With a population approaching 12.9 million, the “Windy City” of Chicago houses more residents than 15 US states and many of them love the idea of legal real money Internet poker in 2018. Factor in the rest of the Illinois’ populace, and at nearly 13 million people, the Prairie State is easily one of the most densely packed states in the Union, and perfectly capable of hosting a viable standalone online poker website industry.

The good news is that Illinois is on a short list of states seriously considering the merits of iGaming and real cash Internet poker gambling. Already host to ten land-based commercial casinos with poker betting card rooms and welcome to most forms of regulated legit gambling, Illinois has exhibited a strong willingness to expand its casino operation and its legal real money poker offering as well. And with the support of several key political figures, it wouldn’t be unheard of to see an IL iGaming and Internet poker bill sneak its way into consideration by the end of 2018

Home to the Windy City, Illinois gamblers may find it challenging to find a 2018 real money US poker site. Luckily, we’ve sourced top poker rooms that will gladly let you sign up for an account.

An Illinois iGaming Bill May Be On The Cards

Although Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has spurned several previous attempts to regulate online poker and bring the people of IL lawful real money poker websites – specifying that Internet poker was too new and untested – he has exhibited a readiness to support a new poker betting and gambling bill, in so long as it meets his numerous requests [1].

For one, any real cash gambling expansion bill would be required to designate a portion of the revenue generated from real money poker gambling in IL that would go towards funding education. Secondly, the iGaming and Internet poker industry would not be permitted to contribute to political campaigns. The good news for Illinois betting fans is that the language of existing legal poker website proposals has since been amended in 2015 to meet Quinn’s demands.

In order to further coerce Quinn, IL Senate President John Cullerton plans on pursuing an iGaming and real money Internet poker as a standalone bill. This will allow lawmakers to examine the viability of online gaming and poker websites independently of Illinois’ other land-based gambling activities.

New Jersey’s early success in the real cash Internet gambling iGaming market may prove to be the catalyst that tips the Prairie State’s Governor Quinn over the fence and into the lawful poker websites territory poker betting fans have been hoping for. In its first four weeks, nearly 110,000 new real money gambling iGaming accounts were registered in New Jersey; a state with a population of approximately 4 million less than that of Illinois’.

Given this, it is well very possible that a new piece of online gaming and Internet poker legislation will emerge at some point as part of a package addressing the laws regarding real cash online horse betting.

Latest Illinois Poker News

RAWA hearing Poker Players Alliance RAWA Witnesses Paint Erroneous Picture of Online Poker  By Jon Pineda
The postponed RAWA hearing was finally heard in the House of Representatives by a Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday, but the majority of the witnesses invited to testify…
Online Gambling Illinois Must Wait Online Gambling in Illinois Must WaitBy Todd Wilkins
In dire need of an infusion of cash in order to overcome a revenue shortfall, Illinois has bandied about the idea of online gambling legislation.…
Class Action against PokerStars Dismissed in Illinois Class Action against PokerStars Dismissed in IllinoisBy Todd Wilkins
A potentially damaging, multi-million dollar class action against PokerStars has been dismissed by a judge at the United States District Court in Illinois.…
Survey Finds U.S. Voters Favor States Deciding iGaming IssueBy Todd Wilkins
A recent survey discovered that nearly 75% of Americans believe that individual states should be allowed to regulate online gambling if they so choose.…
Cross-border Agreements Another Option for States U.S. Gambling Update – Oregon, Illinois, New YorkBy Todd Wilkins
Attention has been focused of late on the federal level and the chances of success of New York Representative Peter King's online gambling proposal.…

Are Poker Sites Accepting Illinois Players?


Despite its leniency regarding gambling casino and real money poker betting in general, Illinois has taken a relatively strict stance against unregulated online gambling like Texas Hold’em betting at poker websites. Case in point: In 2009, the State of IL banned operators from running any sort of Internet wagering service or poker website.

