Illinois sports betting was officially legalized in June 2019 as the state passed several gambling expansion bills. It went live in March 2020, but that launch came at a pretty inopportune time.
As soon as Illinois allowed mobile sports betting, this state emerged as one of the biggest markets in the United States. There has been some expansion over the last few years. However, Illinois isn’t a state that has a ton of retail or mobile sports betting options.
Illinois has become a state that has brought in impressive handle and revenue numbers each month, and that should continue moving forward as well. There are still some mobile sports betting licenses available moving forward, but it’s unclear if a new app is going to launch anytime soon.
Illinois is a state with some interesting rules when it comes to sports betting, but the industry is as popular as ever. The Land of Lincoln is in a tight battle with New Jersey to earn the number two spot in legal sports betting.
History Behind Legal Sports Betting in Illinois
Illinois lawmakers didn’t initially explore sports betting back in 2018 when the United States Supreme Court lifted the federal ban. It wasn’t until the next year that lawmakers started to explore sports betting, and that was thrown into a huge gambling expansion package.
Sports betting was officially legalized in June 2019, and the Illinois Gaming Board was put in charge of the new industry. Both online and retail sports betting were legalized at the same time. However, retail sports betting launched first.
The first retail sportsbook launched in March 2020, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the entire gambling industry. The first mobile sportsbook app then went live a few months later, and that was the first time that bettors in the state started to place some wagers.
The initial sports betting law in Illinois required bettors to register for a new account in person. That created some major challenges. Governor J.B. Pritzker initially lifted that law through an Executive Order. This move allowed mobile sportsbook apps to start bringing in some business.
Up until March 2022, in-person registration remained the law, but that is no longer the case. Illinois also required online operators to partner with a retail casino in the state up until March 2022. Now, there are online-only licenses available.
Illinois continues to post impressive sports betting numbers, and it is one of the biggest online sports betting markets in the country.
Financial History Behind Legal Sports Betting in IL
The sports betting numbers for the state of Illinois are extremely impressive, and it doesn’t appear that things will be slowing down anytime soon. Illinois is routinely one of the three biggest sports betting markets in the country every single month.
Through December 2022, sportsbooks in Illinois have accepted more than $18.6 billion in wagers. Illinois finished off the 2022 calendar year by having three straight months in which the total sports betting handle was more than $1 billion.
Total sports betting revenue in Illinois has been tremendous as well, as that total through December 2022 is $1.4 billion. There are only a handful of states able to claim at least $1 billion in total sports betting revenue since 2018.
Illinois doesn’t have a very high tax rate when it comes to sports betting revenue, but the tax figures have still been pretty impressive. It has collected $232 million in tax revenue, and that number should continue to get better as time moves on.
One thing about Illinois sports betting that hasn’t been great is that the hold rate is less than eight percent for the state. That is right around what the national average is for this industry, but sportsbooks in Illinois would like to put up bigger numbers.
Nearly all of the handle and revenue is coming from online sportsbooks in Illinois, and allowing more to launch should increase the overall numbers. October 2022 is the biggest month on record in the state of Illinois in both total sports betting handle and total revenue.
Sportsbook Apps in Illinois
Mobile sports betting in Illinois didn’t launch at the same time as retail sports betting. However, it wasn’t too far behind. Online sports betting in Illinois has accounted for more than 90% of the total wagers, and there are some great options to choose from.
Illinois is one of the biggest sports betting markets in the country. Though it’s not a state with a ton of mobile sportsbook apps available. The reason that mobile sports betting is so popular in Illinois is for the fact that this state has attracted seven of the best mobile sportsbook apps.
Here is a complete list of mobile sportsbook apps available in Illinois:
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- BetRivers Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- ESPN Bet
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- Fanatics Sportsbook
BetRivers Sportsbook was the first online sportsbook and mobile app in the state of Illinois. It was quickly joined by other options. When it comes to the mobile apps that have performed the best in the state, there is a good battle brewing between FanDuel and DraftKings. Those two sportsbooks have put up numbers that are much better than the other options. Monthly reports usually show that there isn’t much separation.
