Illinois Sports Betting 2024 | Best IL Sportsbooks & State Guide

Are you part of the many Illinoisans who contribute to setting new sports betting records for the Prairie state each year? If so, you’re on the right page.

This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive set of accurate, honest, and uncomplicated answers related to the status of online gambling in Illinois.

Whether you’re a newbie or a betting pro, this is your go-to source for everything you need to know to master sports betting in Illinois. From understanding local gambling laws in Illinois to exploring the best online sportsbooks and learning advanced betting strategies, we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s dive into the exciting world of online sports betting together!

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Register and bet in one of our recommended sportsbooks in Illinois
  • Find all the updated news concerning the legalization of sports betting in the IL state.
  • Try out our betting strategies to boost your next wagers!

The Legalization Journey of Sports Betting in Illinois

The state’s tumultuous journey is a testament to its extensive legislative efforts. The Illinois Sports Wagering Act 230 ILCS 45 of 2019 signifies a new era in the state’s gaming and sports betting industry. As we continue to navigate this thrilling arena, it’s important to remember our roots and how far we’ve come.

Statistically, topping $1 billion monthly in wagers, Illinois consistently ranks near the top of the revenue charts as one of the most successful sports betting states in the US!

We summarized the details below, giving you all the main highlights of Illinois’ journey to legalize betting on sports, online and in retail:

  • 1927: Illinois General Assembly approves bill legalizing Parimutuel wagering.
  • 1971: Legalizes Bingo games.
  • 1974: Illinois State lottery launch coincides with US 1st of July Independence Day celebrations.
  • 1986: Approved charitable games of chance for NPOs.
  • 1990: It was the Second US state to legalize riverboat gambling. The act stipulated boats had to cruise while gambling. In 1999, a new bill approved gambling on stationary riverboats.
  • 2009: General Assembly passes the Video Gaming Act HB 255, legalizing video games in licensed venues.
  • 2011: The Illinois Court of Appeals ruled Video Gaming Act HB 255 unconstitutional, triggering a host of legal battles. Eventually, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld HB 744’s validity.
  • 2019: Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the Illinois Sports Wagering Act, thereby legalizing and regulating sports betting in the state.
  • 2020: March, the first retail and online sportsbook open to Prairie state residents.

After many years as an avid sports bettor, I am amazed at how lawmakers in many US states still fail to protect their residents against digital crime. This lack of care makes it especially dangerous for inexperienced online gamblers who may unknowingly bet on sports at unregulated sportsbooks.

In contrast, the Illinois Sportsbetting Act of 2019 covers and addresses every aspect of online gambling. Strictly enforced regulation helps prevent unlicensed sportsbooks from providing services to state residents.

The state’s central regulating authority is the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). The IGB’s close cooperation with the Illinois Racing Board (IRC), the Illinois Lottery Control Board (ILCB), and the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) supports and expands the scope of its functions.

10 Quick Facts About Illinois’s Sports Betting Laws

Below are ten facts that all residents must know before dipping their toes in a betting pool of any kind within the borders of Illinois:

  1. Illinois Law: The Illinois Sports Wagering Act is the legal framework that governs sports betting within the state. The act was part of a larger capital bill in 2019. The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), through the regulatory provisions of Act 230 ILCS, aims to rigorously regulate all facilities, practices, associations, and persons related to gambling. The act provides for all forms of gambling, both online and land-based.
  2. Legal Age: You must be 21 or older to wager on sports in Illinois. The age regulation applies to both online and retail betting.
  3. Retail Bookmakers: The Act allows sports betting at licensed venues, including casinos, racetracks, and sports facilities. The first retail sportsbook opened in March 2020.
  4. Taxes: There’s no getting away from death and taxes! The Illinois tax rate on sports betting is 15% of gross gaming revenue. This revenue supports state infrastructure and education.
  5. State Borders: No in-state residency is required, but you must be within state lines while gambling to use Illinois sportsbook apps and websites.
  6. Geolocation: You won’t get away with a quick profit from outside state borders. Mobile sportsbooks utilize geolocation to track your phone’s internal GPS chip. You must use Illinois sportsbook apps and download their specified plugin to make legalized bets when betting online.
  7. Online Betting: Online and mobile app-based sportsbooks may operate inside state lines. Unveiled on June 18, 2020, the first online sportsbook finally opened its virtual doors to a vast number of highly enthusiastic Illinoisians.
  8. Registration: The in-person registration requirement was phased out permanently in 2022. You may now register, deposit, and bet online anywhere within state lines.
  9. Betting Types: Bets are only permitted on sporting events, meaning it is prohibited to place wagers on entertainment events such as the Oscars. If you wish to bet on in-state college programs, you can do so in person at retail sportsbooks; online betting on these remains illegal. It is also unlawful for sports league employees to bet on their particular sport.
  10. Sports Betting Capital: Based on statistics, Illinois could become the sports betting capital of the Midwest. With 12.7 million residents, it is one of the largest markets to legalize in-state sportsbooks in the United States.

