Sports betting has arrived in Chicago and all of Illinois, and not a moment too soon! In 2019, agreements were made to allow for IL online sports betting, provided that users register in-person. That restriction has changed, and now bettors will be able to register for mobile Illinois sports betting right from their devices! BetRivers announced that they are the first sportsbook to go live in Illinois, launching on June 18.
Illinois Sports Betting: A Recent History
Governor JB Pritzker signed the Illinois Sports Wagering Act (ISWA) into law in mid-2019, making provisions for legalized IL sports betting starting in 2020. One clause to these expanded gambling provisions was the “bad actor” clause, essentially barring online-only platforms from operating in Illinois for 18 months after the ISWA became law.
A Caveat to the “Bad Actor” Clause
Though Gov. Pritzker suspended the requirement for in-person sports betting registration, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) still needs to issue so-called “Master Gaming Licenses” before online betting can take place. Many operators have already taken the first step in applying for licensure, referred to as the “management services provider” license; only two operators have qualified for a temporary permit to operate, detailed below.
It’s likely that there will be movement on this issue before the end of 2020, and we’ll see Illinois online sports betting go completely mobile with no in-person registration required. However, online-only platforms previously designated as “bad actors” will still have difficulty getting through the IGB-- more on that later.
Sportsbooks in the IL Sports Betting Market
There are plenty of options for in-person betting in the Prairie State, and some of these casinos are aligned with well-known national brands. Once these operators meet the IGB requirements for a license, we’ll see them offer online betting with fully mobile registration options.
Here’s a list of operators that will likely be offering Illinois sports betting online:
Rivers Casino, located near O'Hare Airport, became the first Illinois mobile sportsbook to go live on June 18. When Governor J.B. Pritzker accelerated the sports betting legalization timeline, Rivers Casino moved quickly to launch their BetRivers sports betting app in Illinois.
Caesars, the parent company of Harrah’s casinos, is a household name even if you’re not a gambler. Illinois sports betting operators have to partner with land-based casinos in the state. With numerous Harrah’s locations in Illinois, it’s more than likely that the Caesars online sports betting platform will come to the Prairie State.
PointsBet offers a new and innovative way to place sports wagers and has a pending application with the Illinois Gaming Board. Points betting is essentially a scaled-up version of spread betting where the number of points your team scores can directly influence your payout.
PointsBet is already licensed in several US states, so it’s likely that getting through the Illinois Gaming Board’s requirements will not be a problem for the operator.
Penn NationalHollywood Casino has a well-established footing in Illinois and has offered high-quality, high-stakes sports betting since 2003 in a partnership with Penn National. The latter, a national betting operator with locations all across the US, is a major stakeholder in Barstool Sports. Therefore, when Penn National gets the go-ahead to offer Illinois sports betting online, the website and app will likely be under the Barstool Sports brand.
Play DFS Until IL Online Sports Betting is Live!
DraftKings & FanDuel Labeled “Bad Actors”
These two hugely popular, online-only operators got a bit of a “slap on the wrist” for offering daily fantasy sports in Illinois, which were determined to be “illegal gambling” by the Illinois legislature in 2015. The legality of online sports betting (particularly daily fantasy sports or DFS) was not exactly clear before the repeal of PASPA, so both DraftKings and FanDuel attempted to continue to offer real-money daily fantasy sports competitions.
When Illinois sports betting became legal in 2019, the previously mentioned “bad actors” were given an 18 month restriction on registering any Illinois-based users through their website or app. The legislature imposed this restriction by requiring all Illinois sports betting account registrations to be done in-person, functionally banning the online-only providers from participating.
However, since Gov. Pritzker called off this restriction in spring 2020, DraftKings and FanDuel are attempting to gain IGB licensure and move forward with offering Illinois sports betting online. We’ll keep you updated on who will be allowed to offer IL online sports betting in future, so check back with us.
What’s Next For Illinois Sports Betting?
At the moment, only two Illinois sports betting platforms have received temporary operating permits: BetRivers online sportsbook and Penn National’s proposed Illinois sportsbook, which will likely be branded under the Barstool Sports trademark. While both of these operators are technically allowed to offer Illinois sports betting online right away, neither brand has gone live with their platform.
BetRivers has a well-received sports betting platform in other states and offers competitive odds, simply acquired bonus promotions, and app support across most major devices.
