Sports betting is legal in Illinois. In this article, we’ll dissect the broader sports betting picture, and break it down into reviews of specific sportsbooks that will hopefully leave you feeling more comfortable about how to legally gamble on your favorite teams if you live in the state of Illinois.
In states where sports betting is legal, you can place wagers in one of two ways: by placing the wager physically, on location at a casino that offers a retail sportsbook; or by using the smart phone app (or website) of a sportsbook legally allowed to offer online sports betting in the state.
Professional bettors refer to the first type of bet we mentioned, physically paying for or “placing” the wager on location and in person, as “making it to the window.” As for mobile or online sports betting, just as financial market participants select a broker in order to obtain access to financial markets, the situation is similar for sports betting.
Once you’ve decided how to place the bet, in person or online, and you’ve made it to the window or have our online sports betting account funded, that’s when the real fun begins.
Sportsbooks offer a plethora of ways to get money down on a game; the variety of bets that you can make on any one game is a lengthy list, from betting against the spread, to betting the moneyline or total, to futures odds, props, parlays and teasers. What’s more, most sportsbooks that offer online betting also tie in the option to live bet on each game. That is, they update betting lines on games in real time and offer a market on games as they’re being played. Technology does it again!
Most sports betting sites will also offer a bonus or two, such as a match on the first deposit (up to a certain dollar amount) for new customers.
Best sports betting sites in Illinois for 2021
The rise of technology in, say, the last 20 years has given us access to many previously “under the table” industries. For the large, large majority of recreational sports bettors, who work a day job and live a traditional lifestyle, the easiest way to wager on sports is through an online sportsbook. It’s nearly impossible to watch any sporting event on TV these days without seeing multiple commercials for DraftKings or FanDuel sportsbooks.
While those two might be the most recognized online sportsbooks in Illinois, others like William Hill and PointsBet also have their strengths.
William Hill online sportsbook IL
William Hill bills itself as “America’s Number One Sportsbook.” Established in 1934, and based in London, William Hill has been legally operating in the United States since 2012. On Aug. 3, 2020, William Hill opened its first (and so far, only) retail sportsbook in Illinois at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. Online and mobile betting became available shortly thereafter, on Sept. 15 of the same year.
William Hill is new to Illinois, but operates 113 race and sportsbooks in Nevada, and operates in three casinos in New Jersey. It also has recently initiated operations in the states of Iowa, Indiana, West Virginia, Florida, Mississippi and New Mexico. In October 2019, William Hill made a deal (pending regulatory approval) to build and operate a sportsbook at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Its international footprint features licensed operations in the countries of Italy, Spain, Sweden, Bahamas, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
PointsBet online sportsbook IL
PointsBet is a subsidiary of PointsBet Holdings Limited. PointsBet Holdings was founded in February of 2017 in Australia, where it’s still headquartered. Since inception, PointsBet Holdings has expanded its brand and opened its first stateside sportsbook in New Jersey in 2019. It has subsequently opened for business in Iowa and Indiana, and went online in Illinois in September of 2020.
As of this writing, PointsBet does not operate any physical retail sportsbooks; it currently is a digital product only. With that being said, the company does plan on generating quite the retail sportsbook presence with four planned locations in the Chicagoland area: Stickney, Prospect Heights, Oakbrook Terrace and Crestwood. The company has intentions for the Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney being the flagship location within the state.
PointsBet Illinois offers all the traditional fixed odds betting markets that we mentioned in the open (moneyline, point spread, totals, parlays, etc.), but it’s introduced a new, signature product line that’s specific to its brand. It’s called “PointsBetting,” and the market serves as a multiplier to a point spread, total or prop bet. The idea is that a bettor’s potential winnings or losses aren’t fixed, but variable until the conclusion of the contest.
A “PointsBet” wager (as opposed to a traditional fixed odds wager) is a marketplace best reserved for the most experienced bettors.
