[IL] Illinois Casinos, Bingo and Sports Betting [2020]

Illinois Online Casinos | Slots | Live Dealers | Fastpay | US | Bitcoin | Best Bonuses

You will find a wide range of gaming in Illinois, the Prairie State, including online. Online casinos are available for residents of Illinois, however they are offshore based because local online casinos are not permitted. That being said, many players continue to enjoy online casinos gambling through signing up to rewarding Welcome Bonuses.

Sports Betting – Similarly, individual online sports betting sites is remains prohibited until 2021. Sports betting is legal, however, to give first opportunity to land based casino operators who may partner online sports book provider to launch their sport books.

Land based casino gambling is prevalent in the State, with sports betting recently legalized. Land based casinos have subsequently partnered sports books and offer sports betting window and terminals at their physical venues.

Bingo falls under the charitable gaming laws of Illinois, and can be offered commercially through physical venues such as bingo halls. Local online bingo operators are not permitted, and therefore all online bingo sites are based offshore and accept Illinois players.

Lastly, the State lottery has a monopoly in operating lottery products. It is also permitted (although this has been disputed by several land based casino operators) to offer online interactive gaming products.

Online Gambling

  • Offshore online casinos accept players from Illinois
  • Online commercial operators based in Illinois are prohibited
  • Illinois State Lottery holds a monopoly on casino, pari-mutuel wagering, bingo and lottery products. It offers online gaming lottery products.
  • There are ten land based riverboat casinos commercially operated. They are not permitted to offer any online casino gaming.
  • Bingo is operated on a commercial basis. Onshore bingo operators are not permitted to offer online bingo.
  • Sports betting is legal. It is partially online, with only the registration process permitted. The approval of a sports bet account still requires physically verification at a retail outlet.

Best 5 Illinois Online Casinos

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Illinois is fortunate to have very liberal gambling laws, and therefore there are many online casinos to choose from. The best Illinois online casinos all rank highly for casinos bonuses, safety and security, game play and customer service.

We have listed our best 5 Illinois online casinos according to the value of the bonus, but recognition should be given to Bovada for it’s fair play and ability to also offer sports betting which some players are also looking for.

El Royale Casino has by far the best Welcome Bonus with a 250% match up to $12,500 threshold, making it the best value for money for Illinois players. (Please note: that all online casinos have Terms and Conditions that apply to the bonuses).

Read More: El Royale Casino Review

Overall the top 5 have very similar banking methods, and all have the most advanced SSL security features to protect against potential theft of card details. Having said that, most players nowadays use Instant Gift Card, Bitcoin or e-Wallets to transact, which all do not require the release of personal and sensitive information.

Finally the Customer Service provided by these casino are all top quality – professional, prompt and responsive. Again, we want to highlight that El Royale is currently the best casino that also ranks extremely high with their customer support.

Online Live Casinos with Live Dealers

Online casinos now feature advanced live casino dealers, which has dramatically increased the number of Illinois Players taking up interactive online gaming, especially as a result of the advent of Covid-19.

Offering the protection of a Player’s health, secure and safe play, plus the transparency of real live dealer using real decks of cards at a gaming table. Illinois players are taking up online live casino dealer gaming like there is no tomorrow.

Players can still use casino bonuses, obtain VIP loyalty points and earn regular rewards. In addition additional features that can only be found on the internet can be enjoyed. These include unlimited back behind betting that is logistically impossible at a Vegas land based casinos.

If you are new to interactive online gambling, we highly recommend starting off with live casino live dealer games at online casinos.

To read more about it, click here.


Sports Betting Sites

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Illinois was one of the earliest to legalize sports betting after the overturning of the Federal ban in June 2018. The laws allow for land based commercial casino operators to partner with a sports book provider with a delay in online sports wagering to occur in late 2021.

Online sports betting sites, however, do exist and they are based offshore. They accept Illinois bettors, with no precedence of any bettor being informed of a breach in law, let alone charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Straight up, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) in Illinois has been declared ILLEGAL by the State Attorney General in April 2020. However, this does not mean you cannot play because DraftKings and FanDuel continue to accept players from Illinois.

Is there any risk to you for getting caught breaking the law?

We would say, the risk is near to zero. If there is any risk, it is the operator that would be in breach, meaning DraftKings and FanDuel are bearing ALL the risk.

Having said, don’t rush out and start playing at DFS sites.

We want you to be aware of the following:

Playing DFS has the lowest (if not zero) chance of an average player winning. In fact, the statistics shows that approximately 80% of players lose, only 2% of players win, whilst the remainder break even.

