Illinois online sports betting is now legal, live, and available throughout the state. In-state bettors can now choose from a variety of A-list online sportsbook apps, sign up, and bet from the comfort of their own home. On this page we’ll take you through everything you need to know about sports betting in Illinois. From legalization, to sign up, to promotions, rules, requirements, and everything in between.
After a contentious negotiation process, Illinois lawmakers finally pushed legal sports betting through the state legislature as part of a massive capital bill on June 3, 2019. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill on June 28. The bill, SB 690, checks in at more than 900 pages, and sports betting, which initially had stood on its own, was wrapped into it to get it passed during an extended legislative session.
Nine months later, on the eve of the COVID-19-related shutdown of professional sports across the U.S., the first legal wager in Illinois was placed on March 9, 2020, at Rivers Casino, owned by Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive. It was a very exciting day when sports betting became legal in Illinois.
The new Illinois sports betting law allows for statewide retail and online sports betting at casinos, racetracks, off-track betting parlors, and venues that house professional sports in Illinois. There are no tribal casinos in the state. State regulators will also issue three stand-alone mobile sports betting licenses, though those could not be issued until at least 18 months after the first “master” license was issued (which occurred in June 2020 – more on this below). Online sports betting apps were authorized on June 18, 2020, when BetRivers went live.
|Betting App Apple Store + Google Play Scores||IL Sign Up Offer|
| BetMGM Sportsbook|
4.8 Stars / 152.1K Ratings
3.7 Stars / 18.4K Reviews
|First Bet Offer: Get up to $1,500 Paid Back in Bonus Bets If You Don't Win!|
| FanDuel Sportsbook|
4.8 Stars / 1M Ratings
4.7 Stars / 201K Reviews
|Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets!
21+. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.
| Caesars Sportsbook|
4.6 Stars / 41.8K Ratings
4.3 Stars / 19.6K Reviews
|Get up to $1,000 Back in Bonus Bets if Your First Bet Loses!
21+. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.
| BetRivers Sportsbook|
4.4 Stars / 1.3K Ratings
3.1 Stars / 571 Reviews
|$500 2nd Chance Bet
21+. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.
Professional Illinois Sports Teams
You can see the odds from FanDuel Sportsbook in the table below:
|Chicago Cubs||MLB||1875||Win World Series +5000|
|Chicago White Sox||MLB||1894||N/A|
|Chicago Bulls||NBA||1966||Win Championship +13000|
|Chicago Bears||NFL||1919||Win Superbowl +21000|
|Chicago Blackhawks||NHL||1926||Win Stanley Cup +20000|
|Chicago Fire FC||MLS||1997||Win MLS Cup N/A|
|Chicago Red Stars||NWSL||2007||Win NWSL Championship N/A|
Updated September 22, 2023 – Odds Provided by FanDuel – Subject to Change
What’s happening now in Illinois
- The Illinois Gaming Board approved both Hard Rock Bet and Betway for sports betting licenses in the state of Illinois.
- The Chicago Bears fall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week two, 27-17. (09/21)
- The Chicago Cubs fall to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 13-7. (09/21)
- The Chicago White Sox lose to the Washington Nationals, 13-3. (09/21)
- The Chicago Sky fall to the Las Vegas Aces, 92-70, as their season comes to a close on Sunday. (09/21)
- Things won’t get any easier for the Chicago Bears as they’ll travel to Missouri to take on the defending Super Bowl champion, Kansas City Chiefs, this upcoming Sunday at 3:25 PM CT. (09/21)
- The Cubs will look to rebound against the Pirates tonight at 6:40 PM CT. (09/21)
- The White Sox have the night off as they’ll stay on the east coast to take on the Boston Red Sox starting tomorrow night at 6:10 PM CT. (09/21)
Online and mobile sportsbook apps in Illinois
Below is a full list of locations, excluding the seven professional venues, that could accept on-site sports wagers and pursue online wagering. Additional information can be found in the Illinois sports betting FAQ section at the bottom of the page.