Now, that doesn’t mean that those hailing from Illinois can’t play legit real cash poker on a US-facing site; they just might face a few restrictions. We have created a list of 2018‘s best US real money poker websites that are more than welcoming to the poker gambling citizens of Illinois. Why search for a poker website online when all the information you’ll ever need about legal real money Internet poker in Illinois is just a click or two away?

  • U. S. Poker Site
  • Compatibillity
  • Editor Rating
  • Deposit Bonus

Is Online Poker Legal In Illinois?


That’s a question that has confounded even the most diligent students of Illinois’ law and real cash poker players across the state. And while the Prairie State is one of only a handful that specifically addresses Internet gambling, It still makes no specific mention of online poker websites. Thus, the legality of playing online Internet poker for real money resides in a murky gray area for IL residents.

With that said, to date Illinois’ legislators have not officially passed a law that would allow iGaming and poker website providers to operate within the state’s confines.

As always, we suggest that you seek legal advice about how legal real cash poker is in Illinois if you have any questions regarding Illinois’ gambling statues. But for now, let us help you prepare for your adventures into the Internet poker world by going over the most noteworthy aspects of the law:

  • As defined by Illinois’ gambling and betting law, a person commits gambling when he plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value. Emphasis on the word skill, as that would most certainly apply to poker both offline and at poker websites. Section 28-1(a)
  • Anyone who operates, keeps, owns, uses, purchases, exhibits, rents, sells, bargain for the sale or lease of, manufactures or distributes any gambling device is also considered to be committing an act of gambling.
  • Illinois is one of the few states that specifically lists circumstances in which casino and poker gambling is permitted. Namely, regulated horse betting, pari-mutuel wagering, bingo, and the lottery are all deemed legal. Gambling with real cash on one of IL’s many riverboat casinos, in so long as it’s authorized by the Riverboat Gambling Act, is also legal. Section 28-1(b)
  • Violating any gambling or betting law is a Class A misdemeanor. Section 28-1(c)
  • Unlike most gambling statues, Illinois’ laws have been updated to reflect the Internet gambling wagering era. Not only is the term Internet defined, but the law specifically states that it is illegal to knowingly establish, maintain or operate an Internet poker or casino website that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for real money or other thing of value by means of the Internet or to make a wager upon the result of a game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet. Section 28-1(12)
  • While operating an Internet site is clearly illegal, the legality of acting as a participant by betting real money in poker gambling on an existing Internet poker website is not addressed.

For those interested in reading more about Illinois’ gambling and legal poker laws please see the “References” section [2].

The Facts

The History Of Gambling In Illinois



The first step for Illinois saw horse racing approved by the Illinois General Assembly. This gave people an opportunity to start betting on the sport and led to 6 racetracks been built up to this present day.



Bingo games were legalized throughout the state and have thrived ever since.



The Illinois lottery was introduced and the first draw took place on July 1st. The aim of the lottery was to provide an extra revenue stream for the state education fund. Unfortunately, this was a promise that could not be kept by the state and the funds were actually used for more general purposes.



Charity games were approved for non-profit organisations.



The gambling scene took an interesting turn as riverboat casinos were introduced throughout Illinois. This allowed gambling to take place during a journey on a riverboat, but not whilst the riverboats were at a standstill.



A Riverboat Gambling Act was signed which stated that riverboats did not have to be travelling through the water whilst gambling took place. This resulted in nearly all riverboats to stay dockside and essentially become land-based casinos.



Due to the rapid rise of the internet and the impact that had on society, the sale of lottery tickets was introduced online. This made Illinois the first state to begin using this platform for the state lottery.



This timeframe saw the Video Gaming Act passed and then halted from 2009 to 2011. Initially, the act passed and would result in video gambling terminals being placed in a wide variety of licensed venues. However, there were some legal challenges to attend with in regards to this area of gambling and these challenges lasted until 2011. Finally, the court challenge was defeated and the legalisation of video gambling was confirmed.

