Illinois gambling guide

Overview of Illinois Gambling

On this page, you will find all the information about legal gambling in the state of Illinois. The focus will be on the current situation with each type of gamble, but there is also information about the history, legislation, and authorities involved. You can use the following links to navigate toward the information that interests you most.

The main purpose of our Illinois gambling guide is to give you a clear overview of your options. However, we have also added some helpful info at the end, including suggestions for the best local casinos and notable winners from the state. Finally, you can find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about gambling in Illinois.

Legal Gambling in Illinois

Illinois is located in the Midwest region of the United States and is the 5th most populous state. With more than 12 million residents, it has a huge market for legal gambling, which explains the variety of available options. In fact, Illinois online gambling could become even bigger if more innovations are made in that direction.

Moreover, the revenue numbers confirm the popularity of gambling in the Prairie State. For the period between July 2022 and July 2023, the numbers are already over $2 billion, with the trend clearly going up. The chart below shows how the revenue changed over the years based on .

As you can see, the gambling revenue reached its peak in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact in 2020. Remarkably, the numbers bounced back in 2022 and are now higher than ever. Let’s not forget that Illinois became one of the first states to offer regulated online gambling in 2012, which certainly helped in reaching these impressive results.

would like the gamble experience and feel fully immersed in the atmosphere. Top attractions include Las Vegas-style gaming, live entertainment, fine and casual dining, spectacular surroundings, golf, spas, shopping, and more. There are currently 10 casino resorts in Illinois, most of which opened doors around 2022.

The top casino destinations in Illinois include:

  • Rizzo Entrepreneurs Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale – founded on June 24, 1983.
  • Rockford Register Star – first published as the Rock River Times on March 1, 1839 (one of the oldest newspapers in the US).
  • Quincy Herald-Whig – founded in 1836 by Henry B. Whig (oldest business continuously operating under the same name in Illinois).
  • Chicago Magazine – monthly publication focused on lifestyle, culture, entertainment, fitness, healthcare, politics, and so on.
  • Tri-States Public Radio – nonprofit organization known for news, music, cultural, educational, and community programs on air and online.

These remain some of the most iconic brands in Illinois and play a big role in shaping the local community. Of course, gambling does not have direct interactions with them, but it is worth mentioning for a complete picture. Additionally, many of the large casino companies behind the venues also operate in other industries.

Galena, Illinois

Galena is a small city in northwestern Jo Daviess County and is considered one of the best-preserved Spanish-American War communities in the country. It was also the home of Ulysses S. Grant, who served as commanding general of the Army and later as the 18th President of the United States. Other notable figures include Senator Abraham Lincoln Douglas, poet James Whitcomb Riley, and General John A. Logan.

In terms of tourism, Galena is very popular thanks to the well-preserved historic homes and buildings from the 19th century. There are also numerous wineries, tasting rooms, and beautiful landscapes for those who want to relax and enjoy nature. As you can see, Galena has nothing to do with gambling, but that might change soon.

According to , “discussions to bring a casino to Jo Daviess County” have been ongoing for years, and the latest is that local officials are working with a Meskwaki tribe to make it happen in Galena. The proposed project goes by the name Galena River Casino & Lodge and should cost around $175 million. It would feature 500 slot machines, 15 table games, a 250-room lodge, a connected hotel with another 100 rooms, several restaurants, a event center, spa, pool, and fitness center.

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The plans sound promising, especially since the tribe already owns two casinos in Iowa. However, there are still approval processes to go through before construction can begin. As part of the process, the tribe needs to obtain a gaming compact with the state of Illinois, which was requested back in 2018, but no action has been taken yet. According to lawmakers, the project could bring anywhere between 200 and 400 jobs, plus significant revenue from tourists visiting the area. We will keep you posted on any developments regarding the Galena casino.

Casinos in Illinois

There are a total of 10 casino resorts in Illinois, including the ones operated by riverboats on the water. All of them are land-based venues, but they do have partial smoking barthes according to the law. On the bright side, they can be quite large, offering thousands of square feet of gaming space with hundreds or even over 1,000 slots.

