perhaps one of the primary things to consider is what exactly you will be able to wager on when you sign up to the site. It’s great if a sportsbook has exceptional promotions and mobile betting apps and is all singing and dancing. But what good is that when you are limited with the events you can bet on? Illinois residents want just as much choice as anyone else. So, it is important to seek out a platform with a good range of sports and markets to bet on.
Can I Get Assistance When I Need It?
If you are new to Illinois sports gambling, then there is also a chance that you may need help along the way. That is not a bad thing, but signing up to a site with helpful customer support agents is a necessity in this respect. Furthermore, it is always better to be able to contact advisors whenever you require assistance, and through various means as well. This means live chat, telephone and email support.
A Closer Look at the Top Sportsbooks for Illinois Online Gambling
What is it about the four sportsbooks mentioned that makes them the best in Illinois? Well, we are going to have a closer look at them and find out all about their operations and pros and cons right here. We have an expert team of analysts who have reviewed them all and discovered their best features for Illinois bettors. So, what do these online operators have to provide to Illinois residents?
1. DraftKings – The Best for Its Huge Collection of Pro League Options (Welcome Bonus: 20% up to $1,000)
The DraftKings brand is a well-known name in the sports betting sector. Starting out as a daily fantasy sports (DFS) platform, it did not take long for the Boston-based company to expand into other areas. The DraftKings brand provides its members with both pre-match and in-play gambling options. It is due to its prominence that the company has over 10 million players using its services worldwide. Accounts can be created online or by downloading one of the mobile betting apps. The welcome offer at DraftKings is highly compelling, and so is the vast selection of sports events for you to bet on.
What we like:
In-play betting available
Huge selection of sports for betting on
Sleek and well-designed interface
Trusted, reliable brand
What we don´t like:
Fewer payment methods supported than some other platforms
2. BetRivers – The Best for Its Loyalty Program (Welcome Bonus: 100% up to $250)
BetRivers was the first brand to go live with Illinois sports betting in 2020. Perhaps one of the best parts about becoming a bettor at this sportsbook is the participation in its loyalty program. With 10 tiers to go through and an Elite level to reach by invite only, you can benefit from exceptional rewards through this. And when it comes to the actual sportsbook itself, BetRivers features multiple options. This includes golf, baseball, basketball, soccer, boxing and much more. Live streaming is also on hand, so you can watch some events that you wager on. Plus, with plenty of in-play betting options, you need never miss out on your favorite events ever again.
3. FanDuel – The Best for In-Play Betting Options (Welcome Bonus: 100% up to $1,000)
If you have yet to hear of FanDuel, then you must definitely be a newcomer to the sports betting world. This brand has been operating since 2009, and alongside DraftKings, is known as one of the first daily fantasy sports platforms. In mid-2018, it also started providing players with sports betting opportunities, and both have been running beside one another since then. FanDuel has a great selection of betting markets to wager on, so whether you enjoy moneyline or spread betting, single bets or parlays, there is something there for you. It also has a great range of in-play wagering possibilities, and is great when it comes to easy deposits and fast payouts.
4. PointsBet – The Best for Unique Spread Betting Options (Welcome Bonus: 2 Risk Free Bets Up to $2,000)
The PointsBet platform has always been one that has taken a different approach to online sports betting. It features a form of spread betting that dictates “the more you’re right, the more you win”, which is offered alongside traditional sports wagers. It was set up in 2017, and it provides a great welcome offer that rewards you with up to $2,000 in risk-free bets. The mobile app on hand operates as one of the best in the U.S. market, and with plenty of additional promotions to claim, you can get lots out of the sportsbook. PointsBet also provides in-play betting on tennis, soccer, NHL and other options, giving you some in-the-moment thrills while enjoying the gambling experience.
The United States and its battle with legal Illinois sports betting has been well-documented. Many states were restricted by the PASPA Act of 1992, which effectively outlawed the practice of sports betting nationwide, with just a few exempt states. However, in a May 2018 decision, the Supreme Court overturned the Act, ruling that it conflicts with the Tenth Amendment.