As far back as the early 1800s, Illinois, like other newly settled states, sponsored lotteries and real cash gambling as an additional revenue stream. American settlers were also inclined to enjoy betting on real money games of chance at local saloons and other establishments.

By the 1830s, Illinois had established a blossoming riverboat gaming industry where people would enjoy real money gambling on games like Texas Hold’em poker. The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 would eventually put a damper on riverboat casinos, as would the increased presence of con men and other shady characters, and by the turn of the century, riverboat gambling was all but extinct.

During the Prohibition Era, gambling and betting on almost every game including real money poker had moved to the underground. Run by organized crime syndicates, gambling related activities like poker betting were often associated with violence, and in some cases, death. In response, law authorities cracked down on gambling at non lawful poker games, and by the 1960s all but a few illegal gambling halls were shut down.

In the 1930s, Illinois’ horseracing gambling industry was in full bloom. So much so, that Chicago alone inhabited six major horseracing tracks where citizens from all over IL would come to enjoy betting real money, including the world-renowned Arlington Park [3]. Today, Chicago is only home to three horseracing establishments.

Eventually, Illinois would loosen its anti-gambling stance, and in 1974 the Illinois Lottery was established. Real cash betting proceeds from the lottery were used to fund public education. In that respect, legit gambling proved highly successful for IL State, raising $2.1 billion annually as of 2010.

Thanks to an historic legislative piece, riverboat gambling was reintroduced into Illinois’ culture in 1990. The move was inspired by neighboring Iowa’s decision to allow riverboat casinos and real money legal poker games along the Mississippi. Under the new law, up to 10 gambling licenses could be handed out. However, none of them could exist in Cook County (Chicago). This measure was taken as a means of protecting the county’s real cash horseracing betting industry.

In 1999, an amendment to the Riverboat Gambling Act was made, stating that riverboat casinos and real cash poker rooms no longer had to cruise.

Regulated Gambling Options In Illinois

There is no dearth of gambling and real money betting options in the Land of Lincoln, including plenty of legal Texas Hold’em and other poker betting choices. In fact, the only form of gambling not regulated under state law is tribal casinos. Land-based brick and mortar casino and poker gambling facilities, pari-mutuel wagering, charitable gambling (including casino nights), horseracing and the state lottery are all permitted in IL.

Legalized online poker may certainly become a reality in Illinois, which is showing a keen interest in the financial benefits of offering licenses and collecting taxes.

The Future Of Regulated Online Gambling In Illinois

Whereas states like Pennsylvania may very well pass an iGaming Internet poker bill in the near future, the citizens of Illinois looking to get in on the real money poker action on top poker websites will likely have to wait a bit longer. IL Governor Quinn has proven a strong advocate of the wait-and-see approach to legal Internet poker, and until lawmakers prove the benefits of online gambling and poker websites, it’s unlikely that he’ll sign off on an Internet gambling bill.

However, given that both the lottery and horseracing are already online and offering residents real cash gambling options, it stands to reason that Illinois state officials, at the very least, are open to the idea of state regulated online gambling and lawful Internet poker websites in IL in 2018.

Fun Fact

President Barrack Obama, who spent the majority of his professional career in Illinois, played real money poker with his peers while employed at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the first poker playing President since Richard Nixon. Or maybe he’s just the first to admit to real cash poker gambling experience in Texas Hold’em poker.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of the final outcome, Internet gambling and legal poker websites will be a hot topic among Illinois state officials in the coming months. And although there’s no guarantee that IL inhabitants will be able to hit the virtual poker felt and start playing at legit real money poker sites in Illinois anytime soon, there are several strong indicators that an IL iGaming and real cash Internet poker bill could pass sooner as opposed to later – especially now that states like New Jersey have proven that online gaming can generate substantial revenue in the form of real money gambling profits.


[1] Illinois Online Gambling to Emerge as Standalone Bill

[2] Illinois Gambling Laws: Illinois Compiled Statues

[3] Arlington Park

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