Illinois Online Poker & Gambling Laws

IllionoisIllinois has a long history of gambling that dates back to the 1700s. Throughout the years gambling has been deemed illegal in Illinois and then brought back in various forms through legislation. Illinois has taken a step further than most states in gambling online. Illinois residents can play the state lottery online. This type of online gambling is available in very few states. Many people believe that this bold move will eventually lead to online poker being regulated in the state of Illinois, but that remains to be seen.

Can Players From Illinois Play Poker Online?

Yes! Many online poker sites accept players from the Illinois. Some poker sites that offer services to US players have chosen not to accept players from Illinois. Illinois actually passed legislation addressing online poker. They did not address the legality of players playing the game, but they did make it illegal for anyone in Illinois to run an online gambling site.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Illinois?

The verdict is still out on the legality of online poker in Illinois. The state has not passed a law officially making it illegal, but it has not been legalized either. Illinois does have many laws pertaining to gambling in their statutes. We have highlighted some of the interesting laws below:

  • The Illinois definition of gambling is as follows: When someone plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value.
  • Since the definition of gambling specifically says game of chance or skill poker would definitely be considered gambling in Illinois.
  • Any persons illegally gambling in Illinois can face a misdemeanor crime.
  • Illinois does not have a history of actively pursuing gamblers.
  • Illinois law referring to internet gambling states Any person that knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates an Internet site that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value by means of the Internet or to make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet is illegal
  • We have found nothing in the Illinois law that specifically targets those playing at online gambling sites.
  • The Illinois state lottery is legal to be played online by Illinois residents
  • Charity gambling functions are legal in Illinois. [1]

We are in no way an authority on Illinois gambling laws. If you are concerned about the legality of playing online poker then you should contact your local law makers for an interpretation of the law.

Illinois Gambling History

Illinois officially became a state in 1818, but gambling existed before then. In the 1700s and 1800s the colonies developed lotteries to help generate money. In the 1830s horse race tracks starting popping up in Chicago, and riverboat gambling became very popular in the 1840s.

The early 1900s brought about changes to the gambling industry in Illinois. The riverboat casinos were deemed illegal, and almost all of them were shut down. This did not stop the gambling in Illinois, though. It just made way for more illegal gambling houses, and the gangsters were plenty during this time.

The cash strapped state had a change of heart about gambling by the 1930s. Many lawmakers saw the opportunity to add much needed revenue to the state by legalizing some forms of gambling. By the mid-1930s there were 6 major horserace tracks in Chicago.

The horserace tracks were so successful that the state decided once again to add another form of regulated gambling in 1974. The state lottery was formed, and the revenue generated by the state is used to fund K-12 public education.

The Riverboat Gambling Act was passed in 1990. Immediately after the act was passed, 10 licenses were issued to casinos. The first casino opened in September, 1991. The other 9 riverboat casinos opened shortly afterwards. These boats were required to actually cruise in the beginning, but an amendment to the law in 1999 allowed the boats to dock.

The Video Gaming Act of 2009 was a major victory for gamblers in Illinois. This allowed for video gaming machines to be placed in bars, restaurants, fraternal groups, veteran centers, and truck stops. Many businesses applied for license to have these machines, but it was not until 2012 that the first licenses were issued.

Today, Illinois has a wide variety of legalized gambling options for their citizens. They were one of the first states to allow lottery sales and horse racing bets to be place on the internet and mobile devices. We will not be surprised if online poker is legalized in the state of Illinois soon. [2]

Legalized Gambling Options in Illinois

Illinois has a plethora of legalized gambling options. Riverboat casinos, race tracks, lottery, online lottery and race track betting, and video machines widely available in stores are all legalized in the state of Illinois. You should have no problems finding a legal gambling venue in Illinois.

The Future of Online Gambling in Illinois

Illinois already offers some forms of legalized online gambling. This points them a step above most states in the United States. It is legal to place bets on horse races and play the lottery online. Many people believe this will lead the way to other legal forms of online gambling in Illinois soon.

Senator John Cullerton tried to add other forms of online gambling to Illinois in 2012. This proposal would have made online gambling legal in Illinois under the lottery umbrella. Unfortunately, the bill did not gain enough support to move forward. Cullerton has stated that he plans to introduce a new bill in the future. He thinks that the bill will gain support as lawmakers see how well the online lottery does.


  1. Jump up ^ Illinois Gaming Statutes
  2. Jump up ^ Illinois Gambling History