Illinois Sports Betting – Best IL Sportsbooks 2023
Sports betting was legalized in Illinois in June 2019. However, it wasn’t until March of the following year that a retail sportsbook opened its doors. Then, in June 2020, BetRivers became the first online betting site to operate legally in the Prairie State.
This is a part of the world which is known for its love of sports. With so many well-supported franchises in Chicago alone, it’s little wonder that Illinois sports betting has absolutely exploded. In fact, by June 2022, only New York and New Jersey were generating better monthly sales figures.
In this article, we’ll dig deeper into those numbers, as well as looking into every other aspect of Illinois sports betting. We’ll discuss the most popular lines and some common sportsbook bonuses, before walking you through how to get started. However, before we do any of those things, let’s first look at the best online bookmakers in IL.
Best Licensed Online Sports Betting Sites available in Illinois
The following sites have all been closely inspected by our team of leading sportsbook analysts. First of all, we make sure they’re legitimate sites that aren’t out to cheat innocent Illinoisans. But we also monitor them for good value bonuses, generous odds and a nice selection of sports betting opportunities.
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Here’s the verdict of our expert panel.
Risk-Free First Bet up to $1000
Excellent sports betting app available in Illinios
Sports and betting go hand in hand. The competitive nature of these events isn’t just felt by the players, but the fans too. It’s only natural for those with strong opinions on the game to want to put their money where their mouths are.
In this guide, whenever we talk about online sports betting, we’re not referring to Daily Fantasy Sports. That’s certainly something that is permitted in IL and you can play such games at FanDuel and DraftKings. But it’s just a different thing entirely.
Online sports betting is purely about placing wagers with a bookmaker. That might be on the outcome of the game, or one of many other markets, which we’ll discuss later in this guide.
Is Online Sports Betting Allowed in Illinois?
Sports betting is legal in Illinois and has been since 2019. Retail outlets came first, with internet sportsbooks appearing just a few months later. There are currently seven legal online betting sites in IL, with three more due to open soon.
BetRivers was the first to move, starting as early as June 18, 2020. They managed to steal a march on FanDuel and DraftKings, whose online sportsbooks did not get going until August.
The first retail bookmaker to launch was also BetRivers, which commenced operations at the Rivers Casino on March 9, 2020. This was closely followed by Barstool Sportsbook, which opened just three days later at Argosy Casino. At the time of writing, nine legal retail betting sites exist in IL.
Sports Betting Options in Illinois
Bettors in the Prairie State love to wager on all kinds of different sports and markets. Let’s take a deep dive into the most popular betting lines with punters in IL.
Betting on the moneyline is an easy way to start sports betting in Illinois. Its simplicity almost certainly explains why it’s such a common choice in the USA. You’ll see two options and all you have to do is predict which team will win.
The smaller the odds, the greater the implied probability of the team winning the game.
Because moneyline odds are unattractive when one team is a huge favorite, bookies try to keep things interesting. One way they can make things more even and bring the odds into line is with a points spread. Effectively, the underdog is given a head start.
If you back the favorite on the spread, it’s no longer enough for them to win. They must cover the handicap too.
Points totals are very popular lines, especially with sports like basketball, football and hockey. The bookmaker will set a figure that they feel is realistic on several different markets. It could be the total number of points in the game, in one period or a half. Or it might be something like the number of three-pointers shot by Steph Curry, for instance.
All you need to do is guess whether the true figure will be over or under the points line.
As the name implies, futures are long-term bets. It is a broad term which covers all kinds of markets that give true experts a chance to prove their knowledge. The odds tend to be greater due to the amount of time involved, which increases the uncertainty.
The most basic futures involve championships, such as who will win the Superbowl or which horse will win the Belmont Stakes. But there are player markets too, such as betting on Rookie of the Year or NBA MVP.
If there’s one thing a bettor loves anywhere in the world, it’s a cheap shot at a huge prize. The good people of Illinois are certainly no different, which likely explains why they like a parlay.
This type of bet combines several individual wagers into one. As a result, the odds are multiplied together, meaning that when you get lucky, you’re going to win big. Conversely, it only needs one leg to lose and your whole bet goes down.
Live betting, often referred to as “in-play” sports betting, is extremely common in Illinois. After the game begins, you’ll be presented with a whole host of new betting opportunities. It’s no longer the case that if you miss the start, your chance to bet has gone.
Thanks to the proliferation of mobile betting apps, the popularity of live betting will only continue to grow.
A teaser is a kind of parlay, but the bettor has a little more control over events. You’ll be able to adjust the points spread to be more in your favor. So if you have expert knowledge, you can exploit that to build a parlay that’s a little more likely to hit.
