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Legal & Online: Illinois’ Latest Sports Betting Highlights in 2021
Illinois Mobile Sports Betting Registration Set to Expire April 3April 2, 2021
Illinois sports bettors will seemingly have to complete mobile sportsbook signups in-person beginning Saturday, April 3, 2021. A 2020 executive order signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that allowed mobile signups is set to expire the night of April 3. The digital sportsbook remote sign-up authorization was one of several dozen such orders approved by the governor, but it was not listed on a series of renewed orders posted to the state legislative information services website Friday afternoon
Barstool Launches Illinois SportsbookMarch 11, 2021
Penn National launched its Illinois Barstool Sportsbook on March 11, bringing the popular brand to one of the nation’s fast-growing sports betting markets.
Why Illinois’ Online Sports Betting Mobile Registration Will Likely ContinueDec. 16, 2020
Illinois bettors’ remote registration access will be extended for at least another few weeks beginning in December. And probably a few weeks after that. And a few more weeks after that.
Illinois Temporarily Limits Casinos and Gaming VenuesOct. 21, 2020
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Orders 2020-60 and 2020-61 limiting casinos and gaming venues to 25% capacity and 17-hour-a-day operations, thus limiting the state’s newest sportsbooks which just opened as the pandemic began. For now, bettors can still register and place bets online.
Illinois Extends Online Registration for Sports Wagering through Nov. 14Oct. 16, 2020
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-41 on June 4 to allow potential Illinois bettors to register for betting apps online, instead of the in-person requirement. Pritzker has since extended this Executive Order four different times, the latest one extending online registration through Nov. 14, 2020.
DraftKings @ Casino Queen Sign-up Bonus
DraftKings fought hard to join the shortlist of Illinois sports betting operators — and won. It's a nationally recognized, trusted brand. Claim your $1,000 sign-up bonus at DK now! It’s easy to find different markets, and you can quickly withdraw your money whenever you wish.
The app has a sleek interface, daily odds boosts, and even parlay insurance — and DK continues to enhance and diversify what's available.
BetRivers Sign-up Bonus
BetRivers is a strong IL player with impressive sign-up offers and key features like odds boosts and reward points. Get your $250 Deposit Match instantly by clicking here. So, using a real example: If you deposit $250 in your account, you’ll have $250 in cash and another $250 in bonus bets. You could put your bonus all on the Cubbies to win the World Series or you could space it out over 10 or 25 bets so not to put your eggs all in one basket.
Great perks like odds boosts and in-game cash-outs of existing bets.
FanDuel Sign-up Bonus
As of Aug. 28, 2020, FanDuel is live in Illinois with the FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook app. Fanduel has a seamless sign up offer (if it’s this smooth, why not sign up) and a hard to beat $500 risk-free-bet offer for your first wager.
Exclusively in Illinois, FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook will offer markets on hometown Illinois teams with extra-generous odds.
Pointsbet Sign-up Bonus
Pointsbet has some of the best sign up offers, as well as creative options to keep bettors in IL engaged. They launched just in time for the NFL and college football, as well as the rest of the NBA, MLB, WNBA and golf.
Pointsbet Sportsbook is live as of mid-September. They're known for their great promotions — get the latest above.
William Hill Sign-up Bonus
William Hill is a simple but reliable sports betting app in other states — and now available in the state of Illinois as of September.
Sign up at William Hill Sportsbook here, or check out their latest promo above.
Online Sports Betting Updates, Legal Sportsbooks, & Available Apps in IL
Illinois Sports Betting as of October 2020
Gov. Pritzker has again extended online regristration for Illinois bettors! Pritzker reinstated his emergency declaration lifting Illinois' in-person sportsbook sign up requirements for a third time for due to COVID-19 health concerns. This is fantastic, but its future availability is uncertain — online sign up won't necessarily be around forever! We recommend signing up for a few sportsbooks sooner than later, while this convenience is possible.
