Illinois has had riverboat casinos since 1990 and sports betting since 2019. But it would be a transformative moment for US igaming if lawmakers decide to move forward with multi-state poker in 2024.
Last updated: February 6, 2024
Illinois could be the next state with real money online poker in the US. And it would be a huge market.
With 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 legalize online poker, it would be the second-largest in terms of population, just a little smaller than Pennsylvania.
But if Illinois were to join a multi-state gaming compact for online poker (just as two bills currently under consideration call for). In that case, we expect all major online poker operators to launch in the state posthaste.
Look to this space for updates on online poker in Illinois!
No, there is currently no regulated, real money online poker in Illinois, but that could change in the near future.
Lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly submitted two bills in February 2023 that call for legalizing online poker (and casino gaming). Although the bills were submitted some time ago, both are still alive because legislative sessions in Illinois span two-year periods — the current session ends in January 2025.
Illinois would be the second-largest online poker market in the US if either bill wins passage before the deadline. We expect that all of the major online poker providers in the US will want to deploy in the state.
|Online Poker in Illinois: Key Facts
|Not currently legal, but there is active legislation (through January 2025) before the Illinois General Assembly.
|📅 Date Legalized
|👥 State Population
|12.6 Million (ranks 6th)
|🔥 Potential IL Poker Rooms
|BetMGM Poker IL, PokerStars IL, Run It Once Poker IL, WSOP IL
|🏆 Potential IL Tournaments
|PokerStars US Championship of Online Poker (USCOOP), WSOP Gold Ring Online Circuit Series & Gold Bracelet Series. Additional series expected through Run It Once.
|⚖️ Regulated By
|Illinois Gaming Board (IGB)
|🔞 Legal Age to Gamble
Illinois became the second state in the nation with legal riverboat gambling in 1990 (FYI, neighboring 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.
Reps. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) and Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook) tried to add online poker (and casino gaming) to the mix in 2021. They introduced a bill, HB 3142, to legalize both verticals in February of that year, but it died in committee.
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 had projected $1.3 billion in igaming revenue in 2025 and $1.7 billion by 2028.
Although it failed, HB 3142 was consequential because it would have allowed 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.
As it turns out, HB 3142 won’t be the last word on the matter. Carroll returned with a new bill, HB 2320, in February 2023. That same month, Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. (D-Chicago) introduced a very similar bill to legalize online poker and casino gaming, HB 2239.
Both bills would allow an unspecified number of qualified licensees (meaning the state’s land-based casinos and racetracks) to have up to three skins for online casino gaming. Both bills would also allow Illinois to join MSIGA, but they differ on a tax rate — HB 2239 calls for a 15% tax rate, while under HB 2320, the tax rate would be 12%. HB 2239 appears to be the more popular of the two among lawmakers.
Legislative sessions in the Illinois General Assembly span two-year periods, so the deadline for either of the two latest bills to win passage is January 11, 2025 — the last day of the 2023-2024 session.
Illinois’ membership in MSIGA would be a transformative event for the igaming industry.
The state has about 12.6 million residents, so Illinois would be the most populous of a six-member MSIGA. 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.
With that in mind, it’s likely a given that BetMGM, PokerStars, and WSOP will want to launch their online poker platforms in Illinois. Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI) will also likely want in on the action and will offer Run It Once poker platform, currently in development, to players in its home state.
All four potential 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. Run It Once poker could also be available in up to five states, but PokerStars would likely launch a three-state network.
|Potential IL Partnership
|BetMGM Poker US
|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.
|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.
|Run It Once Poker US
|Rivers Casino Des Plaines will likely offer Run It Once 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.
|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 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 (more about that later), 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.
One of those events could be happening soon. In a recent business update, the operator announced that shared liquidity was “imminent” but gave no details.
PokerStars is another operator very likely interested in bringing its poker platform to Illinois.
Presumably, PokerStars will have access to the Illinois market 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 the state announced in November 2023 that it had joined MSIGA.
Run It Once is an online poker platform currently in development by Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI). An exact launch date has not been announced, but it is expected to be sometime in early 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, but under its flagship BetRivers brand.
Run It Once would likely launch in Illinois sometime after the platform goes live in Delaware. Earlier this year, the Delaware Lottery selected RSI as its exclusive igaming provider, replacing 888.
RSI could launch a four-state network across Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey, but it must combine the player pools. It could also be aggressive and create a five-state network by including West Virginia, which joined MSIGA in November 2023.
WSOP 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.
No, but we expect that it could become legal in 2024! Before the Illinois General Assembly, a pair of bills called for legalizing online poker. Illinois will become the sixth US state with real money online poker if lawmakers pass either one. Illinois will also be the second-largest online poker market in the US based on population, trailing only Pennsylvania (but not by much).
Not at the moment, but it’s very possible that IL lawmakers will pass one of two bills that call for legalizing online poker. Both bills are considered active legislation through January 2025, but a market could launch quickly. When it does, operators will likely need permission from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) and go through a soft launch supervised by the IGB before launching multi-state poker.
No, PokerStars is not currently available in IL. But we expect PokerStars will be extremely interested in launching in Illinois, considering the size of the market (12.6 million residents) and that current legislative proposals call for allowing the state to join a multi-state compact for online poker. PokerStars will likely partner with Fairmount Park, a horse racetrack and its current partner for mobile sports betting.
We think so, yes. Run It Once is currently being developed by Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI), with plans to launch in Delaware sometime in early Q1 2024. It seems like a given that RSI will want to launch all of its igaming products — poker, casino, and sports betting — in its home state.
No, WSOP is unavailable in Illinois, but we expect the operator to be interested in launching in the Land of Lincoln. Its partner will likely be Grand Victoria Casino, a riverboat casino in Elgin that’s owned and operated by Caesars. Caesars also own WSOP.
Players in Illinois could soon have access to BetMGM Poker. The operator will likely have access to the market through the land-based license of Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino, its partner for mobile sports betting.
Illinois offers mobile and online sports betting through about a half dozen sportsbooks. Online casino and poker is not yet legal.
Offshore poker sites are not recommended because they don’t offer the same level of consumer protection as legal, regulated sites. When players disclose their financial and personal information on offshore sites, they are putting themselves at risk of identity theft. Federal officials warn US citizens that they have no legal recourse to collect winnings owed to them and advise Americans not to play on offshore sites for that reason.
Information on the dangers of US citizens gambling on illegal offshore sites and how to tell if a poker site is legal is available in this guide on Poker Shield.