|Online Sportsbook||Online Launch Date||Partner Casino||Owner|
|BetMGM||March 2022||Online License||MGM Resorts International|
|BetRivers||June 2020||Rivers Casino Sportsbook||Rush Street Gaming|
|Caesars Sportsbook||March 2022||Grand Victoria, Harrah's Metropolis, Harrah's Joliet||Caesars Entertainment|
|DraftKings Sportsbook||Aug. 2020||DraftKings at Casino Queen||DraftKings|
|FanDuel||Aug. 2020||FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing (Fairmount Park)||William Stiritz and Associates|
|PointsBet||Sep. 2020||Hawthorne Race Course||Carey Family|
|Barstool Sportsbook||March 2021||Hollywood Casino Joliet, Aurora, Argosy Casino Alton||Penn National|
|Betway||License Approved||Online Only License||Betway|
|Hard Rock Bet||License Approved||Hard Rock Casino Rockford||Hard Rock Digital|
|Bally Bet||TBD||Bally's Quad Cities||Bally's Corp|
|Circa Sports||TBD||New American Place Casino||Circa Sports|
|Caliente Interactive||TBD||Online Only||Group Caliente|
It is fitting that Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive, which owns BetRivers, became the first online/mobile sportsbook to offer Illinois sports betting apps, going live on June 18, 2020. The launch was made possible, in part, by Executive Order 2020-41 from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, which temporarily removed the in-person registration requirement.
Illinois sports betting and casinos were shuttered from mid-March until early July 2020, and the law required patrons to register for online/mobile accounts in person at a casino, racetrack, OTB, or venue to bet on sports. Pritzker’s executive order temporarily removed that requirement. In April 2021 the in-person mandate was reinstated. In December 2021 the Governor announced that the mandate finally expired in March 2022. On March 5, 2022, in-person registration officially expired – Illinois sports betting sites can now be enjoyed completely over the internet with no brick-and-mortar registration requirements.
Illinois sports betting law required internet-only operators to wait at least 18 months before launching stand-alone online sports betting apps or other platforms. The waiting period (find more details below) began June 11, 2020, when the IGB issued seven Master Sports Betting Licenses and will expire on March 5, 2022. However, both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel (in that order) found ways to get into the market sooner. Instead, a more traditional retail giant, BetMGM, became the first “online-only” license holder to hit the market in Illinois.
DraftKings, FanDuel find a path into the market
On July 23, 2020, DraftKings Sportsbook announced that its partner, Casino Queen, would rebrand as “DraftKings at Casino Queen,” and DraftKings Sportsbook went live both at its retail location in East St. Louis and online/mobile on Aug. 5, 2020. The new name applies to both the retail and mobile/online sports betting apps that allow people to bet on sports in Illinois from anywhere in the state. DraftKings and FanDuel often have generous promotions for new customers.
FanDuel announced a similar partnership with the Fairmount Park Racetrack, but Fairmount did not receive its sports betting license until Oct. 29, 2020. The lengthy wait for approval resulted in FanDuel entering a co-branding situation with Par-A-Dice Casino in August 2020.
With Fairmount Park being granted a license and being deemed “preliminary suitable” to expand into a racino, FanDuel announced it will transfer its sports betting license to the horse racing track in Collinsville, which has been renamed FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing. The track is located near the Illinois-Missouri border and close to the St. Louis metropolitan area, which has a larger population base to draw from compared to East Peoria.
It is the first time FanDuel has partnered with a horse racing track, and it will partner with TVG to bring back the St. Louis Derby, a $250,000 stakes race that has not been run since 2006.
Others seeking to join
Elsewhere, casinos, horse tracks, and sports venues can get moving on the mobile action with Illinois law allowing one mobile “skin” (brand) per entity. The three mobile-only licenses (no agreement necessary with existing casino license holder) will cost $20 million as compared to $10 million for an organizational (sports venues) or owners (casinos, racetracks) license.
All told, seven casinos and one horse racing track are currently licensed and approved to offer retail sports wagers: Argosy Casino Alton, DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, Grand Victoria Casino, Rivers Casino Des Plaines, and Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet.
Hawthorne Race Course is the only horse racing track currently offering retail wagering on sports in Illinois. Fairmount Park will be the next, and Arlington Park withdrew its application for a sports wagering license since parent company Churchill Downs Inc. already owns a majority share of Rivers Casino Des Plaines, which is located 12 miles from the track. There are currently six mobile operators in Illinois, with PointsBet launching through Hawthorne on Sept. 12, and Caesars Sportsbook doing likewise via Grand Victoria Casino three days later. Barstool Sportsbook was the most recent entrant to the Illinois market, going live in the state through its partnership with the Penn National casino company, which owns three properties in Illinois.