We covered most of these above, but here we'll continue to add sites and apps already live or that you can expect to see in Illinois soon below:
How Illinois Sports Betting Compares
Mobile Betting Options: B
Illinois will eventually have full online betting — and for now, they may as well. On Aug. 21, Governor J.B. Pritzker lifted in-person signup requirements for one month, and he later extended the remote registration abilities through Oct. 17. Pritzker appears to be taking this month by month, so it would be wise not to wait, or you may have to register in person again soon.
Overall, Illinois has created an environment with a somewhat high barrier to entry for operators (unlike New Jersey and Colorado). That will make things tougher for consumers since they’ll have fewer betting options. However, because online sign-up is available now, we've given their grade a boost.
Sign Up & Deposits: B
Again, full online sports betting will come to Illinois. That includes online registrations and deposits. But that won’t happen until late 2021 or early 2022. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker did temporarily suspend the in-person registration rule during COVID-19, so bettors can sign up online in the short term. But it’s unknown how long that will stay in effect.
In-person registrations are bad for consumers (who can’t easily shop for the best prices) and for operators (because it will be more difficult to sign up new customers). Illinois’ casinos are not centrally-located either, outside of a cluster in the Chicagoland area. If in-person signup becomes a requirement again, and you live in Chicago, it will be easy to sign up for only a few sportsbooks.
Fair Pricing: A
The odds offered by Illinois sportsbooks have been comparable to other big states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Colorado. The states/areas that require books to offer completely uncompetitive pricing are those like Washington D.C., which are run by the lottery as opposed to a casino gaming commission. In Illinois, gambling is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board, and the bill allows for good consumer pricing.
Illinois went the New Jersey route with college sports, banning wagers on any college teams in the state. Illinois has just three Division I football teams (Illinois, Northwestern, Northern Illinois) and 13 D-I basketball teams.
It may not seem like much, but on a college football Saturday, that could eliminate 5% of the slate. On a big college basketball Saturday, it could be close to 10% of the slate. Illinois also requires operators to purchase “official league data,” which could cost sportsbooks even more that they’ll then be required to pass onto consumers.
The Hard-Fought Path to Legal Online Sports in Illinois
Among states that have legalized, Illinois has had the most uncertainty and confusion around what their sports betting market will look like. This is primarily due to successful special interest lobbying (although some might call it corruption). Major Illinois players like Bet Rivers, who own casinos in the state, advocated keeping heavyweight national books like DraftKings and FanDuel out of the local sports betting market for as long as possible.
This was supposed to protect local business interests and reprimand improper compliance behavior — the controversial "penalty box provision." Initially, lawmakers settled on an 18-month period of increased constraints. For that time, the only online operators allowed would be the ones that also own physical casinos in Illinois.
Other states do require online sports betting sites like FanDuel and DraftKings to partner with existing casinos to offer their products online. It’s worked fine in New Jersey — the big online players get market access, and local casinos don’t get left in the dust because they can’t or won't scale their own online operations. The heavier restrictions, however, are unheard of and speak to the powerful political influence of casinos in Illinois. Rivers Casino took the first in-person sports bet in March 2020, then went live with BetRivers in June.
With great legal maneuvering, DraftKings was able to set up for an Illinois launch in July 2020. They fought to partner with Casino Queen in St. Louis — but due to legal restrictions, the casino brand must be featured in advertisements. A casino must own 80% of the business if another brand is used.
BetRivers was the first to offer online betting because its parent company, Rush Street Interactive, owns Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois. William Hill and PointsBet, which entered a 20-year partnership with Hawthorne Race Course, are also available in Illinois now. Barstool Sportsbook, which isn’t live in any states yet, will have a presence too. Its new parent company Penn National owns three casinos in Illinois.
Licensing fees — up to $20 million for online-only operators and $10 million for land-based casinos to offer online betting — are also among the highest of any state, which will prevent smaller players from entering the market. It already flushed out USA Sports Gaming, which planned to launch BetChicago but turned its attention to Indiana instead.
