Legal Illinois Sports Betting - IL Betting Laws & Regulations 2022

Illinois is a professional sporting haven. Home to a plethora of iconic sporting moments and living legends. With the legalization of sports betting in 2020, sports fans could now back the Bulls in more ways than one!  

Our Illinois sports betting review looks to enhance your knowledge of gambling in the Prairie State and what markets are most popular amongst its residents. We at Oddspedia also discuss the importance of reporting your winnings and losses, Al Capone’s illegal sportsbooks, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions along the way.


Sports Betting in Illinois - From Al Capone to the AL pennant

Horse racing was the most popular sport amongst gamblers, way back in the 19th century, but was soon overshadowed by the traditional Illinois sports betting that came about after the development of professional baseball in 1876.

The Illinois sports betting scene continued to grow after the turn of the century. However, after eight of the Chicago Black Sox players were bribed to throw the 1919 World Series, the professional baseball world was turned upside down, and pro participation ground to a halt.

Al Capone and the Chicago Outfit claimed their power during the prohibition (1920's), turning their hand to just about any form of illegal activity under the sun, including becoming renowned for their underground sportsbooks.

The 1970' saw horse racing revived, with authorities regulating the races. The '70s also saw the Illinois lottery established, and as we look at the '90s, we also see Riverboat casinos legalized. 

As we move closer to the current position of Illinois Sports betting, it is worth mentioning the implementation of the Riverboat casinos act in 2012, which offered other forms of gambling a legalized status.


Betting Tax in Illinois

The betting tax associated with Illinois sports betting sits slightly higher than the national average, at 15%. However, the state is home to a much larger selection of sports betting markets and opportunities to win.

The higher tax percentile also played a huge part in the legalization of Illinois sports betting. Without it, the state may not have seen the introduction of sports betting until much later down the line, if at all.  

If you are fortunate enough to accumulate over $600 profit throughout the year, you will need to declare your winnings and pay federal and state tax. Irrespective of where your winnings came from (whether you won big in Vegas, New Jersey, or back home in Illinois) you will need to declare your sports winnings, itemizing where you won, when you won, how you won, and what you won, as well as reporting who you were with.

Betting Restrictions in Illinois

First and foremost, it is worth mentioning the age restriction associated with sports betting in Illinois is 21. Provided you are 21; you will find Illinois is fairly relaxed in terms of restrictions, allowing customers to bet on a wide selection of sporting events. 

Currently, the biggest restriction is on in-state collegiate events. Any team representing a college or university within Illinois cannot be wagered on. However, with that being said, House Bill 849 was introduced on February 10 in the hope of changing this, allowing sportsbooks to offer wagers on in-state college events.

NCAA wagers make up about 20% of all action seen by Illinois bettors, without the ability to gamble on their home school teams. 

The second major restriction relating to the Illinois sports betting market is in-person registration. This has already been suspended twice due to Covid and would see a huge rise in statewide sportsbooks usage if this rule was lifted. Initially implemented as an 18-month clause back in March 2020, this restriction is due to be lifted by itself in September 2021. 

The mention of eSports was not mentioned in the passing of the law, and it would be best to suggest this is currently not allowed within the state. 

The summer of 2019 saw the signing of the bill that legalized online sports betting in Illinois. In March 2020, the first online sports bet was placed, which introduced gamblers in the state to betting on a large scale. As we speak, Illinois harbors a wide range of legal sports betting sites, including William Hill, DraftKings, BetRivers, and Sugar House. The state is also home to FanDuel, and PointsBet, all of which are regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board. 

These sites are not just legal but also packed with domestic and international events. Besides, legal online sportsbooks in Illinois come with special features. For instance, some come with cashout, while others come with bet builders like PointsBet.

Top 9 bookies for Illinois

Illinois sports wagering bill

Officially becoming the 15th state to offer a licensed and regulated sportsbook, the Illinois sports wagering bill was passed and signed into law in the Summer of 2019.

Monday, March 9th, 2020, at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines – the first Illinois sports betting wager was placed. To be precise, a $100 wager was placed by former NHL center and Chicago Blackhawks announcer Eddie Olczyk on the White Sox to win the AL pennant at +1600.

The bill hosted a few interesting provisions for those looking to partake in online gambling in Illinois, including in-person registration, expensive licenses, and a ban on larger online sportsbooks such as Fanduel for 18 months. However, one positive for Illinois sports betting fans is the chance to obtain and place your wager at your chosen sports stadium (providing they have applied for a license).

COVID-19 puts a pause on casino visits

As we at Oddspedia previously mentioned, the Illinois sports wagering bill insists potential Illinois sports betting customers visit a casino and sign up for sports betting accounts. However, the year is 2020, and, of course, COVID had other plans.

As a result, the in-person registration provision was suspended – twice in fact, once in June and once in August. By July 2020, almost 93% of all Illinois Sports betting was conducted online.

Most Popular Bets in Illinois - let's talk about the Bears and the Bulls

The pandemic saw most professional sports seasons postponed or canceled entirely – a shame for the state, home to some sporting giants and devoted fans. However, the Illinois sports betting market soon picked up as pro sports returned, and fans witnessed their sporting heroes take to the pitch once again.

Chicago is home to one of the most storied franchises in NFL history – the Chicago Bears. Unsurprisingly, those who enjoy sports betting in Illinois seem to enjoy a flutter on the NFC North fixtures, outright conference winners, and over/under markets… Oh, and don’t be surprised to see a few wagers placed on Bear’s Allen Robinson getting the first TD either!