DraftKings online sportsbook IL
DraftKings, a household name in the sports betting industry, was founded in 2012 as a daily fantasy sports platform, which was revolutionary for its time. DraftKings was founded by three friends, with corporate headquarters originally in one of the founding members’ homes, and created as a one-on-one daily fantasy baseball competition that debuted along with Major League Baseball opening day in 2012.
Sports gambling became legal in Illinois on June 28, 2019, and it took DraftKings less than a year to go live within the state. It opened for business, serving sports bettors within Illinois state lines, on Aug. 5, 2020. Ever since, DraftKings Illinois has operated under the license of “DraftKings Sportsbook at Casino Queen” and plans to open a physical retail location at the Casino Queen in East Saint Louis, Illinois.
DraftKings was the second sports betting platform to be available in Illinois, behind only BetRivers Sportsbook, both of which offered strictly online wagers upon inception. It currently serves sports bettors in Illinois, Tennessee, New Jersey, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado.
One of the bonuses to opening an account with DraftKings is that it offers to match any user’s initial deposit (with bonus funds in the form of site credit), up to an even $1,000.
FanDuel online sportsbook IL
FanDuel Sportsbook wasn’t far behind DraftKings in becoming the third mobile sports betting provider in Illinois. Only 15 days behind, to be exact, as it went live on Aug. 20, 2020. FanDuel itself, much like DraftKings, came to be as a fantasy sports outlet.
FanDuel Sportsbook is available to the betting public in New Jersey, Michigan, Mississippi, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Iowa, West Virginia, Tennessee and Illinois. Its Illinois casino partner is Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino in East Peoria. As such, FanDuel’s retail sportsbook location is at Par-A-Dice and offers sports bettors in the central region of the state the option of in-person betting services.
Fixed odds markets are FanDuel’s primary offering, but just as we mentioned with PointsBet, it’s innovated a new way to wager on sports. Called the same-game parlay, it allows users to combine multiple bets from the same game or team into one parlay.
How online sports betting works
The first step in getting into the game is to research and make the decision as to which sportsbook you’d like to open an account with. We suggest following our recommendations up with a peak under the hood for yourself, and downloading the app of your choice (or visiting the provider’s website via browser) in order to create an account. You’ll simply need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number (for age and identity verification) during the registration process. It’s important to select a provider that meets your requirements.
Once you’ve opened the account, you’ll need to fund the account by using a debit/credit card, linking a bank account or using PayPal. When the method of payment has been verified and funds have been received, you can instantly start betting. When you hit that big bet, the withdrawal process acts the same but in reverse: the withdrawal amount is sent electronically to your origin of payment.
When you’re ready to bet, you’ll be able to access all markets and offerings that your book has listed. Just open the app, select the sport and game you’re interested in, and you’re in business. The sportsbook debits your newly created account when you submit your bet. The house pays back your original wager plus the amount you won if your bet is successful. If your bet loses, the sportsbook keeps your wagered amount.
Live sports betting in Illinois
Let’s say the big game starts before you get off work for the day, and you didn’t get a chance to place a bet prior to kickoff or the opening tip. Lucky for us, technology and online betting come to the rescue yet again.
All four of the sportsbook providers we’ve listed here offer what’s called live betting. A live bet is a bet that’s placed after the event has already begun. Sportsbooks will update odds in the marketplace for games in progress and adjust the odds based on what’s happening in the game.
Some sportsbooks update their live odds after every made or missed shot, every pitch, snap or possession. Live odds change fast, and finding value within the constantly shifting odds board is the idea.
Top 5 sports betting apps in Illinois
It’s important to point out that most of the websites for Illinois sportsbooks currently operating online will differ only slightly in layout, like the differences in Target’s website versus Wal Mart’s. As far as Illinois sports betting app go, we found that the range of features offered does widen a bit by provider.
Here’s what we found:
1. William Hill Sportsbook app IL
- By far the most promotion and bonus offers; Golden Game (wager on the week’s Golden Game for chance at a bonus), Friday Night Parlays (parlay three-plus live games, get a 20% bonus) and Thursday Night Teaser (place a basketball teaser on Thursdays, get a 20% bonus) are just a few fan favorites.
