Illinois Gambling Laws 2023: Your Ultimate Guide to Legal Betting

Situated in the heart of America, Illinois houses a rich tapestry of gambling laws that have seen substantial evolution over the years. The state boasts a dynamic variety of gambling opportunities, ranging from land-based and online gambling platforms to lotteries and charitable games. As of 2023, Illinois stands as one of the most progressive states in terms of gambling regulations, striking a balance between consumer interest and regulatory oversight. In the forthcoming sections, we will delve deeper into the biggest Illinois gambling laws, understand the legality of various forms of gambling, and explore their implications on the state’s socio-economic fabric.

Illinois Gambling Laws

Illinois Gambling Laws – Highlights

  • 💻 Online Gambling: Yes, online gambling is legal in Illinois. The state has addressed the issue of online gambling directly. Playing on offshore sites is perfectly legal for Illinois residents. There’s a push to legalize and expand it with bill SB-0007.
  • 🎰 Land-Based Casinos: Land-based casinos are legal in Illinois, with one land casino and several riverboat casinos operating in the state. 
  • 🎲 Poker: Illinois has 14 live poker rooms, some located on commercial riverboats and others operating as charitable gambling venues. Playing on offshore sites may result in class A misdemeanor charges. 
  • 🏇 Horse Race Betting and Lottery: These have been legal since the 1920s and are available at five local racetracks and 37 licensed off-track betting venues. The minimum age for betting is 18. 
  • Sports Betting: Legal in Illinois thanks to a bill passed in mid-2019. Offshore sportsbooks are illegal. 
  • 🏟️ Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): DFS contests are considered illegal in Illinois as per the most recent opinion issued by the Illinois Attorney General in 2015.
  • 🎟️ Lotteries: The Illinois lottery was founded in 1974. Residents are free to purchase their tickets online. 
  • 🎱 Bingo: Considered a charitable game in Illinois. No state-sanctioned bingo sites are operating, and playing on offshore sites could lead to class A misdemeanor charges. 
  • 🧾 Statutes: Engaging in unlawful gambling is a class A misdemeanor. This includes playing games of chance or skill for money or other thing of value, and operating unlicensed online gambling businesses. The minimum gambling age is 18 for lottery and horse race betting and 21 for casino-style games.

The Landscape of Gambling in Illinois

Illinois presents a vibrant panorama of gambling options, characterized by its land-based venues, online platforms, lotteries, and charitable gaming. The gradual progression of these sectors mirrors the state’s evolving stance on gambling regulation.

Land-Based Gambling

Land-based gambling has been an integral part of Illinois’ legal framework since 1990, with the inception of the Riverboat Gambling Act. The state is populated with one land-based casino and several riverboat casinos, offering a wide variety of gaming options. Each venue operates under strict regulations to maintain integrity and transparency.

Online Gambling

In 2019, Illinois legalized online gambling, including daily fantasy sports and sports betting, under the Sports Wagering Act. The Act provided an avenue for bettors to engage in gambling activities remotely, fostering convenience and expanding the industry’s reach.

Lottery and Charitable Gaming

Lotteries and charitable games, such as bingo, have been legal in Illinois for quite some time. They are widely considered as tools for fundraising, socialization, and community support. Participants must be at least 18 years of age to participate in these activities.

Illinois has implemented specific gambling laws to guide and govern gambling activities within its jurisdiction. These regulations provide a framework for maintaining legality and ensuring fair play.

Gambling Laws

ActYear EnactedMain ProvisionsImplications
Riverboat Gambling Act1990Legalized riverboat gambling. Initial legislation required boats to be “navigable,” though this was later relaxed to permit dockside gambling.Opened the door for Illinois’ first casinos, establishing the state as a key player in the U.S. gambling industry.
Video Gaming Act2009Legalized the use of video gaming terminals (VGTs) in licensed establishments, such as bars and truck stops.Significantly broadened the availability of gaming options across the state, leading to an increase in gambling revenue.
Sports Wagering Act2019Legalized sports betting, both land-based and online. Imposed licensing requirements and tax structures.Marked a significant expansion of the gambling industry in Illinois, allowing both in-person and remote wagering on a variety of sports.

This table provides a comprehensive view of the main gambling laws in Illinois, along with their key provisions and overall impact on the state’s gambling scene.


The legal gambling age in Illinois varies according to the type of gambling activity. For pari-mutuel betting, bingo, and lotteries, individuals must be at least 18 years old. Conversely, for engaging in casino gambling activities, the minimum age is 21 years.

Future of Gambling in Illinois

The future of gambling in Illinois could see further legislative shifts, given the potential of bill SB-0007 and the potential expansion of land-based casinos.

Prospects for Legalizing Online Gambling

Bill SB-0007, currently under review, could potentially transform Illinois’ online gambling landscape. Sponsored by Terry Link and others, this legislation may expand online gambling provisions and increase the industry’s economic contribution.

Expansion of Land-Based Gambling

The prospect of expanding land-based casinos in Illinois is met with mixed responses. Some legislative provisions suggest this possibility, but opposition from local casino operators could present significant hurdles. The outcome of this tension could significantly impact the state’s gambling landscape.