The first standalone online sportsbook won’t come to Illinois for another 18 months — so late 2021 or early 2022. It remains to be seen how long the in-person requirement suspension enabling online registration stays in place. For now, Governor J.B. Pritzker has been extending online registration one month at a time. While the economic shutdowns have been painful, COVID-19 has reduced some friction for online sports betting in Illinois by making in-person sign-ups an insurmountable risk.
University of Illinois Institute of Government & Public Affairs (IGPA) released a report covering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state of the local economy. Potential sports betting revenue may help momentum with policy revisions to maximize revenue in the near future to level the playing field for operators and bettors.
Illinois knows the revenue power of accessible gambling. Illinois bettors wagered more than $20 billion on slot machines in bars in 2019, generating $528 million in tax revenue. The state began allowing those slots in 2009.
Sports betting won’t be quite the same boon, but the only way to generate meaningful revenue is with full online betting. New Jersey has proven that, with more than $60 million in revenue for the state in only 24 months recently. Even so, the passing of Illinois Senate Bill 690 is expected to infuse somewhere in the range of $12 billion into the state economy over the next six years.
Illinois has taken a step in the right direction by legalizing sports betting but then made things infinitely more complicated with its complex signup rules. For now, the pandemic has forced Illinois's hand to make things easier for potential bettors. It remains to be seen what the future will hold for online betting in Illinois.
A Win for Illinois Casinos and Sports Venues
Illinois's 10 casinos were also winners in the new ruling since they'll be able to accept online and in person. This was also a win for sports venues like Chicago's Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, and the United Center, all of which will be able to accept bets going forward.
Illinois could not have made things more difficult for big online players like DraftKings and FanDuel (other than outright bans, which were on the table for a time). Its plan would have created fewer sportsbook options, little competition, and therefore a less friendly environment for bettors.
The Illinois plan is to not allow standalone online operators for the first 18 months in to give companies with casinos in the state a head start at acquiring customers. Politics, as always. Those operators with land-based casinos will need to pay only a $10 million operating fee (very high compared to other states), while online operators must pay $20 million.
Maybe things shake out fine and by 2022, we’re not having these conversations. But for now, Illinois got plenty wrong.
No Betting on In-State Amateur Sports
Mirroring a similar rule of prohibition in New Jersey, Illinois has banned betting on amateur sporting events in the state at every level. Yes, that means no betting on in-state college athletics like the Northwestern Wildcats and Illinois Fighting Illini — though for once, you can be grateful Notre Dame is across state lines.
In case you're wondering, this also includes an explicit ban on betting on sporting events at the high school level and even as low as kindergarten. Sorry about it.
The college ban, while understandable, also greatly limits potential Illinois revenue.
Difficult for Bettors to Register
The original Illinois agreement included language such that online operators like FanDuel and DraftKings wouldn't be able to take bets until 18 months after the first wager taken at a land-based facility, sort of an 18-month penalty box. That agreement would have also required all Illinois bettors to register in person at one of the brick-and-mortar betting facilities for that first 18 months.
But there's good news on that front, for now. Because of the ongoing pandemic complications, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order on June 4 that allows potential Illinois bettors to register for betting apps online. That issue has nearly expired multiple times, but Pritzker continues to extend the order — for now, at least through Oct. 17.
Illinois Sports Betting FAQ
Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Illinois?
Yes, online sports betting is legal in Illinois.
How Old Do I Have to Be to Bet?
Can I Use Draftkings Sportsbook in Illinois?
Is Bovada Legal In Illinois?
Can I Bet If I’m in Illinois, But Don’t Live There?
Anyone inside the state borders can bet.
Where Can I Make a Sports Bet in Illinois?
For now, anywhere inside state borders will do if you use the app or bet online. You can also bet at one of the state's 10 casinos or at seven select sporting venues.
Who Can Apply for a Illinois Sports Betting License?
The licensing rules are complicated. Online-only operators will pay a $20 million fee and can only enter the market after 18 months. Any company that owns a land-based casino can begin offering online sports betting right away and must pay up to a $10 million license.
