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Sports Betting in Illinois

Hasan Nabulsi

Updated on February 22, 2020

Can I bet on sports in Illinois? Almost!

Although it took a few weeks after the legislature passed a bill with sports betting provisions on it, Governor Jay Robert Pritzker signed Senate Bill 690 (SB 690) into law on June 28, 2019, as part of a $45 billion capital plan.

Pritzker’s signature came after a June 2 vote to legalize sports betting in Illinois. With all the necessary documents signed and a legal framework in place, we can expect regulated Illinois sportsbooks to start going live in March 2020.

Indeed, the only impediment to those wanting to bet on sports in Illinois are the casinos, betting operators and regulators. Put simply, all interested parties now need to work in unison to ensure the speedy rollout of the Prairie State’s offline and online sportsbooks.

Irrespective of how long that takes, the June 2 vote and Pritzker’s subsequent signature should be considered a win for sports fans. With Illinois joining the likes of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware as US sports betting states, customers can look forward to a wealth of opportunities over the coming months and years.

Illinois Sports Betting Timeline

When did sports betting become legal in Illinois? Unlike some states which took years to vote in favor of regulated sports betting, Illinois was relatively quick off the mark. In fact, at one point in 2018, there were five separate bills on the table. To see how things went from illegal to legal, check out the timeline below:

January 2018

In January 2018, Illinois had five sports betting bills up for consideration. Although not all could succeed, the level of interest from lawmakers, casino owners and residents made Illinois a top pick to become a regulated sports betting state in mid-2018. However, disagreements between sports leagues and other interested parties meant an agreement couldn’t be reached before the end of the year.

May 2018

In an effort to keep the state’s sports betting hopes alive, Rep. Robert Rita shifted the focus towards a casino expansion bill. Previously filed in 2017, the bill was designed to give Chicago a new casino but Rita added some placeholders. Although blank, he pushed the House Gaming Subcommittee to consider the inclusion of online gambling, sports betting and daily fantasy sports at a later date.

In essence, Rita knew there wasn’t enough time in the legislative session to formulate clear regulations. However, by offering up the placeholders as a potential talking point, he effectively gave Illinois sports betting supports renewed hope.

January 2019

At the start of 2019, various potential frameworks were discussed within the House and Senate. However, as the disagreements between interested parties continued, the road to regulation started to look less likely.

June 2019

It wasn’t until the final hours of the legislative session that things changed. With Gov. Pritzker throwing his support behind regulation with a $200 million budget plan, Rep. Rita made a move. Following a series of amendments, the casino expansion bill with its new provisions was accepted.

After passing through the House on May 31, the Senate gave the green light on June 2. Part of a capital funding bill, the sports betting legislation was sent off to Gov. Pritzker.

Having previously shown support for a sports betting expansion bill, Pritzker put his John Hancock on SB 690 on June 28, 2019. In signing the bill, the Governor authorized a $45 billion capital plan designed to use revenue from legal sports betting to boost the state’s school, amenities and more.

Where Can I Bet on Sports in Illinois?

Bet on the Cubs with Illinois sportsbooks
Bet on the Chicago Cubs with legal Illinois sportsbooks. (Image: The New York Times)

At the time of writing, there aren’t any legal Illinois sports betting sites or offline bookmakers. However, there are provisions in SB 690 for both. So, once proper regulations are put in place and operators are given the necessary licenses, there will be plenty of options for sports fans.

The Illinois sports betting laws will allow casinos, racetracks, off-track betting facilities, and even professional sports stadiums to house their own sportsbook. 

So far, Wrigley Field and Rivers Casino Des Plaines have shown an intention to offer sports betting once awarded a license. Wrigley Field is aiming to offer sports wagering before the Chicago Cubs’ 2020 season. Rivers Casino Des Plaines has also renovated its venue to accommodate for a future sportsbook.

Rivers Casino Des Plaines, Argosy Casino Alton, and Grand Victoria Casino Elgin are the first three casinos to be awarded a temporary license to open a sportsbook within their facilities. All three are expected to launch in time for March Madness in 2020.

What are the best legal sportsbooks in Illinois?

Right now, we can’t tell you what the best legal bookmakers in Illinois are because the infrastructure isn’t there. There are 10 existing casinos that could potentially open a sportsbook in Illinois. There are also casinos that haven’t been built quite yet that plan to open with sportsbooks.

As the industry grows, check back here because we will list all the top operators.

What are the top legal online betting sites in Illinois?

The same answer applies here as above. When Illinois sports betting sites go live, we’ll make sure you’re the first to know. One important aspect to keep in mind is that online sports betting sites in Illinois that don’t want to tether to a retail location can’t open until 18 months after the first retail sportsbook opens.

This rule was written as a way to punish operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings for operating daily fantasy sports in an unregulated fashion in the state. To add to this, online operators who wish to do business in the state without tethering to a retail casino will have to pay a licensing fee of $20 million. 

These factors will ultimately slow the rollout of mobile sports betting apps in Illinois and the number of online operators who can afford to be in the market.

Illinois Sports Betting FAQ

What is the legal sports betting age in Illinois?

To bet on sports at Illinois leading sportsbooks, you have to be 21 or older.

What is the Illinois sports betting tax rate?

The proposed tax rate for licensed Illinois sportsbooks is 15%.

Can I bet on sports online in Illinois?

Yes! SB 690 passed House and Senate votes in early June 2019 and was officially signed into law by Gov. Pritzker on June 28, 2019. Thanks to those moves, online sports betting in Illinois is legal.

Who is in charge of sports betting in Illinois?

The regulatory body in charge of sports betting in Illinois is the Illinois Gaming Board. They are the ones who issue out sports wagering licenses to gaming operators that hope to open either an online or offline sportsbook in the state. 

When Will Sportsbooks in Illinois Launch?

Illinois sportsbooks are expected to launch sometime around March Madness in 2020, according to state Rep. Michael Zalewski and Governor J.B. Pritzker. Although, the Illinois Gaming Board has just finished phase 2 of implementing sports wagering regulations and is currently accepting and reviewing applications for sports betting licenses. Three temporary licenses have been handed out so far.