Legal Illinois Sports Betting Sites

It’s fair to say that Illinois’ stance on gambling, sports betting included, are reflective of the views of most states in the country. Illinois law generally prohibits most types of gambling, limiting the acceptable forms casino river cruises, a state lottery, poker rooms and horse racing tracks. Despite being a national hub of professional sports, with Chicago being home to powerhouse franchises like the Bulls, the White Sox, the Cubs, the Bruins and the Bears, finding legal Illinois betting sites will be difficult at best or impossible at worst due to the federal ban on sports wagering in all but four states and the Prairie State’s specific prohibition on online betting.

Because of these legal barriers, there are only a few offshore sports betting websites that will accept Illinois players at all. Nevertheless, these websites, although they do operate outside the jurisdiction of US law, operate only in a gray area, which may give some potential bettors pause before taking advantage of what could be the only form of legal Illinois betting sites. At any rate, until the US Congress legalizes the expansion of sports gambling nationwide, Illinois and the other affected states will be unable to cash in on potential tax revenues generated by the sports betting market valued at billions of dollars annually.

Illinois Sports Betting Laws

Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 28-1 clearly defines illegal gambling as playing any game of chance or skill for money, betting on a game, contest or political race, possessing or owning a means of keeping and tracking bets, selling pools on the result of games, contests of skill or political races. It is clear that the Prairie State is vehemently against most forms of gambling, and sports betting is certainly one of those prohibited types.

Furthermore, article 29 Sect. 28-1 lists online gambling as among the other forms of prohibited betting activities. Online gambling is defined as knowingly establishing, maintaining or operating a website that “permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value means of the Internet or to make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet.”

Federal Laws That Impact Illinois Sports Betting

There are various federal laws that supersede Illinois’ own anti-sports betting laws. The most expansive and probably most important in terms of holding up the prohibition on the expansion of sports gambling in the United States are the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) and the Federal Wire Act of 1961. This combination of laws, through various means, prohibit betting on sports, prevents financial institution from processing credit card transactions related to online gambling and bans the transmission of information related to sports betting across state lines.

What Is PASPA?

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) represented an attempt by the federal government, with the urging of the major professional sports leagues and the NCAA, to implement a blanket ban on gambling on sports. The Wire Act of 1961 made interstate transmission of bets or even sports betting information illegal, but its primary target was organized criminal gambling rackets, not the individual bettors. PASPA, on the other hand, was designed to prevent the states, which had up until that point been free to pass whatever gaming regulations they wished, from regulating sports gambling at all.

Only four states – Nevada, which has a fully legal sports betting industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually, and Delaware, Montana and Oregon, which had or have sports lotteries, were exempt from PASPA’s provisions. In order for sports betting to become legal nationwide, PASPA will have to either be declared unconstitutional because of its unequal treatment of the states (in direct violation of the 10th Amendment) or stricken down by act of Congress, both of which are being attempted as of mid-2017.

What Is The Game Act?

The Gaming Accountability Modernization Enhancement Act of 2006, or the Game Act for short, is a comprehensive piece of legislation that effectively calls for the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). The US House Energy and Commerce Committee released the Game Act in May 2017, and it currently exists as a “discussion draft” awaiting the signature of President Donald Trump.

The Game Act defines gambling as risking “something of value including virtual currency or virtual items, upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event or a game of skill or a game of chance, on the expectation that the person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome." Fantasy Sports are included under this definition, which should help pave the way for universal DFS legality nationwide.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal In Illinois?

Technically, all forms of sports betting would be considered illegal in Illinois because of the preeminence of federal laws against gambling on sports. Additionally, online gamble is specifically banned by Illinois state law, meaning that you’re going to be out of luck when it comes to finding a means of betting on sports via the internet if that website is based in the Prairie State.

Fortunately, an alternative exists in the form of legal Illinois sports betting websites based in offshore jurisdictions beyond the reach of US authorities. These websites are 100 percent reliable and readily accept US-based players, and they are fully licensed by their home countries’ gaming regulatory authorities.

Mobile Sports Betting Apps For Illinois Bettors

All the best legal betting sites are going to offer mobile betting apps, though the best are to be found on Latvia-based Bovada and European Union-based BetOnline. These websites’ apps, which work on both iOS and Android customers’ devices, replicate the desktop version of their respective sites to the degree that the experience is virtually indistinguishable. It’s just a lot more convenient to be able to take your own personal web-based sportsbook with you wherever you go.