Illinois Gaming Regulations And Statutory Requirements

Navigating the maze of Illinois gaming laws can be a complex endeavor, but a nuanced understanding is crucial for both operators and players. Below, we unpack the essential elements of Illinois gaming regulations and statutory requirements, from oversight and licensing to taxation and responsible gaming practices.

Regulatory Oversight

In Illinois, the cornerstone of gaming oversight is the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), established under the Illinois Gambling Act. Comprising five board members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, the IGB has a multi-faceted role that goes beyond mere regulation. It serves as the auditing and enforcement arm, ensuring a robust regulatory framework. Staff at the IGB carry out a host of activities including legal affairs, financial analyses, and investigative tasks to uphold the integrity of the state’s gambling industry. Board members and staff are under a strict obligation to abstain from participating in any gambling activities in Illinois casinos.


Commercial Gaming Entities

When it comes to licensing, Illinois offers a tiered structure:

  1. Existing Riverboat Casinos: Allowed to transition to land-based operations upon approval and payment of a $250,000 fee.
  2. New Casinos: Six new land-based casinos have been greenlit.
  3. Racetracks: Existing and new authorized racetracks can apply for an “organization gaming license.”

Fee Structure

  • Application Fee: $250,000, plus an additional $50,000 for background checks.
  • License Fee: $250,000 for both issuance and renewal, valid for four years.
  • Upfront Reconciliation Fee: $15 million for new casinos.
  • Gaming Position Fee: Varies between $17,500 and $30,000 per position, depending on location.

Reconciliation Payment

New and existing entities must make a reconciliation payment three years after operations begin, calculated based on the most profitable 12-month period.

Supplier License

A separate license, costing $5,000, is mandatory for suppliers dealing in gambling equipment and supplies.

Taxation & Tribal Revenue Sharing

The taxation structure in Illinois is progressive, with tax rates ranging from 15% to 45% based on the annual adjusted gross receipts (AGR). Apart from the AGR-based tax, an admissions tax is levied at $2 or $3 per person depending on the casino.

Tax Allocation

  • State Gaming Fund: Main recipient of casino taxes.
  • Local Governments: Receive between 2-5% of AGR.
  • Various Other Funds: Allocated for education, infrastructure, and problem gambling.

Responsible Gaming

Illinois places a high emphasis on responsible gaming. The Illinois Council on Problem Gambling is the chief body for this cause, primarily funded through grants and donations. There is a self-exclusion program managed by the Illinois Gaming Board, allowing individuals to voluntarily exclude themselves from all Illinois casinos for a minimum of five years.

Other Regulations

  • Anti-Money Laundering: Compliance with federal laws is obligatory.
  • Credit Offerings: Permitted under approved internal systems.
  • Equipment Testing: Mandatory use of accredited independent testing labs.

Sports Betting

A broad range of operators including sports arenas, casinos, and racetracks are authorized to offer sports betting, subject to obtaining a master sports wagering license from the IGB.

Fee Structure

  • Initial Application: Ranges from $5 million to $20 million, depending on the entity.
  • Renewal: Every four years at a cost of $1 million.


  • Wagers cannot be placed on events involving Illinois collegiate teams or players in high school or younger.

By closely adhering to these regulatory frameworks and statutory requirements, Illinois aims to establish a transparent, accountable, and responsible gaming environment.

Illinois Gaming Board

Illinois Gambling Laws

The Illinois Gaming Board is the governing body responsible for regulating and enforcing gambling laws in Illinois. Established under the Riverboat Gambling Act of 1990, the board oversees all gaming activities within the state, including land-based and riverboat casinos, video gaming, and the burgeoning online gambling sector.

The board is entrusted with ensuring that all gambling operations are conducted with integrity, fairness, and transparency. Its responsibilities include issuing licenses, monitoring compliance with the state’s gaming laws, investigating illegal gambling activities, and imposing penalties for violations. The Board also plays a pivotal role in safeguarding consumer interests and promoting responsible gambling.


Illinois gambling laws have shaped a robust and dynamic gambling environment in the state, balancing consumer demand, economic benefits, and regulatory oversight. The biggest Illinois gambling laws continue to evolve, reflecting changing societal attitudes and technological advancements. As the state stands on the precipice of potentially significant changes, stakeholders in the Illinois gambling scene look towards a future filled with both opportunities and challenges.



Yes, the Illinois Gaming Board oversees and regulates all gambling activities in Illinois, including casinos, riverboat gambling, sports betting, and lottery.

The legal gambling age in Illinois is 18 for pari-mutuel betting, bingo, and lotteries, and 21 for casino-style games.

Online gambling, including daily fantasy sports and sports betting, is legal in Illinois. Bill SB-0007 could potentially further expand online gambling provisions in the future.

Revenue from the Illinois Lottery contributes to public education, infrastructure, and other essential state services, making it a key component of the state's socio-economic development.

Illinois sportsbooks are regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board, which imposes licensing requirements, tax structures, and ensures adherence to rules and fair practices.