Sports betting is not legal. But state lawmakers are working towards a legislative framework.

Online Gambling in


Sports betting could arrive in Illinois as early as September 2019, just in time for the start of a new NFL season. The potential launch date depends on how quickly the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) will take to regulate industry. The good news is that not just sports betting is in place to be authorized but online sports betting as well.


Betting in Illinois

A quick glance at who has opened the doors to sports betting and who hasn’t across the US reveals a great opportunity for a state in the midwest to take advantage of a lack of action.

The lawmakers in Illinois are doing all they can to make sure it is the Prairie state that moves ahead of neighbouring states Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri in setting sports betting in motion with five bills currently on the table.

September 2019 (the start of the new NFL season) has been mooted as a potential launch date. As many states are fast discovering though, submitting bills is one thing. However, the process of introducing a framework fit for all is another entirely.

The time is now for Ilinois sports betting

While the race is on for sports mad Illinois to capture a share of a multibillion-dollar market and take the initiative in the midwest, the approach from Illinois lawmakers regarding sports betting has been more of a slow and steady one with the pros and cons having been carefully considered for some time now.


Former NFL linebacker and Illinois State Senator, Napoleon Harris has proposed a bill which would legalize sports betting in Illinois. The bill also includes a 1% Integrity fee benefiting NBA and MLB

Of course, though, whichever state strikes first will reap the largest rewards: becoming the first in the region to legalize sports betting will attract a huge catchment area, culminating in huge financial gain.

The estimated $100 million figure bandied about as potential income from state tax revenue would help pay for construction plan in the sixth most populous state.

Then, there’s the added bonus of the 2,500 jobs a sports betting industry would help create too.

The money generated would also be used to fund gambling addiction programs though this is a sensitive issue for those concerned with how a gambling expansion could impact addicts.

The subject above is clearly an issue that requires addressing. But what other hurdles need to be overcome before Illinois can join the growing list of states to welcome sports betting? Let’s take a look.

Standing in the Way of IL Sports Betting

It’s the one issue which continues to be debated forever and a day so let’s get to it. Where do Illinois stand on the now famous integrity fee?

Well, among the five bills on the table is one belonging to former NFL player and current Senate Napoleon Harris.

His proposed law rather goes against what we’ve seen so far from the states to have succeeded in getting sports betting over the line.

Instead of dismissing the idea, as many already have, Harris, perhaps positioned better than most on the subject and with a boot in both camps due to his sporting and political exploits past and present, is running with a league-friendly bill.

Since PASPA was overturned, the major leagues have gradually come round to the idea of sports betting

But they want a cut of the money made. Harris’ concept would see sportsbooks pay 1% of the total money wagered, often referred to as handle.

The leagues continue to dig their heels in regarding the matter, making the point that the fee would help offset the additional costs involved in monitoring suspicious activity which is inevitable with an expanded market, at least in the beginning.

But then there’s the added complication of how a fixed 1% fee could severely impact the income set aside for the state. While the leagues would always be guaranteed a healthy slice of the pie, the same could not be said of the state.

For example, if a sportsbook pays out big on a parlay, the book’s revenue may be affected, in turn, affecting the money paid to the state.

The leagues though will still be entitled to their 1% levy, regardless of the money made. Is your head spinning yet?

So far, the leagues have had little joy in bringing lawmakers round to their way of thinking. But, in this case at least, their stance carries more weight with an ally in the state.

And lets not forget Illinois has professional sports teams in each major league, including two MLB sides

Thus there’s a strong desire to maintain strong relations with the leagues responsible for giving the franchises a platform.

Given a grand total of zero states have agreed to include an integrity fee so far, perhaps Illinois will set a precedent. We wait with bated breath…

A subject touched on above, is the increased potential for gambling addicts to be drawn to ‘yet another’ form of gambling.

Illinois video gaming

Slot parlors, riverboat casinos, bingo, horse race betting and lottery is already legal in Illinois.

Already, the Video Gaming Act of 2009 sees that lottery, pari-mutuel horse race betting, bingo, riverboat casinos and slot parlors are all permitted in IL.

But while it’s a given that measures have to be put in place to ensure those most vulnerable aren’t exposed to the expansion, this is surely an issue for the gambling industry as a whole. In other words, the arrival of sports betting cannot be deemed the tip of the iceberg for those with an addiction.

