There is a proliferation of gambling in this state, we review all the major land casinos in this guide from the most popular to even the small. Other gambling facts for Illinois: online casinos are available, with sports betting soon to be made available.
Illinois has had a boom in gambling over the past four years, particularly in slots and video gaming terminals. You can find lots of recreational gaming in truck stops, convenience stores, arcades and malls. With the growth of gaming outside of the mainstream casinos, the mix of popularity has shifted from table games to slots, video and other machine games.
Historically Illinois explicitly prohibited many forms of gambling, however, as with a other states in the US casino operators applied a loophole whereby riverboats are exempt and therefore were declared legal. As you guessed it, all forms of gambling were therefore permitted in Illinois as long as it was held on a “Riverboat”. Over the many years the definition of riverboat changed from the need to physically set sail to being permanently moored to a port.
In today’s current environment, Riverboat revenue popularity has fallen dramatically with the prevalence of “mini casinos”. Whilst many people enjoy a night out to a casino, more would prefer a low key social gaming environment. Mini casinos that offer slots, video game terminals, poker machines, and other favorites provide convenience and fun factor for locals. Riverboat casinos are finding it difficult to compete against the change in gambling trend.
Following changes to riverboat gaming laws, land based casinos were soon made legal. Although not in the same scale as Las Vegas, these casinos offer a good variety of gaming and have become popular since legalization. The blend of riverboat and land based has become interchangeable in their offering. You can check out our listing of casino reviews in the below section of this page.
Of course the biggest game changer in recent years is online gambling. Online gambling in 2020 is yet to be legalized and there is anticipation that this will change in the coming years if not months.
Along with online gaming, we anticipate online sports books, physical sport books, daily fantasy sports and esports to be legalized in 2021.
Racing (horse and greyhounds) is allowed in Illinois, and online horse bets are allowed and operational.
A complete listing of what is permitted is as follows:
- Riverboat Casinos
- Video Gaming Terminals
- Pull Tabs and Jar Games
- Raffles & Charitable Games
- State Lottery and Scratch Tickets
- Pari-mutuel Betting
- Games of skill or chance where no payment or purchase is required to enter
As you can see the gambling landscape is very diverse. There is an allowance for small gambling outlets such as truck stops, permitted to hold video gambling terminals and several slot.machines, followed by mini casinos at small to medium sites, with the largest sites being riverboat and land based casinos. In addition there is charitable gambling which includes bingo and raffles, the state lottery and horse racing. The only real exclusion is greyhound racing.
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Illinois Online Gambling
Illinois is at the forefront of becoming the fifth state to have approved online casino gambling. Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania are the first four states to have formally approved online casinos.
Although, the status quo, remains technically illegal to play at online casinos, the reality is that no Player has ever been charged with breaking the law. The law enforcement turn a blind eye, (so to speak) just as they would to illegal jaywalking.
Illinois ranks as the fifth in the US for playing at offshore online casinos. Wagering an estimated $35.7 million per year, it ranks just above Pennsylvania and behind Florida. The state with the largest wagering for offshore online casino is California at $180 million.
Overview of Illinois Casinos
In 2008, Illinois was one of, if not the first state to ban smoking in casinos. A study has been conducted to determine if this has had any affect on the revenue and patronage of casinos. The results of the study were not conclusive, because the timing of the ban coincided the global financial crisis.
There’s quite a few Illinois land casinos to play at. We have reviewed all of them and rank them as follows:
- Rivers Casino Des Plaines
- Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
- Hollywood Casino and Hotel Joliet
- Jumer’s Casino and Hotel
- Harrah’s Metropolis Casino and Hotel
- Par-A-Dice Casino and Hotel
- Casino Queen
- Hollywood Casino Aurora
- Argosy Casino Alton
By far the most popular casino is Rivers Casino Des Plaines, with twice as many visitors as Grand Victoria which comes in at a reputable second.
#1 Rivers Casino Des Plaines
Rivers Casino is located in the North Chicago suburb of Des Plaines and is without a doubt the number one casino in Illinois. Even though this casino is the newest in Illinois, only opening in 2011, revenue generated from Rivers is more than twice as much than any other. Co-owned by Rush Street Gaming and Churchill Downs Inc, the combination of their experience, have provided that cutting edge experience and professionalism for players. As a fun fact, this casino is built on a shallow layer of water on a purpose built enclosed pit to comply with State gambling guidelines for riverboats.
