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 within the past 10 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?
Regulated sports betting began in Illinois in March of 2020. The arrival of regulated sportsbooks came close to one year after Illinois lawmakers passed a bill allowing online and in-person betting in the state. You can now place bets at regulated sportsbooks who have obtained a license to operate in the state.
As an Illinois resident you also still have the option to bet through offshore betting sites, such as the two I’ve outlined below, which are regulated and licensed outside of the USA. These sites continue to accept Chicago residents with open arms, and they are safe, secure and popular options for American bettors. The offshore betting sites also have more experience in the market and rely on their reputation rather than state licenses to operate their businesses.
Best Sportsbooks for Chicago Residents
- Built for American bettors
- Wide variety of competitive betting lines
- Easy to navigate betting platform
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
There are a few casinos in Chicago that have received licenses to add sportsbooks to their casino properties. These include Rivers Casino Des Plaines, Horseshoe Casino Hammond, and Barstool Sportsbook at Ameristar Casino in East Chicago, which are the three main casinos serving the Chicago area.
Illinois also allows 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.
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.
Hawthorne Race Course has also added a Sportsbook to its property so you can place bets on sporting events at the race track.
Major Sports Teams in Chicago
- Chicago Bears (Football – NFL)
- Chicago Blackhawks (Hockey – NHL)
- Chicago Bulls (Basketball – NBA)
- Chicago Cubs (Baseball – MLB)
- Chicago Fire (Soccer – MLS)
- Chicago White Sox (Baseball – MLB)