After months of uncertainty regarding the future of legal Illinois online sports betting, the picture is finally coming into focus. Online sports betting is live in Illinois.
The Best Illinois Online Sports Betting Apps
There are five sportsbook apps live in the state. Here are our favorite as of January 16, 2021:
- DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook– $500 risk-free bet
- William Hill– $300 risk-free bet
- FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook– $1,000 risk-free bet
- BetRivers– $250 deposit match
- PointsBet– $250 deposit match
In an increasingly crowded market, we did a deep dive and analyzed all of the sports betting apps available in Illinois to come up with what we think is the best. There is no shortage of options, including products from DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, BetRivers, and PointsBet.
While others are expected to go live in the coming months, there are currently five primary options.
1. DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook
DraftKings built its brand during the daily fantasy surge of the early 2010s and has taken things to the next level in the infancy of U.S. legal online sports betting.
Its sleek app design along with first-rate daily odds boosts, betting specials, and signup bonus make it the best sports betting app in Illinois.
DraftKings Sportsbook Illinois, formally branded as DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook, went live on August 5, 2020. Bettors do not currently have to make the trek out to DraftKings at Casino Queen, which is located in East St. Louis. They can sign up and receive all of the current bonuses by registering right here.
2. William Hill
William Hill Illinois, which is partnered the Grand Victoria Casino, is already a significant part of the Illinois online sports betting landscape.
William Hill, which launched in IL last month, is one of the world’s most recognizable brands. In recent years they have completed their shift to an online-focused operator.They immediately become one of the best betting apps in Illinois.
New users get a $250 deposit match.
3. FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook
Much like DraftKings, FanDuel Sportsbook Illinois also made a name for itself in the DFS market. And much like DraftKings, FanDuel was thought to be on the outside looking in at the Illinois sports betting market. But they formed a partnership with Par-A-Dice Casino which gained them entry into the lucrative, and increasingly crowded, Illinois betting market.
FanDuel Sportsbook has experienced tremendous success in states where it operates and has become a major player in Illinois. Branded as FanDuel at Par-A-Dice Sportsbook, it offers an easy-to-use and aesthetically-pleasing app along with a $1,000 risk-free first bet, It’s not quite as robust as DraftKings, or unique as PointsBet, but FanDuel is one of the most approachable legal sportsbooks.
The BetRivers app was the first to launch in Illinois, officially going live on June 18, 2020 at 10 a.m. local time. This was an unsurprising development given BetRivers, powered by industry giant Rush Street Interactive, had long been well positioned to arrive first to the party. In fact, Rush Street’s Rivers Casino Des Plaines was the first retail location to accept a legal wager on March 9, 2020.
BetRivers, which offers new users a $250 first deposit match, has experienced success in other states where legal online betting is permitted. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Indiana are among the states where BetRivers has a considerable presence, facilitating its Illinois launch.
BetRivers isn’t the flashiest product, nor does it consistently feature the promos and creative betting specials offered by rivals, but it’s a solid product with a wide range of betting markets.
You may not know about PointsBet yet, but you soon will. PointsBet, which first entered the New Jersey market as a relative unknown but quickly found success, will join the Illinois market through a partnership with Hawthorne Race Course in Cecero.
The company has carved out a solid following thanks to some good press and outstanding marketing. Bad beat refunds, crazy odds boosts, and other can’t-miss promos are backed by a quality app experience.
However, perhaps the most distinguishing feature of PointsBet, which offers a $250 deposit match, is Pointsbetting. This feature allows bettors to risk/win more based on the degree to which a certain wager wins or loses.
6. Barstool Sportsbook
There is no doubt that Barstool Sportsbook will be a major factor in Illinois. Owned by Penn National Gaming, which operates multiple casino properties in the state, Barstool Sportsbook figures to parlay its substantially popular and influencing brand into a massive online sportsbook following.
Unlike other current sportsbooks, we don’t yet know much about how Barstool Sportsbook will look, operate, and feel, but it’s a good bet that it will heavily utilize Barstool’s talent to create a fresh and innovative experience.
Illinois Sports Betting Update (October 19, 2020)
Online registration for Illinois sportsbooks got another extension from Governor Pritzker, who on October 19, 2020 extended an emergency declaration which has temporarily (at least for now) lifted the state’s in-person registration requirement, which was scheduled to run through late 2021 or early 2022.
This means users can continue to register and bet online in Illinois. If declaration is allowed to lapse, as it did in July, new users would again have to go to physical casinos to complete the “know your customer” registration process.
Governor Pritzker’s emergency declaration earlier this year temporarily lifted an 18-month in-person sportsbook registration requirement.
It went back into effect on July 31, meaning users once again had to show up at a casino to complete registration for their mobile betting app.