With the determination that the whole of PASPA was unconstitutional, all 50 states were left to decide on whether they would introduce legal sports betting within their borders. A few states, such as New Jersey, entered into the sports betting scene almost instantly. Others followed in suit, including Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa and more. Then, the Illinois sports betting bill was introduced following a contentious negotiation process. This took place on June 3, 2019. Just three-and-a-half weeks later, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the sports betting bill into effect. While the sports betting bill had initially stood on its own, it was wrapped into SB 690 – a massive capital bill – in order to pass the extended legislative session.
It was nine months later, on March 9, 2020 that the first legal sports betting wager was placed in The Prairie State. This took place at Rivers Casino, Des Plaines, which is owned by Rush Street Interactive.
Retail and Online Sportsbooks Open Their Doors
As part of the Illinois sports betting, both retail and online sports betting were able to be introduced. With mobile sports betting apps joining retail sportsbooks at casinos, racetracks and sports stadiums, Illinois witnessed online sports gambling go live in the summer of 2020.
Of course, the launch of legal sports betting in Illinois occurred just as major sporting events started being shut down due to the threat of coronavirus. The pandemic saw leagues like the NFL, MLB, NBA and others postpone and ultimately cancel a lot of their events. Therefore, IL sports betting was not really able to get off to the greatest of starts where gambling on such big-league events was concerned. Just a small handful of land-based sportsbooks had opened their doors for less than one week when COVID-19 lockdown protocol forced both they and the state’s land-based casinos to close their doors.
Fortunately, those Illinois bettors looking to involve themselves in gambling were able to go through the remote registration process at one of several legal platforms. Even though this has been somewhat of an on and off option to undertake, it did mean that at times, players did not have to visit the retail sportsbooks to sign up for an account. Sports betting apps allowed them to do this instead.
This means that anyone wanting to bet from within state lines can access some of the nation’s licensed online sportsbooks, such as PointsBet, BetRivers and William Hill from a sportsbook apps. And when you consider that the brands FanDuel and DraftKings – primarily know for their dedication to providing daily fantasy sports – have also linked up with Illinois casinos for sports betting options, residents have enough to enjoy. More platforms are also expected to launch in the near future as well.
Backlash Against Outsiders and Introduction of Penalty Box Provision
Initially, major players within Illinois like BetRivers fought to keep DraftKings and FanDuel out of the market. This, it was said, was to protect local gambling businesses and was known as the “penalty box provision”. In the beginning, legislators settled for an 18-month period where the only online sports betting operators would be those that also possess physical casinos in the state. However, other states have allowed the DraftKings sportsbook and the like to enter their sports betting market by linking up with physical casinos. That process is something that works perfectly fine in New Jersey. Essentially, big online brands like the FanDuel sportsbook get to access the state market while local casinos are not left out in the cold.
Thanks to some great legal maneuvering, DraftKings went forward with setting up its Illinois launch in July. It put up a huge fight to enter into a deal with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, and this finally went through, allowing mobile wagering to take place. BetRivers was the first site to provide online betting via Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. And it did not take long for a few others to follow.
Sports betting licenses in Illinois require a payment of up to $20 million for online-only operators or $10 million for land-based casinos to provide online sports betting. This makes them among the highest fees of any U.S. state. It has resulted in many smaller players not being able to enter the Illinois market, with brands like USA Sports Gaming choosing to launch in Indiana instead.
At the moment, lawmakers have dictated that legal sports betting is only able to occur if a sports betting site partners up with a retail casino or racetrack. Therefore, sports wagering must be a combined effort between an online operator and a land-based establishment. While some of these partnerships have already come to fruition and launched within the state, others are waiting in the wings. These unisons include the following casinos and sportsbook operators:
Available Bonuses for Illinois Online Sports Betting Players
Anyone opting to engage in Illinois sports betting stands the possibility of receiving some exciting and beneficial bonuses. Different platforms have different offers for you to obtain, with certain ones standing out for newcomers and others for regular bettors to receive. It is important to remember that where bonuses are concerned as well, these come with specific terms to adhere to as a player. So, here are some of the available bonuses and promotions that players from the state of Illinois can benefit from:
Welcome Deposit Bonus A welcome offer does exactly what it suggests – welcomes you to the sportsbook. These are only available to newcomers once you have completed your registration and made your first deposit. When it comes to such a signup bonus for sports bettors, you will frequently be given a percentage match of the amount deposited.
