Illinois could be the next US state with a regulated market for real money online poker, but you can win real money prizes today playing sweepstakes poker.

Illinois online pokerWith 12.6 million residents, the Land of Lincoln ranks sixth in population and is home to Chicago and its sprawling suburbs. If the state were to create a regulated market for real money online poker, it would be the second-largest in terms of population, just a little smaller than Pennsylvania.

Lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly have submitted bills calling for creation of a real money online poker market in the state. None have passed yet, but three bills will remain active until the current legislative session ends in January 2025.

We recommend Sweepstakes online poker sites in Illinois Absent a regulated market for real money online poker, we recommend sweepstakes online poker sites. They operate legally under sweepstakes law in Illinois and most US states. Sweepstakes sites host daily tournaments, sit and gos, and ring games. Players can win real cash prizes. More information is available through our in-depth Sweepstakes Online Poker guide.

Despite there being no regulated market, Illinois residents can still play online poker in their home state! We recommend sweepstakes online poker if you’re looking to play online poker and win real cash prizes, and free-play sites if you’re just looking to play for free and don’t want to spend any money.

Pokerfuse recommends two sweepstakes online poker sites: ClubWPT and Global Poker. ClubWPT is a subscription-based site, but Global Poker is what we define as a “modern” sweepstakes site. They function in slightly different ways, which we explain later in this guide. You can win prizes redeemable for real money on both platforms.

Look to this space for updates on online poker in Illinois!

Can I Play Online Poker in Illinois?

Yes, you can play online poker in Illinois! And you have options — it just depends on whether you’re looking to play for real money or you just want to play for free. You can do both from anywhere in the Land of Lincoln.

If you’re looking to play online poker to win prizes that can be redeemed for real money, we recommend sweepstakes online poker sites. Looking to play online poker for free? There are free-play apps and websites available from several sources, including from some sweepstakes poker and real money online poker operators.

Online Poker in Illinois: Key Facts
📢What’s LegalSweepstakes poker sites, free-play, and social poker
🔮Real Money Online
Poker (Regulated)
Legislation is active through January 2025
Main HighlightsSweepstakes poker has daily tournaments, players can win real money
🃏 Available GamesNo Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, and several niche variants
🎁 RewardsClubWPT Premium Rewards, Global Poker Daily Rewards
👥 IL Population12.6 Million (ranks 6th)

The Best Online Poker Sites in Illinois

Efforts to set up a regulated market for real money online poker will likely continue, but you have plenty of legal options for playing online poker today in the Land of Lincoln! If you’re looking for an experience those closely resembles a real cash game, we recommend sweepstakes poker sites. However, if you’re a new player or just want to play for free, there are several free-play apps and sites available in Illinois.

Players can win real money prizes by playing sweepstakes poker. Know up front that “sweepstakes poker” is actually a blanket term for two types of online poker sites: subscription poker and “modern” sweepstakes, for lack of a better term. Both types of sites are legal under sweepstakes law in Illinois and most states. Players can win real money prizes on both platforms.

With subscription poker, players pay a monthly fee in order to gain access to daily tournaments, which offer prizes that you can redeem for real money.

Modern sweepstakes are a little more complicated. Players use real money to buy play tokens (aka Gold Coins). These tokens have no monetary value and can only be used on play-money games. But when players buy Gold Coins, they are gifted a second type of token: Sweeps Coins. These are considered prize entries, and players use them to access ring games and tournaments, which offer real money prizes.

So, to recap, modern sweepstakes involve the following two types of token:

Gold Coins Have no monetary value and can only be used on play-money games.
Sweeps Coins Used by players to enter ring games and tournaments that offer prizes convertible to real money.

We recommend ClubWPT, a California-based operator, for subscription poker. Meanwhile, the modern sweepstakes operator we recommend is Global Poker, which is an Australian company. Here are short descriptions for both sites:

ClubWPT

ClubWPT online poker roomClubWPT is a subscription-based online poker site. The platform hosts tournaments every day, offering prizes that can be redeemed for real money. Some tournaments offers players a chance to win entry to World Poker Tour events.

