Illinois Online Casinos

Emma Trotter

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Emma Trotter

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Lee James Gwilliam

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Lee James Gwilliam

Senior Vice-President

Last Updated on 9th April 2024, 02:59 PM

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While Illinois is home to Rush Street Gaming, one of the US’ biggest gambling companies, online casinos are not yet legal in the Prairie State. However, since sports betting passed in 2019 there has been quite a lot of action in the last few years toward the legalization of Illinois online casinos, so watch this space.

Until then, if you’re looking to play with real cash, you might want to visit Illinois’ brick-and-mortar resorts, such as Rivers Casino in Des Plaines or Harrah’s Casino in Joliet. Provided you’re over the age of 21, you can enjoy playing real money games there. Alternatively, the state is home to plenty of social and sweepstakes casinos, which provide a legal alternative to real-money online gambling.

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Guide To Finding The Best Illinois Casino Sites

Is Illinois Online Gambling Legal?

In short, not right now. That said, Illinois is a reasonably gambling-friendly state, given its plethora of land-based casinos, online lottery, video lottery terminals, DFS, horse racing, and in-person poker. Plus, Illinois has seen plenty of legal sports betting advancements, with retail and online sportsbook operators launching within the state. So why are online casinos yet to be legalized, especially given its key city of Chicago and the general overall state population?

Despite recent legalization attempts of online casinos for real money, headway on the real-money gaming front is yet to be made. Also, while Michigan is close by, there are no neighboring states with legal online casinos available. Aside from Illinois’ popular casino resorts dotted around the state, players can still partake in legal online gambling via social and sweepstakes casinos.

Illinois Social Casinos

Though online casinos are not legal, Illinois has a generous selection of retail casinos available for you to enjoy. However, if you’re specifically searching for a more convenient online gambling experience, visiting legal social and sweepstakes casinos is a great compromise and alternative.

These cashless casinos allow you to enjoy playing your favorite slots, table games, and even authentic live dealer experiences. As such, you are unlikely to feel that you’re missing out on real money games – especially with the gambling risk removed. 

But what exactly are social casinos, and how do they differ from regular real-money online gambling sites? Well, instead of wagering your hard-earned money, you can purchase and play with virtual currency, usually referred to as “Gold Coins”. You can either claim these virtual coins via promotions, by winning casino games, or by purchasing coin packages. 

If you’re wondering where to find these special coins and casinos, Illinois has multiple social casino options for you to test your luck on. These include B Spot online casino, BetRivers net, Gambino Slots, High 5 Casino sweepstakes, McLuck, Pulsz online casino, Stake.us Casino, Winstar social casino, WOW Vegas online casino... the list goes on! Since each site features an easy registration process, you can quickly sign up and begin having social casino fun. 

Most social casino sites feature attractive welcome bonuses, meaning you can start playing without needing to purchase any Gold Coins. But when you’re ready to reload your account with more virtual currency, you can make simple purchases with a banking method of your choice.

Sweepstakes Casinos in Illinois

Illinois is home to plenty of thrilling free sweeps cash casinos, too. But what’s the difference between social and sweepstakes casinos? The main contrast is that you can potentially win real money at sweeps sites. Alongside Gold Coins, these casinos feature “Sweeps Coins”, which you can only claim through promotions. However, if you wager these coins on games and make a profit, you have the chance of grabbing real-money prizes. 

Nonetheless, social and sweepstakes casinos provide a great alternative and legal avenue for online gambling in Illinois. You can still spin the reels of slots or try your hand at virtual table games from the comfort of your couch, all within the confines of the law.

Illinois Casino Apps

As there are no legal online casinos, and it will likely be a long while before there are, no apps are available to install right now. Luckily, there are still social and sweepstakes casino apps on the market, so it’s worth visiting the Google Play or Apple App Stores to see if your favorite social casino offers a dedicated mobile app.

You can then download convenient social and sweepstakes apps to quench your casino cravings (until the real cash varieties are legalized). Compared to HTML5-optimized sites, native apps feature enhanced connectivity, superior usability, and notifications. That way you can stay in the loop of the hottest casino bonuses and game releases.

Illinois Casino Promo Codes

Online sports betting has been live for several years, and there are already plenty of renowned retail casinos in Illinois that host household names, like Harrah’s and Golden Nugget. Therefore, major brand partnerships have a head start in developing an online presence in IL.

The existing relationships and deals will make it easier for those brands to introduce legal casino sites once online gambling gets the green light from the state. You’ll then be able to find the best and latest online casino promo codes along with plenty of sign-up bonuses offered by the new Illinois sites.

