Illinois Gambling Information

FAQ / Q&A -- History -- Regulation -- Land Based Casinos -- Fun Facts


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Regulation and legality of online gambling

Not quite. Even though Illinois is one of the most liberal states gambling-wise, legislators somehow omitted online casinos from almost every bill in the last few years. The 2019 Illinois Gambling Act is probably the most revolutionary bill that has been passed in the state’s history.

Initially passed in order to increase funding for education, this 2019 act effectively legalized sports betting. Currently, placing wagers on sports is legal at racetracks, sports venues, land-based casinos, and, of course, online.

While the expansion didn’t legalize online gambling in Illinois, many casino sites are more than willing to accept Illini players. This situation is a classic example of a legal grey area. Because online casinos are neither legal nor illegal, you can play at any offshore site you deem fit.

Additionally, many US casinos are willing to turn a blind eye to the legal greyness of online gambling in Illinois. This means that you can play all the best casino games at reputable sites. You won’t get in trouble. No laws = no punishment.

The Illinois Criminal Code addresses internet gambling as an illegal offense in Article 29 Sect. 28-1. A person is doing something illegal if he or she “[…] knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates an Internet site that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value by means of the Internet or to make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet.”

The language is primarily focused on operators and could hardly be used against online gamblers within IL.



Gambling history in Illinois

Gambling activities in the State of Illinois have an interesting background. Riverboat gambling and horse racing have been the peaks of the Illinois gambling industry, supported by a population of nearly 12.9 million. Going back to the 1800’s, we can find traces of unlicensed riverboat casinos which served shady people at the stud poker tables. Horse race betting was legalized in the 1920s, so then people were able to enjoy parlor casino ambience and the thrill at the races. Pari-mutuel betting on the horses became a huge success and evolved into a respectable gambling industry in the Prairie State.

What brought the Illinois gambling scene under the spotlight of history was the fact that it was the first state to legitimize State Lottery, in 1974. The idea was to fund local schools. Now, Illinois State Lottery ranks among the top 10 in the US in terms of revenue, and earns 60% of the profits from selling scratch-offs. Of course, it also offers interstate games like MegaMillions and Powerball. In 1975, the Illinois Horse Racing Act was signed into effect, allowing licensed tracks to offer both harness and thoroughbred racing. A decade later, simulcast wagering and off-track betting were approved. The glorious return of riverboat casinos happened in 1991, when laws were passed allowing them to offer gambling games as long as they were always moving on the rivers. Patrons would wait in long lines for hours for the boats to set sail in the evenings, until the clause regarding moving casinos were eventually repealed in 1999.

More games were allowed to be added to racetracks, and also land-based casinos, in 2011 with the Casinos Act SB744. When it comes to online wagering, Illinois has mixed feeling towards it. The state allows the selling of online lottery tickets, but explicitly outlaws offering online gambling services through online casinos within Illinois borders.


Land based casinos

As tax dollars were pouring into casinos from neighboring states like Indiana and Iowa, politicians grew tired of it and loosened Illinois regulations, allowing riverboat casinos to flourish and eventually announced the possibility of six brick and mortar casinos being built, including one in Chicago. Strangely enough, Illinois remains without tribal gaming, although there are registered tribes on the state territory. The problem is how both parties - the state government and the tribe - define reservations, because tribal casinos are only allowed to be built on Native American reservations. The Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe wanted to claim their right to offer gambling and construct a bingo hall in 2016, 70 miles west of Chicago. The US Department of the Interior didn’t allow it, as the 128 acres owned by the Prairie Band Potawatomi didn’t count as legitimate reservation land.

All in all, Illinoisans enjoy more than enough gambling options thanks to riverboat casinos. There are 10 of them; River Casino Des Plaines was the 10th to acquire a license to operate in 2012. Cook County, along with the city of Chicago, does not allow riverboat gambling so as to protect the horse racing industry in that area. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Jumer’s Casino & Hotel in Rock Island, and Casino Queen in East. St. Louis qualify as being riverboat casinos, but you can also consider them legit land-based casinos, as they are built upon shallow pits with some water in them.