But I know my sport, so how come I can’t win?

DFS is match play that is rotating extremely quickly. What we mean is that games are turnover over in short intervals, such as 24 hours or in a few number of days.

What many players are unaware of, is that there are over hundreds of key variables the influence the odds of an outcome. No one physically churn out that many permutations and combinations in order to choose the best players for a DFS team. Nor, can anyone physically research each variable by themselves.

The top players subscribe to data analytic providers, that collect all the data points required for a statistical model. The statistical model is crunched, producing results that allow the top DFS players to choose the best team.

No average player stands a chance of winning (rather a very very small chance). An appropriate analogy might be, having you compete against Tiger Woods in a round of golf. The odds simply just aren’t in your favor (though it may be possible, right).

We therefore want our readers to be aware that DFS is not what is appears to be. In fairness, though DFS is illegal in Illinois, many operators accept Illinois players with no risk of players being fined or penalized.


Online Bingo

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Illinois bingo laws are stipulated under Charitable gaming state legislation. These laws provide for the licensing of non profit organizations to operate bingo games. At present, these laws do not address nor permit online bingo by onshore operators. Accordingly, online bingo sites that do accept Illinois players are based offshore (which is the same as online casinos and sports betting sites).

The recommended online bingo sites all accept players from Illinois. They offer advanced features that include instant messaging, fun bingo games and protocols that ensures bingo participants play together in a civil enjoyable manner. Due to the social aspect of bingo, there is a cultural aspect to bingo which cannot be found with casino or sports betting. As an example, A LOT of acronyms form part of instant chat messaging. If you are not familiar with online bingo lingo, do not be afraid, learning it is one of the most fun parts!


Illinois Casinos Reviewed

To give you an idea as to which casinos are the most popular, we provide you with the machine and table annual turnover per casino. By far the most popular is Des Plaines Rivers Casino.

Casino $m Gross Turnover Machine  Table 
 Des Plaines Rivers Casino    297.3 153.4
 Joliet Harrahs    143.4   28.2
 Elgin Grand Victoria    122.3   33.7
 Joliet Hollywood    101.6   14.0
 Aurora Hollywood      95.0   19.5
 E St Louis Casino Queen      84.1   15.4
 Casino Rock Islands      61.1     5.2
 E Peoria Par-A-Dice      60.0   12.7
 Mettropolis Harrahs      56.5   11.9
 Argosy Casino Alton      35.8     3.2

Chicago Casinos

Chicago is the largest city of Illinois, but unfortunately there currently is no Chicago casinos in the city center. Proposal have been put forward for approval begin construction of a new casino that would be the comparative to the Las Vegas size and luxury. Nevertheless, the surrounding casinos nearest to Chicago aren’t too far away. Within an hours drive, you will be able to reach any of the popular casinos in Chicago or even interstate.


Gambling Laws

  • Casino, pari-mutuel wagering, bingo products and lottery products operated by the Illinois State Lottery are permitted under State law
  • The online market is partially regulated to permit lottery and horse racing products
  • Online poker, casino games and sports betting are not regulated, and onshore online operators are prohibited
  • A maximum of five Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) are permitted within licensed retail establishments, truck stops, veteran and fraternal establishments
  • Bingo is permitted at licensed establishments, which are entitled to offer a maximum of 25 bingo games per session and up to $2,250 in prizes per session

Legal Minimum Gambling Age

  • 21 for casino and gaming machines
  • 18 for lottery, pari-mutuel betting and bingo (live and online)

Gambling Taxes

There is a progressive tax rate on riverboat casino products that ranges from 15-50% gross gaming revenue

Tax RateBand (US $m)
15%0-25
22.5%25-50
27.5%50-75
32.5%75-100
37.5%100-150
45%150-200
50%> 200

Riverboat admissions tax ranges are:

  • $2 for patrons of Casino Rock Island
  • $3 for all other licensees

Bingo, charitable games and pull tab & jar games are taxed at 5% gross gaming revenue

The surplus from the State Lottery is circulated to public education and local government purposes.

Regulation and Governance

Gambling Legislation


Illinois Gambling Market Developments

Pre 2014

  • There have been a number of legislative attempts to increase the size of the market and this consensus is linked to revenue demands within the State
  • Illinois banned smoking in public places, including casinos, in 2007
  • A Bill introduced in 2009 to establish four riverboat casinos failed in 2011
  • Riverboat casino expansion was unsuccessfully lobbied for in 2012
  • Video gambling became regulated in October 2012
  • A Bill to increase the number riverboat casinos, introduce slot machines (at horse racing facilities) and regulate interactive products was introduced in 2013 – then redrafted to exclude the original provisions on interactive regulation – but was rejected by Governor Quinn for reasons concerning insufficient oversight and regulation
  • In 2014, a legislative consultation announced two possible options to liberalize slot machines within the market. The first, would extend the limit of slot machines permitted in truck stops, from five to ten. The second, would increase the types of gaming establishments permitted to operate slot machines. This has not yet materialized (December 2014).

