The state of Illinois sports betting legislation vs. neighboring states


As the sixth-largest state in the US by population and home to several major sports teams such as the Chicago Bears, it makes sense that there is significant demand for sports betting services in the state. Since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (or PASPA) was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2018, it has been possible for legislators in the state of Illinois to act of their own accord when it comes to allowing sports betting – without having to go through the federal government.

And, sure enough, the Prairie State does now permit sports betting in certain situations, following the passage of the relevant legislation. But what exactly is the status of sports betting in Illinois – and how does it compare to the situation in neighboring states? This article will explain more.


The legal situation in Illinois has changed in recent years – as, of course, it has in many states since the Supreme Court got rid of PASPA and left it up to individual states to decide how to regulate the industry. In Illinois in particular, the state’s Democrat governor – the businessman JB Pritzker – was partially responsible for guiding the relevant legislation through the local Congress in 2019, partly because it will fund some services.

This legislation permits certain sports betting to take place, but only in selected environments. The obvious first choice, horse racing, was included. Wider sporting environments were also included, while casinos that are based on riverside boats are now also allowed to offer sports wagering. Although the law was passed last year, it was not until the first quarter of this year that legitimate in-person betting began – and it was not until the middle of the year that internet-based sports betting first went live.


Just over the border in Wisconsin, however, the situation is very different. It is, in fact, illegal to place a sports bet in the state, and – unlike in Illinois – there are no clear moves afoot by the local legislature to get a bill moving. This does match the wider state of affairs across the state when it comes to gambling: paid-for gambling is not permitted at all.


In Iowa, the situation is different again. Sports betting in Iowa is legal, although it’s important to note that sports betting is also heavily regulated in Iowa by the regional Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. In terms of web-based sports gambling, meanwhile, it is now the case that there are more than five casino website options to choose from when looking to make a wager. However, a potential bettor must arrive in person at one of the state’s physical betting locations before they can move ahead with an online account.


Like Wisconsin, Missouri still does not permit sports betting. But there is some progress being made on this front. Throughout 2020, various local politicians attempted to push through a change in the law – and there were six bills introduced altogether. However, not enough progress was made and it is now looking likely that bettors in the state will be forced to put their plans on hold until 2021.


Kentucky is in a similar position to Missouri when it comes to sports betting, with attempts to have some bills pushed through the local legislature. But it remains the case that the state that is home to the Kentucky Derby cannot seem to pass its legal sports betting framework to any other sport – even despite the support of the state’s governor. Progress in Kentucky, then, appears to be doomed to remain slow.


Finally, the state of Indiana does indeed have legal sports betting. This can be done in person at a physical betting location or a bet can be placed online. Unlike some other states, the time gap between the introduction of web gambling and physical gambling on sports was not long: the two were permitted within one month of each other, and since then, well over a billion dollars has been spent.

Overall, it is clear that Illinois is friendly towards sports betting – and while sports betting might not be legal in every single circumstance or location, efforts have certainly been made to provide bettors with the services they want. Compared to some of its neighbors, such as Wisconsin, Illinois most certainly has a very liberal gambling scene, making it an ideal place for an aspiring sports bettor to be situated.