It was only a matter of time before sports-mad Illinois was brought into the sports betting fold – and it didn’t take long for America’s largest operators to flood the state.
Illinoisans were treated to a bevy of attractive mobile options in Year 1, and responded by pumping more than $7 billion into the state’s sportsbooks in 2021 alone.
It seems so long ago that only one mobile sports betting company operated in the Illinois wagering space. That distinction belonged to BetRivers, which went live in June 2020 – just as the entire North American sports world was shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It didn’t take long for the rest of the heavy hitters to get involved once sports picked up again, and Illinoisans now have a wonderful array of options from which to choose. Here’s our list of the top sportsbooks to consider in the Land of Lincoln.
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Caesars is proving to be one of the most aggressively expanding brands in sports betting. Unfortunately, like all major U.S. sportsbooks, they are quick to limit you if you go on a tear and their odds boost promos offer low maximum bet limits.
BetMGM is one of the top-rated sportsbooks in the U.S. offering some of the best live betting odds in the industry. They’re also the largest iGaming operator across the U.S.
FanDuel reigns supreme right now as the No. 1 betting site in America. And it has largely earned that spot on the strength of superior brand recognition, an easy-to-use product, an overwhelming number of markets for North America’s most popular sports, and representation in every state in which it is permitted to offer legal sports betting.
DraftKings had a solid reputation as the leading DFS provider in the country, so the shift to legal sports betting felt natural. They offer one of the most voluminous collections of ongoing promos and odds boosts in the industry as they cater to the beginner crowd. However, their reputation has dwindled as outspoken CEO Jason Robins leads the charge of the anti-profitable bettor mentality that runs rampant amongst sportsbooks that are quick to limit winning players.
bet365 is one of the largest and most popular sportsbooks globally. With a well-received mobile app, popular same-game parlays, and a wide variety of sports leagues to bet on it’s no wonder 80 million sports bettors worldwide continue to use bet365.
Online since: 2015
PointsBet’s innovative nature shows that they don’t want to just be another book you place typical bets. Unfortunately, they are quick to limit bettors on a hot streak and limit the number of promos you’re able to take advantage of, making it necessary for you to shop at other books regularly.
With a large variety of ongoing promos and contests featuring Barstool personalities, Barstool Sportsbook is a solid option available for casual bettors.
While this book won’t wow you with its design, you won’t find many apps easier to navigate – or with the sheer volume of sports markets Betway offers. And although you'll find more generous signup offers elsewhere, Betway remains a strong global sports betting brand that deserves to be mentioned among the second-tier sportsbook options in the U.S.
Sports betting experts all say the same thing: If you have the means, you should scoop every available sign-up offer and deposit bonus provided by sportsbook operators. And while some are obviously better than others, Illinois residents and visitors alike have no shortage of tantalizing welcome offers at their disposal. Here are the best of the bunch:
PointsBet offers new players a $100 risk-free bet on each of their first five days as an account holder. Their deal is of the "if you don't use it, you lose it" type, so to get the most out of this, you must be super active in your first week as a player. Make sure to use promo code 5X100RC to claim.
Caesars Sportsbook is now offering its "Go Full Caesar this Football Season" welcome bonus for new users. For prospective bettors, your first bet is on Caesars up to $1,250. If the bet loses, you get 100% of your stake back as a bet credit
Note that $10 is the minimum wager amount accepted to qualify for this offer. All credits will be added to a user's account within 7 days. The bet credit is for one-time use within 14 days and cannot be divided across multiple wagers.
New users will also receive 1000 Caesars Rewards Tier Credits and 1000 Caesars Reward Credits®, win or lose. Tier Credits contribute to your Tier Status, which gives you more benefits and faster service.
Tier Statuses are as follows:
Gold: 0 – 4,999 Tier CreditsPlatinum: 5,000 – 14,999 Tier CreditsDiamond: 15,000 – 24,999 Tier CreditsDiamond Plus: 25,000 – 74,999 Tier CreditsDiamond Elite: 75,000+ Tier CreditsSeven Stars®: 150,000+ Tier Credits (exclusive invitation only)
Sports bettors can earn 1 Tier Credit for every $5 of potential profit on sports bets placed *Up to 10 times the original amount staked* Users can redeem these points when playing, dining, shopping, or staying at Caesars resorts and casinos.