December 2014

Illinois State Lottery announced the termination of its private management agreement with Northstar Lottery Group. The Illinois State Lottery, would issue a bidding tender for a new operator in Q1 2015.

September 2015

A request for information was published by the State Lottery, as the first step in its tender process to select a new private manager. The deadline for submissions is 14 October 2015.

October 2015

The State Lottery announced it will conduct its in-state daily draw games using an online digital draw system from 1 October 2015. The draws ceased to be aired on television and, instead, utilize a random number generator and animated videos to display the winning numbers, which can be viewed at any time on the lottery’s website.

December 2015

Attorney General Lisa Madigan ruled that daily fantasy sports constitute gambling, under Illinois State law and ordered DFS operators to cease offering their services to Illinois citizens. DraftKings immediately appealed the decision in a County Circuit Court.

March 2016

The Illinois Lottery announced it will no longer offer single ticket purchases online or via its mobile app. The online tickets were made available through a pilot program which will end on 25 March 2016 and the legislature necessary to authorize the full operation of the service after this point failed to advance past the Assembly.

January 2017

Senator Ira Silverstein introduced SB629 to define and authorize daily fantasy sports contests. The bill would entrust the Gaming Board to adopt rules to govern the fantasy sports industry in the state

Senator Terry Link introduced legislation to authorize the development of six new casinos, including the first casino property in Chicago, and interactive gambling. SB7 would establish the Chicago Casino Development Authority and the Division of Internet Gaming to promulgate and administer regulations to govern the industry expansion. The bill also
includes provisions to authorize electronic gaming at racetracks and indefinitely extend the authorization for racetracks to offer advance deposit wagering. The Senate Committee on Gaming were assigned the bill for consideration.

March 2016

Gambling expansion bill SB 7 was approved by the Senate with 31 votes in favor to 26 against following it third reading. The bill received several amendments before passing to the House for consideration.

June 2017

Legislation to authorize interactive gambling and daily fantasy sports was approved by the Senate and progressed to the House for consideration. HB479 contained two separate acts.

The Internet Gaming Act would authorize and regulate interactive casino and poker for operation by land-based casino and horse race betting operators. The online industry would be governed by the Division of Internet Gaming and a 15% gross gaming win tax was proposed with reduced rates for the first five-years of the license.

The Fantasy Sports Contest Act would permit licensed operators to offer paid fantasy contests within the state and proposed a progressive tax regime ranging from 5% on gross win<$1m to 15% on gross win >$8m.

September 2017

The Illinois Lottery selected Camelot as its private management partner to assume management and operation of the lottery from Northstar Lottery Group. Camelot stated it would launch a new iLottery platform for the lottery in 2018 as well as provide new point of sale terminals across all retail outlets.

January 2018

Senator Don Harmon introduced SB2478 to create Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act which would authorize and regulate sports betting provided PASPA is repealed. The Act would permit both land-based and interactive sports betting and provide for the licensing of operators.

February 2018

Intralot secured a ten (10) year contract to supply the operator of the State Lottery, Camelot, with a full suite of end-to-end lottery systems including the introduction of new point of sale terminals.

Senator Napoleon Harris III introduced SB3432 to create the Sports Wagering Act, which would authorize and regulate sports betting provided PASPA is repealed. The act would permit both land-based and interactive sports betting and set a 12.5% gross win tax.

The bill included an additional integrity fee of 1% of turnover which would be directed to the governing bodies of the sports leagues.

July 2018

The Illinois Racing Board announced that it intends to permit historical video wagering on horse races at racetracks. The move comes following the request of a number of tracks many of whom have been lobbying to be permitted to offer gaming machines for a number of years.

February 2019

Representative Michael J. Zalewski introduced legislation to authorize and regulate sports betting. HB3308, was introduced as a placeholder to give the legislature time to develop detailed regulations for the industry.

April 2019

Legislators proposed five (5) regulatory frameworks to govern sports betting in the state during a House Subcommittee hearing. Whilst all proposals differed, the consensus of the hearing was that mobile wagering should be permitted and a tax rate in the range of 10-20% was desirable.

Members of the House intended to consider a range of options and form a finalized proposal before submitting it to the Senate for consideration.