In addition, here’s a look at which companies will seek or obtain a mobile presence in the Land of Lincoln, either through partnerships with an existing casino, team, or track or through one of the three available mobile-only licenses. Look out for:
Land-based retail sportsbooks in Illinois
|Sportsbook||Casino||Opening Date||Launch of Online Sportsbook|
|BetRivers||Rivers Casino Sportsbook||3/9/2020||6/18/2020|
|DraftKings||DraftKings at Casino Queen, East St. Louis||8/5/2020||8/5/2020|
|Barstool Sportsbook||Sportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton||3/12/2020||3/11/2021|
|Caesars Sportsbook||Grand Victoria||8/6/2020||9/15/2020|
|Barstool Sportsbook||Hollywood Casino Aurora||8/20/2020||3/11/2021|
|Barstool Sportsbook||Hollywood Casino Joliet||8/20/2020||3/11/2021|
|PointsBet||Hawthorne Race Course||9/30/2020||9/12/2020|
|FanDuel||FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing (formerly Fairmount Park)||4/27/2021||8/24/2020|
|Circa Sports||New American Place||TBD||TBD|
Rivers Sportsbook was first to launch at its retail location, Rivers Casino Des Plaines in Des Plaines, Ill., in March 2020. The Argosy Casino Alton soon followed in anticipation of the 2020 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. However, Argosy’s grand opening was delayed due to the global coronavirus pandemic, and Illinois sports betting apps and casinos were closed for about two months. On June 11, 2020, the Illinois Gaming Board approved seven casino applications for Master Sports Wagering Licenses.
After those licenses were approved, Caesars Sportsbook (formerly William Hill) opened its retail location at the Grand Victoria in Elgin on Aug. 1, 2020, DraftKings Sportsbook opened its retail location on Aug. 5, and Hollywood Casinos opened sportsbooks at its Aurora and Joliet properties on Aug. 20. Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria took its first retail wagers on Sept. 10, just before the college football season began in earnest, while PointsBet started doing so on Sept. 30, 2020. In March 2021, Barstool Sportsbook opened three retail locations in the state at the Hollywood Casinos in Joliet and Aurora along with the Argosy Casino in Alton.
Barstool Sportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton
The Sportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton was set for its grand opening on March 16, 2020, after a soft launch the week before. The grand opening never happened after Illinois sports betting operations and casinos were ordered closed. Located in suburban St. Louis, the Argosy sportsbook is operated by Penn National and features a large Barstool Sportsbook-branded retail location. The book features teller windows, multiple kiosks, and plenty of TVs.
Barstool Sportsbook – Hollywood Aurora and Joliet Sportsbook
Aurora mayor Richard Irwin placed the ceremonial first bet — $20 on the Chicago White Sox Moneyline at -177 to defeat the Detroit Tigers — when the retail sportsbook opened on Aug. 20, 2020. The opening was delayed about three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bettors will find ticket windows and self-service kiosks in the sportsbook, which is located in the center of the casino floor. Penn National is the operator, so the sportsbook naturally has some Barstool-affiliated promotions and branding present. Hollywood Aurora is also the retail tether to the Barstool Sportsbook mobile wagering app.
The property opened the same day as its sister venue in Joliet, and on Aug. 20, 2020, the 99 Hops House unveiled a sportsbook packed with televisions and big projection screens. 99 Hops House is located one floor above the main casino offering food and drink, along with sports betting through ticket windows and at self-serve kiosks. There are additional kiosks spread around the casino floor. Like the other Penn National-owned casinos in the state, Hollywood Casino Joliet partnered with Barstool Sportsbook for both their retail location.
DraftKings at Casino Queen
DraftKings and FanDuel both had to find their way around the online betting-only delay. DraftKings Sportsbook was able to do so relatively quickly, when it opened a sportsbook at Casino Queen on Aug. 5. DraftKings Sportsbook at Casino Queen is located in metro St. Louis, which will give at least some Missouri residents a chance to place sports bets (sports betting is not yet legal in St. Louis).
Online betting customers can currently sign up remotely for the DraftKings Sportsbook at Casino Queen Sportsbook digital platform, where DraftKings Sportsbook is offering a variety of unique promotions for new customers.
BetRivers Sportsbook – Casino Des Plaines
Rivers Sportsbook was the only sportsbook to open before the pandemic began to grip the U.S., and it did so with a March 9 launch at which former Chicago Blackhawks forward and NBC Sports commentator Eddie Olcyzk placed the first bet: $100 for the Chicago White Sox to win the American League pennant (the Sox sadly did not even make the postseason).