Players pay a monthly fee for access, and there are two paid membership tiers. ClubWPT offers daily tournaments and sit and gos. It also offers ring games but only in play money mode, meaning there isn’t an opportunity to win real money prizes through ring games, unfortunately.

Read our full review of ClubWPT »

Global Poker

Global Poker online poker roomGlobal Poker follows the modern sweepstakes model, which means it is a site where players use real money to buy play tokens (aka Gold Coins) and they receive Sweeps Coins as a gift. Sweeps Coins are used to access sweepstakes tables, where players can win prizes that can be redeemed for real money.

The operator offers regular MTT series that feature large guarantees and special prizes for winners, including custom-made trophies, swag, and unique avatars.

Read our full review of Global Poker »

Social and Free-Play Poker in Illinois

Playing for real money prizes is fun, but what if you’re not looking for that form of entertainment — you would rather play for free? Or perhaps you are new to online poker and like the game, but you’re not quite comfortable yet with the hand rankings or how betting takes place in a poker game?

Not to worry — there are plenty of free-play apps and websites available to players in Illinois. There are also so-called “social poker” sites where you can play for free. Social media platforms like Facebook also offer online poker for free.

Operators are involved in this space, too. Two of the world’s biggest real money online poker brands, PokerStars and WSOP, have free-play versions of their software — PokerStars Play and PlayWSOP, respectively. Poker All Day is also available — formerly known as PlayWPT, it’s a free version of the subscription-based software associated with ClubWPT and the World Poker Tour.

Why do operators offer free-play sites? They are hoping that once new players become more familiar with the game and want to try their hand at gambling that they will switch over to their “paid” sites, assuming the players live in a state with regulated real money online poker.

Some of the more popular free-play poker titles are Zynga Poker, Replay Poker, and Governor of Poker.

Free-play and social poker sites are recommended for new players, but since there isn’t any real money at stake these types of sites aren’t particularly helpful in developing a winning strategy to win at poker for real money.

Real Money Online Poker in Illinois

Here is some quick history: Illinois became the second state in the nation with legal riverboat gambling in 1990 (Iowa was first in 1989). The first riverboat casino in Illinois opened in September 1991. Lawmakers agreed to let ten riverboats move to land in 2019, although such moves were subject to approval by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) and a $250,000 fee.

Sports betting in Illinois was legalized in June 2019. The first retail sportsbook opened in March 2020, and the first mobile sportsbook launched three months later — Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI) was the first to market with both under its flagship BetRivers brand.

The Illinois General Assembly meets biennially, meaning their sessions last over two-year periods. Lawmakers introduced a bill to legalize online poker and casino during the 2021-2022 session, but the effort fell short. Another three bills have been introduced during the current session, but odds of passage are dwindling — the legislature adjourns on May 24. But lawmakers will meet for another two weeks in the fall and the current makeup of the Assembly can meet at any time until January 11, 2025.

How big would regulated markets for online poker and casino be in Illinois? In June 2022, analysts with Morgan Stanley projected that Illinois would generate $868 million from online poker and casino in 2024, but that was based on igaming expansion being enacted in 2023. Morgan Stanley projected $1.3 billion in igaming revenue in 2025 and $1.7 billion by 2028.

Multi-State Online Poker in IL

All of the igaming expansions bills submitted so far have called for the IGB to launch multi-state poker and for Illinois to join a gaming compact like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which includes Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia.

MSIGA provides the shared liquidity needed to support online poker. The compact allows operators to combine their player pools across multiple states, creating larger tournaments with bigger prizes.

But Illinois is also the sixth-largest US state in terms of population. With 12.6 million residents, one could argue that Illinois doesn’t need to join a multi-state gaming compact for online poker. Its population is large enough that it could operate very successfully as a segregated market, much like the Canadian province of Ontario has done with about 14.6 million people.

