Three active thoroughbred racing venues, a plethora of off-track betting options, and numerous places to bet online make Illinois a very horse racing friendly state. The laws on the books are clear cut, and the Illinois Racing Board makes information easily accessible via its online portal.
Illinois racetracks are home to a number of signature events on the summer racing calendar. That includes the International Festival of Racing, which features several Grade 1 Stakes races and is held annually in early August.
If you can’t make it to the track on any given day, you can also visit any of the major racing betting sites that accept online and mobile wagers in Illinois. All are licensed, legal and headquartered right here in the USA.
Legal Horse Racing Betting Sites in Illinois:
Online Racing Betting in Illinois
In many states, gaining clarity on the legality of betting can be more than a little challenging. The laws on the books are generally chock full of confusing jargon, and those looking for quick answers need to do a fair amount of research for clear answers.
That is not the case in Illinois. The Illinois Racing Board (IRB) maintains an informative and regularly updated website. Right at the top of the main page, visitors will find a clear answer on the state’s stance on advance deposit wagering.
Advance deposit wagering (ADW) is now available in Illinois pursuant to Section 26(g) of the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975. You must be a resident of Illinois and be at least 18 years old to open an account.
In addition, visitors to the site will also find a clear list of currently licensed operators. It’s a further testament to the state providing a welcoming environment for horse racing betting. While there are plenty of other states that are supportive of the industry, Illinois goes above and beyond when it comes to keeping residents informed.
Licensed Illinois Racetracks
There are three venues for live thoroughbred racing in Illinois, one of which also features harness racing. Two of the locations are located in the northern part of the state, while the other makes its home towards the southern end.
2200 W Euclid Avenue
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
This historic venue is located in the suburbs of Chicago and first opened its doors in 1927. The racing calendar runs from late May through the end of September and features a number of graded stakes races. There’s a Trackside OTB location right on site, as well as a number of different dining options for guests to enjoy.
9301 Collinsville Road
Collinsville, IL 62234
Fairmount is located outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area and first opened for business in 1925. In addition to a live racing schedule which begins in April and runs through the fall, simulcast racing is offered on site every day. The park also has several special non-racing events throughout the year, as well as several places to dine.
3501 South Laramie
Stickney/Cicero, IL 60804
Visitors to Hawthorne can enjoy thoroughbred racing from the fall through April. The venue stays busy through the warmer months as well with a harness racing calendar which runs from May through September. Simulcasting is also offered on site, as are a number of different promotional events which are held throughout the year.
Racing is also featured at a number of state and county fair events in Illinois. A clear listing of venues and dates can be found on the website of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Off-Track Betting in Illinois
There are numerous OTB facilities located throughout Illinois, each of which are affiliated with the state’s three horse racing venues. The Illinois Racing Board website keeps a current list of OTB locations in operation and their track affiliations.
315 Belle Street
Alton, IL 62002
Location includes a full-service restaurant and bar.
85 Executive Drive
Aurora, IL 60504
Located in an entertainment venue that also has attractions including volleyball and a beer garden.
Trackside at Joe’s Bar
940 W. Weed Street
Chicago, IL 60642
Sports bar atmosphere with a menu featuring sandwiches and pizza.
11203 S. Corliss
Chicago, IL 60628
One of Hawthorne’s OTB facilities located in the heart of the Windy City.
13148 Rivercrest Dr.
Crestwood, IL 60445
Another location in the Hawthorne family that is open seven days a week. Club Hawthorne Crestwood launched an on-site PointsBet Sportsbook in January 2021 to give the facility a major facelift and full range of sports betting options. Guests will now find improved seating, a large video wall, self-serve betting terminals and dozens of HD TVs.
2240 Bloomingdale Road
Glendale Heights, IL 60139
Bar and grill atmosphere with billiard tables and live entertainment.
13860 Rockland Road
Green Oaks, IL 60048
Full restaurant and bar that also features video poker and slot machines.
Trackside at Salerno’s
9301 63rd Street
Hodgkins, IL 60525
A popular regional pizza place that features an ongoing handicapping contest.
2559 Pratum Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60192
Full dining room and lounge as well as an outdoor patio and bar.
2450 Jefferson Street
Joliet, IL 60435
Nestled behind a Walmart in Joliet is another of Hawthorne’s OTB locations.
621 Ridgeview Drive
McHenry, IL 60050
In addition to food and drinks, this spot also has live entertainment on select nights.
19031 Old LaGrange Road
Mokena, IL 60448
A vast beer menu, full dining and entertainment make this a go-to spot.
1304 Cross Creek Drive
Normal, IL 61761
Sports bar atmosphere for another of Hawthorne’s venues.
1033 Kilbery Street
North Aurora, IL 60542
Featuring a seasonal dining menu and rotating list of happy hour specials.
17W648 22nd St
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
This OTB facility boasts more than 200 TVs for viewing and a full bar.
Trackside at Sam’s Triple Crown
9201 159th St
Orland Hills, IL 60487
Full bar and food menu, alsu dubbed as an ‘official’ Chicago Blackhawks bar.
110 W. Etna Road
Ottawa, IL 61350
Sports bar atmosphere featuring a varied dining menu.
3225 N. Dries Lane
Peoria, IL 61604
Located at the Landmark Recreation Center, which also includes a movie theater and bowling alley.
1250 South River Road
Prospect Heights, IL 60070
Daily specials and a full menu make this a popular spot to enjoy the races.
4007 East State Street
Rockford, IL 61108
Bowling alley with a bar and grill on site.
1766 Wabash Avenue
Springfield, IL 62704
Bar offering OTB under the Fairmount umbrella.
105 East North Avenue
Villa Park, IL 60181
Full bar and dining menu with HDTVs located throughout the venue.
630 S. Green Bay Road
Waukegan, IL 60085
Featuring a full-service bar and concession type fare.
Illinois Horse Racing Betting Laws
Betting on horse racing is legal in Illinois, both in person and online. A full readout of the rules and regulations can be found online.
The Illinois Racing Board serves as the regulatory body over horse racing and, among other duties, is in charge of enforcing the Illinois Horse Racing Act:
“All races shall be conducted only under the Rules and Regulations of the Illinois Racing Board.”
Per the racing board’s website, the entity has varied responsibilities which are all ultimately geared towards promoting the integrity of racing events.
It is the Board’s responsibility to ensure the honesty and integrity of all pari-mutuel horse races conducted in Illinois. All racing participants including jockeys, harness drivers, trainers, grooms, owners, outriders, pony persons, feed vendors, concessionaires, veterinarians, exercise persons, blacksmiths, agents and others whose work is conducted at Illinois racetracks must be licensed by the Board each year. The licensing process involves a complete criminal background check, a review of the applicant’s prior racing record and financial history, an assessment of the applicant’s character and fitness, and a determination of the applicant’s competency to perform the duties for which the license is sought. Once issued, a license may be suspended or revoked by the Board.
Major Horse Racing Events in Illinois
- Arlington Million Stakes: A Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-olds and up on a one and a quarter mile track.
- Beverly D Stakes: This is a qualifier for the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf which is held annually at Arlington.
- Secretariat Stakes: Grade 1 one-mile stakes race held at Arlington for three-year-olds and up.
- Hawthorne Derby: This graded stakes turf race has been held annually since 1965.
- Hawthorne Gold Cup: A Grade II stakes race held each fall with a purse of $500,000.
- Illinois Derby: A Grade II stakes race which traces its roots back to 1923.