FanDuel is rolling out a lucrative welcome bonus for new users to take advantage of.
Upon registering, new users will receive $150 in bonus bets regardless of whether their bet wins or loses when they deposit and wager $5 on any live sporting market. All users will receive their bonus bets within 72 hours after placing the initial wager.
It is important to note that only bets placed on the FanDuel app are eligible for this promotion. Mobile browser and desktop users will be prompted to download the app to claim the offer when visiting the FanDuel website.
BetMGM offers new customers up to $1,000 back in bonus bets when you sign up for an account.
For this bonus bet, you only get money back if your first bet loses, and they match your first bet up to $1,000. There are no minimum or maximum odds restrictions on your first bet, which is nice since sign-up promos usually feature those.
Barstool Sportsbook has an average sign-up bonus offering a $1,000 risk-free bet for new users. They word it differently by calling it a “2-for-1,” but Illinois residents know better: it’s a standard welcome bonus.
With the risk-free bet, you only get money back if your first bet loses, and they match your first bet up to $1,000. While that’s commendable insurance, it rewards you with nothing if your first bet hits. For that reason, deposit matches are generally slightly more appealing.
At DraftKings Illinois, you will receive a $50 free bet with a minimum deposit of $5. If you don’t have the bankroll to make a more extensive first deposit, this is a humble offer. Still, this is far from generous, considering that DK is a multi-billion dollar industry giant.
The more significant offer DraftKings features is a 20% first deposit match up to $1,000. In this case, you must deposit $5,000 to be eligible to receive the maximum possible bonus amount of $1,000. This is not a reasonable offer for the casual bettor.
BetRivers offers a deposit match up to $250, which is nice as it gives you free money to play with instead of risk-free bets that only award you if your first bet is graded a loser.
The deposit match at BetRivers IL isn’t automatically given to you either. You have to opt in to activate it. To do that, go to the Cashier / Deposit menu and make your first deposit. Enter the code SPORTS within the promo field. Your bonus funds will be applied to your account within 48 hours, and you’ll receive an email once the funds are ready to be activated.
(Note: Terms and conditions apply to all offers and bonuses.)
|🚀 Launch Date||March 5, 2021|
|💰 # of Betting Sites||Seven|
|📱 Online Sports Betting||✅ Yes|
|🎰 Retail Sports Betting||✅ Yes|
|🖥️ Online Casino||❌ No|
|🃏 Retail Casino||✅ Yes|
|🏈 College Sports Betting||✅ Yes|
|🌎 2022 Population (est.)||12.8 million|
|💵 2021 Betting Handle||$7.02 billion|
|💸 Tax Rate||15 percent|
Some say that variety is the spice of life – and if that’s the case, then PointsBet is the Carolina Reaper of sportsbooks. With hundreds of betting options for a single marquee game, you won’t find a larger menu of wagering opportunities than you will with PointsBet. Its industry innovation is also something to be admired.
Check out our PointsBet sportsbook review.
It might have taken until early March 2022 for the world’s most famous lion face to enter Illinois, but residents will find that it was well worth the wait. By offering players $10 in free bets every Monday following action of $50 or more the prior week, BetMGM is near the top of the list when it comes to meaningful player perks.
Check out our BetMGM sportsbook review.
Caesars is about to have a significant footprint in both the mobile and brick-and-mortar sports betting picture in Illinois – and that’s great news for residents. Between its better-than-average first bet insurance and its massive offering of odds boosts, first-timers should strongly consider Caesars as their book of choice.
Check out our Caesars sportsbook review.
FanDuel is by no means perfect; its odds are merely ordinary compared to the competition, and it has a habit of throttling max bet limits on promos and boosts. But having one of the best interfaces in the industry and offering more free plays than other operators sure does make up for those blemishes.
Check out our FanDuel sportsbook review.
