Illinois remains one of the hotspots for gambling in the United States. This is apparent with the number of gambling establishments in the state. Unsurprisingly, casinos generate a significant portion of Illinois’ revenue. For instance, 2022 saw a 12.3% rise in revenue generated from gambling compared to the previous year.
Illinois’ most populous city, Chicago, has also benefited from different forms of gambling. Today, the city houses nine land-based casinos. However, regardless of the broad appreciation for these establishments, iGaming is yet to see the same level of acceptance. Hence, we examine the possible iGaming options for gambling enthusiasts in Chicago, Illinois.
The state of Illinois has always been prevalent in gambling. Its popularity can be attributed to the legislation of the first casinos in 1991. Today, Illinois has 25 casinos and pari-mutuel facilities across all 21 cities around the state. However, all these establishments follow strict gambling regulations. For instance, land-based casinos are only allowed on the water. Each operator must also close for at least two hours every 24 hours.
These regulations get a lot stricter regarding iGaming. Online casinos remain banned in Illinois, regardless of attempts to legalize them. Most of these attempts continue to be frustrated by land-based operators. This stems from fears that online operators will adversely impact their customer base.
However, not all forms of online wagering are banned in Illinois. As we wait for the legalization of online casinos, gambling enthusiasts are exposed to other iGaming options. As of now, residents of the Prairie State can engage in online sports betting, horse racing, online lotteries, and video game terminals.
As we said earlier, there are four significant iGaming options in Chicago where gambling enthusiasts can win real money.
Sports betting has witnessed wide popularity in Chicago following its legalization in June 2019. Now, in-state bettors can conveniently choose from a wide range of top-quality sportsbook applications and bet on sports events. Illinois’ new sports betting laws permit statewide online sports betting in different gambling institutions. These include casinos, racetracks, off-track betting parlors, and locations of professional sports events.
Aside from the conventional wagering institutions listed above, some of the top sportsbooks have also gone live in Chicago. Some of the most popular sites include Barstool sportsbook, BetMGM sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, Caesars sportsbook, and BetRivers sportsbook. On March 9, 2020, BetRivers became Illinois’s first operator to handle a sports wager.
Aside from enjoying horse racing as a spectator, betting on the outcome has also become very popular. Thankfully, Chicago is home to thoroughbred, quarter-horse, and harness racing. Across Illinois, BUSR remains the best site to bet on horses. The site offers new members as much as $1,000 in bonuses.
Furthermore, the state also offers several legal online racebooks for betting on horse racing. Residents can place bets on sites like TVG, Club Hawthorne, NYRA Bets, TwinSpires, and XpressBet. The Illinois Racing Board regulates horse racing through a comprehensive list of rules. Here are some of the rules:
- Wagering on horse racing is only legal when done with a racebook licensed by the Illinois Racing Board.
- The minimum age requirement is 18 years.
- The minimum horse bet in Chicago and other Illinois cities is $2. However, some exotic wagers can also be placed for $1.
Another widely accessible option for gambling enthusiasts in the Prairie State is the Illinois Lottery. The state features several online sales options for players to purchase a ticket. However, the only requirement is that players must be at least 18 years old. The Illinois lottery offers multi-state games such as Mega Millions and Powerball, as well as draw-style and instant win games.
Lotteries have been around in Illinois for a long time. However, online lotteries were introduced into the state in March 2012, following the Federal Wire Act of 2011. The Illinois lottery also has a mobile application where players can check the results of their tickets.
Video gaming terminals, sometimes called video lottery terminals (VLT), are a type of electronic gambling machine. These machines are operated mainly by a region’s lottery, in this case, Illinois. VGTs in Chicago are placed at licensed establishments such as restaurants, hotels, and bars.
The Illinois Gaming Board regulates VGTs across the state and makes rules that operators and players must follow. In 2019, VGT laws were amended through the Illinois Sports Wagering Act. The amendment affected VGTs across the state by;
- Increasing the number of maximum wagers
- Increasing the number of terminals licensees may have on their premises
- Adding provisions that restrict licenses in malls
- Adding provisions concerning licensed large truck stop establishments.
- Increasing the terminal tax.
Players in Chicago also have an alternative option to playing casino games called sweepstakes casinos. These sites are legal across every state in the United States. And in Chicago, one of the most popular sweepstake casinos is the Chumba online casino. Wagering on sweepstake casinos is not viewed as gambling. This is because they are heavily regulated to solve the issue of problem gambling.
That said, players can engage in various casino games, including blackjack, poker, slots, and roulette. Some games also offer the opportunity to win real money. Additionally, some social casino sites such as Global Poker, LuckyLand Slots, and Funzpoints also offer entertaining games.
Residents of Chicago are exposed to various iGaming options, from sports to horse betting. However, online casinos make up the most significant portion of iGaming. Hence, there would continue to be unrelenting pressure for its legalization. For now, there is no specific timeframe for when this might happen. But, with other thriving iGaming options, online casino legalization could be closer than we think.
Various attempts have been made to change the current status of iGaming throughout Illinois. And if successful, it would regulate all forms of iGaming, including online casinos. The most recent effort is the Internet Gambling Act, but the bill remains halted. That notwithstanding, players can continue to enjoy other iGaming options and remain optimistic casino games will be available online soon.