Can I bet on online in Chicago?
Yes, you can place sports bets online in Chicago and the entire state of Illinois. You can also sign up online! When sports betting launched in early March, bettors had to go into a brick-and-mortar casino to register. However, Governor J.B. Pritzker lifted that requirement citing COVID-19 social distancing, but only temporarily, currently through October 17. The online option has nearly expired three times already before being extended, so sign up soon!
Can I bet at DraftKings in Illinois?
Yes! An early monopoly for BetRivers didn't last long. You can now place bets at popular online vendors DraftKings and FanDuel with their apps. You just need to register online from somewhere inside the state of Illinois.
Do I have to be within Illinois state lines to place a bet?
Yes. Because sports betting is legalized and regulated at the state-wide level, each state implements geotracking technology to restrict bets just to bettors within state lines. That’s true for Illinois sportsbooks as well. But you don’t have to be an Illinois resident to bet. That means if you’re from California but in Chicago for a business trip, you can download a betting app, sign up, and bet while you’re in the state. You can withdraw from anywhere.
Can I sign up, deposit and withdraw online?
Yes. For now, Governor Pritzker has lifted the in-person requirement for signing up for a sportsbook account, which means you can do everything from the comfort of your own home — sign up, deposit, bet and withdraw funds. But sign up soon! Right now, that executive order is set to expire on October 17.
Sports Betting for Illinois Beginners
New to sports betting? Awesome, and we're here to help. Check out our educational resource hub so you can get started on the right foot in Illinois.
Sports Betting Glossary
Sports betting has a dictionary of its own that you’ll want to get familiar with if you’re new to the space.
Get up to speed here with our sports betting glossary.
Sports Betting Mistakes to Avoid
You’re probably ready to unload some bets on the Chicago Bears and Bulls. We recommend educated, responsible decision-making — so reading up a bit can help before joining in on the action.
Here are nine sports betting mistakes for Illinoisians (or visitors!) to avoid.
Illinois Sports Betting Timeline
Illinois Teams to Bet on
Pro Sports Teams
All of Illinois’ professional sports teams are based in and around Chicago. While a pro team in the state is not a requirement to have a betting market for a sport, it certainly helps momentum. Here's what that looks like in Illinois:
NFL Betting in Illinois
Illinoisans sure do love their Chicago Bears. The Monsters of the Midway are a founding member of the NFL, one of two remaining franchises founded in 1920. The Bears play their home games at historic Soldier Field, east of Near South Side in Chicago. They have won nine NFL championships including one Super Bowl for the 1985 team, widely considered one of the greatest in football history.
The Bears compete in the NFC North along with the hated rival Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Detroit Lions. Chicago has won more games than any NFL franchise, and the Bears hold the NFL record for most players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, honoring all-time Bears greats like Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, Red Grange, Gale Sayers, and George Halas.
Chicago Bears Rivalry: vs. Green Bay Packers. The Bears and Packers are one of the NFL's oldest and most fearsome rivalries. The teams have played 200 times, most in NFL history, typically at least twice every season. Green Bay passed Chicago for the series lead in 2017, though the Bears dominated the series historically.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on football in Illinois:
NBA Betting in Illinois
With a legacy talent like Michael Jordan, it's no surprise that Chicago has been called the "basketball capital of the word." The Bulls won six NBA championships in the 90s with Jordan and Scottie Pippen, who were celebrated in ESPN's award-winning 2020 documentary "The Last Dance". The Jordan Bulls are one of the NBA's great dynasties, and Chicago is the only NBA franchise to win multiple championships without a Finals loss.
The Bulls have fallen on harder times after the Jordan era but did celebrate another MVP with Derrick Rose in 2011. The Bulls play their home games in the United Center in the Near West Side of Chicago, an arena they share with the Blackhawks hockey team. Billy Donovan will make his debut as a Bulls coach when the 2021 season opens.