The book at Rivers has stadium seating and a high-definition wall for an immersive experience. Patrons can bet at teller windows or kiosks, and Rivers also offers BetBuilder technology online for a more streamlined experience. Through BetRivers, Rivers was also the first to offer online sports betting in Illinois on June 18, 2020. The online sports betting app includes promotions such as a deposit match.
Caesars Sportsbook – Grand Victoria Casino
Caesars Sportsbook (formerly William Hill Sportsbook) had a soft opening of its retail sportsbook on Aug. 1, 2020. It was the third such opening in a month for Caesars, which opened its Colorado sportsbook with kiosks in late July, and its Capital One Arena location in Washington, D.C. also on Aug. 1.
The book at the Grand Victoria, which is located in suburban Chicago, has flat-screen televisions throughout and high-top tables and comfortable chairs, so fans can stick around and watch games. Patrons can place bets at three full-service teller windows and also place their first bets online as part of the ongoing promotions the company offers new customers. William Hill gained market access to Illinois sports betting through Caesars Entertainment, which bought the company in 2020. In August 2021 Caesars Sportsbook replaced the William Hill brand nationwide, including IL.
FanDuel Sportsbook – Par-a-Dice Casino
FanDuel may have gone in reverse order in Illinois — it launched online wagering in the Land of Lincoln on Aug. 28, 2020 — but it was able to narrowly beat the kickoff to the NFL season with its retail launch in East Peoria on Sept. 10. The sportsbook, which was put together in a six-week sprint, is located just off the casino area proper and includes manual teller spaces and self-serve kiosks. Sizable screens provide betting lines and information for sports bettors. As mentioned, FanDuel is an Illinois online sports betting leader in offering new customers bonus bets, sometimes up to $1,000.
PointsBet Sportsbook – Hawthorne Race Course
PointsBet also commenced online wagering before retail betting, but it made a notable splash on its Sept. 30, 2020, launch at Hawthorne Race Course. Hawthorne became just the third horse racing track in the United States to offer live betting along with Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
The sports betting area in the lobby is temporary as plans are underway to turn Hawthorne into a racino. Still, a lot has been put in a relatively small space: Bettors will find wagering kiosks in a relatively compact area, save for a few that are located in the VIP area where patrons can watch the horses make their initial turn on the 1-mile dirt oval.
More land-based sportsbooks coming soon
In total, up to 10 casinos, three race tracks, and seven professional sports venues could seek Illinois sports betting licenses. Professional teams whose sports venues seat at least 17,000 can pay a $10 million licensing fee to have on-site sportsbooks at their Illinois sports facilities.
Of the three existing casinos in Illinois yet to offer sports betting, it appears Bally’s Quad Cities in Rock Island is further along than the Harrah’s properties in Joliet and Metropolis. Bally’s Quad Cities (formerly Jumer’s Casino) was bought by Twin River Worldwide Holdings for $120 million in October, and Twin River recently changed its business name to Bally’s Corporation on Nov. 9. The casino is now known as Bally’s Quad Cities. We expect Bally Bet to eventually come to IL through its partnership with Bally’s Quad Cities.
The Latest Illinois Sports Betting News
College football continues into Week 2 with a Friday slate including Illinois traveling to Kansas at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Both teams come into the matchup 1-0 and Kansas is favored at -156 on the moneyline and at -3....
More parlay wagering led to more revenue for sportsbooks, which crafted a 9.4% hold on $100 billion handle for the 12 months ending in June.
The all-time U.S. sports wagering handle in the post-PASPA era surpassed $250 billion, and bettors are on pace to wager $100 billion in 2023.
Illinois sports betting timetable
As mentioned earlier, the first bet was taken in Illinois on March 9, 2020, at Rivers Casino, and days later the Argosy Sportsbook also opened its doors. But both sportsbooks did so as the U.S. began dealing with the coronavirus crisis, and less than a week later, retail casinos and sportsbooks were shut down indefinitely. BetRivers launched its mobile site on June 18.
After casinos in Illinois were allowed to reopen July 1, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, and both Hollywood Casinos joined the retail mix in August, with DraftKings Sportsbook also launching its mobile sports betting app on Aug. 19, 2020. FanDuel, PointsBet, and William Hill followed with online products soon after.
