The state of Illinois has made a plea to legalise more forms of online gambling, however this endeavor has not proven to be fruitful. The Prairie State is restricted by both federal and state laws, making certain forms of gambling legal and other illegal until a reform bill is passed. While not as strict as states like Hawaii and Utah, where all forms of gambling are prohibited, Illinois still has a long way to go in order to become a trailblazing state for punters. Here, players are able to enjoy a night out a land-based casino, play a friendly game of poker with your friends or bet on pari-mutuel horse races, meaning there is some leeway. However, the state of Illinois is not as lenient towards online gambling activities as one may suspect.
Online Casino and Gambling in Illinois
- Not allowed
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Is Online Gambling Legal in Illinois?
The legalisation of online casino gaming, poker play and sports betting has really opened up across an increasing number of US states in recent years, giving players and punters lots more choice when it comes to where and how they can play games and bet on sports. In Illinois, casino and sports fans alike have access to a great market that they can enjoy! From 2019 sports betting has been legal, while casinos that provide games like poker or even slots still have to operate through riverboats.
So what are the best online casinos that you, as an Illinois resident, are permitted to join to play games for real money?
Illinois lottery: The Illinois lottery started off in 1974 with weekly draws, and since then has expanded dramatically to offer different kinds of lottery draws and scratch cards. It funnels revenue money from the lottery into the Common School Fund, Illinois Veterans, and health charities, as well as infrastructure projects. It currently has 6 lottery draws to pick from, drawing either twice weekly or daily. It can be played on your mobile too, allowing you to withdraw up to $600 winnings instantly without needing to go to a collection centre!
- Is there an app? Yes;
- Is there a sign-up bonus? No;
- Is there a sportsbook? No;
- Land-based partner: Illinois Lottery
Riverboat Casinos: A fairly uncommon aspect of casinos in Illinois is their propensity to be based on riverboats. Taking the definition of “off-shore” to its most literal meaning, in 1990 these casino boats became popular venues for gambling, and currently there are ten in the state.
- Is there an app? No;
- Is there a sign-up bonus? No;
- Is there a sportsbook? No;
- Can be found in: Alton, East St. Louis, Elgin, Joliet, Metropolist, Aurora, Rock Island, East Peoria, and Des Plaines.
Like many other states, owning and operating an online gambling operation comes with tight restrictions and rules in order to prevent malicious practices and untrustworthy casinos. Illinois-based casinos are allowed to operate a casino in land-based premises following the passing of the Illinois Gambling Act in 2019, provided they have been granted a licence by the Illinois Gaming Board, but for now online gambling services are not yet allowed within the state for slots and table and card games.
Is Online gambling legal in Illinois?
Online gambling, when it comes to casino games such as slots and table games, is not yet legal within the state. Players can make sports bets online, and play the lottery online on their mobile, but they do not allow a regular casino to operate online within the state. There are four states that explicitly allow their residents to gamble at an online casino, which are Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, with Pennsylvania being the latest addition to the list.
Currently there are video gaming terminals in a number of locations in the state. These are split between the ten riverboat locations, six land-based casinos (which will soon be expanded into further locations), as well as a number of truck stops, bars, restaurants, and other establishments. The maximum bets for these spread out terminals are small, currently sitting at $2 though they are set to increase to $4 with a corresponding increased maximum win after the passed legislation has been enacted.
Players who visit or play at licensed casinos will not be persecuted and will not face any legal action as long as they are of the legal gambling age and are not barred from playing because of some other reason, such as self-exclusion. By meeting these two criteria, players are free to sign up at any of the casinos found within the state. However without a proper online gambling law giving access to online slots, online poker, table games, daily fantasy sports and much more, the land-based options and riverboat options are the best bet for players in Illinois.
Online Poker in Illinois
Poker is legal in Illinois when played in the existing riverboat and land casinos, and will be increasing in accessibility in the future once land-based casino options are more available. Online poker is another story altogether, as online poker was not included in the expanded gambling laws introduced in the Illinois Gambling Act.
One notable exception is sweepstakes – as sweepstakes casinos function a little differently to other casinos and gambling establishments, they are legal to play in the state. As sweepstakes casinos can offer poker games for a prize, this gives players in Illinois an avenue to online gambling if they want to play in the comfort of their own home.