When you factor in the ease of use and convenience with the fact that these are apps are free to download and offer sign-up bonuses worth up to $50 you’ll be queuing up to get in on the live betting action.

What Is The Legal Age To Gambling In Illinois?

Illinois is, again, like most states that allow some forms of gambling in that it has different age requirements for different kinds of gambling. The minimum age to buy the state’s popular lottery tickets is 18, but the Illinois’ casino river cruise operators require participants be a minimum of 21 years old. Though online betting is banned by law in the Prairie State, legal betting sites based overseas like Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting and 5Dimes will accept all bettors 18 and older, it is advisable for Illinois users to wait until they’re 21 just to be safe.

Legal Illinois Betting Sites

  • BetOnline Sportsbook
  • Accepts U.S. Players From All 50 States
  • SportsBetting Sportsbook
  • Accepts U.S. Players From All 50 States
  • MyBookie Sportsbook
  • Accepts U.S. Players From All 50 States

Illinois Sports Betting FAQ's

Are online sportsbooks safe to use if you live in Illinois?

Online sportsbooks, even those based overseas like top legal Illinois betting sites Bovada, 5Dimes, BetOnline and SportsBetting are ultimately going to be safer than any other means of gambling for Prairie State residents. That’s because state law prohibits nearly every form of gambling and tightly regulates the forms it does allow, and online gambling is explicitly forbidden according to the law. Offshore gambling sites like those mentioned before are a safer bet because they are licensed and regulated in foreign countries, but the matter of their legality under to state law could be considered a bit of a gray area. On one hand, they exist outside of the US’ legal jurisdiction but on the other hand the law is very clear on the kinds of gambling Illinoisans are legally able to participate in.

Has any been arrested for sports betting in Illinois?

Despite Illinois having laws on the books against sports betting and online gambling, nobody in the Prairie State has ever been arrested, much less prosecuted for placing wagers on sports online. Offshore gambling sites being the preferred method for betting on sports online helps matters, as the top websites operate outside the legal jurisdiction of federal and state law.

The truth is that most anti-gambling laws target the bookmakers themselves or the financial institutions that process transactions from US players rather than individual bettors themselves. While the laws say what they say, and explicitly so, it’s probably relatively safe to us legal Illinois betting sites like the ones we’ve mentioned elsewhere on this page.

What should I do if my bank didn't process my credit or debit card deposit?

This happens all the time now due to the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’s passage in 2006. Because the law targets banking establishments that process credit card transactions instead of individual bettors, you aren’t going to be stopped for making deposits on legal Illinois betting sites, but your card may be rejected. Bovada and BetOnline, two offshore legal sports betting websites, still accept VISA cards from US players, and BetOnline will even accept American Express cards. However, if your sports betting site of choice will not complete your deposit transaction, there are several other options which we’ll discuss at more length in the next section.

What is the best way to fund your sports betting account?

Since credit card and debit card deposit transactions even at legal Illinois betting sites are subject to be declined thanks to federal law, users will need a more universally reliable method of filling up their account’s bankroll. Fortunately, such methods exist, and they are actually quite easy. Rather than going through the hassle of wondering whether your deposit will be accepted or not, it is much preferable to use options like Bitcoin deposits, person-to-person (P2P) money transfers from your bank account or even check or money order. Some of these methods are quicker than others, but all of them consistently reliable.

Do Online Sports Betting Sites Have Odds On Illinois Professional Sports?

Illinois, and Chicago in particular, is home to some of the most prestigious names in American professional sports, so it should come as no surprise that online sports betting sites have odds on the state’s pro teams. Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline and 5Dimes all offer action on Chicago’s storied teams and Chicago is a city proud of its champions.

The Bulls, famous as Michael Jordan’s squad, are the winner of six NBA championships. The NFL’s Chicago Bears is one of the two oldest teams in the league and the winner of more games than any other team in NFL history. Both of Chicago’s two MLB clubs, the White Sox and the Cubs, have won World Series championships, with the Cubs doing so most recently, winning the 2016 World Series and breaking the longest the championship drought in major sports history after not doing so since 1908. The Blackhawks are one of the NHL’s “Original Six” founding members and the winner of six Stanley Cups, including the 2011, 2014 and 2016 titles.