Dave Portnoy and Co. have made themselves at home in Illinois, and if you’re a fan of the brand, the chances are good that you’ll like the sportsbook. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find an operator that offers below-average odds and has had major issues with its live betting functionality.
Check out our Barstool sportsbook review.
There isn’t much separating the top six sportsbooks on this list (sorry, BetRivers). So why is DraftKings Sportsbook at the bottom of the tier? Similar issues to FanDuel (low limits on promos, underwhelming odds) combined with some of the least helpful customer service in the state, that’s why.
Check out our DraftKings sportsbook review.
BetRivers might have been first into the Illinois online sports betting space, but it lags behind the competition when it comes to the overall user experience. A meager deposit bonus is one thing – but also having one of the worst, most cluttered interfaces in all of online gaming is a much bigger problem.
Check out our BetRivers sportsbook review.
Consult our top list above for the best sports betting options available to you in Illinois. Our interactive list allows you to sort sportsbooks based on a number of criteria, including banking options, bonuses and quality of customer service.
If you’re looking for more information before making your choice, be sure to check out our detailed, unbiased reviews for each of the top sportsbooks in Illinois. This is especially important if you want to understand how each book’s bonus offers work.
Registration requirements vary slightly by sportsbook, but most follow the same protocols. Be sure to have your personal information (name, address, phone number) and credit card details (number, expiry date, CVV) handy.
Once you’re comfortable with how your sportsbook’s new signup bonus works, it’s time to make your initial deposit and claim that sweet bonus. The majority of first-time offers for Illinoisans come in one of two forms:
Congratulations! You’re ready to place a wager. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the app interface before diving in. Most mobile operators make it easy for new sports bettors to navigate, but it’s still a good idea to know where everything is.
From there, you can place any type of wager you like; the most popular bet types are the moneyline, spread or total. You can also dive into team or player props, or even kick things off with a futures bet.
Once you have the desired wager(s) in your betting card, take one last look to ensure you’ve made the selections you want. If everything is good, simply click the “Bet” button – and you’re off!
Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition? At least one Illinois casino owner, who fought to keep two of online gaming’s biggest forces out of the state as a response to their practices in the daily fantasy industry (you probably know who we’re talking about.)
Here’s more on that incident, along with the rest of Illinois’ legal sports betting history:
Mere months after the Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – opening the door for legal, regulated sports betting in the U.S. – Illinois looked to get in on the action. State lawmakers brought five separate bills to the table, though none of them made it to a vote.
Here’s where things get interesting.
Real estate and casino billionaire Neil Bluhm, owner of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, backed a proposal that would prevent DraftKings and FanDuel from operating sportsbooks in the state for three years. The proposal was created in retaliation for the rivals running their daily fantasy empires in Illinois despite state Attorney General Lisa Madigan advising that DFS should have been considered illegal under state law.
DraftKings and FanDuel fired back with a 30-second TV spot that, without naming Bluhm directly, accused him of using “political muscle to box out the competition so (he) can profit.” The spot was promptly pulled by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, just one day after it went live.
The Bluhm-backed punishment ultimately fell on deaf ears – but before that, some good news for everyone! Pritzker pushed legal sports betting through via Bill SB 690 in June 2019. One important caveat as part of the legislation: Bettors would need to register in person at the casino of the sportsbook they were interested in joining.
Rivers Des Plaines and Argosy Casino Alton kicked off Illinois’ retail sportsbook journey, but the trip was a short one: Casinos were shut down across the state not long after due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Pritzker eliminated the register-in-person provision in May as BetRivers and other online sportsbooks prepared for launch.
BetRivers went live in June, but didn’t get much of a head-start; DraftKings came on board in early August and FanDuel was next, entering the Illinois market at the end of the month. Both operators launched much earlier than they would have under the Bluhm-supported three-year wait proposal (later negotiated down to 18 months).
PointsBet Sportsbook snuck in just under the wire, going live in time for the opening Sunday of the NFL season. And with four books in place, Illinois bettors flocked to the apps, culminating in a $491 million handle in December – the highest in state history.
