Casino Gambling in Illinois
Online gambling in Illinois is nothing new. While several states grapple with the prospect of opening the doors to legal online casino operators or running one itself, Illinois has offered online betting for the last few years. Sure, maybe not online casino games like blackjack or roulette. But if you're into horse betting, online is an option. And with that, the doors to a state-licensed, legal Illinois online casino or poker site could be around the corner.
History of Illinois Casino Gambling
Ever been to Navy Pier on Chicago's gorgeous waterfront? Then you know about the signature Ferris wheel, the cool shops, and all the great things to do for families. But did you know that Navy Pier was on the verge of hosting an Illinois casino? Online gambling sites are controversial in today's legislature, but back then it was the land-based casinos that were causing all the commotion.
Back in the 1970s, the mayor of Chicago looked at bringing a casino to the Windy City to help pay for snow removal efforts (hey, it snows a lot in Chicago, so we totally get it). That idea was squashed by the state government - something that Illinois gambling online proponents are all too familiar with.
But while Chicago doesn't have a casino on the waterfront to call its own, there's no shortage of legit gambling opportunities. And we're not even talking about all the Illinois online gambling sites that residents are free to play at legally.
In the 1990s, in response to the state of Iowa's push towards riverboat casinos, the government of Illinois decided to license 10 riverboat casinos within state lines. Fans of gambling online and live have other options, too. You'll find six horserace tracks in Illinois, and you can even bet on horses online in the state.
- Population: 12,875,255
- Land Size: 55,518 sq. miles
- Population 18+: 75.9%
- Gambling Age (Casinos): 21
- Gambling Age (Lottery): 18
- Number of Casinos: 10
- The planet's first skyscraper was built in Illinois
- IL is known as the Land of Lincoln - and Abraham loved to gamble
- Riverboat casinos can remain docked
- Nickname: Prairie State
Zoom in by state:
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Harrah's Metropolis100 East Front Street
Metropolis, IL 62960
Rivers Casino3000 S. River Road
Des Plaines, IL 60018
Harrah's Joilet151 N. Joilet Street
Joilet, IL 60432
Casino Queen200 South Front Street
East St. Louis, IL 62201
Hollywood Casino Aurora1 W New York Street Bridge
Aurora, IL 60506
Local Casino Venues
When you think of riverboat casinos, it's perfectly natural to think of small boats cruising the mighty Mississippi. But that's not the case for riverboat Illinois casinos. Online gambling proponents have argued that they have it better because they don't have to worry about getting seasick if they want to gamble in Illinois.
But the truth is you don't have to worry about that at all. While state law used to mandate that all riverboat casinos cruise every two hours, that law no longer exists and riverboat casinos in Illinois can remained docked.
Today, you'll find some “riverboat” casinos that feel incredibly stationary, including Harrah's Joliet, which replaced its riverboat casino with two joined barges.
Casino Gambling Age Restrictions
To gamble in Illinois' riverboat casino properties, you must be 21 years of age or older. To gamble online in Illinois at a horserace betting site, you need to meet the minimum age requirements of 18 years old. While there is no state-recognized online casino or poker site, gamblers should make sure they're at least 18 years old before making a deposit.
Famous Illinois Gamblers
Some gamblers are worth looking up to. Those are the guys who win big money playing poker, or the guys who can singlehandedly bust the house every time they sit down at a blackjack table. And then there's the famous Black Sox.
We're talking, of course, about the 1919 Chicago White Sox. They intentionally threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in a gambling scandal that rocked the league for years to come. Needless to say, no one really looks up to the eight members who were banned from baseball for life.
The State of Online Gambling in Illinois
There are many in Illinois who want online gambling regulated within state lines. In March 2013, a bill was introduced to expand land-based casino options in Illinois as well as introduce Internet gambling. Illinois governor Pat Quinn recently vetoed a bill that would have seen Chicago get a bricks-and-mortar casino, so it's not clear how this legislation will play out.
But even without a bill that legalizes and recognizes online gambling, Illinois residents are free to play at the many online casinos and poker sites that are run from outside of state lines. Many of the online casino properties even offer bonuses designed especially for American players.
The Future of Illinois Casino Gambling
Illinois gamblers have options. Whether it's betting on horses online, gambling at a riverboat casino, or anteing up at an Illinois online casino site that's open to players all over the world, the future of gambling in Illinois looks bright.
Sure, residents of Chicago might not have a casino downtown quite yet. And yes, the riverboat casino sizes are still a bit restrictive. But compared to some other states that don't offer any form of gambling, Illinois online gamblers and land-based casino players are in a good spot.
Gambler's Note: Illinois casino laws are always changing. The information on this page is for informational purposes only. Always consult Illinois state law and local regulations before playing at an Illinois online gambling site.
Illinois Council on Problem GamblingThe Illinois Council on Problem Gambling was established to educate people about problem gambling and help those who need it to get treatment and support.
Illinois Gambling HelpIllinois Gambling Help.org has information and resources for those affected by gambling addiction and problem gambling.