Because a teaser is more punter-friendly, the payouts are smaller than a standard parlay. However, the returns can still be sizable.
The Growth of Sports Betting in Illinois
Since legalization, Illinois sports betting has simply exploded. BetRivers was the first sportsbook to open on March 9, 2020 and that month, they reported a handle of $994,501. By the end of the year, five retail sites were operational. They sold a combined total of $491,720,536 worth of bets in December alone.
By July 2022, Illinois was the third biggest US state in terms of sports betting sales. Their half year sales figures were reported as an impressive $3.36 billion. Only New York ($6.26 billion) and New Jersey ($4.38 billion) were ahead of them in the table.
March 2022 was a record month for the Prairie State, with a combined handle of $971,278,389 from nine sportsbooks.
Why is Sports Betting So Popular in IL?
One of the main factors behind the popularity of sports betting in Illinois is undoubtedly the number of huge teams. But there are other factors too, as you’re about to discover.
Several historic teams. Chicago in particular is home to a number of massive sporting franchises.
Betting is great fun. Gambling brings an undeniable excitement to any sporting contest.
The promise of big wins. It’s possible to profit from your sporting knowledge, particularly through parlays.
Betting is so easy. There are lots of legal online sportsbooks in the state and accessing them couldn’t be simpler.
Generous markets and promos. We all love to feel like we’ve got a bargain, and Illinois sportsbooks certainly offer those.
1. Several historic teams
Illinois houses some absolute giants in multiple sports. The Windy City is home to the Bulls in the NBA, as well as the Chicago Sky Women’s NBA team. There are also two historic baseball franchises in the Cubs and the White Sox, formed in 1875 and 1894 respectively.
NHL has the Blackhawks, NFL has the Bears and even soccer has the Chicago Fire, who have managed to win several trophies over the years.
2. Betting is great fun
As if sports were not thrilling enough, the addition of a financial incentive offers an extra buzz. It hits even harder when a bet leaves a hole in your wallet, but the victories are much more exciting too.
Betting is also a good way to spice up an event that you would otherwise have no interest in. When there’s cold hard cash on the line, you’ll quickly find yourself rooting for one team more than the other!
3. The promise of big wins
You don’t have to be a super high roller, wagering inordinately large sums of cash, to win big. There are so many different ways to partake in sports betting today that cater to all sizes of bankroll.
Parlays are always popular, as you can turn a couple of dollars into a big win. But many of the top Illinois sports betting sites also offer competitions that give you a chance to bag further prizes.
4. Online betting is so easy
Everyone has a mobile phone these days, so it’s hard to avoid the many online sportsbooks in the Prairie State. With hundreds of different markets available in just a few swipes of your cell phone, not to mention convenient payment methods, it’s just so easy to wager.
Even betting in the office or at home is more accessible than ever. As internet speeds continue to increase and the quality of desktop computers and tablet devices improves, betting only becomes easier.
5. Generous markets and promos
The competition is fierce among Illinois sports betting brands. That’s excellent news for us bettors though, because it means they have to offer increasingly generous odds and promotions.
Whether it’s a welcome deposit bonus or a rewarding loyalty program, sportsbooks now offer all kinds of freebies and bonuses. While the odds themselves are often enhanced thanks to profit boost promotions.
Types of Bonus in Online Sports Betting
Having just mentioned the wealth of fantastic promotions available at betting sites in Illinois, it’s probably time to take a closer look.
First Time Deposit Bonus
Almost every bookmaker these days offers some sort of signup incentive to new players. Illinois sports betting sites are certainly not exempt from this trend, with many of the top brands providing a deposit match bonus.
One such example is that of BetRivers, the first legal online sportsbook in IL. They promise new customers a 100% match worth up to $250. What does that mean? New customers making their first real money deposit will receive an equal amount in bonus funds. Load your wallet with $100 and receive a total of $200!
There’s more to promotions than simply pulling in a new customer, however. The top bookmakers in the state understand the importance of loyalty. And what better way to keep a bettor coming back than with reload bonuses?
These deposit match offers are very similar to the welcome bonuses mentioned above, only they tend to be smaller. You might find a reward of something between 20% and 50% awaiting you whenever you elect to top up your account.
Some bookmakers in Illinois like to issue a free bet token from time to time. They could be handed out to new customers as part of a welcome package, or issued as a loyalty reward. But how do they work?
Well, you can place the free bet on your chosen market, within reason. Terms and conditions usually apply, so be sure to check the fine print. But any profit you make is yours to keep and if the bet loses, it’s not cost you a cent.