Worth considering also is the guarantee of a safe and regulated industry that will go a long way to helping problem gamblers, as opposed to the black market which only leaves vulnerable bettors more at risk.

Finally, is the division of the monies and tax rates.

It’s not thought the tax rate on revenue will be anywhere near the colossus 36% Pennsylvanians are having to contend with

Clearly though if the lawmakers are to lure the bettors away from the black market, any levy needs to be kept reasonable. One model of interest is that employed by New Jersey where bettors who wager in person are taxed 8% and 12% for doing so online.

The predicament lawmakers face is taxing what is considered to be fair amount for the consumer, which is still substantial enough to split between the leagues, state and the operators themselves.

Proposed Regulations

Proposed Regulations
  • Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) to regulate industry
  • Sports betting and online sports betting authorised
  • Riverboat casinos primed to be offered licenses to host sports betting
  • New casinos aimed to be built close to state borders to attract region wide audience

Online sports betting in IL

Although each of the five bills put forward looks set to include mobile wagering, don’t expect the online side of things to come about right away. Only three of the eight states to have rolled out sports betting so far have branched out online too.

The priority initially will be to set up sports betting among the land based and riverboat casinos.

Illinois’ large population and love of sports already makes it a sports betting hotbed.

Obviously, punters having the opportunity to wager online is a must for sports betting to really appeal to the masses.

Superbowl 53 demonstrated such with an estimated 300,000 mobile wagers made in New Jersey alone via DraftKings’ online sportsbook.

But as it has been alluded to, the lawmakers will not be rushed into making decisions and will happily sit tight and wait to see how the online industry plays out in other states before committing wholly.

What can you expect as an IL online sports bettor?

Illinois is home to a number of sport franchises spanning the four major leagues. And then some.

The country’s third most populous city, Chicago, is the base for the Bears, the Blackhawks, the Bulls, the Cubs and the White Sox leaving sports fanatics spoilt for choice.

Whatever your sport, IL has a major team.

Here are our tips for how to bet on each of the four major leagues:

- NFL Betting

One of two franchises still standing from the true NFL originals, The Chicago Bears have a total of nine NFL Championships to their name, including one Super Bowl title.

The emergence of the NFL as America’s dominant sport during recent times means you’ll find football now at the forefront of sports betting too.

It’s common to find NFL betting ranked top or first of a sportsbook betting menu

In terms of betting on a Bears match, a moneyline bet is the go-to wager mainly due to its simplicity - all you’re doing is selecting the team or player you think will win.

If your pick ends up the winner, the sportsbook pays out the winnings on your betslip. As straightforward as it gets, I think you’ll agree.

Point spread betting is by far the most popular form of wagering when it comes to high-scoring sports, such as basketball and football. But does require a little understanding beforehand.

This type of betting aims to level the playing field between the two participants and gives the bettor a reason to play money on both teams, rather than be put off by odds of little value.

For betting newbies, getting used to how the odds are displayed can be kind of confusing initially but it’s an easy one to grasp:

  • Team or player deemed the favourite: expected to win and listed with a minus (-) sign.
  • Team or player viewed as the underdog: expected to lose and listed with a plus (+) sign.

The purpose of the plus/minus is to show how each side of the bet will pay

Naturally, putting money on the minus side (the favourite) will pay out less than if you were to put money on the plus side (the underdog).

Why? Well, the favourite is expected to win and so backing them should, in theory, carry a smaller risk.

The underdog meanwhile is an outside bet to win with more of a risk attached. More risk, the higher the potential payout.

Given the underdog pays out more money per unit than a wager on the favourite, playing the Underdog is extremely common among bettors.

  • Chicago Bears -10
  • Oakland Raiders +10

Here, the Bears are deemed to be ten points better than the Raiders, hence the spread.

In order for the Bears to win the wager, a winning margin of eleven points is required.

For the Raiders to win this type of bet, they have to make sure they lose by less than ten points.

Should the game finish without a clearly defined winner, i.e a difference of 10 points, the wager will be referred to as a ‘push’ and your stake returned.

We’ve used 10 points for example purposes but a whole host of handicaps are offered by sportsbooks so do not worry about being restricted in what you can bet on.

Remember, this wager isn’t just exclusive to NFL betting and is commonly used in the NBA, MLB and NHL also.