The comprehensive scope of the Illinois Sports Wagering Act is one key element that separates it from and elevates it above some of its lesser, non-inclusive peers.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Illinois?

If you’ve read our article this far, your most immediate question is likely: So, is online sports betting legal in Illinois? The most straightforward answer is yes, IL is one of the US states where online sports betting is legal.

However, whether you prefer betting online or land-based, it is only legal to place a bet at venues holding an official gambling operator’s license issued by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). If you bet and cannot find a valid Illinois license, you’re breaking the law, leaving yourself open to prosecution.

A valid Illinois state operator’s license is your assurance that the systems, policies, games, and services offered by sportsbook operators are fair. Additionally, it provides you recourse avenues if you ever feel subject to unfair decisions or treatment.

You must know which of your actions the law considers gambling. According to (720 ILCS 5/28-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 28-1) Sec. 28-1 of the act:

If you place money on a bet on anything, from horse racing to the next person to cross the street or tomorrow’s weather, and stand a chance to make a profit on the outcome, you’re gambling.

While particular forms of gambling are legal at licensed venues, all forms of gambling are illegal if engaged in at unlicensed venues or persons. Even cross-border bets placed at venues outside state lines are unlawful!

How to Engage in Online Sports Betting in Illinois

Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced bettor, choosing the right sportsbook is crucial in your online betting journey. As an experienced sports bettor in The Prairie State, I listed considerations that are critically important to me when selecting my ideal bookie:

  • Reputation and Licensing: Ensure the sportsbook is licensed to operate legally in Illinois.
  • Betting Markets: Look for a sportsbook that offers a wide range of betting markets, including the sports I’m interested in.
  • Betting Options: In addition to any niche markets I’m interested in, the sportsbook should offer all popular betting options, such as moneyline, point spread, over/under, futures, and prop bets.
  • User Experience: Both mobile and PC platforms must be user-friendly, with an intuitive interface for easy navigation.
  • Customer Service: Good customer service is essential. I prefer sportsbooks that offer 24/7 customer support.
  • Promotions and Bonuses: I always check out what promotions and bonuses the sportsbook offers. I expect to find sign-up bonuses, free bets, and loyalty programs.
  • Payment Options: The sportsbook should offer many secure and convenient payment options.

Step-by-step Guide to Open a New Account at Your Chosen Sportsbook

Here are the 6 steps I did to sign up to Bet365:

  1. Start: On the homepage of my chosen sportsbook, I selected the “Sign Up” button, usually located at the top left of the page
  2. Create an Account: I provided the requested basic information, such as my name, email address, and date of birth, before submitting my membership application.
  3. Geolocation Verification: Some sportsbooks insist that I download their mobile app, which they then use to verify that I’m currently within state borders.
  4. Verify My Identity: Operators must verify my identity first as part of the sign-up process. I had to provide my valid state ID or passport, plus a bank statement or utility bill matching the address on my ID.
  5. Deposit Funds: I selected the cashier and chose the most convenient banking method. I transferred my preferred amount into my new betting account. Most sportsbooks offer various deposit methods, including several credit/debit cards, bank transfers, and e-wallets.
  6. Placing My First Bet: I’m finally ready to place my first bet. Before placing my bet, I ensured that I understood the odds and potential payout.

My Top 3 Online Sports Betting Apps in Illinois

It’s important to choose the sportsbook that best fits your needs, and each offers unique features and services. However, if no single sportsbook delivers everything on my shortlist, I always consider joining more than one!

Top online sportsbooks that may legally present their services within Illinois include DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and BetRivers.


Bookie NameDraftKings
Recommended bet marketsFootball, basketball, baseball, cricket
Welcome offer20% match bonus up to $1000

As a newly signed DraftKings sportsbook member, for a first deposit of just $5, you can claim a 20% matched bonus worth up to $1000 in DK Dollars! Alternatively, your $5 first deposit would allow you to grab $200 in bonus bets or claim any of the sportsbook’s 13 other promotional offers.


