What Forms of Online Gambling Are Legal in Illinois?

We can trace the history of gambling in Illinois back to the 1920’s and the introduction of state legalized betting on horse racing.

It took some time before we saw any major changes in the laws surrounding gambling in the Prairie State but in 1990, the state brought forward the Riverboat Gambling Act. This allows casinos to operate in Illinois provided they are located on boats operating outside Lake Michigan. The law also stated the boats cannot be located in counties with a population of over three million people.

However, at the time of writing, it is illegal to participate in online casino gambling in Illinois. There have been many rumours, some of which started back in 2013, suggesting Illinois was going to legalize online casinos and poker sites but as of August 2021, there has been little movement in that department. At the beginning of 2021, a bill was introduced to legalize online casino gambling in Illinois, but it never made it beyond the committee stage in the House. This will have come as a huge disappointment to those wanting to legally play casino games online in the state but there is some hope for the future.

The bill was going to allow the introduction of online casinos to happen quickly, with land-based casinos and racetracks each able to launch up to three online casinos. So, when the regulations change, which they could do in the near future, expect to see a great selection of online casinos appear quickly in Illinois.

Despite the fact online casinos and poker websites are illegal in Illinois, the same is not true for online sports betting. Mobile sports betting is legal in Illinois as Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation into law in 2019. This law means mobile sports betting apps plus retail sportsbooks at casinos, racetracks, and sports stadiums are legal in Illinois. However, anyone wanting to participate in online sports betting must complete registration in-person at a casino associated with the online sportsbook. Fortunately, this is expected to stop come the end of 2021 and registration will be available online.

In terms of the popularity of sports betting in Illinois, you will struggle to find many states in the country that can match the enthusiasm for the sports betting market in the Prairie State.

In terms of online sports betting, the BetRivers Sportsbook got the ball rolling in June 2020. Since then, we have witnessed the introduction of several online sportsbooks in Illinois, with some of the biggest names in online sports betting offering their services. William Hill and Unibet are two good examples, and they are some of the most popular online sports betting brands in the world. FanDuel and DraftKings, who were previously operating fantasy sports website across the United States have opened sportsbooks in Illinois, with PointsBet, Caesars Sportsbook, Barstool Sportsbook, and Bally Bet among the other online sportsbooks available in Illinois.

It will be interesting to follow the development of online casino legislation over the next year to see if it follows in the footsteps of online sports gambling in Illinois.

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