Illinois Gambling Laws, Regulation & Taxes

The sports betting surge shows no sign of stopping. Estimates show that it will be an $8 billion industry by 2025, with others showing that the industry could hit the coveted 11-figure mark earlier than expected if many other willing states manage to get their way.

Of course, all this wouldn’t be possible without the overturning of PASPA in 2018, which has since led to some form of legalization of sports betting in nearly half of the fifty states.

Illinois became one of those states in 2020 with the launch of both retail and mobile sports betting. This came after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law in June 2019 that allowed sports betting within the state.

Many sports bettors from the Prairie State may still have questions regarding this legalization, so here’s a summary of how sports betting is regulated in Illinois.

Illinois sports betting regulation timeline

Illinois has had other previous forms of gambling even before sports betting was legalized in 2018. The Riverboat Gambling Act of 1990 allowed gambling on Riverboat Casinos, and the Video Gaming Act of 2009 allowed the operation of video gaming terminals in specified locations.

Sports bettors, however, had to wait a while longer before they were able to satisfy their sports betting needs.

A few sports betting bills were floated around in early 2018 such as Representative Lou Lang’s HB4214 and Senator Napoleon Harris’ SB3432. Most, though, were just mere explorations of the idea of legalizing sports betting especially since there was still a federal ban on sports betting and New Jersey’s Supreme Court case still had many uncertainties attached to it.

That, however, changed with the landmark ruling in May 2018 that ended up defining the sports betting industry. Following the 2018 SCOTUS ruling that overturned the federal ban on sports betting, states were essentially given the freedom to pursue sports betting at their own volition.

This decision led other states to immediately jump on the legalization bandwagon. In Illinois, discussions surrounding the legalization of sports betting heated up in 2019, which eventually culminated with Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing SB 690 into law.

This bill gave the green light to sports betting in casinos, sports facilities, and horse racing venues and the Illinois Gaming Board was the governing body put in charge of the state’s gaming activities, including sports betting.

The first bet was placed in the state in March 2020 after BetRivers sportsbook at Rivers Casino launched. In June 2020, due to casinos being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an order allowing mobile sports betting within the state, making Illinois the 11th state in the US to offer online sports betting.

This order also meant that users could register for betting sites online instead of the previous requirement which forced bettors to visit retail sportsbooks if they wanted to register for online betting. Barring a short period in July, this order has constantly been renewed after it was first put in place in June

Illinois sports betting revenues

Illinois’ numbers for 2020 were great, considering that there was a pandemic that halted many sporting activities and that sports betting had just launched in the state.

The handle (amount of money taken in on bets) reported in 2020 is as shown below:

Month (2020)Combined HandleHandle From Online SportsbooksTotal Bets PlacedCombined Revenue

As is evident from the table, there was a constant increase in the monthly handle and also in total bets placed by bettors within the state. Also, a large part of the money reported came from online sportsbooks, since land-based casinos had many restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, going forward, online sports betting is still expected to lead the way when it comes to total revenue.

The handle from the five operational online sportsbooks in 2020 is further represented in the table below:

Month (2020)DraftKings’ Online HandleBetRivers’ Online HandleFanDuel’s Online HandlePointsBet’s Online HandleWilliam Hill’s Online Handle

With month-on-month growth, Illinois is expected to post soaring numbers by the end of 2021. Its January 2021 handle was $581.6 million, continuing with the trend of record monthly growth.

This January handle was also the fourth highest handle reported, behind only New Jersey ($958.7 million), Nevada ($646.5 million), and Pennsylvania ($615.3 million), perfectly illustrating that Illinois is definitely a major sports-betting player.

Its sports betting handle for 2021 is projected to be around the $6 billion mark while total revenue could be around $270-420 million, which will more than double the $125 million revenue that sportsbooks earned in 2020.

How is sports betting revenue taxed by the state?

The state has a taxation rate of around 15% on money earned by sportsbooks after gross adjusted revenue. To put that into perspective, of the $125,054,113.00 revenue earned by sportsbooks in 2020, the state took $20,191,143 in taxes.

