Legal sports betting came to Illinois in two phases over the first half of 2020.
First was the launch of retail sportsbooks at casinos in March and second was the launch of mobile sportsbooks in June. All Illinois sportsbooks are required to hold licenses from the state gaming board, promote responsible gambling and ensure customers are paid promptly.
Licensed Mobile Sportsbooks in Illinois:
Remote Registration Authorized
The opening of the first Illinois sportsbooks was timed to coincide with the start of the March Madness college basketball tournament, but it ended up being an ill-timed launch as the tournament was cancelled at the last minute and casinos were ordered to close indefinitely over coronavirus concerns.
The closure of the state’s casinos put sports betting on hold, but it also prompted Governor J.B. Pritzker to issue an executive order waiving in-person registration requirements for mobile sportsbooks in Illinois.
As a result, customers are permitted to sign up for mobile betting remotely and wager on sports without having to visit a casino in-person to register.
The executive order allowing remote registration was designed to be temporary, which it was. Governor J.B. Pritzker declined to renew the order in July 2020, temporarily pausing remote registration. However, Governor Pritzker reauthorized mobile betting in August 2020. Currently, customers located in Illinois may sign up for sports betting accounts from anywhere within state lines. It is not necessary to visit a casino to sign up and bet online.
In the meantime, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) will continue reviewing licensing applications and issue approvals to other operators that plan to offer online betting.
Mobile Sportsbooks in Illinois
State law allows land-based casinos, racetracks and up to three online-only operators to launch betting sites and mobile applications for customers located within state lines.
The three online-only applications are set to become available 18 months after the start of IL sports betting. Operators who go this route do not need to partner with local casinos. Every other mobile app will be tied to a land-based licensee.
Large licensing fees and an 18-month moratorium on the entrance of mobile-first operators have not dampened enthusiasm among potential operators. Numerous sportsbook companies have applied for Management Services Provider licenses to date that allow them to offer mobile betting on behalf of a racetrack, casino or stadium:
- Crown IL Gaming LLC (DraftKings)
- Betfair Interactive US (FanDuel)
- BetMGM LLC
- Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers)
- PointsBet Illinois LLC
- American Wagering, Inc (William Hill)
- Penn Sports Interactive US (Barstool Sportsbook, operated as a partnership between Barstool Sports and Penn National Gaming)
- Unibet Illinois LLC
Bettors can view the status of any sports betting license and view a full list of approved mobile sportsbooks on this page at the IGB website.
Chicago’s Rush Street Gaming was the first to market in Illinois with the launch of a retail sportsbook at Rivers Casino Des Plaines and mobile betting under the BetRivers brand.
Desktop and mobile betting for iOS and Android devices are supported. Android users can visit the BetRivers website to download the standalone mobile app while iOS and desktop users can visit the website to bet online with no download needed. A standalone iOS app is under development.
- Visit now: il.betrivers.com
DraftKings applied for a Management Services Provider license in April 2020 and later confirmed it would be partnering with Casino Queen in East St. Louis to offer statewide mobile betting. In July 2020, the Gaming Board upgraded DraftKings’ licensing status to “temporary operating permit” and DraftKings officially launched online betting the following month.
- Visit now: sportsbook.draftkings.com
PointsBet offers statewide mobile betting in Illinois and has plans in motion to launch a total of four retail sportsbooks. In Illinois, PointsBet is partnered with Hawthorne Race Course to operate a “premium retail sportsbook” at the track, additional sportsbooks at three off-track betting locations, and online betting.
In April 2020, PointsBet submitted an application to for a Management Services Provider license in order to offer mobile betting across the state. The Illinois Gaming Board issued PointsBet a temporary operating permit in July 2020 and PointsBet.com officially launched that September.
PointsBet opened its first retail sportsbook in Illinois at Hawthorne Race Course in September 2020. Additionally, PointsBet operates or will soon operate three more retail sportsbooks in the following Chicago-area locations:
- Club Hawthorne in Crestwood (sportsbook opened in January 2021)
- Club Hawthorne in Prospect Heights (sportsbook coming soon)
- Club Hawthorne in Oakbrook Terrace (sportsbook coming soon)
- Visit now: pointsbet.com
William Hill is very active in the US market with retail sportsbooks and mobile betting in place across the US. The company is partnered with Grand Victoria Casino for mobile betting and to operate a retail sportsbook.
- Visit now: WilliamHill.com
Barstool Sportsbook operates as a partnership between Penn National Gaming and noted sports news/commentary brand Barstool Sports. In March 2021, Barstool Sportsbook official launched statewide mobile betting in Illinois.