But on August 21, Pritzker again lifted the in-person caveat, at least for the time being. This means bettors can again sign up for DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook ,BetRivers , and FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook, PointsBet and William Hill in Illinois from the comfort of their own home or office.
Prospective bettors physically located within the state’s limits are permitted to wager through desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
BetRivers was the first app to go live in late June, but popular brands are rapidly joining the mix.
These latest developments come months after Illinois first launched sports betting (albeit temporarily) at retail locations.
A Wild Start For Illinois Sports Betting
There’s no other way to put it–it has been a turbulent start for sports betting in Illinois. After Illinois lawmakers formally approved sports betting in 2019, physical sportsbooks began taking bets in early March just in time for the NCAA Tournament. That excitement was very short-lived as retail locations were shut down (along with sports leagues across the globe) in response to growing fears about COVID-19.
Because Illinois had not previously issued online licenses and retail locations remain closed through June, the state’s bettors had no way of placing wagers even as sports such as golf, soccer, NASCAR, and UFC returned.
Early restrictive legislation along with the coronavirus pandemic created multiple roadblocks to Illinois’ potentially flourishing online betting market, but a temporary reprieve happened in June when Governor J.B. Pritzker temporarily waived the 18-month in-person registration requirement.
However, after BetRivers temporarily benefited from the online-only window for a weeks after going live on June 18, Illinois reinstated the in-person requirement, which now means bettors can register online but must physically visit a casino sportsbook location to finalize the process.
Of course, as COVID-19 continues to present obstacles for each individual state, it remains possible another temporary lifting of the requirement could at some point going into effect.
In late June, the IGB announced casinos will reopen July 1, which paves the way for the state’s seven approved retail sportsbooks to soon begin taking bets. The seven casinos that were granted master licenses by the IGB in June 2020 are:
- Grand Victoria (Elgin)
- Hollywood Casinos (Aurora)
- Hollywood Casino (Joliet)
- Par-A-Dice (East Peoria)
- Casino Queen (East St. Louis)
- Rivers Casino (Des Plaines)
- Argosy Casino (Alton)
Currently, only Rivers Casino and DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook have the green light to conduct online operations but more competition is expected to soon be on the way.
Illinois Online Sports Betting Launch
Legal online sports betting launched in Illinois on June 18, 2020, but things are just getting started. Unlike other states that have gone live with multiple online sportsbook offerings, BetRivers is currently the state’s lone online option. At least for now.
Rush Street Interactive, owners of a Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, was officially granted a master license on June 11 and formally began online operations seven days later.
That’s because Illinois law includes a provision that prohibits online-only operators from launching. In other words, only the state’s retail entities may be granted online betting licenses in an 18-month window that began in June 2020.
Initial legislation required restrictive in-person registration, but Governor J.B. Pritzker suspended the requirement by signing Executive Order 2020-41 in early June with the state’s casinos remaining closed.
As casinos reopened in July, Pritzker reinstated the in-person requirement. While doing so stunts registrations, and, in turn, severely limits potential tax revenues for a state in desperate need of cash in the midst of economic hardship, this is where things stand. It’s particularly a tough blow for DraftKings, which needs people to visit its Casino Queen location in East St. Louis – Chicago is located approximately 4.5 hours from East St. Louis, so that’s a roadblock to launch.
As for what’s next, sportsbooks such FanDuel Sportsbook, PointsBet, and William Hill, each of which hope to carve out a considerable stake in the burgeoning Illinois online betting market, look well positioned to launch operations in the coming weeks just in time for the widespread return of sports.
Also keep an eye on Barstool Sportsbook which could begin taking bets before the close of 2020.
Big Opportunity For Online Betting
Although the in-person registration for online sports is now back in place, Illinois online sports betting can still succeed in the short-term, though it won’t realize its full potential until mobile signup is a full-go.
Leagues such as Major League Baseball, NBA, NHL, MLS, and the NFL forge ahead with their current and future season plans, and if there’s no further disruptions, the market should flourish.
Keeping Out DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook in Illinois
Notably missing from the arrival of Illinois online sports betting was big-time players such as DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. The two industry giants have been wildly successful in other states that offer legal online sports betting, dominating in markets like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Colorado.
The decision to leave online-only operators out in the cold was considered by many industry experts as a retaliation measure for conducting DFS operations in the state. Former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan previously interpreted such gaming as illegal, and thus Illinois online sports legislation (formally named SB 690) was crafted to put companies like DraftKings and FanDuel at a disadvantage by giving the state’s retail casino operators a head start.
SB 690 includes language that prohibits online-only operators like FanDuel and DraftKings from conducting operations for an 18-month window that began when the first master licenses were issued on June 11.
However,DraftKings made a deal with Casino Queen to spur an unexpected launch. FanDuel Sportsbook found an entry point through a recent partnership with Par-A-Dice Casino, allowing it to launch in the state before football season. Without an alternative market access point, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel wouldn’t have gone live in Illinois until December 11, 2021. So much for that.