The first retail licenses were issued in June 2020, putting online registration on track for March ’22, given the parameters of the 18-month “penalty box.” Online registration officially went into affect on March 5, 2022 – 2 years to the week that the state accepted its first retail wagers. Illinois now has a fully functional, modern online sports betting market. Bettors can sign up and start betting in minutes, completely over the internet.
Sports betting bill particulars
Illinois’ sports betting law didn’t turn out the way lawmakers initially envisioned. Politics played a huge role in the legalization of sports betting in Illinois, and stakeholders almost immediately referred to the bill as “not the best.”
Sports betting champions and state legislators Bob Rita and Mike Zalewski had to do a lot of horse-trading with Governor J.B Pritzker and his allies to get sports betting tacked onto a capital bill and eventually passed. That meant including a mandate for official league data, requiring in-person registration for the first 18 months, delaying the launch of stand-alone mobile platforms, banning betting in Illinois on the state’s collegiate sports teams, and including some tricky branding rules.
The legislation also includes a self-exclusion program for those with a gambling problem. By the end of it, stakeholders were happy to have sports betting in Illinois, along with the substantial tax revenue it will create, but had plenty to unpack.
The ‘penalty box’
The defining discussion on the way to legal sports betting in Illinois revolved on what was called the “penalty box.”
Designed to punish daily fantasy and sports betting titans FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbook, the penalty box came into being after Neil Bluhm, owner of the Rivers Casino, in May 2019 asked lawmakers to keep FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbook out of the Illinois sports betting market for three years. Bluhm said the two had operated their daily fantasy businesses illegally after an earlier decision by the state’s attorney general.
FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbook pushed back, including briefly running ads lobbying against the delay, and lawmakers offered up a compromise of 18 months. In June 2020, DraftKings Sportsbook found an entry into the state through a casino partnership, and FanDuel wasn’t far behind.
Lawmakers also compromised with stakeholders by honoring a request by state universities to ban betting in Illinois on college sports. Rather than completely prohibit that, Illinois lawmakers offered up the so-called “college carve-out,” in which betting on colleges in general is allowed, but bettors cannot place wagers on Illinois sports teams (Univ. of Illinois, Northwestern, etc.). Other states, including New Jersey, have a similar “carve-out.” In 2021, the legislature changed the rule to allow for betting on in-state college teams at retail locations only. This was seen as some sort of compromise but made most industry observers scratch their heads in confusion and bemusement. Betting on in-state colleges remains prohibited for online betting.
In addition, retail casinos wanted a requirement to include in-person registration for mobile accounts. The compromise was meant to stay in effect until the first mobile-only sportsbook was approved in the state. Pritzker’s executive order and subsequent renewals temporarily removed this requirement, but ultimately it was reinstated – subjecting Illinois sports bettors to months of additional in-person purgatory. However, it all came to an end on March 5, 2022. BetMGM saddled up it’s online-only license, officially launching in the state of Illinois, making online registration a reality statewide.
Official league data
In 2019, Illinois was one of just a few states in which lawmakers mandated that sportsbooks purchase “official league data.” The data mandate means that sportsbooks must purchase data from the pro leagues or their designees, and there is concern among operators that this will create a monopoly situation.
Tennessee was the first state to include this requirement in its law. Illinois quickly followed suit, as did Michigan. Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly also passed a bill with the data mandate. Mobile sports betting went live in Virginia in January 2021.
The capital bill that sports betting in Illinois was attached to include all kinds of infrastructure improvements. Its passage was the result of many years of work by lawmakers and brought a round of applause in the Senate when it finally passed.
Key components of Illinois sports betting law:
- It is legal to bet on college and professional sports, but betting on Illinois college teams is prohibited online; confusingly, it is now allowed at retail casinos only
- In-person registration was required until March 5, 2022, but is now available online
- Mobile-only platforms had to wait to go live until 18 months after retail sportsbooks, or mobile platforms tethered to retail books went live.