Sports Betting In Illinois
Illinois sports betting is well-established, with sports betting in the state going back as far as the 1920s with Horse racing being made legal in 1927. Betting on competitive athletic sports however, is far more recent in the state. There are two options for betting online, BetRivers (which players who have bet in Pennsylvania will be familiar with) and DraftKings. The key difference between this online betting and online betting elsewhere is the requirement to first register in-person. This was recently removed in 2020 to allow at-home registration, to avoid players needing to go outside to the casino and allowing them to socially distance.
With the gambling expansion recently passed in the state, it will only be a matter of time until more sports betting options are available to players in Illinois, given that there will be more online options coming to the market in time.
Lotteries In Illinois
As in many US states, lotteries are not new to Illinois, having been around since 1974. The lottery is also available online and on your mobile, through an app. The benefits of playing lotteries via an online site include not having to go to your nearest vendor to buy tickets, but many of these sites also offer other games, such as instant win games, that give you a new way to play and win beyond the regular draw based options of typical lottery play. The state-draws available include the Powerball, the Megamillions, Lotto Extra Shot, Lucky Day Lotto, Pick 3 and Pick 4, as well as instant tickets.
The draws vary depending on which lottery game you are playing. The Pick 3 and Pick 4 both draw twice daily, at 12:40 PM and 9:22 PM. The Powerball, Mega millions both draw twice a week, and the Lotto extra shot draws three times a week.
Regulation Board in Illinois
All state-wide casino operations, whether that be lotteries, sportsbooks or land-based casino or riverboat casinos are regulated and audited by the Illinois Gaming Board. This governmental agency oversees all state licensing
The Illinois Gaming Board regulates and maintains integrity in all aspects of gambling within the state of Illinois. They are in charge of enforcement of regulations and notices, changes either temporary or permanent and the recommendation and implementation thereof of gaming law, disseminating information about arrests or legal matters when it comes to gaming, and are the source for all questions that a user may have about legal requirements in gambling in Illinois.
The Illinois Gaming Board is also devoted to assisting and guiding players who suffer from pathological or problem gambling. They make sure casinos adhere to self-exclusion requests, as part of their responsible gambling strategy, and are part of the Illinois Alliance on Problem Gambling.
The Illinois Gaming Board also runs the Board Exclusion list, where players who have broken the Illinois Gambling Act and its associated laws when in casinos have been banned permanently from any casinos in the state. Individuals who have been banned from playing at casinos have their name and photograph shared on the Illinois Gaming Board website for independent verification by the casinos themselves.
How can I know which IL casinos are legal?
Right now, you can see which casino is legal in Illinois by two ways:
- If the casino itself offers betting on activities allowed by the state Gaming Board as per the Illinois Gambling Act of 2019, including any relevant licences or permits on the website itself. These may be the website and online presence of a land-based casino.
- A social casino that accepts players from Illinois is perfectly fine to play at – simply ensure that it has all of the relevant licences and permissions to offer services to players.
Also displayed should be a record of the operator's license number together with details of the address of the issuing regulatory body. If these are not displayed in the footer of the site in question, you can also check the site's About page.
We will only recommend casinos which are legal in Illinois. If you find a new IL casino which we haven't recommended, always be sure to check for this accreditation before you register and play, as you should only play with very reputable casinos for your safety, and the safety or your money.
Minimum Legal Age To Gamble In Illinois
One of the stipulated regulations that license holders must follow and enforce is the age limit. In a similar manner to land-based casinos, online and land based casinos, as well as sports betting sites, must not allow anyone under the age of 21 to register an account or play any of the games. This is in contrast to lotteries and horse racing betting sites that allow membership to anyone over 18.
Responsible operators enforce this minimum age rule by verifying the identity of their members. This usually involves requesting documentary proof of ID such as driver's license, social security number and other commonly used documents. If players are found to be in breach of the site's T&Cs, their account will be closed immediately, any winnings will not be paid and legal action may be taken.
Another crucial aspect of the regulation when it comes to Illinois online casinos is determining the location of players. Only players located in Illinois are permitted to play online casinos games and lotteries within the state, and so as part of their regulatory responsibilities, online casinos are tasked with ensuring that this is the case. In fact, the regulatory body and any related websites, including the Illinois lottery, can only be access from within the state.
While this is a very simple matter in the case of land-based casinos, where regulation is just a case of ensuring the players are of legal age, it's slightly harder to determine whether or not an online player is located in IL. Luckily, there's a very easy way of doing so and that is via IP addresses. While it isn't infallible, determining player location using an IP address is the easiest way for online casinos to meet this regulatory obligation, which is why you'll often be met with an error and blocked from accessing Illinois-friendly online casinos if you're accessing these sites from outside of the state.
