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After a century of betting through the underground and other offshore betting sites, bettors across Illinois now have an option on wagering on games of chance and sports betting. In the late 1920s and early 30s, Al Capone was in charge of the biggest gambling ring in Chicago.

Illinois was also the first state to legislate a state lottery in 1974, and due to the venture, profits from selling lottery tickets began to grow. Just in 2015, the sales of these lottery tickets had a combined total of $2.85 billion. A portion of the money would go to the winners, while another portion went towards funding public schools totaling $679 million.

In 1990, the Riverboat Gambling Act was enacted, which paved the way for the state to open its first riverboat casino in Alton in the year1991. The rule was riverboat casinos were required to move along the waterways when gambling took place.

The law was amended in 1999 when riverboats were permitted to stay docked. Horse racing has also been legal in the Prairie State since the 1920s. The Illinois Racing Board regulates horse racing at a few locations in the state. On the other hand, sports betting was still a long way away.

Sports Betting In Illinois Post-PASPA

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was signed in 1992 and was immediately signed into effect on January 1st, 1993. Ultimately, this would continue for over 25 years until the Supreme Court overturned PASPA.

There were a few propositions and initiatives that were introduced in an effort to legalize sports betting throughout the state. In June 2019, Governor J .B. Pritzker signed S 690 to allow retail sports betting in gaming facilities.

Additionally, Illinois is home to many iconic and great professional franchises and collegiate programs in the nation. Chicago is home to some of the most popular and iconic franchises like the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Sky, and others.

The first legal sports wager was placed on March 9, 2020, at Rivers Casino Des Plaines. Former Chicago Blackhawks announcer and former NHL player placed a $100 wager on the Chicago White Sox to win the AL pennant at +1600.

Retail Locations in Illinois

Gaming FacilitySportsbook OperatorLocation
Gaming Facility Sportsbook Operator Location 
Rivers CasinoBetRivers Des Plaines
ArgosyPenn National Alton
Grand VictoriaWilliam Hill Elgin
Casino Queen at DraftKingsDraftKingsEast St. Louis 
Hollywood AuroraPenn NationalAurora 
Hollywood JolietPenn NationalJoliet
Par-A-DiceFanDuel East Peoria
PointsBet Sportsbook At Hawthorne RacetrackPointsBetCicero/Stickney
Harrah’s JolietHarrah’s (Launch TBA)Joliet
Harrah’s MetropolisHarrah’s (Launch TBA)Metropolis
JumersDelaware North (Launch TBA)Rock Island 
Fairmount Park RacetrackTBD (Launch TBA)Collinsville 

The Chicago Joint City Council Committee also lifted the sports wagering ban in the city of Chicago. The five sporting venues in Chicago include Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, Soldier Field, The United Center, and Wintrust Arena.

Mobile sports betting became fully operational with the emergence of retail sports betting in the state on June 18th, 2020. Illinois is one of the top sports betting markets in the nation despite being bordered by neighboring states like Iowa and Indiana that also offer sports betting to its residents.

Those Who Opposed Sports Betting In Illinois

Furthermore, Sportsbook operators in Illinois are partnering with venues in Chicago to establish a retail sportsbook. Billionaire Neil Bluhm, the co-founder of Rush Street Gaming, has an ownership stake in both the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox led a group of lobbyists as he tried to convince the Chicago City Council not to lift the ban on sports betting in Chicago.

He believed that lifting the ban would negatively affect casinos and the city. Also, Bluhm pushed for building and expanding the casino gaming facilities in the city.

However, sportsbooks could attract a huge customer base that he believes would cost casinos in the state up to $61 million per year. On the other hand, Bluhm supports in-person registration for sports betting. They lifted the ban despite heavy opposition towards going so.

Taking A Look At Illinois Mobile Sports Betting Situation

The Illinois mobile sports market has been a major success in the industry, ultimately becoming a top-five market. As of this moment, bettors who want to place a wager on a mobile device must complete the online registration in person at a gaming facility. The registration requirement was temporarily halted due to the pandemic.

There is even better news for the potential new bettors and users of these mobile sportsbooks. These registration restrictions will come to an end on March 5th. Users will have no issues placing a wager on a game as long as the individuals are located within state lines. This is due to the passing of House Bill 3136 in October 2021.

Mobile sportsbook operators offer their customers a plethora of ways to place wagers on events in the state.

Illinois Bettors Options On Wagering

Bettors across the state can wager on point spreads, Moneylines, first and second half bets, game totals, futures, professional sports player props, parlays, and same-game parlays. Furthermore, placing a wager on in-state collegiate teams revolving around Division 1 programs was banned.

Placing bets on in-state collegiate teams like Northwestern, DePaul, Loyola Chicago, Illinois, and other programs were banned under the Sec. 25-25.d of the IL code. The rule behind the rule was very simple as it was believed to revolve around the integrity of the game. Additionally, collegiate athletes are more prone to match-fixing when compared to professional athletes.

Furthermore, university officials involved with the athletic department raised their concerns about allowing bets on in-state collegiate teams. These officials believed that this would negatively affect the student-athlete during the game regarding fan engagement.

Concerns For Collegiate Athletes

More reasons also involved the student-athlete facing issues with other students in the classroom and even teammates. The athletic directors strongly believe that the student-athlete will face the consequences in-game and academically in the classroom.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, who led the Illinois sports betting legislation, reiterated the fact that the changes in the law will factor in all the concerns that were brought to the floor. One of the counter-arguments was at the time, a neighboring state, Indiana, allowed its sports betting customers to be on Illinois in-state programs.

As a result, the ban was lifted to some degree. Those who want to place wagers on in-state college programs can only do so via retail.

The law still prohibits people to wager on college player prop bets that measure a player’s performance for the game. Additionally, this ban includes not allowing users to place wagers on live betting on a student athlete’s performance.

Sportsbook Licensing Challenges

Sportsbook operators have a tougher chance of getting approved licenses to operate in the state due to a somewhat high barrier of entry. Consequently, having fewer providers in the state means the people have fewer options to choose from. However, it does not mean the state will block other sportsbooks from entering.

The Illinois Gaming Board approved a Management Services Provider license to BetMGM towards the end of January.

Sportsbook operators that get the opportunity to conduct business in Illinois are subject to a 15 percent tax rate based on revenue. Licensing fees are up to $20 million for online-only operators and $10 million for land-based casinos to offer online betting.