Obviously, even more operators can become a part of the mix by applying for licenses – but it all depends on how many licenses will be up for grabs. Until then, if you’re located in Illinois as a resident or visitor, you can play social casinos and sweepstakes casinos for free, which are pretty close to the real thing, or just visit a land-based casino.

When Will Online Casinos in Illinois Be Legal?

Ironically, Illinois has been pretty open to the legalization of gambling throughout its history. The first example was horse racing and then riverboat casinos, which it helped pioneer in the early 1990s. Don’t worry – we’ll cover more ground on riverboat casinos later on in this guide.

In 2012, Illinois even launched an online lottery. The state also has the most Video Gaming Terminals in the country. All of these factors point positively in the direction of the eventual legalization of online casino gambling. But why is it still illegal?

Responsible for these laws and decisions are governing bodies, lawmakers, political action committees, and more. In early 2023 saw State Senator Christina Castro sponsor a bill to legalize online casinos and State Representative Jonathan Carroll introduce two measures regarding online casinos. All of them ultimately targeted the creation of an Internet Gaming Act, but the bills never advanced. The most likely reason is fear of “cannibalizing” Illinois’ robust land casino industry. However, since the state is losing revenue to nearby Michigan, a prominent gambling market that even offers online poker, Illinois could really use that missing profit.

Is Illinois Sports Betting Legal?

Yes. In June 2019, Illinois legalized sports betting with bill SB 690, authorizing retail and online sports betting across the state. Retail facilities were cleared to offer sports betting, including IL’s horse racetracks and bigger sports venues.

In fact, Illinois betting is so popular that it’s become the country’s second-biggest sports betting market. It’s become so big, in fact, that DraftKings Sportsbook launched in Wrigley Field – one of the most iconic stadiums in the entire country.

Illinois Land Based Casinos

While online casinos aren’t yet legal in the Prairie State, there is an excellent selection of retail casinos you can visit all over the state. Selecting a favorite all depends on personal choice. Here are some examples of what you have to look forward to in Illinois:

  • American Place in Waukegan (coming in 2025)
  • Argosy Casino Alton in Alton
  • Bally’s Chicago (final completion in 2026)
  • Bally’s Quad Cities in Rock Island
  • DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis
  • Golden Nugget Danville in Danville
  • Grand Victoria Casino Elgin in Elgin
  • Hard Rock Casino in Rockford (coming in 2024)
  • Harrah’s Joliet in Joliet
  • Harrah’s Metropolis in Metropolis
  • Hollywood Casino Aurora in Aurora
  • Hollywood Casino Joliet in Joliet
  • Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria
  • Rivers Casino in Des Plaines
  • Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort in Carterville
  • Wind Creek Casino in East Hazel Crest (coming in 2025)

The Best Casinos in Illinois

Since Illinois is home to numerous prominent and popular retail casinos, narrowing down the best of the best can be pretty challenging. However, we’ve highlighted what some of the state’s top brick-and-mortar resorts offer – you can decide for yourself which is best:

Harrah’s Casino Joliet

With almost 1,000 slot machines, 30 table games, and 39,000 square feet of casino to explore, you can try your hand at Harrah’s Casino Joliet games 24/7. The retail gambling location boasts “Chicagoland” titles like blackjack, craps, mini-baccarat, roulette, and poker games such as Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud, High Card Flush, and Ultimate Texas Hold’Em.

If you find yourself getting hungry, you can enjoy a delicious dish at The Reserve restaurant, Cross Street Grill, or The Slice Pizzeria and Pasta. You can also enjoy some nightlife at the Sheer Bar or Laurel Lounge, before finishing the night up in one of Harrah’s 200 hotel rooms.

Rivers Casino Des Plaines

Offering over 1,500 slots, numerous table games, a sportsbook, and the “Rush Rewards” program, Rivers Casino Des Plaines prides itself on delivering the most slot jackpots and biggest payouts on table games in Chicago. You can also enjoy three restaurants, three bars, a coffee shop and regular concerts, all within the same venue. This casino will probably suit you if you love lots of action and live entertainment.

Hollywood Casino Joliet

Hosting over 1,100 video slots, video poker, a huge selection of table games like blackjack, craps, and roulette, and way more, Hollywood Casino Joliet appears to have it all. With three restaurants alongside a luxurious VIP Lounge, you won’t be short of dining options between gaming rounds. There is also 5,000 square feet of entertainment. If you’re looking to hit the hay, you can stay in the casino hotel or store your RV to rest in the Midwest’s only RV park.

Bally’s Chicago

While we eagerly await Bally’s Chicago, which is planned for a grand opening in 2026, we can look forward to its temporary casino going up first. Before we can enjoy the fruits of the $1.7 billion development, which is projected to bring over 3,000 permanent jobs to Illinois, the temporary facility will be available to enjoy within the old Medinah Temple in River North.