- App has a “quick bet” feature, useful in live betting markets, that allows for instant odds selection.
- Registration process requires you to set up three security questions for added account privacy and security.
- Payment types: ACH/e-check, prepaid card, credit/debit card, cash at retail location.
2. PointsBet Sportsbook app IL
- Matches up to $250 of new users’ first deposits.
- PointsBet refunds certain wagers that fall victim to bad beats, and it has frequent odds boost offerings.
- Patented “PointsBetting” market allows bettors to risk/win more based on the degree to which a wager wins or loses.
- Payment types: credit/debit card, online banking.
3. DraftKings Sportsbook app IL
- Offers DraftKings Playbook, an information source full of upcoming available contest entries, statistical information and expert articles.
- Daily odds boost promotions. An odds boost is an offering by the sportsbook that increases the odds on a bet, thus increasing the potential payout to bettors.
- Live betting homepage features box scores, play recaps, live look-in and outcome probabilities.
- Payment types: credit/debit card, PayPal.
4. FanDuel Sportsbook app IL
- New users eligible for up to $1,000 in risk free bets, in which a losing bet becomes site credit.
- Occasional odds boost promotions, usually on the highest profile games only.
- Created the same-game parlay, where users can parlay multiple fixed odds bets on the same game prior to the beginning of the contest for a bigger payout.
- Payment types: credit/debit card, online banking, PayPal.
5. BetRivers Sportsbook app IL
- The app is fully functional and user-friendly, but BetRivers isn’t known for innovative or creative product offerings like the others we’ve covered.
- Payment types: credit/debit card, ACH/e-check, PayNearMe, prepaid card, wire transfer, PayPal, cash at retail location.
Pros and cons of mobile sports betting
Pros of mobile sports betting include the undeniable convenience. For most of us, our smartphones are a way of life and with us nearly every second of every day. No need to hop in the car and drive across half the state to place a bet in person.
Another positive is the fact that there are no costs associated with placing a bet online — once you’ve funded the account, the only thing you pay for is the bets you chooses to place.
Cons of mobile sports betting come down to two things: human interaction and never-ending market exposure.
Mobile sports betting is more video game-like than life-like. When we go to the shopping mall or to Taco Bell, we purchase goods or services in person — an actual, living, human experience. The technological aspect of mobile sports betting, using a mobile or desktop device to place bets online, is still fun but not nearly as engaging.
Likewise, the ease of access can be troublesome for someone who has (or develops) a gambling addiction problem. Always gamble responsibly.
Physical location and boundaries
Online sportsbooks use geolocation to track the physical location of their account holders. Physical location is specific to one’s ability to place wagers online.
A legal sports bettor must have the betting app installed on a mobile device and be within state lines in order for the betting house to process a wager ticket. As soon as users move across state lines, the geolocation feature on their mobile devices will relay their physical locations to the sportsbook, and they will not be able to bet until re-entering the legal state.
Legal sports betting in Illinois
We’ve touched on some of the websites that make up the Illinois sports betting market, but what exactly can we bet on in Illinois?
The general rule of thumb when it comes to online sports betting in Illinois is that if it’s illegal to bet on, it’s simply not offered by any of the sportsbooks we’ve covered in this piece.
What’s legal and illegal to bet on in Illinois
The term “sport” is actually a fairly vague classification. In the world we find ourselves living in today, nearly anything can be a sport.
From pick-up basketball games, to golfing with friends. From Friday night high school football games to YMCA soccer leagues, all the way up to professional sporting events, there’s a lot of sport happening around us every day.
So, what can we find in legal Illinois sports betting markets?
- Sports you can bet on in Illinois:
- Soccer: FIFA, UEFA and MLS
- Basketball: NBA, FIBA, and NCAA*
- Hockey: NHL and IIHF
- Tennis: ATP and WTA
- Football: NFL, NCAA* and Australian rules
- Baseball: MLB and KBO
- Golf: PGA, LPGA, European Tour and WGC
- Horse racing
- Sports you can’t bet on in Illinois:
- Youth sporting leagues
- High school athletics
The online sportsbooks we’ve covered here allow bettors to wager on collegiate and professional sporting events.