The state also earns additional revenue by charging for sports betting licensing fees. Casinos, sporting arenas, and racing tracks that are already operational are charged a maximum of $10 million depending on their current revenue, while mobile-only licenses have a costly fee of $20 million.

With the combined income from license fees plus the taxes earned from a steady sports betting market, the state of Illinois can easily earn more than $100 million a year from sports betting activities, and that estimate is more on the conservative side.

Overall, the state projects to rake in around a total of $2 billion in taxes alone from 2020-2026.

Regulated sportsbooks operating in Illinois

The following sportsbooks are both licensed and regulated; this—coupled with their great quality —guarantees Illinois bettors the very best in sports betting when they opt for either of the four sportsbooks listed below:

DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKings is an exceptional sportsbook, so it’s no surprise to find that it’s the most popular online sportsbook in Illinois.

DraftKings started as a provider for fantasy sports in 2012 and has since grown to be an industry leader in both sports betting and fantasy sports.

Despite its popularity, the sportsbook was actually the second mobile sportsbook to launch in Illinois after BetRivers did so. DraftKings partnered with the Casino Queen in East St. Louis and officially launched both its retail and online sportsbook in August 2020. Since then, many Illinoisans have hopped on the site, causing its popularity to spread like wildfire.

The sportsbook is widely revered for its wide range of sporting options as well as its ease of usability, which are a few of the factors that have led to its widespread popularity.

FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel is DraftKings’ greatest competitor countrywide, and its popularity has slowly been surging in Illinois. It currently trades blows with BetRivers as the second most popular online sportsbook in Illinois.

FanDuel, however, had to play catch up because it launched later than both DraftKings and BetRivers. It even seemed as though the sportsbook would have to wait a while longer before being able to enter the Illinois sports betting market, but the company struck a deal with Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria that saw it instead launch in late August 2020.

So sports bettors can place bets in both the retail and online sportsbook. Since FanDuel is the sportsbook that takes the most bets countrywide, expect for it to steadily compete with DraftKings for top honors in Illinois.

PointsBet Sportsbook

PointsBet is one of the most distinct sportsbooks in the sports betting market, and that has played well to its advantage. The Aussie-operated sportsbook has a few unique sports betting options that easily make it stand out from some of the other more common sportsbooks, such as its branded ‘Points Bbetting’ product that increases a bettor’s winnings based on a higher winning margin.

Such unique approaches have made its popularity increase steadily in the US market.

PointsBet launched its online Illinois sportsbook on September 12, 2020, after partnering with Hawthorne Race Course, which is one of the three racetracks found in Illinois.

William Hill Sportsbook

The William Hill brand probably needs no introduction. This UK-based operator has been offering bets for more than 80 years, so they definitely know a thing or two about satisfying sports bettors’ needs. This is perfectly shown by their competitive lines and bonuses.

With specific reference to Illinois, the sportsbook partnered with Grand Victoria Casino and launched its online sportsbook in September 2020, just in time for the football season. Since then, it has been steadily growing its user base.

Illinois online casino and poker laws

The current law means that online casinos and online poker sites are illegal in Illinois, so beware if you see one of these sites claiming that they are operating legally within the state.

The great news, though, is that Illinois has great land-based casinos and onsite poker rooms, all of which are licensed, legal, and regulated. So if you fancy a shot at the roulette table or want to win some money using your stern poker face, then just visit your nearest casino and do so legally.

Final take on sports betting regulation in Illinois

Illinois has definitely taken the sports betting scene by storm, but the good news is that the state is still projected to go up from where it is currently. The current output points to the fact that it could be a solidified top-three betting state by 2022, which is perfectly apt for a sports-crazy state.

Illinois also has the benefit of numbers since it is a very populous state, which will also factor into its growth as many more residents become drawn to sports betting.

Again, all this is good for the state. Greater revenue equals more taxes, and sports betting is projected to infuse a total of $12 billion in taxable revenue from 2020 to 2026; therefore, the state can expect around $1.8 billion in taxes from this huge chunk over that period.

And with a growing list of operators and sports betting venues such as stadiums, sports bettors in Illinois can only smile at the promising future that the industry holds.