- Visit now: BarstoolSportsbook.com
BetMGM is likely to enter the Illinois market soon despite the company’s reticence to comment on its plans. A BetMGM launch here seems likely because Illinois is an attractive market and BetMGM has been aggressive in entering new states across the country following the passage of legislation to legalize online sports betting.
- Visit now: BetMGM.com
BetAmerica will likely seek to enter the Illinois market at some point. Parent company Churchill Downs Inc has an ownership stake in two properties in the state, including Arlington International Racecourse.
The BetAmerica brand is well-known in online horse racing with a history dating back to 2008 but shifted to sports betting beginning in 2019
- Visit now: BetAmerica.com
Unibet Sportsbook is partnered with Penn National Gaming to offer mobile sports betting through Argosy Casino Alton. The sportsbook should launch sometime in 2021, although the firm has not yet announced a specific date. Unibet Sportsbook currently has a sports betting license application pending with the Illinois Gaming Board.
FanDuel Sportsbook officially commenced online betting in Illinois in August 2020. Illinois residents and visitors may now visit the FanDuel website to sign up for an account and download mobile apps for iOS or Android devices. In Illinois, FanDuel operates in partnership with Par-A-Dice Casino and is approved by the Illinois Gaming board.
theScore Bet will bring its social mobile betting app to Illinois sometime in the latter half of 2021. One of the more interesting aspects of this sportsbook is its integration into theScore’s longstanding news and media app. When customers place bets through theScore Bet, they can follow their bets and receive updates through theScore’s media app, set favorite teams, and more.
FOX Bet has not officially confirmed it will be coming to Illinois, but we believe that will change within the near future. FOX Bet has expanded rapidly since launching in 2019 and shows no signs of slowing.
Golden Nugget Illinois
Golden Nugget is coming to Illinois. In November 2020, Golden Nugget Inc announced it has a partnership in place with Danville Development to construct a land-based casino in Danville. The new casino will operate under the Golden Nugget brand and operate a mobile betting platform pending regulatory approval. Golden Nugget will also offer online gambling if Illinois legalizes online casinos in the future.
Retail Sportsbooks in Illinois
Under state law, each of Illinois’ ten land-based casinos, seven of its major stadiums and three racetracks (including their off-track betting facilities) are permitted to apply for licenses to operate on-property sportsbooks.
Only one retail sportsbook was able to get up and running prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in casinos across the country closing, but additional sportsbooks have launched since then as COVID-19 restrictions have eased.
Other casinos that have not yet detailed their plans for sports betting include:
- Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island
- Harrah’s Joliet Chicago Hotel & Casino (master sports wagering license approved)
- Harrah’s Metropolis
Sportsbooks at Stadiums
The IL sports betting law allows for up to seven licenses to be issued to sports venues with a seating capacity of at least 17,000. Sports arenas that obtain licenses will also have the option to offer mobile betting within a five-block radius.
Eight Illinois stadiums qualify to apply for one of the state’s seven stadium licenses based on seating capacity:
- Wrigley Field
- Guaranteed Rate Field
- Soldier Field
- United Center
- SeatGeek Stadium
- Chicagoland Speedway
- World Wide Technology Raceway
- AllState Arena
One stadium (Wrigley Field) has confirmed plans to build an on-premises sportsbook, but other potential candidates have yet to confirm their plans. Below is an overview of the sports venues that have shown the most interest to date.
Sports betting has been available near the Chicago area since Indiana’s first sportsbooks launched in September 2019. Two casinos with sportsbooks on the shores of Lake Michigan just over the Indiana border are an easy drive from much of Chicago.
On the Illinois side of the border, River Casino Des Plaines serves as the most centrally-located Chicago-area sportsbook. Moving outward from there are the Grand Victoria Casino and two Hollywood Casinos.
Sportsbooks on the Illinois Side of the Border
- PointsBet Sportsbook at Hawthorne Race Course
- BetRivers Sportsbook at River Casino Des Plaines
- Grand Victoria Casino
- Hollywood Casino Aurora
- Hollywood Casino Joliet
Sportsbooks on the Indiana Side (South of Chicago Proper)
- The Book at Horseshoe Hammond
- Sportsbook at Ameristar East Chicago
Mobile Betting in Chicago
Mobile betting came to Chicago in June 2020 with the launch of BetRivers IL, followed by DraftKings, FanDuel, and others. Each mobile sportsbook in Illinois is tied to a land-based casino for licensing purposes, but customers may place wagers online from anywhere in Chicago.