Guide to Online Gambling and Regualtions in Illinois

It's an exciting time for Illinois residents who enjoy gambling. Illinois has legalized almost all forms of gambling, aside from greyhound racing, and they're considering legalizing online gaming activities.

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Online Gambling and Illinois Law

Is Online Gambling Legal in Illinois?

Illinois has a specific law that makes it illegal to operate an internet casino.

But it doesn't have any laws about playing online.

Here's the law that prohibits anyone from operating an internet casino according to the Illinois Compiled Statutes:

"(a) A person commits gambling when 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."

Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Illinois?

It's unlikely that you'll get arrested for gambling online in Illinois. Although it's possible to be arrested for gambling online in Illinois, we haven't found any residents who have been charged with a crime.

Law enforcement in Illinois is more focused on residents who are operating online gambling sites.

Is Illinois Going to Legalize Online Gaming?

It's possible that online gaming is going to be legalized in 2017 in Illinois.

As of June 2017, a bill to legalize and regulate both online gaming and daily fantasy sports has been passed by the Illinois state senate.

The bill allows both casino products and online poker.

Only state licensed casinos or horse racing operators will be eligible for an online license. A business that seeks a license and is successful will be required to pay a $10 million deposit for tax obligations.

If the bill continues it will create the Internet Gaming Act. An internet gaming division will open as a division of the Illinois gaming board also.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Illinois?

Daily fantasy sports are not legal in Illinois yet.

Read the information above for more information on a bill that's currently being considered in Illinois.

How Do I Choose A Good Online Gaming Site?

If you're looking for Illinois gambling sites where you can play for real money, you'll be dealing with offshore sites. Keep in mind that the state of Illinois considers these sites' activities illegal.

But there's no reason you can't have a safe and pleasant experience gambling at some of these casinos.

  • Read reviews and complaints - Reading reviews and complaints is the easiest way to find a good online gaming site. Do an internet search for the name of the site you're considering and for words such as reviews and complaints. Search the reviews for badly rated ones to learn about problems members have had with the site, like not getting paid.

    Look for results written by past members on forums or review sites. Keep in mind, though, that forums or review sites could have been paid to write a review and might not give you a good idea of the actual site from a member's view.

    We offer detailed reviews with coverage of both the pros and cons of each of the Illinois gambling sites. Those are the kinds of reviews that you should look for.

  • Customer Service - Talk to the customer service team at the site you're considering. You can instant chat, email, or call them. The question you ask them doesn't have to be a complicated one; it can even be one like where to locate the deposit options.

    The point of contacting them isn't to answer a question. It's to get a feel for how quickly they respond to people and how professional they are. You don't want to give your money to a company that has poor customer service because, if you have a problem it will be a hassle to get it resolved.

  • Games Offered - Check out the variety of games a site offers. Some sites have a wide range of different games and promotions to go along with them. Other sites focus on one game such as Texas hold'em and sometimes offer either better or more promotions that relate to that game.

    Here's an example:

    If you're only interested in playing live dealer blackjack via webcam, you shouldn't sign up at a site that offers nothing but video poker and slot machines.

  • Deposit and Payment - Considering the deposit and payment information on a site is an important step to picking a good one.

    Make sure the site you're considering has deposit and withdrawal options which you're both familiar with and comfortable using.

    Payment information which you might find useful includes fees, processing times, and when you can withdraw your funds.

Are Offshore Gambling Sites Safe?

Offshore gambling sites are safe as long as you do your research before signing up for one.

Some important points you should research before signing up for an offshore gambling site are what licensing the site has and how long the site has been in business.

The information you can find on a site will vary based on how long a site has been in business. If a site has been in business for a long time, the reviews and information on the site are easier to come by. A site that's been in business for a decent amount of time also has to have some loyal customers that are happy with the site, which is a thumbs up when looking for an online gambling site.

Look into the site's licensing to find out what regulations they have to follow.

Some areas have strict requirements when licensing a gaming site and others basically hand them out to anyone with enough money. Learning what requirements a state has to meet before getting a license gives you an idea on how safe the site is.

Some sites also have a restriction on who they can offer their gaming services too. Make sure the site you're considering can legally offer online gaming to your state. If they don't, they might not allow you to sign up for the site. Or even worse: you do sign up, deposit money, and then can't withdraw any winnings so you're just out whatever you deposited.

More Gambling Laws in Illinois

  • Casino Games (Legal)
  • Sports and Race Betting (Legal)
  • Lottery (Legal)
  • Bingo (Charitable Games Only)
  • Social Gambling (Illegal)

Casino games: Legal

Originally riverboat casinos that were sailing were the only legal type of casino in Illinois, but in the present day riverboat casinos that are docked are legal.

Casinos in Illinois are authorized to have a variety of games including craps, roulette, blackjack, poker, and slot machines.

Here's some information on casino gambling in Illinois from the Illinois Gaming Board:

"The Riverboat Gambling Act was enacted in February 1990, making Illinois the second state in the nation to legalize riverboat gambling. In September 1991, the first riverboat casino began operation in Alton. Currently, there are ten casinos operating throughout the State of Illinois.

The Video Gaming Act was enacted in July 2009, authorizing the placement of up to five Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) in licensed Retail Establishments, Truck Stops, Veteran and Fraternal Establishments. The VGTs are all connected to and monitored by a Central Communications System."

