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Is Online Gambling Legal in Illinois?

State seak of IllinoisNo, as of early 2019 the state of Illinois does not allow online gambling at casinos. These restrictions are enforced by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the Federal Wire Act, both federal laws that reign supreme when it comes down to online gambling. With no changes made to these bills, online gambling in Illinois will remain outright banned, much to the disappointment of disappointment of residents in the state.

The closest state geographically to Illinois, that does allow online gambling, is Pennsylvania. Should you ever find yourself in Philly or Pittsburgh, you might as well make the most out of your time there, and give the reels a couple of spins. However, for the moment that seems to be your best bet to play casinos online if you are a resident in Illinois. 

The state senate continues to bicker over whether to legalise online gambling in Illinois and as of yet there has been no clear answer as to when a bill will pass. 

Video Gaming in Illinois

This does not mean that the state has not made an attempt in making online gambling happen. Quite on the contrary; the state has made slots and video poker legal for land-based establishments in 2009 under the Video Gambling Act. The bill allowed pubs and “baby casinos” to host a wide range of different slot machines and video poker terminals so people could familiarise themselves with being able to gamble freely. This was meant to be trial-period before moving forward in legalising online gambling, hoping to gain billions in tax dollars, but the whole endeavour turned out to be a flop. The estimated tax income versus that actual document revenue did not live up to the expectations. 

Land-based Casinos in Illinois

The state of Illinois does allow commercial casinos to set up shop and house some of the biggest names out there in the casino industry. Multi-billion dollar casino Harrah’s has its own venue in the Prairie State, along with 15 other land-based casinos in the Chicago area and the rest of the state. 

On top of the land-based casinos, the state also houses some iconic riverboat casinos. These riverboat casinos sit along the Des Plaines riverfront and are legalised under the riverboat gambling bill. 

Combined, there are thousands of slot machines and hundreds of tables games available in the 16 different venues.

Online Poker and Poker Rooms in Illinois

Online poker is illegal within the state borders of Illinois. While no restricted by the Federal Wire Act, poker is still a skill-based game that is prohibited under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This means that there is no way players can deposit funds into any online account they might have at online poker operators.

However, given the fact that Illinois is home to 16 different land-based casinos, players can still enjoy the thrill of the game at any of these venues. Most land-based casinos such as Harrah’s are equipped with dedicated poker rooms and tables and often host tournaments. There are 121 poker tournaments scheduled for 2019 in the state of Illinois, so plenty of options for avid poker players to enjoy the game. 

Is Sportsbook Legal In Illinois?

No, online sports betting is not legal within the state of Illinois. This is because the state senate has made no attempt to draft a new bill after PASPA was shut down. The Federal Wire Act still reigns supreme within the state laws, meaning that players have no legal way of making any sports betting wagers through telecommunication. 

However, in 2019 the state senate is looking into legalising all things sportsbook. $217 million has been set aside to fund a new licensing system, allowing for 20 licences to be granted. That is a whopping $10 million for each licence, op par with the fees operators must pay in Pennsylvania, where sports betting is already legal.

The Illinois state senate is set to pass a bill in 2020. 

Daily Fantasy Sports 

Daily Fantasy Sports are a tricky subject for all states, but most states do allow the game to be played online. While the state’s attorney general has expressed a negative opinion on DFS, but there seems to be no restriction on having an active account at either FanDuel or Draft Kings; two of the main DFS providers. 

Lotteries In Illinois

Many states within the US allow a state-funded lottery and interstate lotteries to operate, this is also the case in Illinois. Aptly named the “Illinois Lottery”, this institution is responsible for provide safe and legit lottery draws for all residents.

Players can pick from the following games: Extra Shot Lotto, Lucky Day Lotto, Pick3 and Pick4. Residents of Illinois also have the option to participate in international lotteries such as PowerBall and Mega Millions. 

Since 1985, the Illinois Lottery has contributed a total of $20 billion back into the economy and paid out $1 billion in prize money to winners. 25% of profits made off lottery revenue will be donated to good causes such as Multiple Sclerosis research foundations, breast cancer foundations and funded the research for HIV / AIDS within the state. 

Minimum Legal Age To Gamble In Illinois

In order to gamble legally at any of the land-based or riverboat casino venues, individuals need to be over 21 years of age. In order to participate in pari-mutuel wagering or lottery draws, one needs to be at least 18 years old. 

The law does not restrict domestic poker games or games of chance at home, meaning anyone can host a poker night. Gambling illegally is a class A misdemeanor offense in Illinois and could net you a hefty fine should you choose to do practice it. 

Who Regulates Casinos in Illinois?

All gambling operations are overseen by by the Illinois Gaming Board, a legislative body active since 1990. The board is responsible for providing licences to the land-based and riverboat casinos, as well auditing gambling operations and slot machines. 

Gambling a bit too much? 

If you are concerned about your gambling habits and wish to seek help, the Nation Council of Problem Gambling is here to help you. Their discreet and professional representatives are available round the clock, every day of the week.

National Problem Gambling Helpline: 
Call: 1-800-522-4700
Text: 1-800-522-4700
Chat: ncpgambling.org/chat
 

A Final Word on Gambling in Illinois

Illinois does not seem to be able to make up its mind on whether to legalise online gambling or online sports betting. However, the the wheel has been set in motion and the ball is rolling. The state senate does make an effort in drafting comprehensible bills that will protect the consumer from illegal online operators and it will be a matter of time before residents in Illinois will be able to gamble legally. 

In the meantime, residents will have access to 16 high-end casino establishments that offer slot machines, all table games and regular poker tournaments. There are also several race tracks available for players to bet on pari-mutuel horse racing.