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Illinois Online Gambling Laws

Lawbook With GavelOnline gambling is very popular in Illinois. Gambling laws in the State of Illinois specifically address the issue of online gambling. Under Illinois gambling laws, it is illegal to operate, maintain or establish a website that allows a person to use the internet to play a game of skill or chance for money or anything of value or to make a wager on the outcome of any contest, game, political nomination, election or appointment.

While the law does deal with the issue of online gambling from an owner/operator standpoint, it is silent on the issue of taking part in online gambling as a player. Illinois online gambling is legally permitted from offshore gambling sites that are operating legally within the industry and possess official credentials to establish their legitimacy.

Just because the law is silent on taking part in online gambling, it does not mean that online gambling is legal in the State of Illinois. While IL state-based online gambling may be questionable, there are no federal laws or state laws specifically prohibiting residents from participating in online gambling that is based, licensed, and regulated outside of the United States.

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    Where Do Illinois Gambling Laws Stand On Gambling In General?

    Under Illinois gambling laws, playing a game of skill or chance for money or anything of value is gambling. Gambling is a class A misdemeanor offense in the State of Illinois, but not all gambling is illegal in Illinois. State-approved forms of gambling are legal. Illinois gambling laws do not distinguish between a game of skill and a game of chance. It has been upheld by Illinois courts that Texas Hold 'em poker is gambling.

    Are There Land Based Casinos In Illinois?

    There are many licensed casinos across the state where people over the age of 21 can legally gamble. State law allows riverboat gambling on any navigable stream in Illinois except Lake Michigan. It must be noted that the age of majority in Illinois is 18 but to legally gamble in a casino, the person must be at least 21 years old. The state also has a state lottery as well as legal pari-mutuel wagering system. Illinois also has a wide slate of charitable gambling formats. However charitable gambling events can only offer blackjack, roulette, poker, craps, pull tabs, bear, bang, the dealer, gin rummy, big six, chuck a luck, five card stud poker, keno, merchandise wheel, and hold-em poker. Anyone aged 18 or over can take part in such approved forms of gambling in Illinois (except casinos). The law does not exempt poker games played at home if the winner takes money or anything of value. With the state's favorable view of casino gambling, we anticipate that state-based Illinois online casinos are likely to emerge in the near future.

    In 2009, the Illinois legislature passed the Video Gambling Act. This Act allowed truck stops, fraternal organizations and bars to set up gambling machines offering payouts. The maximum number of such machines that could be set up at a location was limited to 5. Despite the Act being passed and signed into law, it took some time for such gambling machines to be set up across the State because of a lawsuit challenging certain provisions of the Act and problems with the bidding process. Today there are more than 2000 such gambling machines across the state.

    Where Does Illinois Stand On Regulating State-Based Online Gambling?

    Illinois has been a proponent of regulating online gambling at the state level. In fact, the state was the first to introduce online lottery options. It remains one of only a handful of states that have launched online lottery initiatives.  The Illinois Racing Board permits betting on horse races over the internet through approved sites.

    In the past, the State of Illinois has on more than one occasion attempted to legalize online gambling. The first attempt came in 2012 when the members of the Illinois House and Senate attempted to pass a law that would regulate various forms of online gambling. The bills did not make it through the committee.

    In 2013, another attempt was made to regularize online gambling but this attempt too failed as it perished during negotiations on the issue of having more casinos in the state. The section on online gambling had to be removed from the bill as Governor Pat Quinn had previously spoken out against its inclusion.

    There were reports that Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton was planning to introduce a standalone bill aimed at bringing online casinos and Illinois online poker games to the state. The bill sought to permit a wide array of gambling options but would limit online betting to events where such bets are explicitly legal. The bill was not successfully passed.

    In 2019, the state's legislature did pass a bill authorizing state-licensed sportsbook gambling that once fully implemented, will include online and mobile sports betting options. This certainly will pave the way for the state to also embrace domestic online casino and poker gambling if they so choose.

    Are There Any Federal Laws That Make Online Gambling Illegal For Illinois Players?

    No. There are no US federal laws that prohibit online gambling for IL residents or any other type of gambling for that matter. Each individual state is legally authorized to prohibit or allow state-regulated online gambling at their pleasure. The DOJ 2011 Legal Opinion determined that domestic online casino and poker gambling was no longer federally prohibited. The 2018 repeal of PASPA added domestic sports gambling to that the list of online gambling platforms no longer prohibited.