What is live betting?

Live Betting, also known as in-progress betting, is a new technology-driven means of placing wagers on sporting events. In the past, bookmakers accepted action from players who would then place their bets in advance of a sporting event and wait until the end of the contest. However, the ascendancy of the internet as the preeminent vehicle for sports gambling has given rise in recent years to live betting, which allows players to update their bets based on constantly changing odds as a game is being played.

Live Betting changes the dynamic of sports betting in that it becomes much more of an interactive, involved process for both the bookmakers and players. Bookies rely on advanced computational algorithms of past events to predict outcomes and create new odds on the fly, and players have to be quick on the draw and put in their bets as soon as the odds change in order to, hopefully, take advantage of a more favorable payout. This form of betting is sure to grow in popularity in states like Illinois, where legal betting sites are often the only way to wager on sports.

Do legal Illinois online sportsbooks have live betting?

The top legal Illinois betting sites, including Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting and 5Dimes, all have live betting services available on both their desktop and mobile app versions. The ease of use and convenience of being able to place bets regardless of location has long been one of the big draws for users of legal offshore sports betting websites, and the addition of live betting only sweetens the pot in favor of this method of wagering on sports.

The process of getting set up to participate in live betting is largely the same across all major offshore sports wagering sites. Users must first create a live betting account and then log in to the appropriate live betting section, and from there they simply make bets from their account just as they would in more traditional betting modes. Players will need to pay careful attention to the ebb and flow of a game they’re watching in order to lock in the best possible odds and, hopefully, beat the book.

Can I have more than one online sportsbook account?

Not only are players allowed to create more than one online sportsbook account, this is practically required to be a high-earning user of a legal Illinois betting site. Bookmakers, even and especially of the digital variety, are very good at picking up on trends, particularly when that means tracking how often players win big payouts. Having multiple online sportsbook accounts is the best way to hedge one’s bets against being either given less than favorable odds or blocked from placing wagers by the bookie.

Another hugely underappreciated benefit of managing multiple sportsbook accounts is that bookmakers will often have different odds on the same contest, so it’s generally a good idea to spread bankroll out across several platforms so as to improve the chances of winning – or winning more money. Additionally, some sites cater more to specific sports than others by having more lines available or more favorable odds on certain sports a user might follow more closely. It becomes advantageous to have multiple sportsbook accounts to use each online book for specific purposes instead of investing too heavily in one over another.

Betting On Horse Racing In Illinois

Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing is one form of gambling allowed by Illinois state law and it is among the oldest, having been in regular practice since the 1830s. However, it wasn’t until 1975 with the passage of the Illinois Horse Racing Act that both harness and thoroughbred racing was fully legalized and regulated according to state law. Illinois is home to four horse racing tracks, Arlington International Racecourse, Balmoral Park Race Track, Du Quoin State Fair Harness Racing and Fairmount Park Racetrack, at which simulcast wagering as well as off-track betting are allowed.

Despite its long history with horse racing, Illinois pari-mutuel industry has fallen on hard times in recent years. This is mostly owning to the decline in interest in the sport and stiff competition from the more recently legalized casino boat cruises, the state lottery and even the gambling industries of surrounding states with more liberal gaming laws. Illinois’ horse racing market, valued at more than $1 billion in the early 1990s, dropped precipitously in the last 10 years or so, generating approximately $650 million annually.

The Status Of Daily Fantasy Sports In Illinois

The daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry is on thin ice in Illinois after the state Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a 2015 statement saying DFS “clearly constitute(s) gambling,” but the situation could be improving. Illinois lawmakers have tried since at least 2013 to pass legislation to legalize and regulate DFS, but so far the bill of the year will clear one house only to die in the other. As recently as June 2017, the Illinois Senate passed H 479, which would legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports as well as online gambling, indicative of the intertwined fate of the two industries.

A regulated DFS industry could generate a few million in taxable revenues every year, but online gambling is real treasure chest, and could supply the Prairie State with hundreds of millions annually in newfound tax revenues. That would be a tremendous help to Illinois, which just passed a $40 billion budget. For now, DFS operators like DraftKings and FanDuel both still serve the Illinois market while they wait on the official word from lawmakers.