Best Illinois Casinos

About Illinois Casinos: Although upstanding citizens and the Protestant clergy in Illinois were opposed to gambling, the stigma attached to the games of chance seemed to contribute to gambling popularity, especially among the deprived groups and the immigrants. Easy money and the possibility of independence that this activity could potentially bring had a natural appeal for any man who had to work for a living – on the other hand, the risk element and excitement were the two components that attracted more affluent Illinois residents, who did not have any financial motives to partake gambling.

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All this led to a rapid increase in the number of gambling houses and the 19th-century gambling scene in The Prairie State included horse racing wagering, card games, prize fights, checkers, backgammon, policy, cock and rat fights, etc. 

By 1850, different types of gambling facilities spread through Illinois like fire, including classy and elegant venues for those whose financial status could easily endure such an expensive habit.

In the last decades of the century, gambling syndicates were formed and the most notable members of the community were known to gamble, which made it difficult for the government officials to actually enforce the anti-gambling laws. This partly prevented the crackdowns of illegal gambling houses, and the growth of the industry was, for the most part, undisturbed. In 1927, pari-mutuel betting was legalized, whereas the post-Great Depression era popularized bingo as a means of raising funds.

For a long time, illegal gambling was the center of organized crime operations, until it was replaced by more profitable and sinister vices. In the 60s, laws were applied in a much more uncompromising manner and the 80s were remembered as the decade during which the states successfully dealt with a large portion of the illegal gambling market, thanks to anti-racketeering laws.

As the gambling was gradually leaving the black market, the demographics changed and females become just as involved in this type of activity as men.

The 70s brought the lottery and Illinois has stepped into a new millennium with private (licensed) casinos, off-track sites, fantasy sports scene and a welcoming attitude towards online gaming.

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Best Illinois Casinos And Sports Betting Sites for August 2019

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Best Casinos in Illinois

The Illinois casinos have definitely come a long way in their evolution from the marginalized gambling parlors ran by colorful characters to the elegant venues that you can see today, attracting out of state visitors looking for a good time.

Hollywood Casino JolietIn total, there are around 10 casinos in Illinois, with almost 11,000 gaming machines and more than 250 casino tables. The largest casino in the states is Hollywood Casino Joliet, opened in 2010. The venue covers 50,000 sq ft and has approximately 20 tables and 1170 machines with the lower betting limit of $0.01. Apart from blackjack, craps and roulette, the visitors can also enjoy the casino’s 5-table poker room and Hollywood Stadium Sports bar.

Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino is the 2nd largest Illinois gambling venue located in East Peoria and opened in 1992. The casino floor takes up roughly 26,000 sq ft, with 1170 gaming machines, 5 live action poker variants, and over 20 table games available 7 days a week.

In terms of square footage, Rivers Casino Des Plaines can be considered as the largest casino in Illinois, covering 147,000 sq ft, however, this facility only offers 1044 gaming machines. The bets start at $0.01 and can reach $100,000 on a hand of baccarat. The casino offer also includes craps, roulette, blackjack and pai gow.

Legal Aspects of IL Online Gambling

With PASPA declared as unconstitutional, many hoped that Illinois would legalize sports betting by the end of 2018, but sadly for those who advocate this form of gambling, the issue was put on hold. Since January 2018, there have been 5 sports betting related bills, each with detailed coverage of different land-based and online wagering options, fees, and taxes – there was even an option according to which sports betting would be completely banned in Illinois. The signs of lobbying coming from Major League Baseball and NBA can also be traced in some of the bills, which is not a surprise, having in mind that one of the senators, Napoleon Harris, is a retired NFL player.

In April, the public hearing was held by The Senate Gaming Committee and the bills were compared – integrity fees (explained in layman terms, integrity fee means applying taxes to sports betting) were the first to flare up the discussion, as not all agree with Illinois Senator Napoleon Harris.

Sports betting could bring in millions if legalized but has some consequences

Although there are states that disregarded league’s fears regarding the consequences of sports betting legalization, it seems that Illinois is genuinely interested in how the sports leagues see the new era of gambling. So far, they were supportive of this gambling branch, but only if introduced under the bill outlined by Senator Harris. This, of course, was to be expected, with the city ofChicago arguably being the USA capital of sports and considering the fact that the leagues have their franchise in Illinois.

Naturally, there are those who are concerned about the effects of gambling expansion on the land-based gambling industry, which has been a serious state annual revenue contributor throughout the years. Obviously, legalizing certain forms of gaming could have a negative effect on others and some fear that sports betting in combination with online gambling could make land-based Illinois casinos obsolete. Representative Lou Lang feels that the entire matter is too complex to be rushed into and that speeding through it could be damaging. There are others who share Lang’s opinion – close to over 40% of lawmakers agree with his stand to approach the matter carefully.

While there is still a chance that the sports betting discussions will be resumed by the end of 2018, it is safer to assume that the matter is more likely to be resolved next year, and according to some prognosis, the first legal sports wager could be placed in 2019.
Illinois sports gambling bill probably won’t come until next year

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Once gambling in Illinois casinos started to take its legal form, pari-mutuel horse racing and charitable bingo were the first gambling activities that were legally permitted within the state.

The lottery was established in 1972 and is currently running multiple casino games, including jackpots, instant games, and raffles. More than 60% of the lottery money goes to the winners, while the rest of the proceeds (excluding the operational expenses, commissions and selling bonuses) is directed towards Common School Fund, Capital Projects Fund, and Specialty Tickets.

Online gaming is permitted to Illinois residents (Lottery can also be played online) however, running an online gambling site is not legal in The Prairie State. The Illinois casinos, such as Argosy Casino Alton and Hollywood Casino Joliet, have an online platform offering Vegas-style video and classic slots.

Sports betting is limited to the above-mentioned pari-mutuel horse racing and the expansion of this form of gambling is still being discussed.

Slots, poker, roulette, blackjack, roulette, baccarat are all available inside the licensed Illinois casinos, whereas bona fide and contest of skill form of gambling is allowed outside the gambling premises.

Illinois Casino FAQ's

What is the estimated revenue that Illinois would gain from sports betting?

When it comes to the predictions of annual revenue that the legalization of sports betting would bring, there are conflicting reports. According to some of the lower estimates, the amount would fall somewhere between $50 and $100 million, however, there are those who believe that the numbers are actually much higher, closer to $100 – 200 million. Certain gaming analysts feel that the combination of sports betting with online gambling might even generate up to $700 million, which sounds both impressive and almost too perfect, but not impossible, especially if one considers that the USA residents illegally wager $150 billion on sports (according to American Gaming Association).

What is the legal age requirement for gambling in the state of Illinois?

According to the state laws, one will have to be at least 18 to play the Lottery or 21 to be allowed inside an Illinois casino. This means that minors will not be permitted anywhere on the gaming platform, even if they are not taking an active part in wagering

What is the penalty for practicing an illegal type of gambling?

Illegal gambling is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which means that those caught in an illegal act of gambling are looking at the maximum of 1 year in the county jail. The second conviction would be categorized as Class 4 felony and the penalty would potentially result in up to 3 years in the Department of Corrections.

When will sports betting become legal in the state of Illinois?


There is no reason to assume sports betting will remain illegal in this state, especially since the leagues are not opposing to the possibility. The optimists are even hoping for the status of sports betting to be resolved by the end of 2018, although many believe that sports wagering will not be made official before 2019. 


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