Chicago Bulls Rivalry #1: vs. Detroit Pistons. This rivalry was born at the dawn of Michael Jordan's championship runs. The Pistons were back-to-back champions in 1989 and 1990 and were Jordan's stumbling block several years in a row before Chicago overcame Detroit in 1991 en route to their first franchise title. It remains a heated divisional rivalry today.
Chicago Bulls Rivalry #2: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls vs. Cavs rivalry was also stoked during the Jordan years, though it was one of those rivalries where big brother always gets the upper hand. Just ask Cleveland's Craig Ehlo about The Shot. This is another regional and divisional rivalry. The Cavs have had the upper hand in recent years with LeBron James, eliminating the Bulls multiple times in the playoffs over the past decade.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on basketball in Illinois:
MLB Betting in Illinois
Illinois has two professional baseball teams: the Cubs and the White Sox. Both Chicago clubs have won a recent World Series, the Cubs in 2016 and the Sox in 2005, both after going the better part of a century without one. In Chicago, the terms "North Siders" and "South Siders" are synonymous with baseball allegiances. The Cubs currently have a greater draw and higher ticket prices.
The Cubs have played in the National League since 1876. The Boys in Blue won back-to-back World Series in 1907 and 1908 but then went a full 108 years as the Lovable Losers before winning it all in 2016. That was their first World Series appearance since 1945.
The Cubs have played in at least a play-in playoff game six consecutive seasons under President Theo Epstein. They won the NL Central this fall in their first year under new manager David Ross. The Cubbies play their home games at historic Wrigley Field on the North Side, ivy and all.
Chicago Cubs Rivalry: vs. St. Louis Cardinals. The I-55 rivalry is one of the most bitter in baseball, with the Cubs and Cards always playing in the same division and many times head to head each year. The teams have played nearly 2,500 times over the years with the Cubs holding the all-time edge. Chicago also won the only playoff meeting in 2015.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are one of the American League's charter franchises and have been playing ball since 1901. The Sox played at Comiskey Park for nearly a century but now play at Guaranteed Rate Field on the South Side for manager Rick Renteria.
The White Sox have won three World Series titles, but their most memorable World Series was a scandalous loss in 1919 known as the Black Sox, with several key team members conspiring to fix games. Eight players were banned from baseball forever, later memorialized throughout pop culture in movies like "Eight Men Out" and "Field of Dreams." Say it ain't so, Joe!
Chicago White Sox Rivalry: vs. Chicago Cubs. These crosstown rivals played in the 1906 World Series but then never met again in an official game until 1997 when Major League Baseball introduced interleague play. And so the Crosstown Classic was born, with the teams playing often contentious games and the Sox currently leading the all-time series.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on baseball in Illinois:
NHL Betting in Illinois
The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the "Original Six" teams in the NHL, competing on the ice since 1926. The team plays its home games at the United Center on the Near West Side of Chicago, an arena they share with the Bulls basketball team.
The Blackhawks have won six Stanley Cups, including three in the last 11 years in a dynasty built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Chicago also boasts all-time greats like Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita as team alumni. These days the team loves to crank "Chelsea Dagger" every time the team scores another goal. The Hawks are coached by Jeremy Colliton.
Chicago Blackhawks Rivalry: vs. St. Louis Blues. Chicago and St. Louis teams just don't like each other very much. These teams have battled in the same division since 1970 and often break into a full brawl on the ice like any good hockey rivalry. The rivalry heated up in the 80s and 90s and then was reignited over the past decade as both teams competed for the Stanley Cup Finals.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on hockey in Illinois:
WNBA Betting in Illinois
Chicago's second basketball team plays on the women's side. The Chicago Sky were founded in 2006 and have played in the Eastern Conference ever since. The Sky have played in five playoffs and reached the WNBA Finals in 2014. They play their home games at the new Wintrust Arena on the Near South Side of Chicago.
MLS Betting in Illinois
Chicago Fire FC
The Fire were one of the first expansion teams in the MLS in 1998, and they won the MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup in their inaugural season. They won the U.S. Open Cup again three more times in 2000, 2003, and 2006 and won the Supporters' Shield in 2003, given to the club with the best regular-season record. The Fire play their home games at Soldier Field, home of the Bears, on the Near South Side.