The experienced operator Penn National has finalized plans to acquire Barstool Sports as their main sports betting brand, and the partnership is likely to be a success in the Prairie State. The Illinois sports betting fanbase is ready and waiting, and it’s just a matter of time before users get access to a multitude of easy mobile sports betting options.
Plus, state economies get a considerable boost by allowing gambling for their citizens, as is evident with bordering states. As far as the midwest is concerned, Iowa sports betting is a fantastic revenue source for the Hawkeye state, while Indiana online sports betting is bringing in millions in tax revenue for Hoosiers.
Illinois would highly benefit from these sources of internal revenue, so it’s expected that most of the previously mentioned operators shouldn’t have too much trouble moving forward.
Expected Features of Illinois Sports Betting Sites & Apps
Taking cues from platforms that exist in other states, we can expect a few things from these experienced sports betting operators. Primarily, any modern sports betting platform worth its salt will offer apps for Android and iOS in addition to web browser support.
More competitive online sports betting platforms seem to have a few things in common. Namely, 24/7 live chat customer support and a robust offering of bet types, payment options, and promotions are hallmarks of a good sports betting choice.
Users should have easy access to information, funds, and incentives to stay with their platform of choice. Because of this, look for providers that offer e-wallet support like PayPal, a good selection of games, and a user knowledge base. Check back with us for more information on promotions and support options with Illinois sports betting platforms as soon as they go live!
IL Online Sports Betting FAQ
Take a look at the FAQ about IL online sports betting below. You might find a piece of information you are looking for.
Are sports betting sites legal in Illinois?
Yes. With the passing of the Illinois Sports Wagering Act (ISWA), sports betting became legal in Illinois in 2019. However, individual sports betting operators have to pass a stringent licensure process in order to fully qualify to go live in Illinois. As a result, no operator has yet gone live in the Prairie State, but some have already applied or secured temporary licensure from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).
What do I need to register at an online betting site in Illinois?
In order to register at any legal online gambling website (or app) in the United States, you’ll need to be 21 or older and physically located in the state specified by the website or app. Additionally, you’ll need to provide identity verification details and share your location in order to stay compliant with state and federal laws.
Why were DraftKings and FanDuel designated as “bad actors” by the ISWA?
DraftKings and FanDuel offered real-money buy-ins and prizes for “daily fantasy sports” (DFS) before the repeal of PASPA overturned the law that banned sports betting. As it was unclear whether DFS was classified as betting or a bona fide contest of skill, DraftKings and FanDuel continued to offer their service in Illinois. In 2015, the Illinois legislature decided that DFS contests did not count as contests of skill, and were therefore illegal.
When sports betting became legal on a federal level and Illinois was in the preliminary stages of writing a sports betting law, the 2015 situation with DFS providers became an issue of contention. Because of this, DraftKings and FanDuel were essentially identified as “bad actors” under the 2019 Illinois Sports Wagering Act.
To give Illinois-based sports betting providers a leg up and to delay DFS providers like DraftKings and FanDuel from entering the market, an 18-month restriction was placed on all online-only account registrations. Functionally, this made it impossible for DFS providers to sign on new users. For more about DFS and how it works, check out our Monkey Knife Fight review.
Now that Gov. Pritzker has suspended the restrictions on online account signup, what does that mean for Illinois online sports betting?
It means that all sports betting providers in Illinois now have an easier path towards registering users from their own home computers or devices without needing to set foot in a casino. DFS providers are attempting to apply for licensure with the IGB as well, so the lifted restriction may also make it easier for DraftKings and FanDuel to enter the Illinois online betting market sooner than previously thought.
Many operators have pending applications with the Illinois Gaming Board, and a few have even secured temporary licenses. Still, none of these operators have gone live. When they do, we’ll be sure to have the latest information for you. Check back regularly for the latest on new user promotions, games, and everything you need to get started betting on your favorite sports from anywhere in Illinois!
Final Thoughts on Betting in Illinois
Illinois online sports betting will be a new and interesting adventure. Gambling is already a well-established activity, especially with sports fans. Legalizing sports betting in Illinois will make sure that revenue will be kept in-state. The ‘bad actor’ clause will allow local betting providers to have a chance to compete with more nationwide sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel, who are mainly an online-only platform.