Gaming – This casino features 1,044 slot machines, 48 gaming tables and seven restaurants. They offer slot machines that are the latest and often being renewed for the newest and best, they have a good variety of table games, Blackjack, Craps Baccarat, Texas Hold’em and even Pai Gow. (No poker room is available).
Minimums vary during the time of the day and week, hence you may find the table limits quite high during popular playing hours.
Come and get your “Rush” membership, the Players reward program at the Rivers. They offer one of the best, if not the best, rewards program, and should not be missed. Take advantage, even if you are a drop by visitor.
A ripper of a buffet, great staff who go that extra mile.
This casino is a stand alone casino with no attaching hotel. However you will find no shortage of options to stay nearby. There are many quality hotels such as the Crown Plaza, Hyatt, Sheraton and Hilton nearby – all the big name hotels are simply around the corner.
- Open from 9am to 7am, 7 days a week
- There is a shuttle service available from the CTA Rosemont Blue Line Station. Taxi service is also available at the front of the casino.
- The minimum age is 21 to gamble.
- They do have ATM’s on site, however they charge a $6 fee! If you need cash, then withdraw beforehand.
- No free drinks – alcohol and soda inclusive. Free water is available at the bar.
- A non smokers casino.
#2 Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
This is a casino that is modern in amenities, functionality but designed in the old fashioned riverboat theme. The casino floor covers 29,850 square feet and offers over 1,000 slots and video poker games, 36 table games, a poker room, four restaurants, a lounge, and two seasonal entertainment venues. A beautiful layout, very clean and tidy. Convenient location and plenty of games to choose from.
Gaming – The GVC, as the locals call it, has the big common games. Roulette, blackjack, live poker and plenty of slots. The minimums veer on the slightly high side. This is shown by the many dollar slot machines but very lower denomination machines. The poker room is located at the lower level and can be reserved for by players. The poker room opens from 8:30am, whilst table games start from 9:45am except for Saturday, Sundays and holidays which open earlier at 8:30am. Table games include: blackjack, EZ baccarat, 21+3 blackjack, craps. There are a total of 36 tables.
As per the law no free alcoholic beverages can be served.
Food – Prime Burgerhouse serves the best burgers and fries! Reasonably priced and quick to serve. A good selection of local craft beers on offer. Great casual dining. Buckingham steakhouse is the place to wine and dine in style. Gourmet seafood, chicken and of course steak. Buffet is available at the Indulge Show Kitchen Buffet. It’s in fact a combination of 6 restaurants working together to offer the best in fine dining. Crave Deli is the coolest grab and go cafe eatery and is open 24/7.
- Open from 8:30am to 6:30am, 7 days a week.
- The minimum age to gamble is 21. Photo ID is regularly checked.
- Parking for large vehicles is available.
- Reservation for the poker tables is available, call to book.
- Withdraw cash prior to arriving at the casino, it costs $5 per withdrawal at ATM’s on site.
#3 Hollywood Casino & Hotel Joliet
The newly remodeled 50,000 square floor casino floor with more than 1,100 of the best slots and video poker machines, a great selection of table games such as blackjack, craps, roulette,and more, and a 5-table live action poker room. Contemporary and well kept. Staff are courteous and welcoming. Associated with the riverboat casino is an onshore hotel.
Gaming – The HCJ has over 25 tables that offers blackjack, craps, roulette and a whole lot more. No baccarat is available. Video poker and slots machines are plentiful and never too crowded, although the aisles can be slightly squashy. Denominations range from 0.01 to $100 with the majority being penny slots. The slot machines occupy two floors of gaming with themed slots including the popular Wheel of Fortune and Lightning Hill. There is a high limits room.
Alcoholic beverages are not complimentary, but there is complimentary soda, water and coffee.
Food – The food is classy, sophisticated and above all tasty! There is an Epic Buffet, and it truly is epic. Although the pricing can be in the high range, so try and ask for a coupon or discount. The brunch buffet is really good, and worth the money. There is a great little sports bar – 99 Hops House – selling great craft beer, casual food dining and live entertainment.
