Illinois Casinos

Illinois Casinos & Gambling
  • Horseracing (1927), Lottery (1974), Bingo (1983), Casinos (1991), Video Lottery (2012)
  • $1.1 billion
  • $3.8 billion
  • 18 for racing, lottery, and bingo. 21 for casinos and video lottery
  • Illinois bans smoking in all gambling establishments
  • Horseracing is the only version of online gambling legal in Illinois.

Illinois offers a wide variety of gambling. It’s racing industrƒy was the first to enter the market, dating back to the Great Depression. The Illinois Lottery was one of the first in the Midwest. There are also several high-end Illinois casinos and video lottery.

Illinois’ economy and smoking ban have hurt its gaming revenue in recent years. The state passed a casino smoking ban in 2008, just before the Great Recession. This chopped 20% off its gambling revenue as smokers moved the action to border states where casinos permit smoking. Illinois was hit hard by the recession. This kept gaming revenue down for a longer period of time than other states. In 2015, the state stopped paying big lottery winners due to a budget impasse in the state legislature; this hurt ticket sales.

Types of Online Illinois Gambling Allowed

Horseracing iconHorseracing is one form of legal online gambling in Illinois. Bettors may make advanced deposits at sites like TVG, TwinSpires, and BetAmerica. As of now, online casino gambling is not legal in Illinois.

The Illinois Lottery sells tickets over the Internet. These include Powerball, Mega Millions, Pick 3, and Pick 4. Players may purchase subscriptions for 13, 26, or 52 weeks.

In December 2015, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that daily fantasy sports were illegal in the state. Unlike Nevada and Hawaii where sites left the market on this determination, DraftKings and FanDuel decided to challenge this decision in court. A ruling on the case is not expected until the end of 2016. DraftKings and FanDuel remain in the Illinois market pending the conclusion of the legal fight.

Types of Live Illinois Gambling

Popular games iconPopular Games
  • Slots: Yes
  • Blackjack: Yes
  • Poker: Yes
  • Craps/Roulette: Yes
  • Horses: Yes
  • Lottery: Yes

Horseracing is the oldest form of live gambling in Illinois. There are seven racetracks in Illinois. Racebooks are also legal in Illinois. This is where bettors can get off-track action on simulcast races.

The Illinois Lottery is one of the oldest in the country. Scratch-off tickets and lotto drawings are spread by the Illinois Lottery. Lottos include LuckyDay Lotto, Lotto Extra Shot, Powerball, and Mega Millions.

Illinois casinos opened on riverboats in 1991. All casino games were legal from the first day of gambling. Poker, slots, video poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, and table games that use cards are all legal in Illinois casinos. Riverboats are strategically located throughout the state. There is a poker room in all Illinois casinos.

Slots and video poker are spread in bars, restaurants, gas stations, and charitable organizations. The best video poker game returns 97.9%. This is below the standard of casinos in Illinois. There are about 4,500 video gaming establishments in Illinois. These businesses host about 18,000 machines.

Illinois gambling lawsIllinois gambling laws license and regulate numerous forms of gambling in the state. This includes pari-mutuel betting, charitable bingo, lotteries, and casino gaming. These forms of gambling are specifically exempted from state law.

It is a misdemeanor to gamble in an unlicensed establishment in Illinois as either a player or an operator. Subsequent convictions fall under a Class 4 felony.

Illinois casinos operate under the Riverboat Gambling Act, which passed in 1990. These boats were required to be on the water. They had to leave the dock for two hours for the first ten years of operation. Casinos may now be more traditional and do not have to leave the dock. This change of law occurred in 1999.

Bingo operators must be charities. A $200 per year license is required. The maximum prize per contest is $500. The maximum prize pool per day is $2,250.

Illinois makes it a gambling crime to operate a game of chance over the Internet. The only exception to this is the Illinois Lottery. The state lottery is permitted to sell lotto tickets on its website.

The minimum legal gambling age in Illinois is 21 years for casino and bar video poker patrons. Lottery and racing have a minimum gambling age of 18 years.

