Home to the Windy City, Illinois has swiftly risen to prominence as a premier hub for sports betting since its legalization in 2019. Explore the realm of Illinois sports betting with comprehensive insights and essential information on the best betting sites available in the state.

  • Multiple partners in Illinois
  • Same-Game Parlay pioneers
  • Prominence at major Illinois sporting venues

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  • Hugely rewarding VIP program
  • Generous welcome offer
  • Comprehensive sportsbook

Full T&Cs apply. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER

  • Superb loyalty program
  • Comprehensive and diverse sportsbook
  • No Sweat Same-Game Parlay offer

Full T&Cs apply. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER

Illinois sports betting was legalized in June 2019 as part of the Illinois Sports Wagering Act, but it took some time for the launching of sportsbooks to take place in the state. It wasn’t until March 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, that the first retail sportsbooks opened there.

BetRivers became the first online sportsbook to begin operations in the state in June 2020.

The following timeline outlines the history of online sports betting in Illinois:

  • 1850s – Gambling houses become particularly popular in Chicago, and the mafia utilizes sports betting as a major revenue stream throughout the 20th century.

  • 1961 – Illinois sports betting online is formally illegal.

  • 2018 – The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 is deemed ‘unconstitutional’ by the Supreme Court.

  • 2019 – Governor Pritzker signs the Sports Wagering Act into law, legalizing sports betting.

  • 2020 – The first retail and online sportsbooks launches in the state.

  • 2023 – Illinois sports betting handle hits a record $1.16bn in October.

Illinois passed the Sports Wagering Act in 2019 with hope of gaining another ample source of tax revenue. Explaining his goals for the bill, the 43rd Governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker said:

“Sports betting is different. This is a new market created by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. Every day we argue about who’s in and who’s out is money that goes to other states and to the black market.”

The Sports Wagering Act allows for a 15% gross Illinois sports betting revenue on all licensed sports betting operations.

Since the launch in 2020, Illinois has emerged as a major player in the sports betting scene — mainly due to the array of Chicago-based sports franchises. Only three states (New Jersey, Nevada, and New York) have accumulated more revenue from sports betting than Illinois. With an impressive $2.3 billion in earnings, it has also contributed over $361m in taxes — a figure surpassed only by New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

If you’re ready to embark on the best sports betting sites Illinois has to offer, I’ve prepared a list for you:

1. FanDuel

The immensely popular FanDuel sportsbook launched in Illinois in August 2020, initially partnering with Par-A-Dice Casino, and became the state’s third online sports betting operator. It now operates from Fairmount Park Racetrack, which is one of the busiest betting locations in Illinois.

It’s easy to understand why FanDuel is regarded as one of the US’ premier bookmakers. This sportsbook pioneered the now hugely popular Same-Game Parlay phenomenon, and has long been praised for its sheer array of offered promotions — even if they aren’t the most original.

The bookie is set to become even more prominent when its two-story retail sportsbook at the United Center opens.

Pros:

  • Best betting odds around
  • Long list of available payment options when banking
  • Pioneer of the popular Same-Game Parlays

Cons:

  • No loyalty program
  • Promotions can lack originality
  • Must win welcome offer qualifying bet to receive bonuses

2. BetMGM

BetMGM moved swiftly to apply for an online license in Illinois as the sportsbook secured the first of three online-only sports betting licenses in the state. It opened operations in March 2022 following a lengthy delay.

After FanDuel moved over to Fairmount Park, BetMGM swooped to partner with Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino, from where they still operate.

BetMGM’s willingness to reward its bettors is admirable, boasting an unparalleled rewards program that's undoubtedly the best of its kind. The array of prizes is also off the charts, elevating the overall betting experience to new heights.

While some critics point to a lack of sportsbook promotions as a possible downside, new Illinois sports bettors can take advantage of a generous welcome offer.

Pros:

  • Lucrative VIP prizes
  • Generous welcome offer
  • Livestreaming available

Cons:

  • Busy interface
  • Website/app hard to navigate
  • Better odds can be found at competitors

3. ESPN BET

ESPN BET is the new brand in Illinois, where it has partnered with the Hollywood Casino in Aurora for a retail sportsbook and betting app. Other partners include Hollywood Casino Joliet and Argosy Casino Alton.