Bookie NameFanDuel
Recommended MarketsHorse racing, NFL, NBA, MLB
Welcome offer$150 in Bonus Bets

Touting itself as America’s #1 sportsbook, FanDuel matches its claim by offering excellent customer service. In addition, it spoils its members with easy access to every legally allowed betting market and betting options in Illinois, including several niche ones. FanDuel and DraftKings constantly vie to outdo each other as they compete for the #1 spot in the US sportsbook ranks.

As a new FanDuel member, if you deposit at least $10 and your first $5 bet wins, you can claim $150 in bonus bets to welcome you. Once you’ve used your welcoming sportsbook bonus, you can access a near-endless array of promotional bonuses.


Bookie NameBetMGM
Recommended MarketsNFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Rugby
Welcome offerBonus bets up to $1500

Well-known for its service excellence, it is one of the iconic household names associated with gambling in the US. Based purely on the wealth of their current bonus offers, I rate BetMGM a short head above Caesars. BetMGM features a full range of betting markets with excellent odds and specials on all locally popular sports.

BetMGM welcomes new members to the sportsbook by paying them back up to $1500 in bonus bets if they don’t win. It’s a one-time offer, and you must use the bets within seven days. If that rocks your betting boat, there are five other generous bonus offers that you can claim once you’ve enjoyed their welcoming bonus to its fullest.

Popular Sports and Teams in Illinois Betting Scene

According to Google search stats, for every 1000 monthly searches by Illinoisians, over 108 are football-related. Basketball is second with over 75 searches, golf is third with 47, and soccer is fourth with 46 searches.

Top 3 Popular Sports for Betting in IL:

  1. Football
  2. Basketball
  3. Soccer

Considering the enthusiasm baseball enjoys locally, 31 monthly searches lead baseball to a strangely distant fifth on the popularity charts. Although not in the top five, don’t leave hockey out of the equation either, with Chicago Blackhawks fandom approaching fanaticism.

Aside from football attracting slightly less attention than the US average, each state’s sports search results are notably higher than those of other states across the US. These figures prove Illinois is one of the most dialed-into sports states in the US, so its top-three position on the US sportsbook popularity rankings is no surprise.

Illinois’ Major League Sports

Most, but not all, major league sports teams in Illinois call Chicago their hometown.

NFL: The Chicago Bears: Hometown heroes, the Bears won nine NFL Championships, their last championship win being Super Bowl XX back in January 1986.

Mike Ditka, 1988 Football Hall of Famer and one of only two men to have won the Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach, and head coach, famously stated:

Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.

NBA: The Chicago Bulls: Through the considerable skills and efforts of giants like Michael Jordan and other team legends, the Bulls are likely the most recognized basketball team in the NHL and the world.

In the 1990s, Jordan led his team to six historic NBA Championship victories in just eight seasons.

MLS: The Chicago Fire FC: Founded in 1997, the Fire won the league soccer championship and four US Open Lamar Hunt Cups, establishing themselves as one of the league’s most favored and successful clubs.

Similarly popular, the Chicago Red Stars have represented Illinois in the NWSL since their 2009 founding.

MLB: Chicago Cubs and White Sox: The state boasts two major league baseball teams. Wrigley Field’s world-famous Cubs captured the 2016 World Series championship crown in the National League.

Not to be outdone, the White Sox became 2005 World Series champions in the American League.

NHL: The Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks have been a firm fixture in the NHL since the club’s 1926 founding.

For a team from the ice-free southern climate like The Blackhawks to have won six Stanley Cup Trophies testifies to the efficacy of our hockey program. Naturally, our betting fans are always eager to show how much they adore them for it!

— College Sports: Regarding college sports, the University of Illinois and Northwestern University have solid athletic programs that compete in the Big Ten Conference. The Fighting Illini football team and the Wildcats basketball team are top-rated.

If you want to see what real sports fanaticism looks like, you only need to attend a local college football or basketball match.

Illinois Most Famous Sports Figures

The most famous sports figures from Illinois are Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a six-time Olympic medalist widely considered the world’s best female athlete of all time.

To emphasize local support, consider this quote from Phil Jackson, former New York Knicks player and coach for the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers:

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.

Phil Jackson

This sentiment encapsulates perfectly the spirit of Illinois sports fans; we passionately support our teams, contributing to our state’s vibrant sports culture.

The Impact of Local Teams on Sports Betting

After legalization, Illinois became the quickest state in the US to reach a $5 billion spend in sports wagers. Statistically, we Prairie State residents love our sports only slightly more than we love betting on them!