The Fire are named after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which burned the Second City for three days, killing 300 people and causing over $200 million in damages. The soccer club generates revenue for Illinois state Fire Academies.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on soccer in Illinois:
NWSL Betting in Illinois
Chicago Red Stars
The Red Stars were founded in 2009 and have bounced around various women's professional soccer leagues as they've come and gone, competing in the National Women's Soccer League since 2013. The Red Stars are named after the four iconic six-pointed red stars that adorn the city's beloved flag. The Red Stars are the only NWSL team to have made the playoffs in five consecutive years.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on soccer in Illinois:
College Sports Teams
Both Illinois and Northwestern have proud sports traditions and longstanding rivalries inside and outside the state. We expect big bets to be placed on these Illinois college games in the future.
College Football Betting in Illinois
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football
Even though Notre Dame is technically in Indiana, folks in Chicagoland think of the Fighting Irish as the local team. From the iconic golden-dome helmets to the larger-than-life Touchdown Jesus mural overlooking Notre Dame Stadium, the university is steeped in rich tradition and football history. Players slap the "Play Like a Champion Today" sign as they exit the locker room and head out onto the field where "Rudy" made his name in the eponymous movie.
Notre Dame football competes as an independent, free of conference loyalty, though it normally plays five games a year against ACC opponents. The university claims 11 national championships but is recognized by the NCAA and other selectors with as many as 22, tied for most all-time. Notre Dame players have won the Heisman Trophy seven times, tied for most of any university. Notre Dame has produced over 100 consensus All-Americans and nearly 500 players selected in the NFL Draft.
The Irish have one of the largest and most widespread fan bases in football, though the most rabid fan base is right there in Chicagoland, where fans routinely make the under-100-mile drive to glory. All Notre Dame home games have been televised by NBC since 1991, and the university has a number of longtime rivalries.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Rivalry #1: vs. USC Trojans. This annual rivalry game is widely regarded as the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. It has been played every year from 1926 to the present except for 1943-45 during World War II and this fall, due to the pandemic. Few rivalries can match the aesthetic and history of this on-field matchup.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Rivalry #2: vs. Michigan Wolverines. This is one of college football's great rivalries between two of its great programs. Michigan ranks No. 1 all-time in both win percentage and wins, but Notre Dame is close behind and always chasing the Wolverines. Unfortunately, the rivalry is currently on hiatus but the teams are scheduled to meet again in 2033.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Rivalry #3: vs. Navy Midshipmen. Though they will not play this fall due to the pandemic, these teams had played annually every year since 1927, one of the longest uninterrupted intersectional rivalries in college football. The Irish dominate the series with 77 wins to just 13 for Navy and had won 43 in a row until losing in triple overtime in 2007.
Illinois Fighting Illini Football
Football hasn't been its finest program in recent years, but the university has a long, proud pigskin tradition. Illinois claims five national championships and 15 Big Ten titles. Few universities can match Illinois's pair of incredible Hall of Fame football players in alumni Red Grange and Dick Butkus.
The Illini have eight bowl wins, most recently at the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Former Bears coach Lovie Smith is in his fifth year leading the team. The Fighting Illini have yet to post a winning record under Smith but did make their first bowl appearance with him in the 2020 Redbox Bowl.
Illinois Fighting Illini Rivalry #1: vs. Northwestern Wildcats. With both teams in Illinois, the Illini and Wildcats battle annually for the Land of Lincoln Trophy. Northwestern has won each of the last five meetings but Illinois still leads the overall series, barely.
Illinois Fighting Illini Rivalry #2: vs. Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue is the closest rival to Illinois geographically, even though it's in Indiana, and this rivalry is as close as they come with Illinois leading the all-time series 45 wins to 44. The winner goes home with the Purdue Cannon, a tradition dating back to 1905.
