Illinois officially legalized sports betting in 2019, but the industry didn’t launch until March 9, 2020. The Illinois Gaming Board has been put in charge of regulating the new sports betting industry, and it took that group several months to get things in order for a launch.
Retail sports betting was the first to launch in Illinois, and it did so just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning in the United States. That kept the state from getting off to a fast start, but Illinois is now one of the biggest markets in the US.
Illinois is a sports betting market that still has plenty of room to grow as well, and it could become one of the top three biggest markets in the US by the end of 2021.
Online Sportsbooks in Illinois
Online sports betting has made up nearly 100 percent of the bets placed in the last few months as retail locations remain shut down. BetRivers was the first online sportsbook to launch in Illinois, with DraftKings and FanDuel following just a month later.
PointsBet and William Hill launched in August and September respectively, becoming the fourth and fifth online betting options. Those were the only options until March 2020 when Barstool Sportsbook launched.
There are still some online betting licenses available in Illinois, and new sportsbooks are expected to launch in the coming months.
- Barstool Sportsbook
- William Hill
Retail Sports Betting Locations
Retail sports betting has not yet really taken off in the state of Illinois, but the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in that. Most of these properties below have either been completely shut down or operating under strict restrictions for months.
Here is where retail sports betting is currently available, with other options coming soon.
- DraftKings at Casino Queen
- Fairmount Park Racetrack
- Grand Victoria
- Hawthorne Race Course
- Hollywood Casino Joliet
- Par-A-Dice Casino
- Rivers Casino Sportsbook
Teams That Drive Sports Betting
All of the major professional sports teams in Illinois call the Windy City home, but there are fans littered throughout the state. St. Louis has some teams that are popular in Illinois as well, but the biggest teams that will drive sports betting hail from Chicago.
The National Football League is the most popular sport in the United States, and the Chicago Bears are the most popular team in Illinois. Even though the Bears haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1985, the city still lives and dies by the results each Sunday.
The Michael Jordan-era Bulls are no longer playing in the United Center, but the Bulls are still a popular team in the state. The NBA has done a nice job of promoting legalized sports betting, and that has helped increase betting on the Bulls and other teams in the league.
Not only are the Chicago Cubs the most popular baseball team in Illinois, but they are one of the most popular in the United States. Baseball was a popular betting market in Illinois when sports betting launched, in large part thanks to the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox call the Southside their home, but this team is popular throughout the state as well. While the Cubs dominated the last few years, it appears that the White Sox will have a turn now.
The White Sox have a young nucleus of talent that should draw massive crowds and plenty of betting action in the coming years.
The Chicago Blackhawks were one of the best hockey teams in the NHL during the previous decade, and that allowed them to build up a massive following in the city and throughout the state. Getting a ticket to a Blackhawks game is nearly impossible, and IL sportsbooks use the Blackhawks to drive hockey betting.
Chicago Fire FC
Soccer is one of the most popular sports to bet on worldwide, and Major League Soccer is starting to become more popular in the United States. The Chicago Fire FC have built up a large following in the state, and they are a team that is promoted by sportsbooks when they are in season.
College football and college basketball are huge betting markets in the state of Illinois, but sportsbooks are not allowed to offer any action on in-state collegiate teams. There has been a recent push to change the rules, but nothing appears imminent at this time.