Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and has a long history of success in the largest sports leagues in North America.  The Bulls dominated the NBA with Michael Jordan throughout the 1990’s and the Blackhawks and Cubs have found championship success over the past few years, so being a sports fan in the Windy City has been a lot of fun over the past 3 decades.

With all of this success and a sports team (two in the MLB) in each major league in the USA it’s no surprise that sports betting has become a big part of the sporting culture in Chicago.  On this page I will answer the question surrounding the legality of sports betting in Chicago, provide information on the best online betting sites for Chicagoans to use and also look at some of the offline betting opportunities available in the city.

Is Sports Betting Legal in Chicago?

This is a bit of a trick question, and let me tell you why.

Like most states in the USA (every one except Nevada) sports gambling is not regulated in Illinois.  This means that it is not legal to run a sportsbook or accept sports betting wagers in the state. That said, it is not illegal for residents of Illinois to place sports bets with sportsbooks or betting sites located and regulated outside of Illinois.

Offshore betting sites, such as the two I’ve outlined below, are regulated and licensed outside of the USA.  These sites are able to accept Chicago residents with open arms and are safe, secure and popular options for people across America looking to place wagers on sporting events.

Best Sportsbooks for Chicago Residents

Sportsbook Bonus Review Visit
1 100% up to $250 Review Visit
2 50% up to $2500 Review Visit

These are our top two sportsbooks for Chicago residents.  Both of these betting sites are very popular across the entire United States and offer a safe and secure platform to place your wagers.  Check out the reviews for more information on either betting site.

Offline Sports Betting in Chicago

Unfortunately, offline sports betting is not allowed in the State of Illinois.  The only location in the USA where you can legally place sports wagers at a brick and mortar casino is in Nevada.

That said, Illinois does allow you to place horse racing wagers at racetracks within the State and two of the top racetracks in the country are located just a few minutes from downtown Chicago.

Arlington International Racecourse

The Arlington International Racecourse is a quick 40 minute drive north-west of downtown Chicago.  This is one of the top tracks in America, established in 1927 and having a unique place in horse racing history as being the first track to host a thoroughbred race with a million-dollar purse.  The Arlington Million is the flagship race held at the track, while the Beverly D. Stakes and Secretariat Stakes are also grade 1 races that are held at Arlington Park each year.

You are able to wager on live races almost daily at Arlington Park and you also have the opportunity to wager on horse races from across the country from the Arlington Park grounds.

If you are unable to head to the track you can also place bets on the Arlington Park races at either Bovada or BetOnline, both of which take bets on all the races that take place at the racecourse.

***I should note that sports betting is not offered at the racetrack.

Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Race Course is another well established Chicago race track that opened in 1891 and offers both thoroughbred and harness racing live.  It is located a short 20 minute drive south-west of downtown Chicago and just north of the Chicago Midway International Airport.

The Hawthorne Race Course also offers live track betting and simulcast betting for races across the country.  It’s most prestigious race each year is the grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup that has a rich history as one of the most prestigious races in America dating back to the 1920’s.

Both Bovada and BetOnline also accept bets on all races that take place at Hawthorne Race Course.

Major Sports Teams in Chicago

  • Chicago Bears (NFL)
  • Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
  • Chicago Bulls (NBA)
  • Chicago Cubs (MLB)
  • Chicago Fire (MLS)
  • Chicago White Sox (MLB)