- NBA betting

The Chicago Bulls enjoyed their greatest spell in the 90’s with none other than Michael Jordan the star.

Six NBA Championships were won in total in their most famous era, three consecutively from 1991 to 1993 with the same achievement coming between 1996 and 1998.

The latter team in particular are still regarded as one of the greatest seen in NBA history.

Success hasn’t been so forthcoming since but the interest in the team and basketball remains high in Chicago, as will betting on the Bulls when the sports betting industry lands in IL.

- MLB betting

2016 proved certainly fruitful in The Chicago Cubs ending a baren period. A first NL Pennant in 71 years was backed up with the third World Series title in the Cubs history and the first in 108 years!

As a founder member of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, the Cubs have the prestige and history.

But they’re not the only baseball side in the city…

The Chicago White Sox can’t claim to have had as much success as their city rivals, but they do have the same number of World Series title remarkably, the last of which came in 2005.

Whichever side of the fence you fall, the opportunity to bet on your favourite MLB side is there.

Popular for MLB betting is the Over/Under wagers, also known as total bets.

Here, the wager centers on the total number of runs scored in a game - it’s your call to decide whether the total will finish higher or lower than the line set by the sportsbook.

For instance, let’s say the line is set at seven runs and you put your stake on Over. A final score of 5-4 wins you your bet, as does a scoreline of 8-0.

The bet caries no stipulations other than seeing the number of runs required to satisfy your call - Over/Under.

In the event of the match finishing with seven runs and there being no clear winner - neither the sportsbook, nor yourself were correct - the bet would be deemed a tie (a push in the betting world) and your stake returned.

- NHL betting

In general, hockey does well to keep up with the popularity and soaring interest globally in the major leagues of football, basketball and baseball. No such problem in the state of Illinois though.

The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the “Original Six” NHL teams and can call on a steeped history full of prestige and prizes.

The Hawks have six Stanley Cups and four Conference Championships to their name with both trophies last being won a recently as 2015. Following such a fruitful year, one may in fact argue the Hawks rank as Chicago’s most successful sports team!

Due to hockey naturally producing scorelines significantly lower than those in the other major sports leagues, a point spread isn’t a viable option for NHL betting. No worries there though because hockey has its own version - the puckline.

A cross between the money line and point spread, the puck line is unique to NHL betting.

Like the traditional point spread its purpose is to bridge the gap between the favourite and underdog and bring more value to a match carrying next to no value.

To win a puck line bet, the team regarded as the favourite will need to win the game by more than 1.5 goals, by 2 in other words; there’s no such thing as half goals in hockey but .5 is used to clearly determine the winner and avoid a tie.

To clearly demonstrate, let’s take a look at the example below and a match between the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks.

On the money line, The Blackhawks are heavy favourites at -220.

Now, when played as puck line wager, the odds are as follows:

- Arizona Coyotes +1.5 (-153)

- Chicago Blackhawks -1.5 (+133)

Scratching your head at the change in the odds? Understandable - it may look as if the two teams have swapped favourite and underdog tags but this isn’t the case.

The Blackhawks are still favourites here: the -1.5 on the puckline indicates such and Chicago will start the match needing to win by 2 goals to cover the spread.

But they have become the underdogs in terms of the payout with the added stipulation thrown in. If you’re confident however that the favourite is going to win convincingly, this matters not one jot.

The payouts from a puck line, compared to a straightforward money line differ quite significantly as you can see:

Money line: Chicago Blackhawks -220

$100 bet and Chicago win by one goal

= $45.45 profit

Puck line: Chicago Blackhawks -1.5 (+133)

$100 bet and Chicago win by at least 2 goals

= $133 profit

In the right situation, i.e. you’re almost certain the favourite will win the game in a convincing manner, you bet the puck line. If there’s an ounce of doubt, stick to the relative safety net of the money line.

The best aspect of this wager is the extra reward you can gain if you predict a team is going to win decisively.

It’s not always about betting the favourite though. Here’s what would happen if you were to bet on the underdog (+1.5 on the puck line):

- Arizona beat Chicago by any margin = bet won

- Arizona beat Chicago by one goal = bet won

- Arizona lose to Chicago by one goal = bet won

- Arizona lose to Chicago by two goals or more = bet lost