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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 August 28, 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.
We'll add Pointsbet Sportsbook offers as they're available in IL. We're keeping an eye out daily for updates.
Online Sports Betting Updates, Legal Sportsbooks, & Available Apps in IL
Illinois Sports Betting as of August 21, 2020
Governer Prtizker reinstated his emergency declaration lifting IL's in-person sportsbook sign up requirements for a second time for due to COVID-19 health concerns. This is fantastic, but its future availability is uncertain--online sign up is only guaranteed for the next 30 days. 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
We graded Illinois on its sports betting bill and experience relative to other states.
Mobile Betting Options: B
Illinois will eventually have full online betting -- but as of Aug. 21, it may as well. Gov. J.B. Pritzker lifted in-person sign up requirements. 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 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 sign up becomes a requirement again, and you live in Chicago, it will be easy to sign up for only a few sportsbooks.
Fair Pricing: TBD
We haven’t seen any online odds from Illinois sportsbooks yet, so we’ll wait to see how fair the pricing is.
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
Of 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 would call it corruption). Major IL players like Bet Rivers who own casinos in the state advocated to keep the heavyweight national books like DraftKings and FanDuel out of the local sports betting market for as long as possible.
This was supposedly to protect local business interests and reprimand improper compliance behavior--the controversial "penalty box provision." Ultimately, lawmakers settled on an 18 month period of increased constraints. For that time, the only online operators allowed are 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 in order 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 don’t want to 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. They fought to partner with with Casino Queen in St. Louis — but due to legal restrictions, the casino brand must be featured in advertisements. A casino has to 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, Ill. William Hill and PointsBet (which entered a 20-year partnership with Hawthorne Race Course) should be in Illinois soon, as well. Barstool Sportsbook, which isn’t live in any states yet, will also have a presence. 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. 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. The job numbers look tough--a loss of more than 550,000 jobs in the Illinois economy is projected by by March 2021. Additional, 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 Sports Betting FAQ
Is Online Sports Betting 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?
Where Can I Make a Sports Bet in Illinois?
Who Can Apply for a Illinois Sports Betting License?
Can I bet on online in Chicago?
Can I bet at DraftKings in Illinois?
Do I have to be within Illinois state lines to place a bet?
Can I sign up, deposit and withdraw online?
Sports Betting for Illinois Beginners
New to sports betting? Awesome, and we're here to help. Check out our 11 sports betting tips for beginners 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
Both Illinois and Northwestern have some longstanding rivalries inside and outside the state. We expect big bets to be placed on these Illinois and Northwestern games in the future.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois has risen to prominence as a basketball school in the Big Ten in recent years. While Lovie Smith's squad doesn't have a lot going for it on the football side of things, the Illini have become contenders for a conference basketball title under head coach Brad Underwood. With Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn returning for another season, Illinois will once again be in contention.
- Rivalry #1: vs. Iowa Hawkeyes To put it simply, these two teams don't like each other. When the teams played 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.
- Rivalry #2: vs Indiana Hoosiers With the two teams sharing a state border and recruiting grounds, the Hoosiers and Illini have also been a part of a rivalry for quite some time. Former Indiana coach Bob Knight also alleged Illinois committed recruiting violations, and the rivalry between the two schools has continued since.
After recording an 8-1 mark in conference play in 2018, Northwestern captured its first Big Ten West title in school history under head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Since then, however, things haven't gone as smoothly. In 2019, the Wildcats put together a 3-9 season that included only one win — over Illinois — in Big Ten play.
- Rivalry #1: vs. Illinois Fighting Illini With both teams playing in Illinois, the Wildcats and Illini battle annually for the Land of Lincoln Trophy. The matchup hasn't been competitive in recent years, though — Northwestern has one each of the last four games and seven of the last eight.
- 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. Still, it hasn't been much of a contest — the Fighting Irish lead the series, 38-9-2. The rivalry was most recently renewed in 2018, when No. 3 Notre Dame picked up a 31-21 victory over the Wildcats.
Division I Football & Basketball
Division I Basketball Only
Pro Sports Teams
All of Illinois’ professional sports teams are based in and around Chicago. While a pro team in state is not a requirement to have a betting market for a sport, it certainly helps momentum. Here's what that looks like in IL:
NFL Betting in Illinois (Football)
As home to The Bears, Illinois is a strong state for football. The Bears compete in the NFL as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) North Division. The Bears have won nine NFL Championships and have recorded plenty of victories having origins in Illinois dating back to 1920. The Bears a play at Soldier Field (east of Near South Side).
Recommended Resource: How to Bet on Football Guide
NBA & WNBA Betting in Illinois (Basketball)
With a legacy talent like Michael Jordan, it's no suprise that Chicago has been called the "basketball capital of the word" in the past. Illinois has two pro teams - The Bulls, calling the United Center in Near West Side home, and The Sky. The Sky plays at Wintrust Arena in Near South Side.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Basketball Guide
MLB Betting in Illinois (Baseball)
Illinois has two professional baseball teams--the Cubs and the Sox. The Cubs are a member club of MLB's National League Central Division, calling historic Wrigleyville and Wrigley Field in the North Side home. The White Sox are a member club of MLB's American League Central Division, playing home games at Guaranteed Rate Field in the South Side.
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. We expect to see this reflect in be tting action on baseball in years to come.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet on Baseball Guide
NHL Betting in Illinois (Hockey)
The Blackhawks are Chicago's home hockey team. They compete in the NHL as a member of the Central Division of the Western Confrence--with an original founding in 1926. The Blackhawks play at United Center in Near West Side, shared with the Bulls.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Hockey Guide
MLS Betting in Illinois (Soccer)
'The Fire' is close to the heart of Chicago--the franchise is named after the Great Chicago Fire, and generates revenue for the state Fire Academies and departments. The Fire play at Soldier Field (east of Nea r South Side).
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Soccer Guide
Why do these teams and locations matter? The IGB may issue operating licenses to limited state sports facilities, as long as the venues have a 17,000+ seat capacity. This means Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, The United Center, and Guaranteed Rate Field, and venues outside the city will be eligible as sports betting venues in their own right--if they can manage the steep $10 million upfront licensing fee following an application. We hope to see it!
2020 has been a little different for every state, but Illinois normally plays host to a number of other sporting events throughout the year, including…
- The John Deer Classic (Golf). The John Deere Classic is an annual PGA event hosted in Silvis, Illinois at TPC Deere Run, a Midwest golf destination. The event is 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.
- BMW Championship (Golf). 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--meaning 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 August 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 IL 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.