Hosting 750 slots and 50 table games over a 134,000-square-foot facility, you’re sure to be kept on your toes until Bally’s permanent development grows roots. The temporary fixture is designed to warm you up for Bally’s exciting casino, food hall, theatre, museum, exhibition area, VIP hub, hotel, and even 10+ acres of outdoor space fit for art shows, farmers markets, and a park.

Riverboat Casinos in Illinois

As mentioned above, riverboat casinos have a rich history in the state. This is because back in 1990, riverboat casinos were the only type of casinos authorized. Ultimately, this led to many of them being built off of river barges. 

As one of the few leading the charge on gambling expansion back in the day, Illinois handed out 10 licenses in total. However, the law stated that riverboats could not be permanently docked, and casinos had to remain operational on moving boats.

This law was reversed in 1999 when casinos were finally allowed to dock permanently, which welcomed a flood of new players. Then, the law evolved again in 2007, when new regulations stated that casinos could be land-based and no longer needed to be tethered. Some casinos chose to rebrand or remodel, or even relocate. 

Hollywood Casino Aurora and Hollywood Casino Joliet historically operated as riverboat casinos. However, thanks to the updated law, both casinos are relocating inland to the Rock Run Crossings area, with construction set to commence over the next few years.

Although Harrah’s Joliet Casino is located waterside, and the structure is permanently docked, the casino can still be classified as a “riverboat casino”. Conversely, the Argosy Casino Alton is a more traditional riverboat casino, as the facilities are literally located on a boat.

Is Poker Legal in Illinois?

Poker is legal in Illinois as long as you play it in person at any of the state’s land-based casino poker rooms. You can even participate in poker tournaments. However, poker online is not legal in Illinois just yet – you’ll have to go next door to Michigan for that.

Illinois Card Rooms

Card rooms, which are gambling locations dedicated to playing card games like poker, are illegal in Illinois. However, you are welcome to play at poker rooms within most land-based casinos across the state. Fortunately, these dedicated poker rooms are pretty impressive.

For example, River Casino Des Plaines has a poker room that’s over 55,000 square feet in size. On the other hand, the Grand Victoria Casino, operated by Caesars, has a dedicated World Series of Poker Room with over 20 tables on offer.

Racinos in Illinois

As a racetrack/casino hybrid, racinos allow you to play slot machines like at a traditional casino. Additionally, many modern racinos now offer table games, too, adding more variety to your racino experience. 

Although you can legally bet on horses in some casinos in Illinois, racinos are not permitted in the state right now. Until they are, you can visit two of the most significant horse tracks in the state, FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing (formerly Fairmount Park) and Hawthorne Race Course. 

This is where parimutuel betting comes in. Regulated by the Illinois Racing Board Parimutuel Wagering, it’s legal to place horse racing bets in a “pool” and share the total amount wagered, with a percentage deducted for the management.

Responsible Gambling at Illinois Casinos

Whether playing on social or sweepstakes casinos or at land-based resorts, practicing responsible gambling is essential to casino fun. However, if a player finds that their gambling habits are becoming a cause for concern, they can take advantage of tools, resources, and advice in the “Responsible Gambling” sections of Illinois online casinos. Alternatively, the state offers the following support:

  • National Problem Gambling Helpline – Call: 1-800-GAMBLER
  • IDHS: Gambling Help – Call: 833-937-4274

Future Online Casino States

Though it’s difficult to get online casino legalization to the finish line, many states are actively trying via various bills and propositions. The states see the dollar signs in the monthly revenue reports from other states and want a piece of the pie. That said, most annual attempts aren’t even making it to the House or the Senate.

These are the top states to look for next:

  • Indiana, Maryland and New York are three of the highly active states with the most chatter about swift online casino legalization.
  • Florida is a “big fish” state; due to its population size and tourism draw, a lot of revenue is left on the table. However, the FL gambling industry is tribal-controlled, and online casinos in Florida are perceived as “threatening” to retail casinos.
  • California is an interesting case, as it has a population of 40 million and is the state with the highest number of casinos. Sports betting has been the primary hot topic as of late – more than half a billion was spent on legislative initiatives for it in 2022 and it still failed – so legal online casinos in California could be a way off.
  • There has been plenty of buzz around Texas online casinos, but nothing has been solidified yet. It’s a very conservative state, so there will likely be some major hurdles ahead.

Meet The Author

Emma Trotter
Emma Trotter
Editor Editor

Emma Trotter is a Senior Editor at Casinos.com. Emma has worked as a staff writer and editor for nearly two decades, extensively covering celebrity news and the Las Vegas entertainment, casino and tourism scenes. She spent several years in in-house roles at Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Las Vegas before stepping into iGaming affiliate site content.

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