So, it is not uncommon to see 100% being offered, with a maximum bonus amount also displayed alongside. Wagering requirements relating to the welcome offer of a site must be checked into before you accept it. This determines how many times you have to bet the bonus you have received prior to being able to make a withdrawal from the site.
The BetRivers site is one of the best for wagering related to the welcome bonus, as you only need to wager it once. So, if you receive the $250 signup bonus, you simply need to make bets equating to this amount before a withdrawal is possible.
Free Bets It is not uncommon for sportsbooks to provide their players with free bets. These work as a slight alternative to standard bonus rewards. With these promotions, you are required to place a bet on specific games or events and then you will be given a certain, specified amount back in free bets as a reward. There is a great offer on at PointsBet for this, where you will receive $3 in free bets for every 3-point field goal scored in a stated event as long as you wager at least $50. These does not have any rollover requirement on it, either!
Refer-a-Friend Reward You can also bring your friends along to an online sportsbook and get rewarded for it as well. So, if you know any other Illinois sports betting players, you stand to benefit from them signing up at the platform you are a member of, too. Usually this requires your friend to register from a link that you send them and make a deposit. You will then be given a percentage of that deposit as a bonus, too. DraftKings has a great Refer-a-Friend scheme, providing both you and your friend with up to $100.
Insurance Promotions Parlay betting can provide some of the most exciting sports betting for you to partake in. It is also the case that some online sports betting sites will allow you to take out insurance on your parlays. This means that if one leg of the parlay does not finish with the outcome you expected, you can receive that stake back up to a specific amount. These rewards are usually centered on specific sports, such as the NFL, NBA and so on.
Odds Boosts Depending upon the sports betting market that you are wagering on, you may be able to benefit from a boost to the odds for it. Sites will provide enhanced odds on specific events, including moneyline, spreads, props and more bet types. Therefore, you stand the chance to really profit from such wagers with odds boosts.
How to Sign Up at an IL Sports Betting Platform
One of the first processes that you need to undertake when accessing sports gambling in Illinois is signing up to a platform. Generally speaking, this is not a difficult task to go through, and frequently only takes a few steps for you to complete. While each different online sportsbook takes you through the process slightly differently, in the end, they all require the same information. Follow the steps below to sign up at your favorite platform:
Step 1: Locate a Preferred Online Betting Site We have recommended several of the top bookmakers operating in Illinois, so it is not difficult to find one that caters to your needs. From the DraftKings sportsbook through to the BetRivers sportsbook and beyond, Illinois is not short of options.
Step 2: Download an App After locating the sportsbook you would like to bet at, you need to download the relevant app. Be sure to choose the app format that is the proper one for your specific device, be that Android or iOS. After it downloads, it should also automatically install on your handset.
Step 3: Register for an Account You will need to register your details in order to place bets at your chosen platform. While an in-person registration requirement was initially in place, with the effects of the pandemic closing retail sportsbooks, the governor signed an executive order making remote registration available. Some Illinois sportsbooks allow you to register through their official website, while others require you to sign up through one of their mobile betting apps. A few personal details need to be entered, such as your name, email address and so on to complete this.
Step 4: Make a Deposit Different sports betting platforms allow you to deposit via different payment methods. So, while researching the sites initially, it is a good idea to find one that caters to your preferred banking method. It is not good if you want to deposit with a debit card only to find that the platform only accepts PayPal, for example. Take notice of any minimum deposit requirements for receiving a welcome offer, too.
Step 5: Bet Now! With funds in your sportsbook account, you can proceed with placing the sports bets you like. You can even bet on Illinois national sports team, such as the Blackhawks, the Bulls or the Chicago White Sox.
