Are Casinos Legal In Illinois

James Lopez
August 24, 2023
Are Casinos Legal In Illinois


Are Casinos Legal In Illinois: The allure of casinos, with their flashing lights, spinning roulette wheels, and the promise of winning big, has captivated the entertainment-seeking populace for decades. Amid this fascination, the question of the legal status of casinos emerges as a pivotal point of interest. 

Illinois, nestled in the heart of the United States, boasts a rich history and a varied landscape that ranges from sprawling urban centers to serene rural expanses. The state has seen significant shifts in its legal stance on gambling over the years, with casinos being a central focus. From riverboat casinos to land-based establishments, the gambling landscape in Illinois has evolved dramatically, reflecting changing attitudes, economic considerations, and political dynamics.

To address the question of the legality of casinos in Illinois, one must delve into the annals of legislation, court decisions, and public sentiment that have shaped the state’s gambling framework. This exploration involves not only understanding the current state of affairs but also tracing the journey that Illinois has undertaken to reach its present stance on casino legality.

In this article, we embark on a journey through time and legal intricacies, uncovering the nuanced narrative of casinos in Illinois. We will examine key legal milestones, the impacts of casinos on the state’s economy and society, and the perspectives of various stakeholders involved in this ongoing discourse. 

Is casino gambling legal in Illinois?

Yes, casinos, horse racing, lottery gambling and charitable gambling have been legal in Illinois for many years. The legal landscape of casino gambling in Illinois has undergone a series of transformations, reflecting the complex interplay of legal, economic, and social factors. Casino gambling is indeed legal in Illinois, but the journey to this point has been marked by shifts in legislation and public sentiment.

Illinois initially embraced riverboat casinos in the early 1990s as a means to boost tourism and generate revenue. Over the years, the state’s approach to gambling has evolved, culminating in the authorization of land-based casinos in addition to riverboat establishments. These casinos offer a range of games, from slots to table games, catering to both local residents and tourists.

The legalization of casino gambling has sparked debates around responsible gaming, economic benefits, and potential societal drawbacks. Proponents point to increased employment opportunities and a boost to local economies, while critics express concerns about addiction and the potential for negative social impacts.

Are Casinos Legal In Illinois

When did Illinois legalize casinos?

Illinois was the second state in the nation to legalize riverboat gambling with passage of the Riverboat Gambling Act in February 1990. In September 1991, the first riverboat casino opened in Alton. Today, there are eleven licensed casinos operating throughout Illinois.

Illinois entered the realm of legalized casino gambling in the early 1990s, marking a significant shift in its approach to gaming and entertainment. The state’s journey toward casino legalization was spurred by a combination of economic considerations, the desire for increased revenue, and the evolving attitudes toward gambling.

In 1990, the Riverboat Gambling Act was signed into law by then-Governor Jim Edgar. This legislation paved the way for the introduction of riverboat casinos, which were permitted to operate on the state’s waterways. The aim was to not only provide a new form of entertainment but also to boost tourism and invigorate local economies.

Over the years, Illinois continued to adapt its approach to gambling, expanding beyond riverboat casinos to include land-based casinos and introducing measures to regulate the industry and address potential concerns. These developments reflect the ongoing evolution of the state’s stance on casinos and its recognition of the role gambling can play in its economic and entertainment landscape.

Are casinos 18 in Illinois?

Illinois Revised Statutes chapter 230, §5/3.08. The state also makes a distinction between casino gambling run by charities—age 18—and casino gambling run for profit on riverboats—age 21. Lottery: It is unlawful to sell a ticket to anyone under the age of 18, but adults may buy tickets as gifts to minors.

In Illinois, the minimum age to legally enter and gamble at casinos depends on the type of casino and the specific games being played. Generally, the minimum age for casino gambling in Illinois is 21 years old, but there are exceptions for certain types of gambling activities.