You can find classic machines, video poker, electronic versions of table games, and progressive jackpots with incredible prizes among the different gambling options. The slot machines in Illinois start from 1 cent, while the maximum bet can reach $100 or more. It is definitely in the interest of players to get more for less with , but that that is not always the easiest thing to do.

For those who prefer traditional table games against a real dealer, the casinos in Illinois have great offers. This includes classic games with low limits, allowing beginners to gamble in a relaxing atmosphere. Some of the most popular tables are blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, and Texas Hold’em. Moreover, some casinos even have poker rooms with cash games and tournaments throughout the week.

It all sounds amazing for gamblers, and you can surely find the thrill you seek at the Illinois casinos. Nonetheless, some players prefer the gamble experience and the feeling of immersing themselves in the atmosphere. If that sounds familiar, then we have some great recommendations for local casino resorts:

Not only these are some of the biggest venues in the state, but they also have everything else for a perfect weekend trip or vacation. This includes delicious food at local eateries and high-end restaurants, while the nearby cities can add even more excitement to your visit, day or night.

Casino Licensing

Anyone interested in opening a casino in Illinois must obtain a license from the Illinois Gaming Board. According to , Section 5.160, subsection (a), “No person shall own, control, operate or be employed in any capacity in, any casino, or permit their spouse fall into this category”, unless granted a license by the IGB. You can find more details about the different categories in the table below.

The initial application fee depends on the type of license, ranging from $25,000 to $1 million. Furthermore, there is an annual renewal fee between $25,000 and $100,000, depending on gross revenues. Licensees must also submit quarterly reports with detailed financial information about the casino operations in Illinois.

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There are certain requirements regarding residency, background check, suitability, fingerprints, and more. It is also important to work with an experienced attorney when filling out the forms and gathering the necessary documents. You can find all the details about acquiring an Illinois gambling license on the official website of the Illinois Gaming Board.

Charity Bingo and Raffles

Charity events are very important in every community, and there are many ways to raise money for good causes. One of the most popular methods involves gamble in the form of bingo and raffles. That that is only possible under strict rules and regulations set by the Illinois Gambling Board.

Nonprofit organizations that wish to conduct such activities must first obtain a license, regardless if they are doing it for the first time or continuing from previous years. There are two types of licenses depending on the total annual gross receipts from bingo:

  • Less than $2,500: requires a $10 application fee and a $10 annual license fee.
  • $2,500 or more: requires a $50 application fee and a $100 annual license fee.

All officers, trustees, directors, and managers must also be named in the application, along with the location(s) where bingo will take place. Charities can run bingo games up to 40 hours per week and 260 days per year. They are allowed to offer material goods as prizes, but they cannot sell tickets in advance. During the game, there can be only one hidden envelope with balls, and a single blanket announcement is permitted.

Regarding raffles, charities need to secure a license for $10 per year, without an application fee. The total prizes should not exceed 50% of the gross receipts from the tickets, except for cash prizes, which cannot exceed 25%. Selling raffle tickets is only allowed on the premises of the organization, during scheduled activities, and by named officers, directors, trustees, or members. Additionally, winning numbers or other identifying characteristics must be announced in public.

Any violations of the Illinois gambling laws can result in additional fines or suspension/revocation of the license. Nevertheless, charity bingo and raffles remain a great way to spend time with the community while supporting good causes.

Native American Casinos

There are no native american casinos in Illinois at this moment, but that might change in the near future. Back in 2018, the Peoria Tribe of Indians filed an initial pleading to recognize its status as a sovereign Indian tribe in the state. Governor J.B. Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul support the initiative, along with the proposed gaming compact that allows up to 2,000 slot machines, 200 table games, 50 poker stations, a high-stakes bingo hall, and a sports betting facility.

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According to reports, the tribe is willing to pay 25% of the net win from historical horse racing machines and 10% from other gambling sources to the state of Illinois. There is talk of creating 600 temporary and 650 permanent jobs, plus generating more than $45 million in revenue annually. However, none of this can happen before the tribe is officially recognized by an act of congress. We will keep you updated on any new developments related to native american casinos in Illinois.