Northwestern Wildcats Football
Northwestern has finally escaped a long period of futility that extended from the 70s into the mid-90s, but the university had reached No. 1 in the polls in 1936 and 1962. Under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, now in his 15th season leading the team, the Wildcats have improved mightily. They've won three Big Ten championships since 1995 and have played in a bowl game in nine of the last 12 seasons under Fitzgerald. Northwestern plays its home games at Ryan Field in Evanston.
Northwestern Wildcats Rivalry #1: vs. Illinois Fighting Illini. This intrastate rivalry pits the Wildcats and Illini annually in the battle for the Land of Lincoln Trophy. Northwestern has dominated the rivalry recently, winning each of the last five meetings, but Illinois holds a slight lead in the all-time ranks.
Northwestern Wildcats Rivalry #2: vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Although the teams don't play annually, this rivalry started when former Fighting Irish coach Knute Rockne wanted to build Notre Dame's fanbase in the Chicago area. The Irish dominated the series, 38-9-2, though Northwestern shocked the Notre Dame as a 28-point underdog in 1995 in what the Chicago Sun-Times called the "Upset of the Century." The rivalry was most recently renewed in 2018 when No. 3 Notre Dame picked up a 31-21 victory over the Wildcats.
Northern Illinois Huskies Football
Northern Illinois plays in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The Huskies have won their conference 11 times and claim one national championship in 1963. NIU plays its games at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb. The Huskies have played in 12 bowl games, all but one of them since 2004. NIU's greatest modern season came in 2012-13 when the team went 12-2 and played in the Orange Bowl. They are coached by Thomas Hammock.
Recommended resource to help you bet smartly on college football in Illinois:
College Basketball Betting in Illinois
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Men's Basketball
Notre Dame is the local "home" team to many in Chicagoland, even though the Irish play their home games in the Purcell Pavilion at the Edmund P. Joyce Center in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in basketball and has appeared in the NCAA Tournament times, top 10 all-time and most for any team without appearing in a championship game, with a lone Final Four bid in 1978. The Fighting Irish have been led by coach Mike Brey every year this century.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Rivalry #1: vs. UCLA Bruins. This intersectional rivalry is more of a historic battle, peaking when Notre Dame ended UCLA's record 88-game win streak in January 1974. The rivalry came to prominence under Irish coach Digger Phelps and UCLA coach John Wooden, though the teams have played only twice in the last decade.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Rivalry #2: vs Louisville Cardinals. The Irish have played Louisville every season since 1995, first together in the Big East and now in the ACC. This is a newer rivalry by Notre Dame standards and may have peaked in a crazy five-overtime win for the Irish in 2013, the last year for both schools in the Big East.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Women's Basketball
Notre Dame's women's basketball team has recently risen to national prominence at the highest level. The Irish have made nine Final Fours, including seven over the past decade, and won national championships in 2001 and 2018. Notre Dame has become a fixture on Championship Monday, playing in six national championship games over the past decade under legendary head coach Muffet McGraw. The Irish will now begin a new era with McGraw retiring in spring 2020, leaving the reins to Niele Ivy.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Rivalry: vs. Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies are the gold standard in women's college basketball with the most national championships of any team, but the Irish have been a real thorn in their side. Notre Dame and Connecticut play each season in the ACC, but they've also become frequent NCAA Tournament foes, meeting seven times over the past decade, each time in the Final Four or championship game. Notre Dame has won three of those meetings and was responsible for eight of UConn's 15 losses from the 2011-12 season through the 2018-19 season.
Illinois Fighting Illini Men's Basketball
Illinois has risen to prominence as a basketball school in the Big Ten in recent years, and the Illini were one of the top teams in the nation during the 2020-21 season with Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn leading the way. Illinois plays its home games at the State Farm Center in Champaign. The Illini have 17 Big Ten regular-season championships and five Final Four appearances, with 2005 being the most recent in both cases.
The Illini are coached by Brad Underwood. The team has a long history of basketball success, with national championships in 1915 and 1943 and alumni including NBA great Deron Williams and Hall of Famer Andy Philip. The Fighting Illini rank in the top 20 all-time in both wins and win percentage among all NCAA Division I men's basketball programs.