Why was the head start dynamic ever a thing to begin with, you ask?
Giving retail operators a head start online will help grow and maintain a loyal customer base moving forward. Ultimately, this hypothesis may prove to be true, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which insanely popular brands such as DraftKings and FanDuel don’t make up significant ground immediately.
Best Illinois Sports Betting Promos
Aside from BetRivers, we don’t yet know what exactly legal Illinois online sportsbooks will offer in terms of new user sign up bonuses. Still, we can look at what some of the expected players offer in other states.
|William Hill Sportsbook||100% first deposit match up to $150|
|BetRivers||$250 deposit match
|FanDuel Sportsbook||$500 risk-free first bet|
|DraftKings Sportsbook||Up to $1,000 in risk-free bets|
|PointsBet||$200 sign up bonus|
How to Bet Sports Online in Illinois
A person must be at least 21 years old to bet in person or online on sports in the state of Illinois. There are two ways to bet on sports.
First, following the July 1 reopening of casinos, a person can visit one of the state’s seven locations that have been granted a master license. Be sure to check with each location to confirm that it has commenced sports betting operations.
Bettors can also wager online or through the use of a mobile app as long as they are physically located within state limits. In order to pre-register with BetRivers and get a $250 first deposit match click here.
To get things rolling with DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook and get $1,000 in free bets, click here.
Funding Online Sportsbook Accounts
When it comes to getting money into your sportsbook account, it’s a pretty simple process that remains consistent from state to state. Some of the most widely offered methods include:
- online banking
- credit or debit card
- Prepaid cards
- Pay with Cash at 7-11
- Cash at Cage
- wire transfer
In our opinion, PayPal and online banking tend to be the two easiest and efficient methods.
Getting Money Out of Sportsbook Accounts
Options for getting money of an account vary by sportsbook, but the following methods are generally available:
- online banking
- in-person cash outs
Those in Illinois are able to make straight bets, parlays, prop bets, live in-game bets, and several other types of wagers on a variety of national and international professional leagues. Major college sports (except for state-based teams) and motor racing are also available.
Betting on local state-based teams like the Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox is expected to be popular.
Illinois Sports Betting FAQ
Can I legally bet on sports in Illinois?
Yes, you can legally bet on sports in Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation in June 2019 that permits sports betting in the state of Illinois. The first legal sports wager was placed on March 9, 2020.
Where can I legally bet on sports in Illinois?
There are a few different ways to bet on sports. Following the July 1 reopening of Illinois casinos, bettors will be able to place bets at retail sportsbook locations that have been granted master licenses by the IGB. While seven licenses have been granted, it's not expected that each casino will begin offering sports betting right away. Bettors can also place bets online as long as they are located within state lines and have registered for a sports betting app.
Is online sports betting legal in Illinois?
Yes, online sports betting is legal in Illinois, meaning bettors can wager from a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. BetRivers was the first app to go live in the state on June 18, 2020, while DraftKings Sportsbook went live on August 5, 2020. Others are soon expected to follow.
What sports can I bet on in Illinois?
Bettors can wager on almost every popular sports league along with several niche sports. NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL markets are available. This means you can wager on squads such as the Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls, and Bears. Meanwhile, golf, auto racing, MMA, and boxing are also offered. Betting on college sports is permitted, but Illinois bettors cannot wager on contests involving the state's colleges, universities, or high schools. Sorry, this means no betting on teams like Northwestern or the University of Illinois.
When did sports betting go live in Illinois?
Sports betting went live in Illinois on March 9, 2020 when Blackhawks analyst Eddie Olczyk grabbed the White Sox to win the AL pennant at 16-1 odds.
What types of sports bets can I make?
All standard sports bets are available. This means you can make straight wagers, teasers, parlays, live in-game, totals, and player prop bets, among other types.
Do I have to be in Illinois to bet?
Yes, unless you are in another state where sports betting is permitted. It is required that you are either physically present at a retail sportsbook or that you use an app within the state's borders.
What are sports betting tax rates in Illinois?
These rates vary by state. In Illinois, the sports betting tax is 15%. Taxes are taken on by the sportsbook operators, not bettors, but lower rates typically create a better overall market. States with low rates (like New Jersey) allow for more competition which typically means better lines, better prices, and more competitive marketing (promos, betting specials, bonuses).
Current Illinois Casino Locations
Currently, you can find 10 licensed casinos spanning the state. There are seven casinos that have been granted master sports betting licenses.
One of the reasons that Illinois is expected to be such a big sports betting market is because of easy access for neighboring states, including Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
Get the Latest Illinois Sports Betting News
Be sure to check back often to get the latest Illinois sports betting news along with the best Illinois sportsbook promos and bonuses.