Illinois Sports Betting 2022 – Where To Play, Online Sportsbooks And Bonus Offers

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.

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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.

Professional Illinois Sports Teams

Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook and they are subject to change.

ClubLeagueFounded Odds
Chicago CubsMLB1875Win World Series +500000
Chicago White SoxMLB1894Win World Series +4800
Chicago BullsNBA1966Win Championship +4600
Chicago SkyWNBA2005Win WNBA Championship +185
Chicago BearsNFL1919Win Superbowl +10000
Chicago BlackhawksNHL1926Win Stanley Cup +20000
Chicago Fire FCMLS1997Win MLS Cup +16000
Chicago Red StarsNWSL2007Win NWSL Championship N/A

What’s happening now in Illinois

Headlines

  • In a HUGE development (seriously, this came out of NOWHERE), Mexican sportsbook Caliente Interactive was announced as the lone winning bidder of an online-only sports wagering license in Illinois. Caliente is a popular sportsbook in Mexico but has absolutely no presence here in America. Few had even heard of the sportsbook prior to the announcement on 4/28. But they are big enough to pay the $20 million license fee, so we will know them soon enough.
  • The White Sox had last night as they were able to salvage a series split defeating the Texas Rangers, 8-2 in game four of the series. Lucas Giolito picked up his 8th victory of the season as he gave up just one earned run in five innings of work. The White Sox bats were scorching as they recorded 15 hits. Chicago finds themselves right in the thick of a close AL Central race. They are currently 3rd in the standings but are just two games back of the Minnesota Twins, 08/09
  • The Cubs are able to bounce back as they win game one of their series agains the Washington Nationals, 6-3. Keegan Thompson was remarkable in six innings of work, giving up just one earned run on five hits. Thompson has had a lone bright spot on this pitching staff moving his record to 9-5 with a 3.36 ERA. The Cubs bats were hot, recording 11 hits. DH Nelson Velasquez had three of them including a solo home run in the 3rd inning as he got the party started, 08/09
  • The Chicago Bears training camp is well underway as they prepare for their first preseason game this upcoming Saturday, August 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bears appear to already be hitting the injury bug as four wide receivers missed practice this week: Byron Pringle, N’Keal Harry, Dante Pettis and 2022 3rd round-pick, Velus Jones Jr., 08/09

Upcoming games/events

  • The White Sox had last night off as they travel from Arlington to Kansas City to take on the Royals in a double header. Some high-level pitching should be on display in game one as Lance Lynn will take the mound against Royals ace, Brady Singer. The White Sox have won two of Lynn’s last three starts. The game will take place starting at 3:10 CT at Kauffman Stadium. Game two start time is at 6:40 CT.
  • The Cubs will try to make it four of their last five games resulting in the win column tonight at 7:05 CT. Marcus Stroman will be on the mound against Paolo Espino. Stroman is 3-5 with a 4.00 ERA. Although Stroman had some struggles in the first half of the season, he has been much stronger since the All-Star game break. The Cubs have won two of his last three starts.

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 DatePartner CasinoOwner
BetMGMMarch 2022Online LicenseMGM Resorts International
BetRiversJune 2020Rivers Casino SportsbookRush Street Gaming
Caesars SportsbookMarch 2022Grand Victoria, Harrah's Metropolis, Harrah's JolietCaesars Entertainment
DraftKings SportsbookAug. 2020DraftKings at Casino QueenDraftKings
FanDuelAug. 2020FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing (Fairmount Park)William Stiritz and Associates
PointsBetSep. 2020Hawthorne Race CourseCarey Family
Bally BetTBDBally's Quad CitiesBally's Corp
Barstool SportsbookMarch 2021Hollywood Casino Joliet, Aurora, Argosy Casino AltonPenn National
Circa SportsTBDNew American Place CasinoCirca Sports
Caliente InteractiveTBDOnline OnlyGroup 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 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

SportsbookCasinoOpening DateLaunch of Online Sportsbook
BetRiversRivers Casino Sportsbook3/9/20206/18/2020
DraftKingsDraftKings at Casino Queen, East St. Louis8/5/20208/5/2020
Barstool SportsbookSportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton3/12/20203/11/2021
Caesars SportsbookGrand Victoria8/6/20209/15/2020
Barstool SportsbookHollywood Casino Aurora8/20/20203/11/2021
Barstool SportsbookHollywood Casino Joliet8/20/20203/11/2021
FanDuel Par-A-Dice Casino9/10/20208/24/2020
PointsBetHawthorne Race Course9/30/20209/12/2020
FanDuelFanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing (formerly Fairmount Park)4/27/20218/24/2020
Circa SportsNew American PlaceTBDTBD

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.

The property opened the same day as its sister venue in Aurora, 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 and online sportsbook app.

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, including a deposit match or a risk-free bet.

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 risk-free bet or 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 risk-free 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 risk-free 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

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.

College carve-out

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%

Banking options

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
  • PayPal
  • 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 HandleSportsbook RevenueTaxes Collected
February 2022$679,374,197$35,600,085$5,340,013
March 2022$971,278,389$60,629,327$9,094,399
April 2022$839,386,882$70,462,360$10,569,354

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?

Yes.

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.

Jill R. Dorson

Jill R. Dorson

Jill has covered everything from steeplechase to the NFL and then some during a more than 30-year career in sports journalism. The highlight of her career was covering Oakland Raiders during the Charles Woodson/Jon Gruden era, including the infamous “Snow Bowl” and the Raiders’ 2003 trip to Super Bowl XXXVII. Her specialty these days is covering sports betting legislation across the country. You can reach Jill at jill@bettercollective.com

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