List of Illinois Casinos

Players may buy lottery tickets in any convenience store in the state. Video poker and slot machines are found in nearly every bar, many restaurants and gas stations, including truck stops. Hotels also spread these games. There are nearly 20,000 of these machines located throughout the state. The following table shows the current nine Illinois casinos.

Argosy Casino – Alton1,100 Slot Machines1 Piasa
Casino Queen – East St. Louis1,100 Slot Machines200 South Front
Grand Victoria Casino – Elgin1,100 Slot Machines250 S. Grove
Harrah’s Casino – Joliet1,188 Slot Machines151 N. Joliet
Harrah’s Metropolis Casino1,145 Slot Machines100 East Front Street
Hollywood Casino – Aurora1,160 Slot Machines49 W. Galena
Jumer’s Casino – Rock Island1,100 Slot Machines777 Jumer
Par-A-Dice Casino – East Peoria1,100 Slot Machines21 Blackjack
Rivers Casino – Des Plaines1,050 Slot Machines3000 S. River

Illinois Racetracks

  • Arlington Park – Arlington Heights
  • Balmoral Park – Crete
  • Duquoin State Fair – Duquoin

  • Fairmount Park – Collinsville
  • Hawthorne Race Course and Suburban Downs – Stickney
  • Maywood Park – Melrose Park

Top Illinois Casinos
  • Harrah’s Joliet
  • Harrah’s Metropolis
  • Par-A-Dice Casino
  • Casino Queen
  • Hollywood Casino
  • 9
  • 9
  • 0

History of Illinois Gambling

Illinois casinos historyHorse racing began in Illinois in the 1830s, while casino riverboats first appeared in the 1840s. The Civil War put an end to most of this unregulated gambling.

A revival of horse racing convinced the state to regulate the industry in 1927. It was the first form of explicitly legal gambling in the state. Illinois launched a state lottery in 1974. The Riverboat Casino Act created Illinois casinos in 1990. Ten licenses were approved. All must be on the water and none in Cook County, home to Chicago. This was done to protect the city’s horse racing industry.

Riverboat casinos were forced to go into the water every two hours. This was repealed in 1999.

Bar video poker and slots were approved in 2012. This was not extended to racetracks in the state. The horse racing industry continues to push for its share of the video gaming industry in Illinois.

Illinois was the first state to ban smoking in casinos in 2008. Gaming revenue dropped 20% nearly instantly. The state blamed the loss of gaming revenue on the economy. The St. Louis Federal Reserve published a report that determined that was not the case. Illinois gamblers were going to neighboring states where smoking is still permitted in casinos. This includes Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Most Illinois casinos are located on the state line, making it easy for gamblers to just drive across the river for a smoker friendly casino.

The Illinois Lottery stopped paying winners of $25,000 or more in 2015 due to a budget impasse. The dropped to $600 late in 2015. This caused lottery sales to suffer as players drove to bordering states to buy jackpot tickets out of fear of never getting paid.

Illinois Casinos & Gambling FAQ

Is there horse racing in Illinois?

Yes. Most tracks are located in Chicago.

Are there casinos in Chicago?

No. State law does not permit casinos in Cook County.

Why are there no casinos in Chicago?

The state wanted to protect the horseracing industry. Indiana licensed a casino in Gary to attract some of this action.

Are all Illinois casinos on water?

Yes, but they do not have to leave the dock.

Are daily fantasy sports legal in Illinois?

The Illinois Attorney General declared daily fantasy sports illegal in December 2015. Major sites like DraftKings and FanDuel refused to leave the state upon this declaration and instead filed suit for a declaratory judgment.

Is poker legal in Illinois?

Yes. All Illinois casinos have a poker room.

How many casinos are in Illinois?

There are nine casinos in Illinois. MGM Springfield plans to open in 2017 to become the tenth.

What is the minimum gambling age in Illinois?

The minimum Illinois gambling age is 21 for casinos and video lottery, and 18 for racing, lottery, and bingo.