Hotel and RV Parking – Free valet parking if you are a member of the casino. The hotel resides onshore across a parking lot. It’s not overly far away, but there is a shuttle service that can take you from the casino to the hotel and back. Large truck and RV parking is also available. You must be at least 21 years of age to stay at the hotel. Room rates can range from $150 to $300 per night.
- Bring your ID, it will be checked. Driver’s license, State ID, Military ID or Passport is acceptable.
- There is no kids room.
- Opening hours are 7:30am to 5:30am each day, seven days a week.
#4 Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
A smoke free casino, has over 42,000 square feet of gaming space populated with more than 1,000 slot and video poker machines, 24 table games, live action poker and a high limit slot room – all on one gaming floor. In addition to two stand alone bars, the property includes 4 restaurants, a gift shop, and lakeside driving range with floating targets. A five-storey hotel with 205 rooms including 11 luxury suites is directly connected to the property. Clean, good service, and you can play on the slot for a while without it burning through your wallet quickly.
Gaming – 1,000 slot machines! New games and popular games! Wheel of Fortune – tick, Lightning Links – tick, Walking Dead – tick. It’s got them all. A wide variety of denominations and progressive slots. You can hit the big jackpot and be set for life.
24 table games galore that covers:
- Ultimate Texas Holdem
- Mississippi Stud
- Three Card Poker
Poker room is spacious, cool, and exciting. Use your skills to win! Get your poker face game on and play! Call one hour in advance to register for a spot at the table.
Food – DJ’s Steakhouse – the best in fine dining. Excellent, tasty steaks, chicken, seafood and other exquisite dishes. Player’s Buffet – the best buffet around town. A huge variety that crosses from American favorites through to the Chinese and Italian. Enjoy the desserts! Blue Square Café – the best in casual dining. Burgers, hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, salad and soups. Great comfort food.
Hotel – 205 spacious, freshly renovated hotel room suites. Includes indoor pool and fitness center. A short walk will bring you to the riverboat casino.
#5 Harrah’s Metropolis Casino Hotel
A small town casino that is open 24hrs and floating on the Ohio river. This riverboat casino currently offers 24,269 square feet of gambling space and serves an average of 1,823 players daily. There are 800 slots and video poker machines and 22 table games. This is a non-smokers casino. Restaurant and late night snack-bar is excellent. A great place for a stop over.
Gaming – Check out the poker room – newly renovated, lavish and most of all fun and exciting. Casino table games include: blackjack, craps, roulette, high card flush, three card poker, mini baccarat, and Mississippi stud.
Have fun at the 800 slot machines. They’ve got everyone’s favorite Wheel of Fortune, The Walking Dead and Magic Dragon. Hit it big on the progressive jackpots!
As per Illinois gambling laws, no free alcoholic beverages.
#6 Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino
21 Blackjack Boulevard, East Peoria, Illinois
This relatively old casino is the number one spot for gaming and entertainment in central Illinois. You will find 5 tables of live-action poker, 21 table games and over 1,000 gaming machines. Great rooms at affordable prices, kind and smiling staff that treat you warmly.
Par-A-Dice Casino is a riverboat casino, with the hotel on the shore. It is relatively small when compared to Las Vegas, but not overly small such that there are limited games to play. On the contrary, their game variety is very good. They offer Caribbean Stud, Wheel of Fortune, loose slots, Hot Seat, blackjack, craps, roulette, three card poker, Let It Ride, and poker, just to name a few.
Gaming – The gaming is across four floors, in which it is entirely non smoking. However, there are designated smoking areas outside, if you wish to smoke. The wagering is touted as one of the lowest minimum in any casino in the State.
Food – No food is sold on the boat only drinks. The soda and water is for free, but the alcohol you will need to pay for. Having said that, the drinks are reasonably cheap. Dining, snacks, eating is therefore onshore. There are a few restaurants and bars. Buffet is available from Wednesday through to Sunday at the Options Buffet. A breakfast buffet is also available from Wednesday through to Sunday, with à la carte breakfast served at Nelson’s Deli on Monday and Tuesday.
Location – Situated on the Peoria Lake, part of the Illinois River, the location cannot get much better than this. The view is simply stunning, even if you lose a bit of coin on the games, the picturesque surroundings is worth it. Sunrise and sunset is gorgeous.