The good times continued to roll in the Prairie State in 2021. Barstool Sportsbook got in on the action in March, one month before Gov. Pritzker reinstated the requirement for players to register in-person. And while that didn’t sit well with most bettors, it didn’t stop them from putting up five straight months of $500+ million in handle to open 2021.
And more good news was on the way thanks to the approval of an ordinance that would allow Chicago’s professional sports teams to open sportsbooks in their stadiums and arenas. Later in the year, Pritzker lifted a ban on in-state betting on college sports, though anyone wishing to place a pre-game wager on Illinois-based teams could only do so in person.
Football season was once again very kind to the sportsbooks and the state, with the final three months of the 2021 calendar producing more than $2.4 billion in handle (led by a then-record $840.1 million in October).
Thanks to a ruling by the Illinois General Assembly late in 2021, players were no longer required to register in person as of March 5. That, combined with the usual interest in March Madness, produced a record handle of $971 million for the month.
Big construction plans also punctuated the early part of 2022. FanDuel, who had partnered with the Bulls and Blackhawks, announced its intention to build a massive sportsbook lounge in the United Center, while Bally’s won the bidding rights to a $1.7-billion casino project in Chicago.
There will also be some new operators in the Illinois online space in the near future. Circa’s partnership with Full House Resorts includes a plan for both online and retail sportsbooks; a temporary retail facility should be open in the fall. And Mexico-based Caliente Interactive was successful in its bid to secure an online-only license (which comes with a $20-million price tag); it should launch by early fall.
Like most states, Illinois’ state gaming authority has put safeguards in place to ensure that bettors have a way out of any potential trouble spots.
Thanks to a policy created by the Illinois Gaming Board in 2002, bettors have the option of self-exclusion via the Statewide Casino Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program or the Problem Gambling Registry, both of which are available at any Illinois casino.
Visit the Illinois Gaming Board site.
It will come as no surprise to see a rather extensive list of major professional and amateur sports available to Illinois bettors – a list that includes (but is not limited to):
That doesn’t leave much off the table, but there are two major markets in which wagering in Illinois is prohibited:
Also worth noting: as of Dec. 21, 2021, Illinois residents are permitted to wager on in-state collegiate matchups – but bets on Illinois-based teams can only be done in-person at a retail betting location.
Illinois sports fans are some of the most passionate you’ll find in the U.S. And that’s not lost on the biggest sportsbooks in the industry, several of whom have fashioned deals with Chicago’s most iconic sports franchises. Here’s a look at the betting landscape surrounding the state’s five biggest pro sports attractions:
It likely surprised no one to see the Bears partner with Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive, operator of BetRivers and Rivers Casino, in June 2021. The bigger news is that the Bears, after being denied by the Chicago Park District to install a sportsbook at Soldier Field, are now looking to build a new stadium in Arlington Heights – one that should comfortably accommodate a massive sportsbook lounge.
It’s one thing for a sports betting operator to plan for a sportsbook in an existing sports arena. It’s something else altogether for that operator to build a 13,000-square-foot state-of-the-art sports betting lounge, which is exactly what FanDuel Sportsbook is in the process of doing at the United Center. Completion is scheduled for August.
A bigger space means a bigger sportsbook lounge – and DraftKings Sportsbook is taking that to heart. It’s in the midst of building a 22,350-square-foot sportsbook at iconic Wrigley Field, a project that was originally announced in 2020 but was shelved due to the pandemic. The sportsbook will likely be completed by the end of 2022.
The White Sox weren’t about to let their North Side rivals have all the fun. They partnered with Caesars Sportsbook in early May, paving the way for the legendary sportsbook to become the official sports betting and casino partner of the MLB team. No retail sportsbook at Guaranteed Rate Field has been announced, but it might only be a matter of time given what other operators are doing in Chicago.
Let’s talk more about the United Center sportsbook, shall we? The two-storey behemoth is expected to feature all the bells and whistles you’d expect, including the newest sports betting technology, terrific sightlines to the on-ice action and a massive commercial kitchen that is expected to provide service for multiple bars and eateries.