For most casinos in Illinois, including riverboat casinos and land-based casinos, the minimum gambling age is 21. This means that individuals must be at least 21 years old to enter the casino premises and engage in any form of gambling, including playing slot machines, table games, and poker.

However, there is an exception for some forms of gambling that are allowed for individuals who are 18 years old. Specifically, the Illinois State Lottery and pari-mutuel wagering on horse races both permit individuals who are 18 and older to participate. This means that individuals who are 18 can purchase lottery tickets and bet on horse races at authorized locations.

The minimum gambling age in Illinois casinos is generally 21 years old, but there are exceptions for certain forms of gambling such as the state lottery and horse race wagering, where the minimum age is 18. Anyone considering gambling in Illinois should be aware of these age restrictions and carry appropriate identification to verify their age when visiting gambling establishments.

Does Illinois have gambling casinos?

Illinois has a total of 25 casinos and pari-mutuel facilities at your disposal which are spread out across 21 cities throughout the state.

Illinois is home to a variety of gambling casinos that offer a diverse range of gaming experiences. The state’s gambling landscape has evolved over the years, with various types of casinos catering to both residents and visitors.

Illinois embraced casino gambling in the early 1990s with the passage of the Riverboat Gambling Act in 1990. This legislation permitted the operation of riverboat casinos on the state’s waterways. The first riverboat casino, the Alton Belle Casino, opened in 1991, paving the way for other similar establishments.

Over time, Illinois expanded its approach to casino gambling beyond riverboats. The state authorized land-based casinos in addition to riverboat casinos, providing a broader array of options for gamblers. These casinos offer a mix of slot machines, table games like blackjack and roulette, poker rooms, and other entertainment amenities.

It’s important to note that while casino gambling is legal in Illinois, there are regulations in place to ensure responsible gaming practices and to address potential social issues associated with gambling. Additionally, the legal age for gambling at most casinos in Illinois is typically 21 years old, with the exception of certain video gaming activities that may be permissible for individuals aged 18 and older.

Are online casinos legal in Illinois?

Not yet. The only online casinos at which it is possible to play in the Prairie State are social casinos. State legislators have conducted feasibility studies that concluded the state could earn as much as $230 millon a year in tax dollars from a legal online casino market here; but there is concern that this could deplete takings from retail casinos. 

However, it is likely that Illinois online casinos where you can play with, and win, real money will be legalized in the near future. Online casinos are not explicitly legal in Illinois. The state has taken a cautious approach to online gambling, with regulations primarily focusing on land-based casinos and other forms of gambling.  

While online casino gambling, including games like slots, table games, and poker, is not yet legal in Illinois, the state’s approach to online sports betting might signal a potential shift in attitudes toward online gambling in the future. It’s worth noting that states often adopt different positions on various forms of online gambling, and the situation can evolve over time.

If you’re interested in online gambling, including casinos, it’s advisable to closely monitor legislative developments in Illinois. Regulations can change, and states occasionally revise their stances on different forms of online gaming. Always verify the most current legal status of online casinos and other forms of gambling with official state sources or legal experts before participating in any online gambling activities.

Are Casinos Legal In Illinois

What types of casinos are allowed in Illinois?

Illinois permits both commercial casinos and riverboat casinos. These establishments offer a variety of casino games, such as slot machines, table games, and poker. In Illinois, several types of casinos are allowed under specific regulations, reflecting the state’s evolving approach to gambling and entertainment.

Riverboat Casinos: Illinois initially introduced riverboat casinos in the early 1990s. These casinos are located on the state’s waterways and were one of the first forms of legalized gambling in the state.  

Land-Based Casinos: Over time, Illinois expanded its gambling landscape to include land-based casinos as well. These casinos are situated on land rather than on water and offer a broader range of amenities and gaming options. 

Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs): In addition to traditional casinos, Illinois introduced video gaming terminals in certain establishments such as bars, restaurants, and truck stops. These terminals allow patrons to play electronic versions of casino games like slots and poker. It’s important to note that VGTs are subject to specific licensing and regulatory requirements.