Hotel – The hotel is not directly connected to the riverboat casino, but it’s only a very short walk away. Professionally run, the staff are friendly and helpful. The lobby contains two computers providing free internet, in addition there is free Wi-Fi. Parking facilities are free and generous, and there is a shuttle bus that runs to the Civic Center. Large car parking for trucks and RV’s is available further away from the premise.
You will love it here. Perfect for gaming, the scenery and the wallet. You really get value for money at Par-A-Dice.
#7 Casino Queen
A relatively small casino that offers just over 1,000 slot machines and a few table games. A little bit outdated, with older slot machines. Could do with a refresher to add a bit more life to the scene. But then again, we can understand why any investor would be hesitant to plow more money into this casino. East St. Louis is not considered the safest of areas, crime rates are relatively high and competition is relatively fierce with Missouri casinos just a few minutes drive across the border. Take for example the Lumiere Place Casino Hotel which is literally across the river, but offers that extra bit of Vegas class. As a player, you therefore have many choices, with perhaps Casino Queen towards the bottom of the list.
However, if you are looking for somewhere cozy and less crowded to play at, then come to the Casino Queen. The players are generally locals, and also those who want to take advantage of the RV parking and convenient shuttle service to the Busch stadium for certain games and events.
Gaming – Table games include: Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, EZ Baccarat, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em. They also have a High Limit Blackjack room. But there is no poker room available.
There are plenty of slot machines to play at, even though not the newest a lot of fun can still be had. A good mix of progressive, penny, video poker plus a private High Limit Slot Machine room is also available.
RV Parking – Overnight stay is available at their rooms which overlooks the river. The key stand out for this casino is the attached RV parking. Full hookup is available, with internet and showering and laundry amenities. Very clean, tidy with plenty of facilities.
- Open from 8am to 4am Sunday to Thursday.
- Open from 8am to 6am Friday to Saturday.
- Players need to be 21 or older.
#8 Hollywood Casino Aurora
1 W New York St, Aurora, Illinois
This place is awesome! As you walk into the foyer you are greeted with a kaleidoscope floor pattern, bring me back to the 70’s baby! Has over 40,000 square feet of gambling space devoted to more than 1,161 electronic gaming devices and 20 table games. A superb pool, and well kept surrounding gardens. The parking is a block away, so a short walk is required to enter the casino. Parking is not for free, unless you become a member. Staff are extremely helpful and informative.
Gaming – There is over 1,000 diverse slot machines – reels, progressive, video poker, you name it, they have got it! The newest, state of the art and the most popular. The Aurora, keeps the slot gaming experience fresh, never stale. Denominations range up to $100! Some of their most popular slot themed machines include: Sahara Gold Lighting Link, High Stakes Lightning Link, Happy Lantern Lightning Link and Tiki Fire Lightning Link.
If you are new to table games, the Aurora staff have the passion and patience to teach you. They have an immense range that includes, blackjack, craps, roulette, mini baccarat, live poker and a lot more. The minimum for blackjack increases during the weekend and falls back during weekdays. Expect the minimum on the weekend to be not lower than $15.
Food – There is a steakhouse – Fairbank Steakhouse – set in the background of the 1930’s. Offering tasty, huge slabs of steak, seafood, pasta, wine, fresh salad. This steakhouse is brilliant!
Every casino offers a buffet, and for the Aurora it is at the Epic Buffet! The Epic is truly epic, an endless variety of dishes, brunch, lunch and dinner. Cuisine styles span from Asian, Western and Italian. It’s got it all.
Looking for something tasty, quick and affordable? Then drop into the Take Two Deli! They have great sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizzas.
Hotel – Hollywood Casino Aurora is stand alone and does not have a hotel.
- Opening hours are 8:30am to 4:30am each day, seven days a week.
- Last call for drinks ends at 2am.
#9 Argosy Casino Alton
1 Piasa Street, Alton, Illinois
A small and colorful casino that offers 1,008 slot machines, 14 gaming tables. Table games have variety offering casino classics through to modern games. A brilliant place to just chill out, hang out with friends and grab a bite to eat.
The Argosy Casino Alton is a classy little riverboat casino, that offers everything you would want in gaming and fine dining. The players rewards are fantastic, quality and outstanding staff service, there’s not much more you would want. There is no hotel associated with the Argosy, it is a stand alone riverboat casino.
Gaming – There is a huge variety of slots on offer: Wheel of Fortune, Lightning Link and Geisha, just to name a few – over 800 themed slot machines! The denominations range from penny slots through to $10. Strike it big with the progressive jackpots!