Several of the largest online sportsbook operators in the state have also made their mark in Illinois’ retail locations. Barstool and PointsBet are both linked to three retail sportsbooks apiece, while Caesars will join that club shortly with the addition of sportsbooks at Harrah’s Joliet and Harrah’s Metropolis.
Argosy Casino Alton (The Sportsbook (Barstool), 1 Piasa St., Alton, IL, 62002)
Casino Queen (DraftKings at Casino Queen, 200 S Front St., East St. Louis, IL, 62201)
Crestwood Off Track Betting (PointsBet Sportsbook, 13148 Rivercrest Dr., Crestwood, IL, 60445)
FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing (Fairmount Park) (FanDuel Sportsbook, 9301 Collinsville Rd., Collinsville, IL, 62234)
Grand Victoria Casino (Caesars Sportsbook, 250 S Grove Ave., Elgin, IL, 60210)
Hawthorne Race Course (PointsBet Sportsbook, 3501 S Laramie Ave, Stickney, IL, 60804)
Hollywood Casino Aurora (The Sportsbook (Barstool), 1 W. New York St. Bridge, Aurora, IL 60506)
Hollywood Casino Joliet (Joliet Sportsbook (Barstool), 777 Hollywood Blvd, Joliet, IL, 60436)
Par-A-Dice Casino (FanDuel Par-A-Dice Sportsbook, 21 Blackjack Blvd., East Peoria, IL, 61611)
Prospect Heights Off Track Betting (PointsBet Sportsbook, 1250 S. River Rd., Prospect Heights, IL, 60080)
Rivers Casino (BetRivers Sportsbook, 3000 S River Rd, Des Plaines, IL, 60018)
Illinois’ online sports betting revenue took a while to grow to expected rates – but there’s a very good reason for that. With the first retail sportsbook launching in March 2020 and BetRivers christening the online space in June 2020, handle was quickly reduced to a trickle as the entire sports world felt the devastating impact of the pandemic.
The return of professional sports coincided with the introduction of four more online sportsbooks – and that culminated in a massive boost to the sports betting bottom line. The 2020 NFL season helped Illinois bring in nearly $1.9 billion in 2020, and that number grew a whopping 267 percent the following year.
Here’s a look at Illinois’ monthly sports betting handle dating back to 2020.
In addition to very nearly breaking the $1 billion barrier in March 2022 thanks to a March Madness betting frenzy, Illinois became just the fourth state to reach $10 billion in sports betting handle in the post-PASPA world, joining New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Sports betting in Illinois is taxed at a rate of 15 percent of gross gaming revenue.
Yes! Mobile sports wagering officially began in Illinois in June 2020, while the first bets at a retail location were made three months prior.
You can create an account, deposit, make bets and withdraw using any regulated mobile sports betting app in Illinois, as long as you are within state borders. Be sure to complete all of your transactions before you leave, however; once you’re outside the state, you will no longer be able to access your account(s).
You certainly can! Any regulated mobile sports betting app should work in whatever Illinois-based sports venue you’re in at that time.
Check out our list of the top-rated Illinois sportsbooks listed above!
You’re permitted to wager on any Illinois-based professional sports team. Collegiate teams are a little trickier: You can make a pre-game wager on an Illinois-based college, but you can only do it in person at one of the state’s retail sportsbook locations.
With a population of approximately 12.5 million people (2022 estimate), Illinois is the sixth-most populous state in the nation and ranks third among states that have enacted sports betting legislation, behind only New York and Pennsylvania.
The Illinois Gaming Board has jurisdiction over sports betting in the state. You’ll find plenty of information on the IGB website, including directions for self-exclusion, laws and regulations, and mobile sports wagering reports.
Not anymore. As of March 2022, Illinois sports bettors are no longer required to register in person at the sportsbook they’d like to join. They can now sign up online, as is standard practice across the rest of the legislated states.
Yes – and it’s going to happen soon, with two more books (Caliente Interactive, Circa Sports) expected to begin operations later in 2022. Sports bettors should expect to see other familiar sports betting companies knocking on Illinois’ door in short order.