Illinois Fighting Illini Rivalry #1: vs. Iowa Hawkeyes. To put it simply, these two teams don't like each other. When the teams play in both Iowa City and Champaign, things got chippy. The rivalry went to a new level when an Iowa assistant coach turned Illinois in for recruiting violations, and things re-escalated just ahead of the Big Ten Tournament in 2020. Illinois leads the all-time series.
Illinois Fighting Illini Rivalry #2: vs Indiana Hoosiers. These teams share a state border and recruiting grounds, and they've been rivals for a long time. Former Indiana coach Bob Knight also alleged Illinois committed recruiting violations, and the rivalry between the two schools has continued since. The teams have met 181 times, with Indiana holding a slight edge, for now.
DePaul Blue Demons Men's Basketball
DePaul basketball plays in the newly opened Wintrust Arena in Chicago's Near South Side. The Blue Demons compete in the Big East Conference. They reached their peak in the 1970s and 80s including a Final Four in 1979, one of two such appearances. The Blue Demons are coached by Dave Leitao. DePaul was home to former National Players of the Year and NBA champions George Mikan and Mark Aguirre.
We've got a few recommended resources to help you bet on CBB in Illinois:
Recommended resources to help you bet smartly on college basketball in Illinois:
Division I Football & Basketball
Division I Basketball Only
Pro Sports Teams
During non-COVID-19 times, Illinois normally plays host to several other sporting events throughout the year, including:
The John Deere Classic
The John Deere Classic is an annual PGA event hosted in Silvis, Illinois at TPC Deere Run, a Midwest golf destination. The event is a final chance for a player not already exempt to earn entry into The Open (traditionally scheduled a week later in Britain) if he finishes in the top five out the tournament. High stakes make the JDC of particular interest to golf enthusiasts and sports bettors alike.
The 2020 BMW Championship brings out the top 70 players in the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs to Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois. It is usually held in August.
Possible 'Chicago Bowl' (College Football)
The Chicago Bowl is a proposed (aka yet to ever happen) NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision college football bowl game to be played in Chicago, Illinois at Wrigley Field. Negotiations for the bowl game had been tabled for now until an agreement can be reached with the Big Ten Conference on a higher ranking team's entrance into the bowl.
More Reading on Illinois
Executive Order Enabling Online Bettor Sign-ups. Here is the EO that's been signed and reinstated — enabling online and mobile phone sign-ups — by the Governor again as of Aug. 21, 2020.
Sports Wagering Act (SB3432). To dive into the specifics of Illinois' Sports Wagering Act (SB3432), you can reference materials from the Illinois State Assembly directly
Public Commentary on Illinois Sports Betting Bills: Illinois’ public had a powerful and impassioned response to the state’s sports betting bill on both sides. You can read public comments here.
ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ Chicago Insights: Read a thorough overview of the evolution of the broader gambling market in Illinois to date in Chicago: Illinois Is Poised to Become the Gambling Capital of the Midwest.
Illinoisians have expressed concerns about sports betting. Todd Hefferman, who covers SIU Athletics for The Southern Illinosian, explores some of the “social costs” he fears sportsbetting will bring to the state. He recommends a firm investment in education and prevention plans.
Illinois is serious about bettor protection and behavioral support, including the following resources: The Illinois Gaming Board supports a self-exclusion program via the Problem Gambler Registry. The Illinois Council on Problem Gambling (ICPG) is the statewide resource in Illinois for awareness and education related to problematic issues. Finally, the Illinois Alliance on Problem Gambling (IAPG) is an organization that aims to raise awareness, coordinate resources, and prevent underage gambling.
Still have questions on Illinois Sports Betting? Here is a fantastic deeper dive into common sports betting questions in the state of Chicago. The piece is from Joe Barnas, a fully-community-invested writer at the Illinois Policy Institute and University of Illinois at Chicago Grad.