Backed by PENN Entertainment and the instantly recognizable ESPN, this sportsbook has the potential to emerge as a standout performer in the industry.

A lucrative welcome offer that catches the eye is necessary for a newbie such as ESPN BET, and their two bonuses (100% up to $1,000 first deposit bonus, and place any wager and get $200 in bonus bets) certainly intrigue. The sportsbook also does a superb job of gearing its promotions to local sports teams.

While ESPN Bet can’t yet be compared with industry giants FanDuel and DraftKings, the early signs for this young sportsbook are certainly promising.

Pros:

  • Excellent first bet bonus
  • All new customers automatically enrolled into PENN’s loyalty program
  • Promotions geared towards local sports teams

Cons:

  • Sub-par first deposit bonus
  • In-play betting interface needs work
  • Livestreams must be watched on another app

4. Caesars Sportsbook

Caesars has a retail partnership with Elgin’s Grand Victoria Casino in Illinois, while online sports betting is also easily accessible.

New customers can enjoy a brilliant welcome offer, potentially earning up to $1,000 in bonus bets to kickstart their betting journey with this sportsbook.

While the casino product is highly regarded, their sportsbook is also well worthy of admiration. Other than their generous new customer bonus, Caesars offers regular odds boosts for major sporting events and will particularly target games that include the major Chicago franchises.

Same-Game Parlays as well as innovative live graphics are two notable features of Caesars’ online sportsbook, providing the opportunity to take advantage of an extensive menu of betting markets.

Pros:

  • Great emphasis placed upon Chicago franchises for promotions
  • Excellent welcome offer with big bonus
  • Great in-play betting experience

Cons:

  • Website/app lacks style

5. DraftKings

DraftKings became Illinois’ second online sportsbook in August 2020 and is currently partnered with the Casino Queen in the state.

This bookie’s insistence on delivering standout sportsbook promotions is so impressive; there’s seemingly always something new which catches your eye. DraftKing's Dynasty Rewards loyalty program is arguably the best of its kind on the market, adding a ton of value to betting with them.

New customers can take advantage of a welcome offer that boasts some great similarities to others on the market, and they can also enjoy a No Sweat Same-Game Parlay when getting started with this operator.

Pros:

  • Comprehensive daily sports promotions offering
  • Excellent loyalty program
  • Stellar pre-match and in-play betting

Cons:

  • Phone support is not an option

FanDuel

The most popular and perhaps the best sports betting app in Illinois, FanDuel’s mobile app offers a simple yet fun betting experience, with a myriad of promotions and an easy-to-navigate interface.

BetMGM

Despite the array of features of BetMGM’s mobile app, it works efficiently. Livestreams of major sports leagues are available, and there’s no reduction in the content from their website.

ESPN Bet

There’s so much to appreciate about ESPN BET and it certainly has one of the best sports betting apps Illinois has to offer. The features available are endless, with many praising the sportsbook’s Parlay+, which adds just that little bit extra to an incredibly popular bet type.

Caesars Sportsbook

Boasting livestreams of NFL games and a multitude of promotions and bonuses, Caesars’ Illinois mobile sports betting app is brilliant choice for bettors.

DraftKings

Another revered operator that can stake its claim as America’s biggest and popular sportsbook, DraftKings’ app is full of content, and Illinois bettors are bound to enjoy the sheer sophistication of their sportsbook.

Here are some of the best ongoing Illinois sports betting promos:

BetMGM Bonus Bet up to $1,500

Illinois sports bettors can enjoy multiple new customers offers fronted by this operator.

Their Bonus Bets offer worth up to $1,500 is laden with value. After signing up to BetMGM, you merely need to place a $10 wager to qualify for the welcome offer. It’s worth taking a risk with the qualifying bet too, as you’ll only get the whopping amount in bonus bets if your qualifying bet loses.

However, you will only receive bonus bets equal to the amount of the stake of your qualifying bet.

DraftKings Bet $5, Get $150

What’s not to like about DraftKings’ new customer offer? You will be awarded $150 in bonus bets after placing your first $5 bet with the revered sportsbook. Plus, unlike other promotions, you will receive your bonuses irrespective of whether your qualifying bet wins or loses.