Illinois Sports Betting

Following a long process that started back in 2018, finally went live in 2021. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill on June 24, making Illinois one of the few states where constitutional amendends are approved by acting governors. This makes it very difficult to challenge the decision in court, unlike other cases where the governor refuses to sign the bill.

Even though sports betting was made legal in Illinois, it follows certain restrictions, notably in-person registration at a casino or racetrack. The aim here is to prevent fraud and underage gambling, despite the inconvenience for the players and the potential revenue loss. Moreover, the legislature decided to impose a hefty tax rate of 15%, instead of the initial 10%. Despite that, Illinois became the 15th state to legalize sports betting in the US.

Online sportsbooks were expected to launch in 2020, but the deadline kept getting pushed back until mid-2022. Remarkably, Illinoishorsemen’ became the first online platform to go live on June 24, 2020, the second anniversary of the signing of the gambling expansion bill. Since then, more operators have joined the party and brought their A-game for sports fans in Illinois.

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If you want to learn more about the available offers, you can hop over to our dedicated page, where you will find the best bonuses, odds comparison tool, expert picks, and more. You can also read our full if you want to know what to expect in terms of security, features, mobile apps, payment methods, customer service, and other important aspects.

Popular Sports and Teams

Sports betting is hugely popular across the United States, with millions of people placing wagers on their favorite teams and athletes. Although there are no official statistics in Illinois due to anonymous usernames, we can safely say that sports betting is also very popular in the state. It helps when you have excellent sports teams that inspire trust and hope, sometimes even exceeding expectations. These are the most popular sports and teams in Illinois:

  • Chicago Bears – professional football team based in Chicago as a member of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL).
  • Illinois Fighting Illini – nineteen sports teams representing the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in intercollegiate sports.
  • Chicago Bulls – professional basketball team based in Chicago as a member of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
  • Chicago Blackhawks – professional ice hockey team based in Chicago as a member of the Central Division of the Western Conference in the National Hockey League (NHL).
  • Chicago Cubs – professional baseball team based in Chicago as a member of the Central Division of the National League (NL) in Major League Baseball (MLB).
  • Chicago White Sox – professional baseball team based in Chicago as a member of the Central Division of the American League (AL) in MLB.
  • St. Louis Cardinals (close second) – professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri, as a member of the Central Division of the National League (NL) in MLB.

The list goes on and on with lesser-known teams in sports like soccer, hockey, MMA, motorsports, rugby, and more. When it comes to wagering real money on the outcomes of the games, it is best to do your research and stay within your budget. Even the best players and coaches can surprise us with unexpected results, no matter how favored the team may seem.

Illinois Poker Rooms

If you are looking for local poker action in Illinois, you will be happy to know that the big casinos have you covered. Whether you are visiting a casino resort in person or accessing the online poker room, you will find tournaments and cash games with exciting prizes. Just make sure that you meet the legal requirements and don’t forget to drive safely if you plan on having a few drinks.

Before we move forward, it is important to understand the differences between and other card games played in casinos. Gambling laws in the US can vary based on the definition of “illegal gambling devices,” which often includes digital poker platforms. However, there are some offshore sites that accept players from Illinois without any legal actions being taken.

Be that as it may, playing on unregulated poker sites comes with risk. We are not saying everyone had bad experiences, but there are some downsides worth considering. First of all, the lack of regulation creates loopholes that can be exploited by unscrupulous individuals. Then, there are technical aspects to consider, such as tracking software, multiple accounts, collusion, and so on.

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If you access from Illinois, you will see that the selection is not as impressive as in other states with active legislative efforts. It seems that online poker in a regulatory framework brings more benefits than drawbacks, so we might see Illinois join the group of in the future. Until then, you can use the information provided on our dedicated page, including legal poker options both online and offline.

Illinois Lottery

Lotteries are considered a form of gambling that operates through a form and draws. Players purchase tickets with numbers or other selections, hoping to match them to corresponding ones in the random outcome for winning certain prizes. The Great Britain Company used lotteries to finance the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral back in 1569 and, shortly after, in 1612 for Jamais Castle.

