Illinois Sports Betting

Illinois Sports Betting

Residents of Illinois love their sports teams, even if state laws prohibit them from placing wagers. And while it’s impossible to walk into a licensed bookmaker and take advantage of a promising line, that doesn’t stop millions of dollars from changing hands each year via the outcome of various athletic competitions.

This article is meant to give a summary of sports betting in Illinois, from the legality of the situation to the various games one can wager on. Just keep in mind that I’m not a lawyer, so anyone seeking actual legal advice is urged to visit with a trained professional.

Professional Sports Teams

Illinois and professional sports are almost synonymous, especially when it comes to Chicago. The Windy City is home to several major sports franchises, each with a storied tradition of winning. Athletic competition is also thriving in the smaller cities and towns, and both locals and tourists should easily be able to find a competitive game to bet on at any time throughout the year. Illinois is home to two MLB teams, an NBA and WNBA team, and one each in the NFL and NHL.

Major League Teams

The following are the major league franchises located within the state of Illinois. Any credible bookmaker should offer odds on these games, and you shouldn’t have trouble finding friends or co-workers willing to take some action.

• Chicago Cubs – MLB team founded in 1875

• Chicago White Sox – MLB team founded in 1894

• Chicago Bulls – NBA team founded in 1966

• Chicago Sky – WNBA team founded in 2005

• Chicago Bears – NFL team founded in 1919

• Chicago Blackhawks – NHL team founded in 1926

• Chicago Fire – Major League Soccer team founded in 1997

Minor League and Semi-Pro Teams

In addition to the nationally and internationally known franchises listed above, the state of Illinois is also filled with a wide array of semi-professional and minor league teams. Some of these are affiliated with smaller sports leagues, while others serve as farm clubs for professional organizations. While finding betting lines may be more difficult, you should always be able to fall back on local fans for some action.

• Chicago Bandits – National Pro Fastpitch softball team founded in 2005

• Chicago Red Stars – National Women’s Soccer League team founded in 2007

• Chicago Fire Premier – USL Premier Development League team founded in 2001

• Quad City Mallards – Central Hockey League team founded in 2009

• Rockford IceHogs – American Hockey League team founded in 1991

• Peoria Rivermen – Southern Professional Hockey League team founded in 2013

• Bloomington Prairie Thunder – International Hockey League team founded in 2006

• Chicago Wolves – American Hockey League team founded in 1994

• Chicago Slaughter – Indoor Football League team founded in 2006

• Bloomington Extreme – Indoor Football League team founded in 2006

• Kankakee County Soldiers – Independent Basketball Association team founded in 2007

• Chicago Steam – American Basketball Association team founded in 2008

• Kane County Cougars – Midwest League baseball team founded in 1991

• Peoria Chiefs – Midwest League baseball team founded in 1983

• Gateway Grizzlies – Frontier League baseball team founded in 2001

• Joliet Slammers – Frontier League baseball team founded in 2002

• Normal CornBelters – Frontier League baseball team founded in 2009

• Rockford Aviators – Frontier League baseball team founded in 1993

• Schaumburg Boomers – Frontier League baseball team founded in 2012

• Southern Illinois Miners – Frontier League baseball team founded in 2007

• Windy City Thunderbolts – Frontier League baseball team founded in 1995

If you’re interested in NASCAR, IRL, or CART racing, I’d also suggest checking out the schedules at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, the Gateway International Raceway in Madison, or the Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero.

College Sports Teams

Wagering on NCAA Division I sports is almost as popular as betting on the pro games, and Illinois has a number of schools competing on the highest collegiate level. If college sports betting is your thing, here are the schools you should learn more about:

• Bradley University

• Chicago State University

• DePaul University

• Eastern Illinois University

• Illinois State University

• University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign

• University of Illinois – Chicago

• Loyola University

• Northern Illinois University

• Northwestern University

• Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

• Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville

• Western Illinois University

Online Sports Betting in Illinois

State laws and the federal statue known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act conspire to prevent Illinois residents from getting online and doing business with a virtual sportsbook. Luckily, these laws are designed to punish those who profit the most, so the average citizen doesn’t have to worry about a police raid over a few Internet bets.

While the majority of the leading online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks withdrew from the U.S. market following the passage of the UIGEA and subsequent raids by the Justice Department, a few brave souls remained behind. Some of those still in operation are substandard or outright scams, so I suggest doing a respectable amount of research before opening an account.

Other Ways to Bet in the State

If you can’t find an online site that you’re comfortable with, you always have the following options to fall back on:

• Bet with a Friend – Long before bookies ever existed, people were betting on contests with their friends and co-workers. This method still works just fine, and you don’t have to fool with complicated point spreads or a vig. Just make sure to only wager with those you trust to pay, as someone welching on a bet is sure to cause hard feelings.

• Local Bookie – These are men and women who live in your area and operate under-the-radar bookmaking operations. Be discrete if you decide to ask around, and make sure they can be trusted to pay out winnings before placing any sizable wagers.


Sports betting is illegal in Illinois, but that’s only a minor impediment for those wishing to wager on their favorite teams. Underground bookies can be located throughout the state on a word-of-mouth basis, and there are still a number of online bookmakers who are willing to defy the UIGEA and accept players from the United States.

As is usually the case with sports wagering, the toughest part involves analyzing the line and trying to predict which team can beat the spread. If you can manage to do that with any degree of consistency, a few local laws won’t be any problem at all.