Once your qualifying bet is placed, DraftKings will instantly credit your bonuses (rewarded as x6 $25 bets), which can be used across the entirety of their superb sportsbook. However, the Illinois sports betting bonuses you receive must be used within seven days of them arriving into your account.

Caesars $1,000 Bonus Bet

For what Caesars’ welcome offer lacks in originality, it’s more than compensated with a ton of value. With this promotion, new customers receive up to $1,000 in bonus bets after placing a qualifying (first) bet with the sportsbook.

However, like the BetMGM offer, you will only receive the bet credits if your qualifying bet loses.

The bonus bet you receive is rewarded in one lump sum (depending on the size of your qualifying bet), there are no odds restrictions, it carries a x1 playthrough, and must be used within 14 days of receipt.

FanDuel Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets

There may no longer be a No Sweat First Bet up to $1,000 for Illinois sports bettors to enjoy, but FanDuel’s latest new customer offer is still a very generous promotion. It’s one that boasts similarities to promos offered by their competitors.

After placing a single $5 bet on any FanDuel Moneyline market, the sportsbook will give out $150 in bonus bets so long as your qualifying bet is a winner. There are no minimum odds restrictions with this offer, but the credits expire after 14 days.

Like any US state which has legalized sport betting, there are plenty of regulations that come along with it. Here are some of the key points of SB 690, which passed in June 2019:

  • Licensing fees for casinos and racetracks are priced according to a percentage of the previous years’ revenue.
  • Online operators can either partner with a local land-based casino or wait for an online-only license.
  • Bettors must be 21 or older to wager on sports in Illinois.
  • Minor league events and K-12 events are restricted.
  • Since December 2021, Illinois college betting has been allowed, but bettors can only place such bets at retail sportsbooks and only pre-match wagers can be offered. Individual player props and in-play betting are prohibited.

Below I've listed the Illinois legal sports betting brands that currently operate in the state:

Illinois Online Sports Betting & Mobile Sports Betting

Online sportsbookLaunchedPartner
BetMGMMarch 2022Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino
DraftKingsAugust 2020Casino Queen
FanDuelAugust 2020FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing
CaesersSeptember 2020Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
BetRiversJune 2020River Casino Des Plaines
Golden NuggetTBCDanville Development
PointsBetSeptember 2020Hawthorne Race Course
ESPN BETNovember 2023Hollywood Casino Aurora
Bally BetTBCJumer’s Casino
Circa SportsSeptember 2023American Place Casino

Land-Based Illinois Sportsbooks

The below table displays the eight Illinois sports betting locations in operation. Along with these, a PointsBet sportsbook is available at four racetracks in the state.

Nine stadiums also qualify to apply for one of the state’s seven stadium licenses based on seating capacity. A DraftKings sportsbook has opened at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, while FanDuel is set to construct a sportsbook at the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks.

SportsbookVenueAddressSports BettingOnline Betting
BetRiversRivers Casino Des Plaines3000 S. River Road, Des PlainesYesYes
PENNArgosy Casino Alton1 Piasa St., AltonYesYes
DraftKingsCasino Queen200 Front St., East St LouisYesYes
FanDuelPar-a-Dice Casino21 Blackjack Blvd., East PeoriaYesYes
CaesarsGrand Victoria Casino250 S. Grove Ave., ElginYesYes
PENNHollywood Casino Joilet777 Hollywood Blvd., JolietYesYes
PENNHollywood Casino Aurora1 W. New York St., Aurora  YesYes
Harrah’s CasinoCaesars100 E Front St, MetropolisYesYes

Illinois is home to one of the US’ most populous cities, Chicago, and the presence of various major sports franchises in the Windy City means there are multiple popular sports to bet on in the state.

Like many other states, baseball, basketball, and football are particularly popular betting options for resident bettors. However, ice hockey and soccer are also prominent sports there and accessible on Illinois’ sportsbooks. Furthermore, college events such as March Madness always gain plenty of traction.

Illinois is home to the Chicago sports franchises: the White Sox and Cubs (MLB), Bulls (NBA), Fire (MLS), Bears (NFL), and Blackhawks (NHL).

Despite its status as one of America’s major sporting cities, Chicago’s franchises haven’t exactly been blessed with perpetual success. Michael Jordan littered the city with championships in the 90s as he reached GOAT status in basketball. His Bulls were six-time NBA Champions between 1991 and 1998.