Whether you are signed up as a player at DraftKings Illinois, the BetRivers sportsbook Illinois or any of the others, you will find that a large number of sports are on hand. Of course, some of them will be a lot more popular than others. And when it comes to you placing bets, there are different betting market opportunities available, too.
It is important to note that you cannot bet on certain things within The Prairie State. The Illinois sports betting bill dictates that in-state collegiate sports cannot be wagered on. Therefore, you will not be able to bet on the University of Illinois, for example. Illinois online gambling can only occur on sports events in specific, too. So, it is not possible to place bets on awards ceremonies, TV show outcomes, elections and so on.
Everything else is pretty much fair game. So, this means you have the possibility of wagering on soccer, tennis, football, golf, MMA, basketball, baseball, volleyball and so on quite freely. There is nothing to stop you from betting on national sports teams, either. So, the Chicago Bears, the White Sox, the Bulls, the Blackhawks and the Chicago Cubs are all legal sports betting opportunities. As far as the betting markets are concerned, Illinois sports betting lawmakers have made it possible for residents to place the following types of bets:
Live bets (in-play)
The fact that Illinois residents have access to live betting makes it one of the more intriguing sports betting markets to access. Despite the fact that multiple other states have introduced a sports betting law for legal sports betting, not all of them provide in-play online sports betting. This is why if you live in IL, you get the chance to see how a game unfolds and place wagers on it while this is happening. At the same time, some sportsbooks also offer live streaming of events at the same time. So, you need not miss out on seeing the action, either.
Illinois Sports Betting App Information
The capital bill that introduced legal Illinois sports betting allowed the introduction of mobile skins, too. Each entity is only able to have a single mobile skin though, so each of the sportsbooks can only utilize a single mobile partner. In order for sportsbooks to be able to provide mobile wagering though, they have to partner up with a land-based entity, as noted earlier. With five mobile betting brands already active and at least three others already on the way, Illinois residents will have a lot to choose from in this area.
In September 2020, it was announced that PointsBet would be the first sports betting sponsor of the Chicago Bears. This announcement came just prior to its official launch in the same month, setting the bar high for others to follow in its footsteps. This marked quite the deal for PointsBet too, who had just days prior signed a deal with the Colts from Indiana. Through this deal, the Hawthorne Race Course in the Chicago suburb of Stickney became the flagship retail location for all Bears merchandise. At the same time, PointsBet managed to forge a deal with former defensive back and return specialist Devin Hester, as the face of the platform in Illinois.
The Bottom Line
Bettors in Illinois have definitely found themselves in a great position since legal sports betting was introduced. The Illinois sports betting scene has grown considerably since its early days in 2020, and it is already poised to continue that run, with more platforms due to launch in the coming months. It is also great that remote registration has been introduced to the state, so as to counteract the ongoing effects of coronavirus. This makes it easier for bettors to get involved with online sports betting. All in all, sports betting in Illinois is off to a great start.
Illinois Online Sports Betting FAQ
Where Can I Place Bets in Illinois?
At the moment, there are five legally operating sportsbooks within state lines. These include those operated by PointsBet, DraftKings, William Hill and FanDuel. You can download the mobile betting app from these brands and register for an account to place bets at them.
What Age Do I Have to Be for Online Gambling in Illinois?
Anyone over the age of 21 is able to legally place sports bets in The Prairie State.
How Does Sports Betting Regulation Work in Illinois?
Once the sports betting bill was passed through and signed into law, it became the duty of the Illinois Gaming Board to regulate sports betting within.
Can I Bet on Horse Racing in the State?
Yes! In fact, Illinois has a long history with horse racing and betting. Three racetracks exist in Illinois, which are Arlington International, Fairmount Park and Hawthorne Race Course.
What Payment Methods Are Allowed at Sportsbooks in Illinois?
Different platforms support different payment methods. However, you can usually utilize options like credit and debit cards, eChecks, online bank transfers, e-wallets and more.
About Jack Schiffko
About Jack Schiffko
Jack is a freelance writer working in the iGaming and betting industry for over seven years. He is specialized in football and tennis betting but has also plenty of knowledge in betting on all kind of sports.