On the other hand, if Illinois were to join MSIGA it would be the compact’s most populous member. The other states in the compact are Michigan (which has 10 million residents), New Jersey (9.3 million), Nevada (3.2 million), West Virginia (1.8 million), and Delaware (1 million). MSIGA would balloon to 37.8 million residents with Illinois as a member.

Avoid real money online poker sites based offshore You will come across websites that offer real money online poker to players in the US, but they’re based offshore. We strongly advise you not to play on these sites. The sites are not reputable and players have no recourse to collect winnings they believe are owed to them. We recommend sweepstakes online poker instead. Learn more in our Independent Guide to Online Poker.

Poker Sites Likely to Launch in Illinois

Illinois launching a regulated market for real money online poker would definitely catch the attention of operators.

BetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP will very likely want to launch their online poker platforms in Illinois. Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI) will likely also want in on the action and would offer BetRivers Poker, its poker platform currently in development, to players in its home state.

All four poker operators already have market access in the Land of Lincoln because they currently offer mobile sports betting. Illinois will likely issue licenses for online poker and casino to the same venues — riverboat casinos, land-based casinos, and horse racetracks — authorized for sports betting.

Look for BetMGM and WSOP to create networks that include up to five states in MSIGA. BetRivers Poker could also be available in up to five states, but PokerStars would likely launch a three-state network.

This is what we think a regulated market of real money online poker operators will look like in Illinois, if such a market were to be established. Keep in mind that these network setups are purely speculative:

Operator Potential IL Partnership Hypothetical Network Plans
BetMGM Poker Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino is BetMGM’s partner for mobile sports betting. Needs to launch in NV and combine its MI and NJ player pools to make a four-state network across IL-MI-NJ-NV.
PokerStars USA The operator would presumably have access through FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing (formerly Fairmount Park). The best option for PokerStars would be to create a three-state network across IL-MI-NJ.
BetRivers Poker Rivers Casino Des Plaines will likely offer BetRivers Poker. The casino is owned and operated by Rush Street Gaming. Rush Street Interactive (RSI) will probably want to launch a four-state network that includes DE-IL-MI-NJ.
WSOP USA Grand Victoria Casino, Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel, and Harrah’s Metropolis Casino are all owned by Caesars. The most likely scenario for WSOP appears to be a four-state network across IL-MI-NJ-NV.

BetMGM Poker IL

BetMGM online poker room IllinoisBetMGM will likely be very interested in launching online poker in Illinois. It also will likely want to avoid the same pitfalls it had when it tried to launch sports betting in the state.

The operator applied for a sports betting license in September 2020, but the pandemic interfered with its plans. FanDuel also partnered with Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria one month earlier. FanDuel would eventually transfer its license to Fairmount Park in November 2020, opening the door for BetMGM — which launched in March 2022.

BetMGM could potentially run a four-state network, but it has some homework to do. It must combine its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey and launch its long-awaited poker room in Nevada. A bolder move would also be to deploy in West Virginia, thereby creating a five-state BetMGM Poker US network.

PokerStars IL

PokerStars online poker room IllinoisPokerStars is another operator very likely interested in bringing its poker platform to Illinois.

Presumably, PokerStars will have access to a regulated market for real money online poker in Illinois through FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing, a horse racetrack in Collinsville, formerly known as Fairmount Park (the rebrand was announced in late 2020). FanDuel and PokerStars are brands owned by Flutter Entertainment. FanDuel has been offering retail and mobile sports betting since November 2020.

Integrating Illinois into the PokerStars US network would make it an online poker juggernaut. The operator has already combined its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey, so Illinois’s adoption of multi-state poker would be a big deal. PokerStars also expressed interest in entering the West Virginia market after it joined MSIGA.