Are there any restrictions on casino games in Illinois?

Casino games such as slot machines, table games, and poker are generally allowed in Illinois casinos. However, individual casinos may have specific rules and game offerings.

Illinois has established a regulatory framework that governs casino games and imposes certain restrictions to ensure responsible gaming practices and maintain the integrity of the industry. These restrictions encompass various aspects of casino operations, including game offerings, betting limits, and player protections.

Game Offerings: Illinois casinos typically offer a variety of casino games, including slot machines, table games like blackjack, roulette, craps, and poker. However, the specific types and variations of games can vary from casino to casino based on their licenses and agreements with the state.

Betting Limits: There are often limits on the minimum and maximum bets that players can place on different games. These limits are designed to accommodate a wide range of players and ensure that gaming remains enjoyable without excessive risk.

Player Protections: Illinois places a strong emphasis on responsible gaming. Casinos are required to provide resources and information to help individuals make informed decisions about their gambling activities.  

Regulation and Oversight: The Illinois Gaming Board is the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing casino operations and ensuring compliance with state laws and regulations. This oversight helps to maintain fairness, security, and transparency within the industry.

Age Restrictions: Most casinos in Illinois have a minimum gambling age of 21 for activities such as casino gaming. However, certain types of video gaming terminals (VGTs) may have a minimum gambling age of 18, depending on the establishment’s location.

Are online casinos in Illinois safe?

Yes, they should be. Experienced commercial casinos are at the cutting edge of cyber security, so that they can offer their customers complete peace of mind. Social casinos should aspire to the same levels of security/ Players’ personal information and financial data should be kept safe at all times.

Online casinos in Illinois, like in any other jurisdiction, are a subject of scrutiny when it comes to safety. The question of whether online casinos in Illinois are safe involves several factors that potential players should consider before engaging in online gambling activities.

First and foremost, it’s important to note that the safety of online casinos in Illinois varies depending on the platform you choose to play on. Licensed and regulated online casinos in Illinois are generally considered safe, as they are overseen by the Illinois Gaming Board or other relevant authorities. These casinos are required to adhere to strict regulations that ensure fair play, secure transactions, and responsible gambling practices.

However, not all online casinos operating in Illinois may have obtained proper licenses or adhere to the necessary regulations. Players should exercise caution and do their due diligence before signing up on any platform. Researching the casino’s reputation, reading reviews from other players, and confirming its licensing status are crucial steps to take to ensure safety.

Moreover, responsible gambling measures are another aspect of safety to consider. Reputable online casinos provide tools and resources for players to manage their gambling habits, set limits on deposits, losses, and wagering, and even self-exclude if necessary. These measures showcase a casino’s commitment to player well-being and safety.

Are Casinos Legal In Illinois


In the realm of gambling and entertainment, the inquiry into the legality of casinos in Illinois unveils a story of transformation, reflection, and adaptation. From the earliest riverboat gaming experiments to the modern, sophisticated casino game complexes that now dot the state’s landscape, Illinois has witnessed a dynamic evolution in its approach to gambling.

The journey through Illinois’ gambling history underscores the intricate interplay between economic considerations, regulatory frameworks, and societal perceptions. As the state navigated the legal landscape, it not only carved a path for itself but also contributed to the broader conversation about responsible gambling and its potential impact on communities.

Today, as casinos operate legally in Illinois, the story continues to evolve. The lessons learned from the past guide policymakers, citizens, and industry players in striking a balance between fostering economic growth, safeguarding vulnerable individuals, and preserving the state’s unique identity.

The question, “Are casinos legal in Illinois?” serves as a microcosm of the broader dialogue surrounding the role of gambling in society. It is a question that prompts us to consider not only the legal technicalities but also the implications for individuals, families, and the fabric of the community. As Illinois keeps its casinos’ doors open within the bounds of the law, it also holds the door open for ongoing discussions about the multifaceted nature of this entertainment industry and its place in the Land of Lincoln.

Author James Lopez