Governor JB Pritzker published plans to raise the state tax on video gambling terminals from 30% to 50% on gambling revenue above $2.5m.

June 2019

The Illinois House and Senate voted through a gambling expansion bill that included measures to legalise sports betting in the state. SB690 would regulate sports betting in casinos, racetracks and sports venues as well as online and proposed a 15% tax rate on gross win. The Senate passed the bill 87-27 and the House approved it 46-10. It will now go to Governor JB Pritzker for signature later in the month.

July 2019

Governor JB Pritzker signed SB690, the gaming expansion bill passed by the state legislature, paving the way for the roll-out of regulated sports betting in Illinois.

August 2019

Churchill Downs Inc (CDI) and Rush Street Gaming are proposing to open a new casino in Waukegan, Illinois, under the recently enacted gaming expansion bill. The proposed development is a 1,625 gaming seat casino with poker room and on-property and online sports book. CDI and Rush Street already operate the state’s most successful casino – Rivers Casino Des Plaines.

The Illinois Gaming Board has launched a public consultation on the state’s sports betting regulations; it is seeking comment from the public, betting industry and other stakeholders regarding the Illinois Sports Wagering Act rule making process.

October 2019

As part of Illinois’ public consultation on legal sports wagering that concluded at the end of September industry stakeholders suggested policies such as a pre-registration process, a 270-day “grace period” to comply with regulations when the market goes live, licensing reciprocity between “major gaming jurisdictions”, allowing online sports books to be co-branded with local casinos and racetracks and in-stadium registration. William Hill said the Illinois Gaming Board should examine its data requirements closely and “consider whether the terms [for the purchase of data by operators] are commercially reasonable”.

Affiliate marketing company Gambling.com called for a registration process for affiliates and banning those who work with unlicensed offshore operators. Members of the public expressed concerns about the delayed roll-out of mobile betting; operators will have to wait 18 months after retail wagering has launched before they can offer betting via mobile devices. Finally, Churchill Downs’ decision not to apply for a racino license at Arlington Park drew heavy criticism.

December 2019

The Gaming Board launched the first phase of its sports betting licensing process and began accepting applications for master sports betting licenses as well as licenses for all service providers. The process was launched under a set of emergency rules which permit the Board to issue temporary operating permits although it was not clear at this point when they would be issued.

March 2020

The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines became the first casino in the state to launch its retail sports book on 9 March 2020

The Argosy Casino Alton ‘soft-launched’ its retail sports book on 12 March 2020 but was unable to complete the full launch on 16 March 2020 as planned due to the closure of all casino properties in the state on 15 March 2020 due to COVID-19.

June 2020

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation to temporarily permit remote registration of sports betting accounts during the COVID-19 epidemic

Bet Rivers launched the state’s first online sports betting platform on 18 June 2020. Due to emergency legislation recent passed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois citizens were permitted to register sports betting accounts online rather than in-person at casinos in the state due to COVID-19.

July 2020

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation to permit the development of a new resort casino in downtown Chicago. The casino’s revenue will be taxed on an incremental scale from 22.5% to 77.45% of gross win for slots and 15% to 35% for table games

The Gaming Board awarded temporary sports betting operating permits to DraftKings and FanDuel. William Hill was also likely to be granted a temporary license by the end of July.

Governor J.B. Pritzker did not extend permission for the remote registration of sports betting accounts and state residents wishing to register accounts would again be required to do so in-person at a land based casino from 26 July 2020.

August 2020

William Hill launched its retail sports book at the Grand Victoria Casino (operated by Caesars Entertainment) on 3 August 2020

DraftKings launched its online sportsbook in partnership with the Casino Queen on 5 August 2020

Governor J.B. Pritzker reinstated permission for the remote registration of sports betting accounts from 21 August 2020 until at least 19 September 2020.

September 2020

PointsBet launched its retail and online sports books in the state in partnership with the Hawthorne Race Course on 12 September 2020.


Is it legal to gamble for real money online in Illinois?

Gambling laws vary for each type of game. Online games are not permitted to be offered by onshore gaming operators. As a result, online operators are based offshore at regulated and licensed jurisdictions. Illinois players are accepted by the offshore operators. In regards, to player legality, the laws neither explicitly declare online gambling as illegal or legal. As a result Illinois players can continue to enjoy playing online games.

What is the legal minimum age to play at online casinos?

Legal minimum ages vary from online casino to online casino, however their requirement is that the higher of the player’s jurisdiction the the online casino’s own legal minimum is taken to be the determine age limit. Therefore, for Illinois players the legal minimum age is 21.