The Blackhawks are the most decorated Chicago franchise of the 21st century. Three of their six Stanley Cup triumphs arrived since the new Millennium.

Chicago’s MLB teams have each won three World Series. Both the White Sox and Cubs endured extended championship droughts until their respective ‘recent’ victories. The White Sox ended their 88-year drought in 2005, while the Cubs ended a 108-year drought in 2016.

The Chicago Bears are laden with history, but modern-day success has come few and far between. They won eight championships before the 1970 merger but have since gone on to win one Super Bowl. The ’85 Bears are nonetheless recognized as one of the great NFL teams.

While The Fire aren’t as well-supported as the other Chicago franchises, MLS in general remains a relatively popular league in the US, and Lionel Messi’s arrival in Miami will only aid the league’s growth. The Fire are only one-time MLS Cup winners (1998).

  • The Illinois sports betting tax rate is relatively high at 15%, which has helped boost the state economy.
  • Strict geolocations rules are in place to ensure all bettors are wagering from within state lines.
  • Easier to prevent underage gamblers from creating accounts with online Illinois sportsbooks.
  • Able to track betting activity of individual bettors and can assess risk of problem gambling.
  • Greater excitement for sports bettors when betting on Illinois-based teams, particularly the Chicago franchises.

There are a multitude of betting options for Illinois punters following the launch of sports betting in 2020. I’ve covered the array of Illinois retail sportsbooks in operation, and alongside them are several major online sportsbooks also in action.

You must be minimum 21 years old to wager online or via Illinois’ retail locations; and while you must be within state lines to bet, you do not have to be a resident of the state.

You no longer need to register at a retail location to place online bets in Illinois, so here’s how you can go about creating an online betting account with an Illinois sportsbook:

  1. Pick one of the available online sportsbooks operating in Illinois.

  2. Download the best illinois sports betting app via the App Store or Google Play (iOS/Android).

  3. If you’re 21 or over, register for an online betting account.

  4. A wide variety of payment methods should be available, so you should have no issues depositing funds into your account.

  5. Once your online sports betting Illinois account is funded, take advantage of any new customer offers the sportsbook might have.

  6. Start placing sports wagers!

Launch date2020
Legal age 21
Retail bettingYes
Online sports bettingYes
Esports bettingYes
College bettingYes
Mobile bettingYes
Taxable winnings15%
Geolocation servicesYes
RegulatorIllinois Gaming Board

The state has accumulated the fourth-biggest sports betting handle since sports betting was launched in 2020. Only New Jersey, Nevada and New York have generated bigger handles than Illinois ($27 billion).

While the majority of the state’s take comes via the eight online sportsbooks in operation, a couple of Illinois’ retail locations are able to generate monthly handles in excess of $200 million. Fairmount Park (FanDuel) and Casino Queen (DraftKings) are both closing in on $10 billion all-time handles.

October 2023 was a record-breaking month for the state in terms of handle. Illinois sportsbooks combined took in over $1.1 billion — a new state record.

The Illinois Gaming Board places a strong emphasis on measured and controlled gambling. The Board encourages bettors and, in particular, problem gamblers to make use of the National Council on Problem Gambling’s website, which offers resources and advice throughout.

At the time of writing, more than 30 states (plus Washington DC) have legalized sports betting in the US.

This guide has detailed just how strong sports betting is in Illinois. After a slow start due to the pandemic, Chicago’s strength as a sporting city has started to take hold, and sportsbooks operating in the state are reaping the rewards. Given the future plans in place, sports betting is set to reach the next level in Illinois.

Sports betting was legalized in Illinois in June 2019.

There are currently eight Illinois sports betting apps in operation: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, ESPN BET, Caesars, BetRivers, PointsBet, and Circa. Bally Bet and Golden Nugget are soon set to launch in the state.

Bettors must be 21 or over to wager in Illinois.

Illinois sports betting age is 21.

Yes, daily fantasy sports are legal in the state of Illinois.

WRITTEN BY James Cormack
View all posts by James Cormack

Big sports fan specialising in football. Experienced the lows of Vlad Chiriches and Tim Sherwood as a Spurs fan along with the more recent ‘success’ under Pochettino. My following of the New England Patriots since 2012 somewhat makes up for the lack of silverware produced by Spurs in my lifetime.

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