Sports betting in Illinois is now a reality thanks in the main to efforts by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who was instrumental in pushing the Illinois sports betting legislation over the line.

The Prairie State will now join other states across the country with legal, regulated sports betting.

The Illinois sports betting bill was approved in June 2019 and includes numerous gambling options. Legalized sports betting in Illinois officially began when BetRivers sportsbook, located at Rivers Casino Des Plaines, took the state’s first legal wager.

Sports betting sites & apps for Illinois

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When Is Legalized Sports Betting Coming to Illinois?

Retail wagering is already live in Illinois. Rivers Casino accepted the first legal bet in the state in March 2020, and it is expected that brick-and-mortar casinos will continue to appear throughout the state. Numerous properties have obtained temporary permits, which allows them to begin retail betting. However, online sports betting and betting apps are still a long way from being introduced to the Illinois gambling market. There has been no timeline given for when mobile betting can launch in the state.

There was hope for online sports betting when Rush Street Gaming CEO Greg Carlin revealed that when BetRivers opened, customers could register for an online sportsbook account. However, those hopes were quickly extinguished as  Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker removed the option for remote registration, which would immediately come into effect. This means in-person registration for players in Illinois is still required to trigger their online sports betting accounts.

In other related Illinois sports betting news, operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel, who rely heavily on mobile sports betting, now have to hope customers would be willing to travel sign up for an account. DraftKings has struck an agreement with Casino Queen in East St. Louis, but the company will require bettors to travel from Chicago, which is a considerable journey, to sign up for an account. For the moment, the only location that operates retail and mobile wagering is the casino in Des Plaines. There are offshore sites such as Bovada, but these are not safe, and your personal information is not protected.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, casinos in Illinois have started to re-open. The Illinois Gaming Board has given the go-ahead as long as each property maintains strict social distancing measures, including the casino operating at a limited capacity.

Illinois Sports Betting Apps

BetRivers was the first sportsbook to launch online in Illinois, going live on June 18, 2020. Governor J.B Pritzker reacted to the difficulties COVID-19 presented by removing the need for in-person registration, allowing bettors to sign up for an account remotely. However, this has now been rescinded, meaning players will need to travel to a physical property to register for an online sportsbook account for the first 18 months, which is a blow to the sports betting market in Illinois.

By late next year (2021), three online sportsbook licenses will be available. Physical casinos in Illinois were given an 18 month head start compared with the online market. As the U.S. tries to recover from the pandemic, major sports are set to resume. This is likely to lead to additional sports betting apps going live in the state.

The only current live Illinois sports betting app is BetRivers, which is built on the Kambi platform. Following the recent sports betting Illinois news that bettors cannot register online, they are now required to travel to Rivers Casino Des Plaines to register their accounts.

Indiana Sports Betting an Option for Illinois Players

While Illinois waits for more operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel to go live in the state, residents have other betting options nearby. Illinois residents can download Indiana sports betting apps, such as BetRivers Indiana, then drive over state lines and take part in legal sports wagering.

The Hoosier state has an active online and retail sports betting market already. As long as you are over the age of 21 and are physically located in Indiana, you can place as many wagers as you like. It is not a legal requirement to be a resident of Indiana; visitors are eligible to place bets as well. Anyone who wishes to do this must first download one of the sports betting apps in Indiana, create an account, and then deposit.

The sportsbook apps live in Indiana adopt geolocation technology to verify your location, so you cannot attempt to play if you are not in state lines. If you are playing in Indiana, you will have access to the full range of betting options and sports markets.

Illinois Sportsbooks & Casinos

Gambling Illinois options include ten riverboat casinos, of which seven have acquired licenses to operate sportsbooks. There are also three racetracks that have applied for a sportsbook license but are awaiting approval from the Illinois Gaming Board. Before the pandemic took hold and caused casinos to shut their doors and sports to be suspended, only two sportsbooks opened.

Seven sports facilities can set up sportsbooks within five blocks of their location. Below is a list of where you can currently (or soon) be able to bet on sports in Illinois:

Property Operator

Rivers Casinoo  –  Rush Street Gaming

Argosy – Penn National

Casino Queen –  DraftKings

Grand Victoria  – William Hill

Harrah’s Joliet  –  Harrah’s

Harrah’s Metropolis    –    Harrah’s

Hollywood Aurora      –      Penn National

Hollywood Joliet       –        Penn National

Jumers –  Delaware North

Par-A-Dice    –     Boyd Gaming

Arlington Park  –  Churchill Downs

Fairmount Park – N/A

Hawthorne    –     PointsBet

Horse Racing in Illinois

Horse betting is legal in Illinois and goes back a long way in the state. There are three active racetracks in the Land of Lincoln, Hawthorne Racecourse, Arlington International Racecourse, and Fairmount Park. Horse racing Illinois dates back to 1891, when the oldest family-owned racetrack in the US, Hawthorne, opened its doors. Parimutuel wagering was legalized in 1927, and Illinois has enjoyed a thriving horse betting market ever since.

There are several off-track betting facilities in the state, and the tracks are able to offer Illinois sports betting. Online sites such as BetAmericaTwinSpires, and TVG are available to residents and visitors to Illinois who want to bet on horse racing.

Look Out For In-Game Betting

In-play or ‘live’ betting is one of the most popular types of legal sports betting options available. These types of bets take place once a game or event has already started. Players can follow the changing odds as the action is taking place. This opens up far more markets such as the next player to score a touchdown, the score at the end of the quarter, who will win, and more. It adds an element of excitement, and most online sportsbooks offer numerous live betting options.


Where can I place a sports bet in Illinois?

Two casinos have active online sportsbooks along with one live Illinois sports app. However, more are expected to launch soon, so watch this space.

How to register for online sports betting in Illinois?

There is currently an in-person registration requirement for all wagering options in Illinois. This means if you want to sign up for an account, you must visit a casino and do so in-person. Sportsbooks will have a casino partner that will offer retail sports wagering, and you can visit and register for an account there.

How old do I need to be to bet in Illinois?

You have to be at least 21 to place sports bets in Illinois.

When will Illinois have sports betting?

Illinois currently has sports wagering options, but this is limited to two retail sportsbooks and one sports app. It is legal and live in the state, but there is a lack of options. This will change as more operators launch their platforms in the coming months and years.

Can I bet on sports using my phone in Illinois?

You can as long as you are located within the state’s borders. You will need to create an online account with the sportsbook of your choice, and download its app or play via your web browser.

Can you bet on Illinois sports teams?

Yes. The law allows bettors to bet on home teams such as the Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago Cubs/Chicago White Sox (MLB), and the Chicago Bulls (NBA). At the moment, it is legal to bet on all collegiate teams, but that could change.