It’s important to note the asterisk on NCAA wagers that you place from within Illinois. It is not legal to bet on in state college teams, per state rules. For Illinois bettors, that rules out betting on the University of Illinois, Northwestern, DePaul, Southern Illinois, Bradley, etc. Betting markets on college teams located in the state are not available to bettors in the state.
People seeking to use an online sports betting platform in Illinois must be 21 or older to gamble. All regulations governing Illinois sports betting online are set forth by the Illinois Gaming Board.
Is there ‘off track’ betting in Illinois?
Off-track horse betting most commonly refers to betting on a race from outside the physical confines of the horse track, and it is in fact fully legal in Illinois.
The state has three horse tracks in the state and features 37 authorized OTB parlors.
Professional sports teams in Illinois
Unlike college programs in the state, Illinois bettors can bet on professional sports teams that are from Illinois.
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Founded May 1, 1926
- The Blackhawks have won the NHL championship (Stanley Cup) six times
- Stadium: United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago
- Chicago Bears
- Founded Sept. 17, 1920
- The Bears have won the NFL championship (Super Bowl) one time
- Stadium: Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago
- Chicago Cubs
- Founded in 1876
- The Cubs have won the MLB championship (World Series) three times
- Stadium: Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St., Chicago
- Chicago White Sox
- Founded in 1900
- The White Sox have won the MLB championship (World Series) three times
- Stadium: Guaranteed Rate Field, 333 W. 35th St., Chicago
- Chicago Bulls
- Founded Jan. 16, 1966
- The Chicago Bulls have won the NBA championship (NBA Finals) six times.
- Stadium: United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago
Horse betting in Illinois
Horse betting in Illinois happens at the following tracks:
- Arlington International Racecourse
- 2200 Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights
- Established 1880
- Fairmount Park Racetrack
- 9301 Collinsville Road, Collinsville
- Established 1925
- Hawthorne Race Course
- 3501 S. Laramie Ave., Stickney
- Established 1891
Retail sportsbooks in Illinois
Bettors in Illinois who prefer to place their bets in person, rather than online, can visit the following retail sportsbook locations for ticket window betting:
- Grand Victoria Casino
- 250 S. Grove Ave., Elgin
- Open 24 hours a day
- Partnered with William Hill
- Hawthorne Race Course
- 3501 S. Laramie Ave., Stickney
- Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
- Partnered with PointsBet
- Casino Queen Saint Louis
- 200 S. Front St., East Saint Louis
- Hours of operations: 8 a.m. to 4 a.m.
- Partnered with DraftKings
- Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino
- 21 Blackjack Blvd., East Peoria
- Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Partnered with FanDuel
Which Illinois sportsbooks have received an online betting license?
As of January 2021, the only sportsbooks that are currently licensed to legally operate online in the state of Illinois are the sportsbooks we’ve covered in this article.
It is rumored that Penn National (via Barstool Sportsbook) will eventually enter the Illinois sports betting market, but official plans to partner with Harrah’s Casino in the Chicagoland area are preliminary.
As sports betting grows in popularity, so too will the number of legal sportsbooks within the state of Illinois.
Yes. DraftKings went live in Illinois on Aug. 5, 2020.
Yes. FanDuel went live in Illinois on Aug. 20, 2020.
Yes. Horse betting and online horse betting are legal in Illinois. BetAmerica, TVG and TwinSpires are a few of the top online horse betting sites in Illinois.
No, you can’t bet with your PayPal account, but you can use your PayPal account to fund a sportsbook account and then bet online. Select online betting providers in Illinois accept PayPal as a method of payment.
Due to the fact that offshore sportsbooks don’t fall under jurisdiction of United States law, you have no recourse should an offshore book delay or fail to pay your winnings, or if you have a dispute or the book disappears and takes your bankroll with it.