We discussed the importance MLB had on the Illinois gambling scene way back when. However, it’s difficult to discuss popular bets without discussing the NBA’s most iconic team, the Chicago Bulls. Another sporting team rich with heritage and history – does anyone remember Michael Jordan? Although the Bulls may not have seen the dizzy heights they experienced back then, they are still a force to be reckoned with, making the playoffs eight times in the last 12 seasons.  

When looking for the best sportsbook Illinois has to offer, be sure to pay attention to any promotions surrounding your favored markets. Whether you are an avid Bulls or Bears fan or a life-long White Sox or Blackhawks fan, make sure your Illinois betting preferences can be met!

Are Betting Losses in Illinois Tax Deductible?

When accounting for your sports betting annual earnings, it is important to remember you can deduct your Illinois sports betting losses from your federal income tax.

When itemizing your deductions, please only account for what you have lost. Money “lost” by staying in a hotel on an unsuccessful trip would not count towards your tax return. Drinks, meals, travel, etc., would not be deductible either.  

Those of you who were unfortunate enough to lose more than you won throughout the year can deduct losses up to the value of your winnings, i.e., break even. Any additional losses cannot be carried over to the following tax year and will just be seen as a recreational loss.  

For those of you who are losing more than you are winning, we would also consider reviewing your chosen sports betting strategy and consider if you have been placing wagers on the correct markets for your knowledge.

Losses will need to be itemized for the year and placed on Line 28 of Schedule A on your 1040 form. Unfortunately, just keeping your betting slips will not be sufficient evidence, and a log of your betting activity should be forwarded or detailed alongside this.

Those of you using online sports betting platforms may be able to access your yearly usage at the click of a button, with the most reputable sportsbook offering a downloadable option for its users. Of course, the same cannot be said for retail sportsbooks, and this is where your own record keeping becomes critical.

Conclusion - Stay safe when betting big in Illinois

As we wait to hear about the passing of House Bill 849, the Illinois sports betting scene continues to grow and develop. 
With professional teams back in business, hungry to add to their legacies, sports fans are just as hungry to profit from their wagers. Thanks to the minimal restrictions and accessibility of the sports betting markets, the Prairie State is quickly becoming a home to a thriving betting community.

We at Oddspedia are big fans of what the Illinois sports betting world has to offer, but we are bigger fans of keeping your funds safe and getting the most out of your sports betting career. With that in mind, our final piece of advice is simple – do your homework! 

When signing up for your retail or online sports betting platform, be sure to check what markets are on offer to you. Review terms and conditions, familiarise yourself with the interface and make the most of any bonuses or promotions offered to you.

As always, enjoy the process and only bet what you are willing to lose. If the fun stops, consider giving yourself a time-out or adding in a deposit limit.

FAQs About Betting In Illinois

Who is the best online sportsbook in Illinois?

Illinois sports betting is a competitive industry, with many retail and online sportsbook battling it out to prove themselves as the #1 sportsbook in the Prairie State. There are many different factors to consider when searching for the best sportsbook in Illinois - some obvious, some not so much.

Obvious considerations include finding a site that hosts your preferred betting markets. It is no good signing up to a platform that doesn’t provide adequate NBA markets if you are a life-long Bulls fan. Similarly, a site that offers zero NBA bonuses or promotions should not be your first use, as you will have limited ways to benefit from your betting experiences.

Some less obvious choices include any fees associated with your site, particularly when depositing or withdrawing from your account. Be sure to check these out in the terms and conditions before signing up and losing out on your winnings! 

Is online sports betting legal in Illinois?

Yes, online sports betting is legal in Illinois. The state allows players to bet on different sports. However, for any gambling site to operate in the region, it must have a valid license. 

What sports can I bet on in Illinois?

You can bet on different sports in the nation. Some of the most popular sports include American Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, and Soccer. You can also place Table Tennis, and Volleyball bets, provided your chosen sportsbook offers them. But then, you cannot bet on college games and in-state college teams. 

Who can bet on sports in Illinois?

Only individuals aged 21 years and older are eligible for sports betting in Illinois. But first, they must sign up on a legal sportsbook operating in the region before they can place sports bets. 

Who can get a sports betting license in Illinois?

Any individual or company interested in offering sports gambling services can get a sports betting license in Illinois. However, the Illinois Gaming Board must clear their application, and successful applicants must pay a license fee.

I have a problem with my online sportsbook, who do I contact?

Spending time getting used to your platform and understanding how to select markets, filter, and search by team name, as well as where to access your funds is critical to your betting experience.

When things aren’t going 100% with your platform, or you have a query, it is also important to know how to get in contact with your platform’s customer service agents.

Most reputable platforms will have a dedicated FAQ or self-help page, this is a great way for users to diagnose the issue by themselves, quickly. Alongside this, a site will allow users to get in contact with their team via email, an online form, a telephone number, or by the use of live chat.

Live chat is a great way for users to interact directly and instantly with an agent, often offered 24/7 allowing for the swift resolution of any queries.

How do I know my funds are safe?

Finding an online sportsbook that keeps your funds safe and secure in Illinois is an easy task. Not only do our experts review the top online sportsbooks, but we offer you ideas to enable you to do your own due diligence too.

Simple checks you can do to ensure your funds are kept safe and sound include checking whether your site offers two-factor authentication (a way for users to add a second level of security to their account). Another good test of the security of a site is if you are required to complete the KYC process and send in proof of identification before sign up and if your chosen platform has SSL encryption.

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