Check out a list of approved games according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

Sports and race betting: Legal

Horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing is legal in Illinois.

According to the Illinois Compiled Statutes:

"Participants in any of the following activities shall not be convicted of gambling:

Offers of prizes, award or compensation to the actual contestants in any bona fide contest for the determination of skill, speed, strength or endurance or to the owners of animals or vehicles entered in such contest.

Pari-mutuel betting as authorized by the law of this State."

Greyhound racing is outlawed in Illinois.

Lottery: Legal

Illinois has a state regulated lottery. They offer a variety of games, subscriptions, and an option to play online.

Here's some information about the Illinois Lottery according to their website:

"The Illinois Lottery began July 1, 1974 amid great excitement across the state. During its first years, it sold "passive" games via weekly drawings. First year sales topped $129 million. Sales faltered in subsequent years, after the novelty of the Lottery wore off, prompting some to call for an end to the Lottery.

Lottery profits initially went to the State's General Revenue Fund, until legislation was passed in 1985 earmarking profits for the Common School Fund, which is still the Lottery's major benefactor. 2006 saw the first "specialty instant games" launched; these games benefit a particular cause like Illinois Veterans, the fight against breast cancer, MS research, and assistance for people living with HIV-Aids. In 2010, the Lottery began contributing to the Capitol Projects Fund, which helps build and renovate state roads and bridges.

It has a current operating budget of about $30 million a year and employs 152 people, including 80 employees who take their direction from the Lottery's private manager, Northstar Lottery Group. With Northstar's assistance, the Lottery launched an internet sales pilot project for Lotto and Mega Millions on March 25, 2012, when it became the first US lottery to sell tickets on the internet."

Illinois Lottery games include jackpot games, daily games, daily drawings, and instant games.

Bingo: Charitable Games Only

Charitable games for nonprofit organizations are legal in Illinois.

According to the Charitable Games Act in Illinois:

"The General Assembly finds that: (1) not-for-profit charitable organizations provide important and necessary services to the people of the State of Illinois with respect to educational and social services; and (2) there is a need to provide methods of fund raising to such not-for-profit organizations so as to enable them to meet their stated charitable and social purposes."

Qualified organizations to host charitable games defined by the Charitable Games Act is the following:

"a charitable, religious, fraternal, veterans, labor or educational organization or institution organized and conducted on a not-for-profit basis with no personal profit inuring to anyone as a result of the operation and which is exempt from federal income taxation"

Here's how the Charitable Games Act in Illinois defines charitable games:

"Charitable games" means the 14 games of chance involving cards, dice, wheels, random selection of numbers, and gambling tickets which may be conducted at charitable games events listed as follows: roulette, blackjack, poker, pull tabs, craps, bang, beat the dealer, big six, gin rummy, five card stud poker, chuck-a-luck, keno, hold-em poker, and merchandise wheel."

Other charitable games include raffles, bingo, pull tab, and jar games. Each game has a different set of regulations determined by the Charitable Gaming laws in Illinois.

Social gambling: Illegal

According to the Illinois Compiled Statutes:

"A person commits gambling when he or she:

  • (1) knowingly plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value, unless excepted in subsection (b) of this Section;
  • (2) knowingly makes a wager upon the result of any game, contest, or any political nomination, appointment or election;
  • (3) knowingly operates, keeps, owns, uses, purchases, exhibits, rents, sells, bargains for the sale or lease of, manufactures or distributes any gambling device;"

Based on the above law, social gambling is illegal.

But it doesn't seem that law enforcement is interested in stopping small stake games played at resident's homes.

Gambling Venues in Illinois

1 - Argosy Casino Alton

1 Piasa St

Alton, IL 62002

Phone number: (800) 711-4263

2 - Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino

21 Blackjack Blvd

East Peoria, IL 61611

Phone number: (309) 699-7711

3 - Jumer's Casino & Hotel

777 Jumer Dr

Rock Island, IL 61201

Phone number: (800) 477-7747

4 - Hollywood Casino Aurora

1 W New York St

Aurora, IL 60506

Phone number: (630) 801-1234

5 - Harrah's Metropolis

100 E Front St

Metropolis, IL 62960

Phone number: (618) 524-2628

6 - Harrah's Joliet

151 N Joliet St

Joliet, IL 60432

Phone number: (815) 740-7800

7 - Hollywood Casino & Hotel Joliet

777 Hollywood Blvd

Joliet, IL 60436

Phone number: (888) 436-7737

8 - Casino Queen

200 S Front St

East St Louis, IL 62201

Phone number: (800) 777-0777

9 - Grand Victoria Casino Elgin

250 S Grove Ave

Elgin, IL 60120

Phone number: (847) 468-7000

10 - Rivers Casino

3000 S River Rd

Des Plaines, IL 60018

Phone number: (847) 795-0777

Additional Resources

The Future & Your Views

The future of Illinois gambling looks bright.

Illinois has already legalized casinos, charitable gaming, pari-mutuel wagering, and has a state lottery.

Illinois gambling sites and daily fantasy sports competitions look like they're coming in the near future. If the state legalizes online gambling, Illinois residents will find both poker and other casino products available.

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