Is Sports Betting Legal in Illinois?

Wrigleyville is home to the most unique seat in all of baseball. And you're not even in the ballpark.

The rooftops of residential buildings have offered a spot to view Chicago Cubs' baseball games since 1914. Some locations include a pool, spa, grilling station, state-of-the-art fitness center and even an outdoor dog park. Visitors pay hundreds of dollars at these famous places to enjoy America's pastime.

But can you wager on the game on the north side of Chicago in the state of Illinois?

Online betting? Yes, like Bovada. Live betting? No, not yet.

Betting Laws in Illinois

Almost 13 million people live in Illinois — the fifth-most populated state in the country. Springfield is the state capital, while Chicago is its largest city with 2.7 million residents. Nicknamed the "Prairie State," Illinois is also a Great Lakes state.

Gambling, whether it's horse racing at Arlington Park or the slots at Hollywood Casino in Joliet, is regulated through a combination of federal and state laws.

While Illinois gambling laws allow betting on horse racing and riverboat casinos, most other types of gambling are prohibited in the state.

Residents of Illinois that are 21 are able to play in live and online casinos, online sportsbooks and live poker rooms.

All legalized gambling within Illinois is limited to the following areas:

  • Casino gambling, except tribal
  • Poker
  • Horse racing
  • Lottery
  • Daily fantasy betting
  • Charitable gambling
  • Online gambling

Illinois casinos

There are five casinos in Illinois near Chicago, two casinos towards the center of the state and three casinos in southern Illinois. They offer slot machines, table games and live poker rooms.

Out of all casinos in Illinois, you will find Hollywood Casino Joliet to be the biggest. It has 1,177 gaming machines and 20 table games. It's about an hour southwest of Chicago.

In 1990, the state became the second jurisdiction in the nation to legalize riverboat gambling. They can only be located on a riverboat that floats in a body of water, and gamblers can only stay for the duration of a "cruise" that usually lasts two hours.

Horse racing

Pari-mutuel wagering was legalized in Illinois in 1927. Today, there are a few horse racing tracks — like Arlington Park for thoroughbreds and Hawthorne Race Course for both thoroughbreds and standardbreds.

Most of Illinois racing centers around Chicago with many off-track-betting locations in the surrounding metropolitan area.


Illinois has some unique distinctions in the world of gambling, including becoming the first state to allow the sale of lottery tickets on the Internet.

Millions in revenues have already been raised with both the state and inter-state games since the first draw was made in 1974.

The Illinois Lottery is also one of 44 lottery jurisdictions that participate in Mega Millions and Powerball.

Illinois Sports Betting Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 struck down a federal law banning state-authorized sports gambling. The ruling cleared the way for Illinois and other states to legalize it, which supporters say would transform an underground industry into one that could produce tax money for the cash-strapped state.

Efforts to expand betting options in Illinois have failed repeatedly over the years, as existing casinos lobby against increased competition, anti-gambling advocates warn of addiction woes and competing interests wrestle for a piece of the pie. The sports-betting issue continues to be bogged down with lawmakers.

Online gambling is legal in Illinois on sites like Bovada, TopBet and BetOnline. Online horse racing was recently made legal in Illinois and is regulated by the state lottery. Illinois online horse racing may only be played within the boundaries of the state and players must be 21 and able to verify their age.

See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:



Major Sports Teams in Illinois

Chicago Cubs (MLB)

The Cubs finally ended the most agonizing drought in sports history when they won the World Series for the first time in 108 years in 2016. The Cubs, first known as the White Stockings, were a founding member of the NL in 1876, becoming the Chicago Cubs in 1903.

Chicago White Sox (MLB)

One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the franchise was established as a major league baseball club in 1901. The White Sox have won three World Series titles — the most recent in 2005. They play their home games on the city's South Side.

Chicago Bears (NFL)

The Bears have won nine NFL championships, including one Super Bowl (1985), and hold the NFL record for the most enshrinees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the most retired jersey numbers. The Bears have also recorded more victories than any other NFL franchise.

Chicago Bulls (NBA)

The Bulls saw their greatest success during the 1990s when Michael Jordan and Co. were responsible for popularizing the NBA worldwide. They are known for having one of the NBA's greatest dynasties, winning six NBA championships between 1991 and 1998 with two three-peats.

Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)

One of the Original Six teams, the Blackhawks have won six Stanley Cup championships since their founding in 1926. They have also won the NHL championship three times within six seasons (2009-10, 2012-13, 2014-15). Since 1994, the club's home rink is the United Center, which they share with the NBA’s Bulls.

Useful Links

Illinois senate approves online gambling, daily fantasy sports bill