Illinois

Illinois allows gambling in casinos but currently does not allow online casino wagering.

Illinois allows gambling in casinos but currently does not allow online casino wagering.

Illinois does allow online sports betting, with the requirements to register in-person for an online account. In order to complete registration, any new user must be physically geolocated at the partner casino to whichever online sportsbook they are registering an account at. After a new user is registered, they can deposit and bet from anywhere within Illinois.

Casinos in Illinois

There are currently 10 casinos in Illinois. These casinos operate under the Riverboat Gambling Act of 1990 and are legally required to be docked on water. Originally the casino boats had to leave the dock for 2 hours every ten years but that is no longer a requirement.

The 10 Riverboat Casinos in Illinois are listed below:

  • Argosy Casino Alton
  • Casino Queen
  • Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
  • Harrah’s Joliet
  • Harrah’s Metropolis
  • Hollywood Casino Aurora
  • Hollywood Casino Joliet
  • Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
  • Par A Dice Hotel Casino
  • Rivers Casino Des Plaines

There are also 3 racetracks in Illinois which also have casinos. These are:

  • Fairmount Park, Collinsville
  • Arlington Park, Arlington Heights
  • Hawthorne Race Course, Cicero

Illinois Gambling Laws

Illinois has historically had very strict gambling laws, and references to gambling in Chicago in particular have always been tainted with gangsters and crime. However, in the last 20 years there has been a change from the Illinois Government and they have relaxed the Illinois gambling laws, and brought in huge revenues to the state.

Horse racing has been an ever-present in the Illinois sports circuit and betting on horses has been available in The Prairie State since 1927. In 1974 the state lottery was added and in 1983 bingo was legalized but there was no casino gambling in Illinois until 1991 when the state passed the Riverboat Gambling Act.

The Riverboat Gambling Act was aimed at allowing day trippers on boats to enjoy card games and slot machines and it was focused on the states along the Mississippi river. The idea was that those looking to escape the heat of the cities could do so and have entertainment aboard the boats and it paved the way for legal casino gambling in not just Illinois but Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri.

The act has been described as a “legal fiction” as the result was riverboat casinos which were docked for years at a time and it wasn’t long before the requirement became no more than the casinos in Illinois had to simply be touching the water.

Sports betting wasn’t added to the Illinois betting landscape until 2020 when one of the riverboat casinos, Rivers Casino Des Plaines, took the first legal sports bet in Illinois on March 9. Online sports betting followed just a few months later with the requirement that bettors first register for an online account via one of the land/river based casinos.

Online Gambling in Illinois

Online gambling has grown quickly in Illinois and less than six months after the first legal sports bet was placed in the state the Chicago Tribune reported over $435 million in online sports bets in Illinois in October 2020. This perfectly illustrates the appetite for online gambling in Illinois and the sector is set to further grow over the coming years.

As of yet there is no online casino gambling in Illinois but there are plans afoot to change that, with the success of online sports betting paving the way for more iGaming options. Illinois benefits from some $1 billion per year in tax revenues from land based casino gambling and it is thought that even more could be added to the state’s economy by introducing online gambling to the Prairie State.

Should online casino gambling become legal in Illinois then it is expected to be a smooth rollout with similar rules and laws around licenses as those for sports, which allows each of the land based casinos or racetracks to have three online licenses. This would mean that any major online casino operator could go live in Illinois via a partnership with one of the state’s land based casinos.

Illinois Gambling Age

All gambling in Illinois, as with all other states in America, is restricted to those over the age of 21. Persons under the age of 21 are not allowed to enter the state’s casinos nor to open accounts with any of the online Illinois sportsbooks.

Illinois Gaming Board

All gambling in Illinois is regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board. This organization is responsible for all aspects of gambling in Illinois and is a five member board appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state.

The Illinois Gaming Board is responsible for setting the gambling tax rates with the following rates set for all Illinois casinos

Wagering Tax Effective July 1, 2020, the wagering tax is as follows:

All gambling games, other than table games:

  1. 15% of AGR up to and including $25 million;
  2. 22.5% of AGR in excess of $25 million but not exceeding $50 million;
  3. 27.5% of AGR in excess of $50 million but not exceeding $75 million;
  4. 32.5% of AGR in excess of $75 million but not exceeding $100 million;
  5. 37.5% of AGR in excess of $100 million but not exceeding $150 million;
  6. 45% of AGR in excess of $150 million but not exceeding $200 million;
  7. 50% of AGR in excess of $200 million.

All table games:

  1. 15% of AGR up to and including $25 million;
  2. 20% of AGR in excess of $25 million.

Illinois Gambling Revenue

Illinois made $1.4 billion in gambling tax revenue in 2019, which was made up from the casino tax rates imposed by the Illinois Gaming Board.

This figure fell significantly in 2020 due to the closure of the casinos following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the state’s revenues were supplemented by a 15% sports betting tax, which is expected to account for increased revenues year-on-year from 2021 onwards.

The state also imposes a 4.95% tax on annual gambling earnings on citizens, which can be filed via W-2G forms. This tax is eligible even if an Illinois residents wins when in another state. This would include online winnings from online casino gambling in neighboring state Michigan.

However, this tax on player winnings is a tiny amount for the state’s purse relative to the potential income which could be generated via legal online casino gambling in Illinois.

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