Bear in mind that if you want to play online casino games via your iPhone, you may be required to download and run a geolocation app that is used to determine your location before you'll be allowed to play any games.
Banned Casinos in Illinois
Illinois does not maintain a list of banned casinos, but on the website of the Illinois Gaming Board you can find information on all applicants and licence holders within the state. You may also find information on denied applicants under Video Gaming licences, which would be operators hoping to have a slot or digital games machine available in their premises for gambling purposes.
Online casinos offering membership to players in Illinois will quite often advertise bonuses as a way to encourage signups. What this means for you as a player, is the chance to get more funds to play with, which quite often means more chances to win! These bonuses often come in the form of a deposit bonus, such as the first deposit bonus, which gives you a percentage of whatever you choose to deposit for the first time in bonus money. Bonuses usually come with requirements that will dictate how much you have to deposit, how much money you need to play with, and on which games, before you can withdraw the bonus, and how long you have to do so. Claiming a bonus is usually a simple case of entering a bonus code when making your deposit.
Types of Illinois Casino Bonuses
So what kinds of bonuses can you expect to find at IL-friendly online casinos? The first bonus you're most likely to come across is the first deposit bonus. Also called the welcome bonus or sign-up bonus, this is an amount in bonus funds that the online casino will add to your account relative to whatever you decide to deposit. For example, an IL online casino may offer new members a 100% up to $250 bonus on your first deposit. So if you deposit $100, you'll also get a bonus of $100.
Since online casinos want players to keep on depositing, they will often offer other bonuses, such as regular reload bonuses that can be claimed on one or more deposits over the course of a week or month, or cashback bonuses that offer bonus money for playing certain games.
Illinois Casino Bonus Codes
As mentioned above, bonuses are quite often claimed using a bonus code. This is simply a short word, often including numbers, that the player then inputs in a corresponding box while making their deposit. This then flags the online casino system and awards the bonus to the player's account as long as the other requirements for claiming the bonus have been met.
Other requirements can include ensuring the deposit meets the minimum amount as stated in the bonus terms and conditions, using a specific deposit method, playing through the deposit amount a certain number of times before the bonus is released, and more. Before claiming any bonuses, be sure to check the T&Cs so you know what to expect and how to go about claiming the bonus.
There are certain requirements both as you deposit and afterwards that determine how much of the bonus you will get and if and when you can withdraw it as cash. One aspect of bonuses, specifically determining the release and withdrawal of the bonus, is determined by wagering requirements. Some online casinos require you to play through your deposit amount once or more before the bonus funds are added to your account and are available to play with. In this case, you might also find that only certain games will count towards this rollover.
What you will find with almost all bonuses is that you have to play through a set amount before you will be allowed to request a withdrawal of funds. This is really to prevent bonus abuse. It's quite common for the T&Cs to require that the bonus triggering deposit (and often the bonus amount too) is played through a certain number of times, sometimes on certain games, before withdrawing. Requesting a withdrawal without meeting these wagering requirements can result in account closure and forfeiture of your bonus and any associated winnings, so beware! Thus we highly recommend that you read the terms and conditions carefully prior to opting in for any kind of bonus or signing up to a casino.
Illinois Online Casinos Payment Methods
One of the most important things you'll do when preparing to play at an online casino is to make your first deposit and there are a number of methods available that make this a very quick and easy process. Just as you'll find a variety of payment methods available in your local shopping mall or store, online casinos will also offer a selection of popular payment methods, making funding online casino gameplay accessible to all.
Amongst the various deposit methods available you can expect to see the usual collection of popular debit and credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express. You can also deposit to your online casino account via an ewallet such as PayPal. Plus, since many land-based casinos have created an online branch, you can actually deposit money to your online casino account via the cashier cage at the casino! That's lots of options for players, making depositing very quick, easy and accessible.
Mobile Gaming in Illinois
Mobile-friendly online casinos, where you can play a lot or sometimes all of the same games that appear on the online casino's website directly from your mobile phone or tablet, are considered a standard offering when it comes to online gambling today. This can be done by designing a website that performs optimally regardless of the device that's used, or an entirely separate mobile casino site can be created. It's also not unusual to find separate Android and iOS online casino apps.
As previously mentioned, due to the tight regulations regarding geolocation and age limits, operators have to check the details of all new members joining their online casino. This is why you'll be asked for personal details, but it's also why you'll usually find an additional app that is designed to detect your location must be downloaded and run before you'll be allowed to play casino games. For this reason, players in Illinois attempting to play at an online casino which isn’t a social or sweepstakes casino, or sports betting, may have some issues.