Both daily fantasy sports operators were restricted at launch as Illinois required in-person registration. This was done to stop the advantage the DFS sites had over state operators. In-person registration is no longer required in Illinois.
Other sportsbook operators have expressed interest in offering sports betting in Illinois, but a timetable has not been set for launch. It will be hard for any new sportsbooks to compete as this is already a highly competitive industry.
Retail Locations to Bet on Sports
The casino gambling industry in the state of Illinois has been a bit limited in the past, but expansion is coming, thanks to some new bills. Eventually, there will be a casino coming to the city of Chicago, and that should become one of the most popular retail sports betting locations in the state.
Several Illinois casinos already offer retail sports betting, and those locations partnered with sports betting operators to set up a sportsbook. As of February 2023, bets can be placed at the following locations:
- Rivers Casino Sportsbook (BetRivers)
- Sportsbook at Argosy Casino Alton (ESPN Bet)
- DraftKings at Casino Queen
- Hollywood Casino Aurora (ESPN Bet)
- Hollywood Casino Joliet (ESPN Bet)
- Grand Victoria (Caesars)
- Par-A-Dice Casino (FanDuel)
- Hawthorne Race Course (Fanatics)
- FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing
The Illinois sports betting law also allows for the major stadiums and arenas in the state to establish a retail sportsbook. Professional sports teams can also apply for a license to offer mobile betting within a few block radius of that sportsbook.
Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, has a DraftKings Sportsbook. United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks, hosts a FanDuel Sportsbook. A Caesars Sportsbook is planned at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox.
Sports Teams to Bet on in Illinois
Part of the reason that Illinois has emerged as one of the top sports betting markets in the U.S. is because this state has such a deep and impressive culture of sports. There is at least one team in all four of the four major professional sports, and bettors in the state can also look to surrounding states for popular teams as well.
The Chicago Bears are the most popular team throughout the state, and they are one of the most storied franchises in NFL history. Chicago hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1985, but they have had plenty of successful seasons since.
The Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships in the 1990s with Michael Jordan, and their popularity has never gone away. Fans flock to the United Center to watch the Bulls anytime that they are playing at home.
There are actually two MLB teams in Chicago, and fan support seems to be pretty evenly split. It is the Chicago Cubs that have the most storied past, but fans on the Southside of Windy City love the White Sox.
Another extremely popular team in the city of Chicago is the Blackhawks, and they are an “Original Six” hockey franchise. The Blackhawks had a dynasty less than 10 years ago, and that has kept them popular, even when the team has struggled.
The St. Louis Cardinals are another team that tends to attract plenty of betting action, especially from fans in the Southern part of the state. Since Missouri doesn’t have legal sports betting, Illinois sportsbooks have benefitted from getting those wagers.
The Illinois Fighting Illini are popular when it comes to college basketball and football, but mobile sportsbook apps cannot accept wagers on in-state college teams. These bets must be made at retail sportsbooks.
FAQ for Betting in Illinois
When did sports betting launch in Illinois?
Retail sports betting officially launched in Illinois in March 2020, but things were shut down almost immediately. The first mobile sportsbook apps went live in the Summer of 2020.
What is the legal gambling age in Illinois?
The legal gambling age in the state of Illinois is 21 years of age. This is the same age required to gamble at a casino.
Are mobile apps in Illinois?
Yes, mobile sports betting is available in the state of Illinois. As of February 2023, the state is home to seven mobile sportsbook apps.
Can I place a wager on the Illinois Fighting Illini?
The Illinois sports betting law on college sporting events has changed. There was initially a complete ban on betting on in-state college teams. However, wagers on the Fighting Illini will be accepted at a retail sportsbook.
Do I have to live in Illinois to place a bet?
No, no law requires you to be a resident of the state of Illinois to place a wager.