All casinos in Illinois do not allow smoking and they aren’t open 24/7. The two largest facilities are Hollywood Casino Joliet and Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino. Hollywood Casino Joliet offers nearly 1,200 slot machines and 20 table games. It stretches across 50,000 square feet and includes 4 restaurants. Its opening hours are 7:30 am - 5:30 am daily. Par-A-Dice Hotel features over 1,150 slots and more than 21 table games. It is a 1,600-passenger boat docked on the Illinois River, with 4 restaurants and 195 rooms. Casino Hours: are from 8 am to 4am/6am (Fri/Sat). More interesting venues include Harrah's Metropolis and Jumer's Casino & Hotel.

Neighbouring States: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin



What’s the minimum age at which I can play at Illinois online casinos?

Since online casinos are nonexistent in a legal sense, there are no rules pertaining to the minimum age for gambling over the internet. However, that doesn’t mean you can just let your teenage cousin play slots.

While law enforcement always ignores when people gamble outside of the law, underage gambling has always been dealt with harshly. Thus, we believe the best route one can take in this situation is to not partake in any form of online gambling unless you’re 21 or older.

We used the limit imposed on sports betting and land-based casinos. Purchasing lottery tickets and wagering on horse races is available to anyone older than 18, but we still want to take the safest route.

What types of games can I find at Illini casino sites?

All of them. Yes, you read that right. Since Illinois doesn’t have any sort of legal framework pertaining to online casinos, you can try out any game you want. Both US and offshore sites are becoming more versatile with each day, so you’ll be able to find anything that interests you. Roulette, baccarat, and slots are the most popular types of games amongst Illini gamblers. Progressive jackpots have also become more popular in recent years.

Are live dealer games available at Illinois online casinos?

Certainly, as there are now laws prohibiting players from partaking in live casino games. Basically, every game is set in a studio run by the game’s software provider. Thus, you can create an account at just about any offshore casino site, and you’ll be able to have the full experience, without any strings attached.

Which payment options can I use whilst gambling online in Illinois?

Online casinos accessible to players from Illinois come in all shapes and sizes, which means that you have the freedom to pick any option you want.

Almost every site offers credit card deposits and withdrawals, with VISA and MasterCard being the most popular options. Maestro transactions are available too, but they are much rarer than the other two credit card providers we mentioned.

eWallets have become a hot commodity in recent years. Many players from Illinois have become infatuated with services such as PayPal, Skrill, and Klarna. They are considered to be much safer and significantly faster than credit cards.

There are also niche options available from time to time, such as PayNearMe and Paysafecard. Other popular methods are cryptocurrencies, virtual coins that cannot be manipulated. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are amongst the most popular solutions.

How fast do Illini online casinos pay players?

There is no definite timeframe in which all sites send out withdrawals. The actual waiting time depends on two factors - the policy of an online casino, as well as the transaction method you’re using.

For instance, some casino sites impose identity verification measures whenever you request a withdrawal. This can involve sending out a scan of your ID, utility bills, or something else. Also, online casinos can have their own pending processes, so your waiting time might be extended for a little bit.

When it comes to the actual payment options, credit cards are the slowest, by far. Banks can take anywhere from 3 to 7 business days to verify your transactions. You might also get rejected, as some banks treat online casinos as a security risk.

eWallets are the fastest solution available, with all the major brands offering instant money transfers. However, you might experience longer waiting times if you wish to transfer that money to your bank account/credit card.

Cryptocurrencies are also fast, with most transactions being finalized in no more than 30 minutes. They are also the most secure, so a small wait is definitely worth it.

Fun Facts about Illinois

  • Illinois is famous for several Abraham Lincoln historic sites. President Lincoln spent most of his life in IL and lived there at the moment he was elected. One of the state’s nicknames is Land of Lincoln. The life of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, is documented in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum located in in the state capital of Springfield (not the Springfield from The Simpsons).
  • Chicago's nickname, the Windy City, has nothing to do with how much wind there is in the city. It was given to Chicago by a New York City journalist who was describing long-winded politicians campaigning for the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893.

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