Before the 2019 legalization of sports betting in Illinois, one of the proposed new act’s legal stipulations made specific wagering or accepting bets on collegiate sports illegal.

In 2021, after much controversy, HB3136 amended the law to allow sportsbooks to accept bets on collegiate events. However, there’s still a catch! You may only place wagers on collegiate events in person at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

HB3136 made sports betting much more user-friendly. You no longer have to register with sportsbooks in person at a retail bookmaker; the amended act allows you to register online.

The University of Illinois athletic director, Josh Whitman, stated:

Allowing betting on games also creates an even greater risk of exposing college athletes to “vile,” “abusive” and “threatening” comments on social media.

The main takeaway is that the approval and incorporation of in-stadium sportsbooks seem to have increased fan engagement, which has had a positive effect on attendance figures in Illinois’ sports stadiums.

Upcoming Events

With matches scheduled between the White Sox and Cleveland Guardians, Cubs, and Pittsburg Pirates, and the White Sox facing the New York Mets over the upcoming weeks, many questions remain unanswered.

How will Justin Steele’s return affect the Cubs? Will Mike Clevinger boost the White Sox’s performance? Illinois sports fans can look forward to a busy betting month ahead.

Are There More Gambling Options in Illinois?

With more positive attitudes towards gambling and increasing leniency in gambling laws, Illinois provides a near-infinite number of entertainment options. The state is not only home to the greatest number of slot machines in the country, but its variety and quality of online gambling venues match or exceed those of any other state.

Boasting the lowest taxes on gambling in the US prompted all the foremost brands in gambling entertainment to compete for a slice of the very lucrative Illinois pie.

The competitive market forces operators to continually put their most generous foot forward when welcoming new members into their fold. As a result, Prairie State residents not only have access to the widest variety of games and sports in the US, but they also enjoy the latest in gambling technology.

Healthy sports programs across all sports also mean busy bookmakers and busy sportsbooks offer more sports markets and more betting options at better odds.

Maximizing Your Sports Betting Experience in Illinois

My goal is always to make as much profit as possible from my bets: preparedness is my holy grail. Before considering a team, market, or bet option, I set my budget while continually reminding myself to stick to my goals and strategies.

Below are some of my best betting strategies and tips that I’ve tailored to the Illinois market:

  • Understand the Market: Learn about sports betting, familiarize yourself with the sports and teams popular in Illinois. See how the Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Cubs and White Sox (MLB), and the Chicago Fire FC (MLS) have recently performed.
  • Choose the Right Sportsbook: Select a sportsbook licensed to operate legally in Illinois and look for the best odds and bonus offers.
  • Bankroll Management: Set a budget for your betting activities and stick to it.
  • Manage your funds properly: never bet more than you can afford to lose.
  • Research: Do your homework before placing a bet. Understand the teams, players, and other factors that could influence the outcome.
  • Bet Responsibly: If you find yourself chasing losses or betting more than you can afford, it’s time to take a break.

Advice from professional bettors in the Illinois community:

  • Find Your Niche: Focus on a sport or league you know well, it will give you an edge over the general betting public.
  • Look for Value: Don’t just bet on favorites. Look for underdogs where you think the odds might be in your favor.
  • Don’t Chase Losses: It’s natural to want to win back money you’ve lost, but this often leads to even more significant losses.
  • Stay Disciplined: Betting can be emotional, but staying disciplined and sticking to your strategy is essential.

Remember, sports betting should be enjoyable. Bet responsibly, and good luck!

Responsible Betting in Illinois

As an experienced bettor in Illinois, I cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of responsible gambling.

  • Setting and knowing your limits is crucial; they tell you when to stop. Never gamble more than you can afford to lose.
  • If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, help is available. The Illinois Department of Human Services has developed a website,, to provide you with support, advice, and resources.
  • The Illinois Council on Problem Gambling, a non-profit organization, also offers assistance.

Remember, seeking help is okay; effective resources are available to support you.

So, Will You Bet from Illinois Tonight?

Now you know everything there is to know about the legal framework of sports betting in Illinois and how to bet responsibly. Apply your newfound knowledge to your betting routine by choosing a licensed sportsbook that meets your needs:

  • Set a firm budget.
  • Do your research before placing any bet.
  • Always bet responsibly.

Now that you’re ready to bet in Illinois responsibly, you must be interested in learning more about gambling strategies. Consult our comprehensive betting 101 guide to learn more.