These were just two of many projects financed by lotteries in Europe and Colonial America. Benjamin Franklin was in favor of using lotteries to pay the nation’s debt, following the American Revolutionary War. However, the idea declined in popularity due to scandals involving promoters that sold more tickets than they had on hand.

Despite the setback, several states ran their own lotteries during the 19th century for various purposes, including education, canals, and military duties. It became a national craze in the United States after Hawaii, Alaska, and the District of Columbia brought lotteries to all 50 states in 1967. The concept evolved over time, leading to modern lotteries with larger jackpots offered on regional, multi-state, national, and international levels.

The draws can be conducted in many ways, ranging from simple machines to random number generators supervised by auditing firms. It doesn’t really matter how it happens behind the scenes, as long as everything is fair and compliant with the law. In the case of Illinois Lottery, we can see that the drawings are held twice a week for Powerball and once a week for Mega Million.

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The cut-off time for ticket sales can differ based on the timezone and the deadlines for compiling the lists of numbers and sending them to retailers. In the case of Powerball drawings at 9:59 pm, you can no longer buy tickets after 9:30 pm during Central Time and 0:30 ET. For Mega Millions, the cut-off time is 8:59 pm on drawing days at 10 pm during Central Time and 0:59 ET.

Remember that the Illinois Lottery regional office in Springfield and all district offices are closed on weekends and official holidays, in addition to the federal holidays listed below.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Trying to call any of the lottery numbers might seem like a smart idea, but that is not how lotteries work, unfortunately. It takes more than just luck to win the grand prizes, which often exceed $1 million. However, you can shoot for the stars and buy as many lotto tickets as you want, online or from over 10,000 retail locations in Illinois.

Is Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling in Illinois?

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) involve skills and knowledge, while ignoring other factors, such as pure luck. For this reason, many consider DFS contests as skill games and not gambling. However, in 2015 and 2016, several US states, including Illinois, passed bills to specifically legalize daily fantasy sports websites.

This means that DFS is considered gambling in Illinois, following the approval of and other similar laws. It is important to note that the activity is only legal for players over the age of 18 or 21, depending on whether the site offers in-person registrations at casinos and racetracks.

DFS operators in Illinois have to pay a $10,000 application fee and $500,00 annually, out of which $200,00 goes to problem gambling programs. Moreover, they must segregate player funds for cash reward payments and report them separately. Any violation of the Illinois gambling laws can lead to suspension or revocation of the license, therefore, it is best to play on reliable sites that respect the law.

Although DFS is legal in Illinois, there is an ongoing debate to make it official in the state. A bill has been introduced in 2023 that seeks to recognize three major DFS operators – DraftKings, FanDuel, and SLEAthletica – as the official fantasy sports providers for the Illonis Fighting Illini. The proposal also suggests changing the logo for the in-state collegiate athletics.

The details are outlined in HB3457, which aims to generate $25,000 for the costs and expenses of the Department of Agriculture. We will keep you updated on any developments related to official DFS providers in Illinois.

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In the meantime, you can choose among the best and […] websites and find the skills and luck needed for high rankings and lucrative rewards. These platforms stand out through safe payments, large player pools, diverse contest formats, and reliable software. You can read our dedicated reviews to learn more about the offers in Illinois and compare the pros and cons based on your skills.

Illinois Horse Racing and the Law

Horse racing can be traced back to ancient Arabia and later spread to other civilizations, including Persia, Greece, and Rome. The goal is for the horses to reach a certain point while riding them, although other variations exist where the animal must knock down an object, such as a fox or hare. Throughout history, racehorses were awarded different prizes, including garlands, crowns of leaves, wine, oil, and clothes.

Modern horse racing has standardized the sport in various countries around the world, with many famous races that attract millions of viewers. The most popular event is the Kentucky Derby in the US, followed by the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes as part of the Triple Crown series. Other renowned races outside the US include Ascot in England, Deutsche Pulderfinsternmeisterschaft in Germany, Melbourne Cup in Australia, and Tokyo Daiba in Japan.