Some of the sites have apps for you to play on the go, but it's possible that you might run into some technical difficulties on occasion. If so, check these:
- Make sure that you have the most up-to-date version of the app installed on your phone.
- Make sure that you are playing within Illinois itself. You will only be able to place bets and play while you are within state lines.
- If you are within IL and have the most up-to-date app but still have issues, contact the customer support of the casino in question.
Sports betting and the lottery are available for players in Illinois for now – you should be sure to keep an eye on any new online offerings, as the legislation allowing for online betting is quite new. With the small amount of time that the ability to play online has been available, we can assume that there will be more options soon.
When it comes to the lottery, you can not only buy your Illinois lottery tickets through your mobile and not even have to leave home, but you can also request to cash out your winnings if they are under $600 right on the app! Normally you would need to visit a physical office to verify your ticket and cash out – and you will still need to for amounts over $600 – but for smaller amounts this makes life a lot easier as it is verified within the app itself.
Illinois Casino Games
So what kind of games can you expect to find at these Illinois-friendly online casinos and how do they compare to those found at land-based casinos?
Illinois Slot Machines
As in traditional bricks and mortar casinos, slots are the main attraction and online casinos tend to have a vast array of popular titles to keep players amused. Good online casinos will offer slots in all shapes and sizes, from the classic three reels bearing fruits and 7s to massive six+ reels bursting with additional features. There are also many progressive jackpot slots, which pool money for a huge prize. Sweepstakes casinos may offer an item or a cash prize, so make sure you are aware of what you might win when you spin!
Illinois Tables Games and Live Casino
At the moment, online table games and live casino games are not available for players in Pennsylvania. However if playing in a regular land-based or riverboat casino, these games are available within the state. This means you can play all the big casino favorites such as Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat and even Craps, as well as many other titles.
Land-based casinos in IL
Land based betting and casinos have an interesting history in Illinois – to begin, many of the casinos are in fact not land-based at all, but are riverboats. These, combined with six land-based casinos and a number of truck stop and food establishment gaming locations form the basis of the Illinois gambling scene.
Illinois riverboat casinos notably are not allowed to remain open 24 hours a day – so you may see them close for a couple of hours a night for cleaning and administration. All casinos in Illinois are also notably non-smoking, so keep this in mind should you visit one.
Casinos in Illinois offer traditional table games such as poker, roulette, and baccarat, and also offer additional types of game such as Texas Hold ‘em. You can also find video gaming machines (slot machines) around the casinos, usually limited to around 1200 but this may increase with the expansion of gambling laws.
Some gambling can also be taken part in at truck stops and other applicable venues around the state. These are not casinos but they are able to have a licenced video gaming terminal available for players to make small bets on. Currently they can bet $2 a play, but this will be increased to $4 after legislation has been implemented across the board.
The rules for the lottery and for horse racing bets are a little different. Horse track race casinos (or racinos) have been able to operate for significantly longer than other casinos, although they are still very strictly controlled with legislation. Horse race bets have been legal in Illinois since 1927, far before any other betting options were made legal in the state. You can bet on horses on-track and also in off-track (secondary) locations.
The available riverboat casinos in the state are:
East St. Louis
Hollywood Casino Aurora
Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
Hollywood Casino Joliet
Argosy Casino Alton
Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
Map of Casinos in IL
Not sure where the partner casinos in the state can be located? We've included a map below to make your search easier.
Got more questions about gambling in Illinois? We've answered them the best we can below.
Is it legal to gamble on sports in Illinois?
Yes, sports gambling is legal in Illinois. Punters can bet on traditional sports, esports, take part in daily fantasy sports, and bet on horse racing.
Are all casinos in Illinois on riverboats?
Not all of them. Most of the casinos in Illinois are on riverboats or barges, but with the Illinois gambling expansion the state will see 6 new casinos opening up in land-based locations.
What is the legal gambling age in Illinois?
Online and land based casinos, as well as sports betting sites, must not allow anyone under the age of 21 to register an account or play any of the games. This is in contrast to lotteries and horse racing betting sites that allow membership to anyone over 18.
This page was written in 2019, and is now maintained by Daniel Hardman. Should you have any questions or see any discrepancies on this page, feel free to reach out to him. The casino list at the beginning of the page is revised each month, to ensure we only offer the best Illinois casino sites to our readers. Let's have a look at some handpicked references you may find interesting.