They might sound similar, but a risk-free wager is not the same as a free bet. With these promotions, you do actually need to place a real money bet, rather than using a free bet token. However, if the wager loses, there will be some sort of refund for you.
A risk-free bet is usually insured with a free bet of equal value. So if you wagered $50, for example, and the best lost, you’d receive a free bet token worth $50.
Another form of betting insurance is often found when placing parlays. Bookmakers know how hard it is to land these bets, so they tend to give you consolation prizes when you experience near-misses.
For instance, if you place an eight leg parlay and seven of your picks win, your bet is bust. But because you were so close to success, you might find a free bet waiting for you to soften the blow a little.
All of the best sportsbooks in IL offer generous odds anyway. But as an extra incentive to regular bettors, they tend to enhance prices to provide a little extra value.
Sometimes the bookmaker will hand pick a few daily specials to boost the odds. Other betting sites allow you to pick out your own markets for enhanced odds. Whatever the method, it adds up to more money in your pocket when you win!
If it’s good enough for airlines, department stores and casinos, why should sports bettors be left out? Place bets consistently with the top sports betting brands and you’ll receive loyalty points.
Not only will you benefit from all sorts of perks for your loyalty. But you can also trade the points for bonuses, free bets and even merchandise!
Popular Sports to Bet On
The three major sports for betting in Illinois are linked to the biggest teams in Chicago. But in truth, many different sports are popular with bettors in IL.
With two top MLB franchises, it’s not surprising that Illinoisans enjoy supporting their teams. Like most of the USA, football is a popular betting medium in IL, while basketball is also common thanks to the popularity of the Chicago Bulls.
How to Sign up for Online Sports Betting in IL
It’s really easy to get started placing sports bets in Illinois. Don’t believe us? Just follow this simple walkthrough and you’ll be up and running in no time at all!
Pick out a sportsbook from our list of recommendations and load up the homepage.
Open the registration form and fill out some basic information, including name, address and contact details.
Select your welcome bonus from the list if applicable, or enter a promo code before finalizing your registration.
Next, you’ll need to fund the betting account by heading off to the cashier and making your first deposit.
After the transaction is complete, you’re free to browse the betting markets and make your first wager!
Sports Betting Payment Methods
There are many different Illinois sports betting brands, but they share some common payment options. Whether it’s online banking, e-wallets or a classic credit card payment, there are many different ways to deposit and withdraw.
Here are the most common banking methods among Illinois sports betting fans.
Cash deposits at retail sportsbooks
Although most people are capable of treating sports betting as a recreational hobby, a small minority of bettors become addicted. If you feel concerned about a potential gambling problem, please reach out to any of the following organizations.
Illinois Council on Problem Gambling. The ICPG will put you in touch with counselors in your area if you call 217-652-9611.
Gamblers Anonymous. This organization has been assisting problem gamblers since 1957, using community support and taking therapies. Check out gamblersanonymous.org for details of their 12-step program.
National Problem Gambling Helpline. Call 1-800-522-4700 any time of day in order to speak to an expert. Visit ncpgambling.org if you need further information about the charity.
If you’re sensible with your betting, it shouldn’t ever get to the stage where you need to use the above resources. If you do feel that things are getting out of hand, most sportsbooks today have tools in place to assist. Here are some examples.
Reality Check. Set a pop-up reminder to let you know how long you’ve been gambling.
Loss Limit. Fix the amount of money you can lose in a given period of time before being blocked.
Deposit Limit. Alternatively, you can impose a cap on the amount of money you are able to deposit to your account.
Time Out. Temporarily ban yourself from the sportsbook account to take a breather and regroup.
Self Exclusion. In this case, you’ll be permanently blocked from the betting site, including attempts to open new accounts.
Is sports betting legal in Illinois?
Yes. Since March 2020 it’s been possible to bet at retail sports betting sites in the Prairie State. Further, online sportsbooks are also completely legal in Illinois.
What is the legal age to place a bet in Illinois?
Like most states in the USA, you must be 21 to place sports bets in Illinois.
Can I bet on college sports in Illinois?
Yes and no. Technically, it’s legal for retail sportsbooks to accept bets on college teams, if they request permission from the Illinois Gaming Board. However, most simply do not bother. It’s not legal for online sports betting sites to accept college bets in IL.
Is it legal to bet with offshore sportsbooks in Illinois?
According to the law, you should only place bets at sportsbooks licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board. However, in practice it’s impossible for the authorities to prevent anyone from registering at an offshore betting site and betting.
What are the best Illinois sports betting sites?
There are plenty to choose from, but you can see our opinion on this subject by scrolling to the top of the page.
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