In the United States, horse racing is considered a form of legal gambling in Illinois, as well as in most states. The Illinois Racing Board regulates the industry via the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975, as amended, and the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure. Wagering is available at racetracks and off-track branches, as well as through advanced depository wagering (ADW) systems, such as […] .

You can make straight wagers, exotics, if-bets, and wagers on simulcast races. The available types depend on the racebook, track, or ADW provider, with popular examples being Win, Place, Show, Across the Board, Exacta, Quinella, Trifecta, Superfect, Daily Double, Pick Three, Pick Four, Pick Five, Pick Six, and exacta box, key, wheel, and part wheel.

When betting on horse racing in Illinois, you should know that there are around 300 races and 1,500 annual races days at 10 racetracks. These numbers dropped significantly following the closure of Balmoral Park in December 2021. The good news is that Fairmount Park increased its annual days from 100 to 175 starting with May 2022.

We should also mention that the Illinois Racehorse Developement Fund was established on January 1, 2019. It generates purse enhancements and breed development monies from wagers on races held in Illinois and simulcast wagers on out-of-state races.

  • 1.4% on Win, Place, and Show wagers up to $2,000
  • 2% on Win, Place, and Show wagers above $2,000
  • 0.5% on all other parimutuel wagers
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Advanced deposit wagering (ADW) operators pay $1,000 application fee and $20,00 annual license fee, out of which $5,00 goes to the Racehorse Development Fund. It is important to act in accordance with the Illinois gambling laws to avoid any problems.

Illinois Bitcoin Gambling

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Tether, and others, have gained tremendous popularity in recent years, allowing users to engage in peer-to-peer transactions without the interference of banks or governments. Moreover, cryptos can be used for online gambling in Illinois due to their four main characteristics: currency, store of value, unit of account, and medium of exchange.

Bitcoin casinos and live dealer casinos with crypto payments have some advantages over traditional gambling operators, namely fast transactions, high level of privacy and security, lower fees, global reach, and emerging markets. However, the volatility of the crypto market represents a downside that can lead to fluctuations of bankrolls.

Even so, more and more gamblers in Illinois are looking to use cryptocurrencies for online betting, poker, and sports. The good news is that some offshore platforms accept Bitcoin and altcoins, even if there are no regulated online gambling sites in the state.

It is important to understand that, although legal in some states, Bitcoin gambling is considered a gray area by many governments around the world. This leads to no specific regulations for cryptocurrency gambling laws, leaving players exposed to certain risks.

Just to give you an example, authorities have shut down Bitcoin gambling sites in the past by simply seizing the private keys that controlled the digital currencies. Another issue refers to the ability of underaged individuals to easily open accounts with cryptocurrencies and gamble online.

These concerns have led some governments to ban or restrict cryptocurrency gambling, while others are trying to establish proper regulations. For Illinois, it seems that iGaming is already on the agenda, which means Bitcoin gambling could follow shortly after that. Until then, you can do your own research and exercise caution when using cryptocurrencies for online gambling.

What to Do in Illinois If Gamming Is Not Your Thing

While gambling is considered a form of entertainment, it is not appealing to everybody, no matter how fun and easy the games may seem. Fortunately, the state of Illinois has plenty of other options that allow visitors and residents to spend quality time in unique environments. Depending on your preferences, you can find things to do in Illinois that cost money or very little.

Those who enjoy learning about history and science can head to museums in different cities. The list is long and varied, starting with The Field Museum in Chicago, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, and Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

Other points of interest in the state include Great Rivers Scenic Route, Shawnee National Forest, Mississippi Palisades, Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Santa Claus, Indiana Dunes, Olive Branch Museum of Peace, Governor’s Mansion in Springfield, and other attractions. If you have kids, you can show them Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, Elmhurst Art Museum, Children’s Discovery Museum, and other places.

From zoos and museums to parks and forests, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the beauty of Illinois, either alone or with family and friends. We recommend planning ahead by checking the schedules, distance, admission fees, parking spaces, guided tours, restrictions, and other important details. Also, remember that responsible gambling means knowing the limits, both financial and time-related. It is never a good idea to neglect other responsibilities, including family, friends, work, health, and hobbies.

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