BetRivers Poker IL

BetRivers online poker room IllinoisBetRivers Poker is an online poker platform currently in development by Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI). An exact launch date has not been announced, but hopes are high for a launch sometime in 2024.

Illinois is RSI’s home turf, so look for it to launch an online poker platform to rival its rivals’. RSI is certain to partner with Rivers Casino Des Plaines, a casino in suburban Chicago owned and operated by Rush Street Gaming, a sister company to RSI. That’s also where RSI offers sports betting in Illinois, both retail and online, under its flagship BetRivers brand.

RSI could launch a four-state network across Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey, but it must combine the player pools. It would also need to launch online poker in Delaware, where it took over from 888 as the state lottery’s exclusive igaming provider in the closing days of 2023.

It could also be aggressive and create a five-state network that includes West Virginia, which joined MSIGA in November 2023.

WSOP IL

WSOP online poker room IllinoisWSOP is likely savoring the idea of having players from the sixth-most populous US state, which includes the city of Chicago and its suburbs, participating in its eponymous bracelet events.

Luckily for the operator, it has plenty of options for entering the Illinois market — three riverboat casinos in the state are owned and operated by Caesars, which also owns WSOP.

The operator could partner with Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel, or Harrah’s Metropolis Casino.

WSOP would most likely aim to create a four-state network across Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and Nevada. But it could also launch in West Virginia to make a five-state network.

Illinois Online Poker FAQ

Is online poker legal in Illinois?

Yes, you can play online poker in Illinois! We recommend sweepstakes poker sites because that’s where you can win prizes that can be redeemed for real money. Legislation to launch a real money online poker market is currently under consideration.

Does Illinois have real money online poker?

Illinois does not have regulated real money online poker yet, but lawmakers introduced three bills during the current legislative session that call for creating a regulated market for real money online poker. For the time being, we recommend sweepstakes online poker sites, which are a legal alternative to real money where you can win prizes that can be redeemed for cash.

Are subscription poker sites available in Illinois?

Yes, you can find subscription poker sites in the Land of Lincoln. For a monthly subscription fee, players can have access to tables that offer real money prizes. The subscription-based poker site that pokerfuse recommends is ClubWPT.

Can I play modern sweepstakes poker in Illinois?

Yes, Illinois also has modern sweepstakes poker sites. Under this model, players use real money to buy play tokens (aka Gold Coins) and are gifted Sweeps Coins. Gold Coins can only be used for play money games and have no value, but players use Sweeps Coins to get a seat at sweepstakes tables, which offer real money prizes. We recommend Global Poker for modern sweepstakes poker.

Are there online cash games in Illinois?

Yes, you will find cash games on Global Poker. Since it’s a modern sweepstakes poker site, players must use Sweeps Coins to access tables that offer prizes that can be redeemed for real money.

Does Illinois have online tournaments?

Every day. You will find that both sweepstakes poker sites in Illinois, ClubWPT and Global Poker, not only host tournaments every day, but they also have their schedules packed with weekly and monthly tournaments, too. Some of these are branded series unique to each operator.

What types of poker games are available online?

Most of the tournaments on ClubWPT are No-Limit Texas Hold’em (NLH). Global Poker also features NLH prominently, but the site also has variants like Omaha Hi-Lo. There are also bounty tournaments and sit-and-go (SNG) tournaments on Global Poker.

Is PokerStars legal in Illinois?

No, PokerStars is not available in Illinois. Neither are the other top two real money online poker operators in the US — BetMGM and WSOP. If and when Illinois establishes a regulated market for real money online poker, we expect PokerStars (and its rivals) to launch online poker in the state.

Can I play online poker on offshore sites?

Playing online poker on offshore sites is strongly discouraged. Offshore poker sites do not offer the same level of consumer protection as legal, regulated sites. Players also risk identity theft when they disclose their financial and personal information on offshore sites. Federal officials have warned US citizens not to play on offshore sites because they have no legal recourse to collect winnings owed to them.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500