Table games include the popular: blackjack, craps, Texas Hold ‘Em poker, Three Card poker and roulette.
Food – There are three food outlets available: Journey – seafood fine dining with a view that is breathtaking, The Captain’s Table Buffet – everything you would want in a buffet is here, and the Hops House – a bar that serves the most refreshing local beer and ales.
Location – Only 25 minute drive from St. Louis in Alton, Illinois. The riverboat floats in the Alton Lake on the Mississippi river. It is also an easy hop skip and a jump over to Missouri.
- Non smoking
- Open from 8am to 6am 7 days a week.
Not looking for a massive, over the top super luxurious casino. Then come to the Argosy, down to earth, yet small and sophisticated. You will love the ambiance, the views and the fun gaming.
Illinois sports betting is now legalized, but the State has stalled in operationalizing the governance and framework, so that no casino or sports books can open to the public. As a consequence, Indiana, which has opened its sports book facilities has garnered many sports bets from Illinois residents. This is a shame as a significant amount of tax revenue is flowing interstate as well as inconvenience to Illinois bettors.
Small business that are restaurants and bars are permitted to own up to six slot and video game machines in accordance with the Illinois Video Gaming Act. This Act also permits large truck stops to own up to ten slot machines.
As an Individual, residents are permitted to own slot machines that are 25 years or older. By reaching this age limit, slot machines can be deemed as “antiques” and are therefore legal to be possessed. Possession does not permit the use of the slot machine for gambling activities.
The Illinois State Lottery was established in July 1974 and was the first and only single jurisdictional state lottery to televise its drawings nationally until February 2014. It has branched out to participate in the multi jurisdictional games of Mega Millions and Powerball.
In March 2012, Illinois was the first state to sell lottery tickets online, and was then one of the first few states to switch to RNG rather than manual number selection.
The Lottery also offers the smaller State games of Pick 3, Pick 4 and Lucky Day Lotto.
In addition to lotto games, instant games in the form of Scratch games are also sold by the State Lottery.
The Illinois Lottery has created an Android and Apple app for players. This provides convenience for playing games, obtaining results and purchasing lottery tickets.
A Lawyer’s Opinion
Illinois is in the process of expanding its gambling laws, with sports betting at the forefront of these efforts. In addition to sports betting, Illinois permits much of what one would expect to see from a progressive, populated state with the notable exception of land-based casinos (river boats, however, are permitted except on Lake Michigan and in towns with a population in excess of 3 million.) Illinois errs on the side of classifying games of both skill and chance as gambling as well as wagering on games, contests, or elections. See ILCS 720 5/28-1et seq.; ILCS 230/5-1et seq.
Sports Betting: Illinois legislators recognized the leak of money going to offshore sports betting companies, and, so, in 2019, opened the market to allow interested individuals to register with an Illinois-based casino, making sportsbook making legal so long as the bets are placed within the state. Within the next 24 months the market will open further to new ventures in sports betting. Multiple domestic and offshore companies continue to accept Illinois residents though DraftKings and FanDuel continue to battle the state, which seeks to prohibit the platforms from operating in the state due to their so doing prior to sports betting becoming legal.
Race Betting: Like in many states, horse betting is legal in Illinois at its racing tracks as well as other venues that allow pari-mutuel betting. Off-track and online race betting is not specified, though many platforms and Illinois betting parlors do accept bets from Illinois residents who are eighteen years and older.
Online Gambling: The state has yet to pass an online poker or gambling bill, and, thus, similar forms of gambling remain unregulated. Thus, individuals wishing to participate in online gambling, including poker and other such games of skill, and who are twenty-one or older, must place bets online through licensed and regulated domestic and offshore platforms operating outside of the state.
Online Gaming: Bona fide contests of skill are permitted with social gaming being permitted. Poker That being said, Illinois residents who game through an online platform should note that the state will not protect residents who lose money through such sites.
The information in this multi-state research is made available by a licensed, U.S. attorney, and is for informational purposes only. We make no representations that the information is complete or correct in its entirety. It should not be construed as providing specific legal advice, and you acknowledge that no attorney/client relationship exists between us. This brief should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed gambling and entertainment lawyer in your state.
Wikipedia: List of casinos in Illinois