- Illinois requires sportsbooks to purchase “official league data”
- The legal age for sports betting is 21
- Sports betting revenue will be funneled to the “Rebuild Illinois” fund, which will provide for road improvements, education, and other good works
- Programs for those with a gambling program: The sports betting law includes the self-exclusion policy for those with a gambling problem that was created by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) in 2002. IGB administers two programs to help those with a gambling problem: a self-exclusion program and a gambling problem registry. Though not a part of the sports betting law, it is worth mentioning that the Illinois Department of Human Services also has services available for those with a gambling problem
Taxes and fees
- Number of “master licenses” allowed: Up to 23
- Number of mobile-only licenses: 3
- One mobile “skin” is allowed per retail sportsbook, race track & sports venue
- Licensing fees range from $3 million to $20 million. It will cost professional sports venues $10 million for a license, and stand-alone mobile operators will pay $20 million, making Illinois one of the priciest states in which to get a license
- Tax rate: 15%
Although methods may vary from one sportsbook to another, Illinois sports betting, in general, will offer a number of viable depositing and withdrawal methods which are common in other states with safe, regulated legal sports betting. These options include:
- ACH (eCheck)
- Online banking
- Cash at the casino cages
- Site-specific prepaid debit card
- Skrill (e-wallet)
- Paper check
- PayNearMe: Pay with cash at any eligible 7-Eleven or CVS
- Visa / MasterCard credit & debit cards
Illinois Sports Betting Revenue
Online sports betting has been live in Illinois since June 2020. Since that time, revenue has continued to trend upwards, feeding money directly into the state coffers. Here’s a snapshot of what’s been happening over the past few months:
|Overall Handle||Sportsbook Revenue||Taxes Collected|
Illinois Sports Betting FAQ
How old must you be to bet and are there any restrictions?
The legal age to place a sports bet is 21. Any restrictions apply mostly to athletes, coaches, team owners, and the like, barring them from betting on their teams, and in some cases more. Though there are no other restrictions written into law on who can bet, those with a gambling problem who place themselves on a self-exclusion list will be banned from betting.
Will sports betting be available at retail locations, such as convenience stores?
No, only at licensed retail casinos or via online/mobile apps.
Where can bettors be when placing a wager?
All sports bets need to occur within the Illinois boundaries and will be managed by geo-targeting technology. Patrons will be able to bet in person at retail sports betting locations and by using kiosks or by using a sports betting app.
Is in-play or live betting allowed?
What types of bets are available?
Illinois sportsbooks will offer the standard bet types, like straight bets, totals, moneylines, futures, parlays, player and game props, teasers, and round robins. However, fans cannot place any mobile/online bets on Illinois collegiate teams.
How can I deposit and withdraw money from my online account?
Depends, but a safe bet will be using common methods such as prepaid cards, Paypal and ACH transfer.
What is Chicago's greatest sports team?
DAAAAAAAAAAA BEARS DA BEARS DA BEARS.
Illinois sports betting journey
The state’s relationship with casino gaming dates to 1991 when riverboat casino gambling was made legal in Illinois. Yes, paddle-steamer boats could operate casinos, but only while cruising the state’s waterways. In 1999, the state made it legal for the riverboats to dock and open their casinos. A year later, Illinois became the first state to allow for the sale of online lottery tickets.
Groundwork laid in 2018
The discussion about whether to legalize sports betting ramped up in the summer of 2018, when the legislature began holding gaming hearings. The first hearing was informational. Stakeholders and municipalities were invited to an Aug. 21, 2018, hearing in Chicago, where they joined others in the gaming industry in revealing what they hoped sports betting would look like.
Two months later, the Joint Committee on Revenue and Finance held a hearing on sports betting that made it clear lawmakers would prioritize sports betting in 2019. That hearing also laid at least some of the groundwork for a sports betting bill.
In 2019, Governor deems sports betting a priority
In February 2019, Pritzker made it clear he viewed legal sports betting as a priority. Once the 2019 session started, Representative Rita passed the torch to Representative Zalewski, and the pair held multiple hearings in which they listened to the professional leagues argue for a royalty, entertained a 25% tax, hammered out details of the “penalty box,” heard from university officials, and more.
Operators consider taxes of 10% or below to be optimal, and Illinois lawmakers settled on 15%, which is considered in the middle among states with sports betting but still allows operators to turn a profit. In the end, there was plenty of giving and take, but the political will existed to make sports betting legal in Illinois. Even with the momentum on its side, the bill to make sports betting legal in Illinois didn’t stand on its own, passing instead as part of a massive capital bill.
Once Pritzker signed the bill in late June, it was a sprint to get sports betting up and running. The Illinois Gaming Board opened a public comment period over the summer began developing regulations, and in December 2019 opened the sports betting application process.
The IGB approved the state’s sports betting rules, and the first legal wager was placed in March 2020. After two-years of on again, off again in-person registration, Illinois made the permanent shift to online-registration on March 5, 2022.