The United States is quite notorious in the world of online gambling, thanks to its stringent laws surrounding the area. However, while U.S. law is one thing, state law is quite another, and gambling laws are varied from one state to the next.

One such American state that has had an often controversial acquaintance with the gaming world is Illinois. Even before Illinois was accepted as a state in 1818, gambling existed there, with early American settlers enjoying games of chance that were brought across the Atlantic. Many early colonies tended to use lotteries in order to bankroll their budgets during the 1700 and 1800s. As Eastern states began disallowing gaming in the 1800s, the industry moved west into Illinois, with horse racing tracks becoming a regular feature in Chicago by 1830. Furthermore, towns alongside the Mississippi River and other waterways saw a vast increase in the popularity of riverboat gaming during the 1840s and 1850s.

Wariness over riverboat gamblers, as well as the Civil War taking place on the Mississippi, wiped out such practices, and gambling went underground, only rearing its head again in the late 1920s. Horse racing would once again become associated with Chicago, with the city hosting six race tracks by the 1930s. Casino gaming would continue to grow throughout the rest of the century, with riverboats returning in the 1990s. The year of 2009 would see the Video Gaming Act come into effect, allowing machines to be installed in bars, restaurants, fraternal organisations, truck stops and veterans groups.

Online Gaming in Illinois

2006 marks the year when the United States introduced the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which, had the effect of restricting online gambling across the whole United States. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act led to most online casinos preventing US-based players altogether from signing up to online casinos and making money deposits.

Since 2006 online gaming became a completely mixed bag of legal and illegal across all 50 states, and each one allowing certain types of games and not others, it's quite refreshing to know that Illinois was one of the first states in the nation to offer online lottery sales and an advanced deposit wagering law, which allows citizens to place bets on horse races from anywhere within Illinois, be that via a home internet connection or via smartphone applications. Furthermore, Illinois Senate President, John Cullerton has initiated negotiations on possible legislation to authorise internet poker and other games.

As of today, Illinois is one of a small handful of states that allows legal gambling for charitable reasons, pari-mutuel, lotteries, commercial and racetrack. However, citizens in Illinois are not allowed to operate online casinos or poker sites from within state, as according to law.

Horse Racing License

If you are into horse racing and thinking about to apply for a license which allows you to accept bets on horse racing Illinois might be the perfect place for you. The state of Illinois is still very big on its horse racing events though, which are deemed completely legal. However, all participants in such are required to obtain an Occupation License, which expires on December 31st of every year. Fingerprints are also required from first time applicants not previously licensed in Illinois, and renewal applicants that haven't been fingerprinted within the past five years.

Applicants who are interested in acquiring a license to accept horse racing related bets or want to get involved in horse racing an another way, simply need to fill in a form specific to their particular status within the horse racing sector, and by signing such will also consent to a background check via ISP and FBI CHRI. Fingerprints are charged at $29.75 for a digital scan, or $34.75 for a traditional ink and roll procedure.


  • Illinois Gaming Board
  • 160 North LaSalle, Suite 300
  • Chicago, Illinois 60601
  • Phone: (312) 814-4700
  • Fax: (312) 814-4602
  • Website: