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Playing Online Poker in the State of Illinois

Illinois state map
Illinois state flag

Illinois has not taken the steps to quite become the gambling powerhouse that it could be, but the potential for it to become one of the top places in the United State is definitely there. The offshore gambling sites see this potential and have not shied away from online poker in Illinois even if some of the laws could be seen as frowning upon unregulated internet gambling. This potential stems from a large and well-off population and a more liberal base that would appear to be more open to citizens being allowed to make whatever choice they may want about Illinois online poker or other forms of online gambling. Below are a list of the current online sites that service those within the state of Illinois.

 

What Online Poker Sites Can I Play in Illinois?

There are many gambling enterprises online that accept custom from Illinois players, but they're not all equal to each other. Some are untrustworthy and unrelialbe, and your money isn't necessarily safe at all of them. We've gone to the trouble of evaluating all your availble options and presenting you with a list of only those firms that have earned reputations for honesty and integrity. No matter which of the rooms below you opt to partner with, you'll be treated to fair poker games, solid customer support, and the prompt payment of any winnings you accumulate.

 

    Ignition Poker

Appealing Features of Ignition

With the largest poker room open to Illinoisans, Ignition is certainly an operator to keep under consideration as you search for an online poker home. Ignition is part of the PaiWangLuo Network. It provides new players with a bonus of 100% up to $1,000, which is worth 30% rakeback on your tournament and SNG fees and slighly less in ring games.

 Ignition Poker Play Now CTA

When you take a seat at the cash games, sit-n-goes, or multi-table tournaments, you'll get to remain unknown to your opponents because Ignition identifies players solely as “Player 1,” “Player 2,” “Player 3,” etc. This means that nobody will be able to prey upon you by looking up your stats and following you from table to table. Management takes great pains to create a safe environment for poker newcomers, and this philosophy has found success as evidenced by the soft tables at this room.

There are five types of ring games for you to play: No Limit Texas Hold'em, Limit Texas Hold'em, Pot Limit Omaha, Pot Limit Omaha/8, and Limit Omaha/8. The limit games run as high as $30/$60 while the big-bet formats go up to $10/$20. There's another type of cash game here, and it's rather unique in the U.S. internet poker market. Zone Poker allows you to get a new hand instantly upon folding your previous one, leading to blazing-fast gameplay as the time in between hands is reduced to virtually nothing.

Sit n' goes are spread from $1 + $0.05 up to $200 + $14, and the highest buyins go even higher in MTTs. Most of the MTT schedule contains guaranteed prize payouts to the tune of $1.5 million per week. The largest regularly schedule tournament at Ignition is the $150 + $12 $100,000 guaranteed, which runs on Sundays and usually has no problem comfortably exceeding the $100K minimum. Stay on the alert for special tourney series throughout the year, like the Super Millions Poker Open, because they pay out millions of dollars and have quite a varied lineup of events.

Ignition offers downloadable poker packages for Mac and Windows. Mobile users can head over to a special web app that will let them play cash games (not SNGs or MTTs though) right from their phones or tablets. You can also sample hundreds of casino games, and there's an additional 100% up to $1,000 offer for the casino.

Professional Rakeback Ignition cta

To join up and create your Ignition Casino Poker account today, click the image above to go directly to the site. If you want to find out more about the room first, then take a look through our overview of the games and promotions at Ignition Poker.

 

        Chico Network

Positives of Chico Poker

Rising from obscurity several years ago, BetOnline and the rest of the Chico Poker Network are now the third-largest destination for online poker in the U.S.A. Newly depositing players are entitled to a 100% up to $2,500 poker bonus, which works out to 33% of your rake and fees paid back to you.

Play at Chico Poker Now

The CPN has developed software that works on Macs and PCs, covering the lion's share of the desktop market. Mobile is a priority too for the network's programmers, and they have released powerful apps for iOS and Android that deliver pretty much the full desktop experience right in the palm of your hand.

You can play from $0.01/$0.02 up to $5/$10 in NLHE and PLO, and there's a smaller range of stakes for PLO-8 too. Sit n' gos are denominated from $0.05 with no fee up to $500 + $25. Levels at $200 and below are pretty popular and tend to get filled within minutes. The headline tournament here is the Main Event, which costs $90 + $9 to join and pays out no less than $50,000 every Sunday. On the final Sunday of each month, this jumps up to a $100 + $9 buyin and a $100,000 guarantee. The remainder of the tourney schedule is mostly priced at $33 and lower.

There are plenty of ways to score extra cash at BetOnline. You'll accumulate comp points as you play, and you can exchange them for tournament buyins at a rate of about 5% cash back. There are leaderboards for cash games, sit-n-goes, and tourneys that hand out $20,000 each week to the top placers. There's a casino, sportsbook, financial betting platform, and more to gamble on, and you'll get additional promos and bonuses in these products too.

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Click the banner above to register at BoL today. You might want to read our comprehensive review of BetOnline or our page on its sister site Sportsbetting.ag.

 

    Horizon Network

Image of Intertops' positive features

Intertops has been in the betting trade for more than three decades, and during all this time, it has comported itself fairly and paid out winners faithfully. As a new poker player, you'll get to claim a 200% to $1,000 bonus along with 100 free bets to use in the casino games.

Intertops CTA: Play Now!

The bonus is worth a 27% rebate on your rake, and the 100 complimentary casino lines have a value of more than $90 if you elect to play blackjack. Everyone who signs up through our links will also get 36% dealt rakeback for the entire lifetime of their accounts. You'll also receive entry into the monthly $1,000 depositors freeroll.

Intertops, and the Horizon Network in general, doesn't really have much high-stakes action, and so you'll have to be content with tables of $50nl and below. In sit-n-goes, there's rarely anything running above about $5. Most MTTs are for small stakes, but there is a $50 + $5 daily tourney called the Sundowner that guarantees $1,500 throughout the week and $2,500 on Sundays.

There are many free perks that Intertops provides for its users. A weekly rake race distributes a total of $4,000, and it's relatively easy to earn a prize. The loyalty tiers program rewards you with cash paid into your account as you reach certain points totals. Reload bonuses are common, and tournament overlays occur more often that you would expect.

Intertops cta for poker

If you believe that Intertops offers what you're looking for, then click the link above to go there today. We've compiled a lot of additional info and put it in our extensive Intertops Poker review page.

 

     Winning Network

Positive features of Winning Poker Network

The Winning Poker Network holds the #2 spot for U.S.-friendly poker traffic, and you can access it through its flagship operator, Americas Cardroom. You'll get a 100% up to $1,000 bonus (equivalent to 20% rakeback) and $50 added to your account that you can use on Jackpot Poker SNGs.

ACR Poker Play Now

The sit n' go lobby at WPN contains a few types of games that no other American-facing poker room has. SNG 2.0 and Jackpot Poker combine randomized elements with traditional poker gameplay to generate excitement and fun. On Demand tourneys start when a certain number of people join, just like a sit-and-go, but there's a late registration period allowing more people to enter after they've begun. Don't forget to use your free $50, which will be paid out a little bit at a time over 20 days, to enter Jackpot Poker contests.

There's a broad selection of multi-table tournaments as well, headlined by the Sunday Special, a $200 + $15 event that guarantees $150,000, making it the largest Sunday Major open to U.S. players. Every so often, there's a Million Dollar Sunday that costs $500 + $40 to enter and awards at least $1,000,000. A few times per year, WPN hosts tourney series, like the Online Super Series, that contain dozens of contests and pay out multiple millions of dollars.

The cash game selection at Americas Cardroom is pretty broad. There's PLO and NLHE from $0.01/$0.02 all the way up to $25/$50, and even the biggest games see occassional play. The limit games consist of Hold'em, Omaha/8, Seven Card Stud hi, and Seven Card Stud hi-lo, and each of them can be found up to at least $30/$60.

Both ring game and sit n' go fans will collect points toward their respective leaderboards (The Beast and Sit & Crush) simply by playing the tables they love. These promotions present the winners with cash prizes and satellite tourney entries. Another way to boost your bankroll is with the regular redeposit bonuses provided by ACR.

ACR highlights cta

Follow the banner link above to start playing at ACR now. If you'd like to read up on the room first, then check out our detailed Americas Cardroom review.

Americas Cardroom is the most prominent name on the Winning Poker Network, but it's hardly the only one. Like most poker networks, WPN is made up of several organizations that pool their resources and players together to deliver a better user experience. Other top-notch sites on the WPN include BlackChip Poker (read review), True Poker (read review), and PokerHost (read review). You can get rakeback, if you want it, at any of these sites instead of participating in the Elite Benefits program. To find out how, browse over to our overview of WPN rakeback specials.

 

        Grand Network

Positive Grand Poker Features

Having only been in operation since 2014, Grand Poker it a relative newcomer to the U.S. online poker scene. However, its parent company, 5Dimes, has been in the internet wagering industry for more than a decade primarily as a sportsbook. You can therefore play here with a level of security that's mostly missing from other upstart poker entities.

Traffic is still pretty small here, but the games that do run are filled with clueless players. You can take a seat against them at blind levels between $0.05/$0.10 and $1/$2. 5Dimes has deployed a fairly wide array of poker clients, so you can play from a Windows computer, a Mac, an iOS device, or an Android tablet or smartphone. There's even a Flash web interface for those with other platforms.

Tournaments are restricted to $5.50 and below, so you won't see huge guaranteed prize pools. There are, though, fee-free tourneys every day along with a $500 freeroll on Sundays. Both of these are fine ways for micro-stakes MTTers to grow their account balances quickly. The 50% rakeback that you'll get will also contribute toward the health of your bankroll.

5Dimes highlights Banner CTA

To create an account at 5Dimes today, proceed by clicking the “Visit Site Now” button now. Or you can read our page covering the Grand Poker Network sites before making your choice.

 


 

How to Choose the Right Illinois Poker Site

No two players are the same, and neither are any two internet poker providers identical. The site you ultimately opt for will depend upon numerous factors, including the stakes you're comfortable with, the formats of poker you most appreciate, and the types of promotions you're looking for. While we can't make this decision for you, we can illustrate some of the things you should be thinking about as you evaluate these competing sites against each other.

⊙ If you don't want to have to wait around for a game to fill, then the jam-packed rooms at Ignition and Winning Network ought to satisfy you.


⊙ If you're searching for the highest possible rakeback bonus, then Horizon's 36% and Grand's 50% offers should suffice.


⊙ If you want a large bonus that clears rapidly, then the 100% up to $2,500 in free money available at Chico will leave you happy.


⊙ If mobile and Mac compatibility is important to you, then Chico, Ignition, and Grand Poker offer you the ability to play with your favored device.


⊙ If you value unique styles of poker, then Ignition's fast-fold Zone cash games and WPN's SNG games will give you something out of the ordinary.


⊙ If you wish to place sports bets and play casino games, then Chico, Intertops, and Grand maintain a full suite of gambling products.


⊙ If you're looking forward to regular rewards payouts, then the Winning Network and Horizon will treat you right.

 

Payout Reports

Money Bag With Dollar Sign

You can easily make deposits and withdrawals at any of the above sites. It may be best to conduct all your poker-related financial transactions with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It makes everything go smoothly because you won't have to pay heavy withdrawal surcharges or wait weeks for your money to arrive. If you haven't yet joined the Bitcoin revolution, then we'll show you how here.

 

Illinois Poker Law

Legal Book

Illinois has some pretty strict laws regarding gambling, and unlike in many other states, they actually include provisions specifically mentioning real money gaming over the internet. These codes are contained in 720 ILCS 5, Article 28. Turning to 28-1, we find out how the state defines gambling:

(a) A person commits gambling when he or she:
(1) knowingly plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value, unless excepted in subsection (b) of this Section;

There are other numbered clauses in this text, but there's no need to look any further: All games played for money “or other thing of value” are illegal. Now, it's not clear whether or not this refers only to physical gambling taking place within the state's borders or if it includes online betting too. We do see the following from the same section of law enumerating the offenses that count as gambling:

(12) knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates an Internet site that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value by means of the Internet or to make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet. This item (12) does not apply to activities referenced in items (6) and (6.1) of subsection (b) of this Section.

The operators of gambling sites are clearly targeted by this item. The fact that the internet is specifically mentioned with regard to running a site but not participating as a player may mean that the earlier prohibition against games of “chance or skill” only applies to offline betting.

The phrasing of both of these paragraphs refers to other parts of the law that contain exceptions. All of these exceptions are the permitted types of cash gaming that are authorized and overseen by the State of Illinois.

On to the penalties for violating the law:

(c) Sentence.
Gambling is a Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction under subsections (a)(3) through (a)(12), is a Class 4 felony.

The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Those who break the rule about running a gambling operation at least twice run the risk of being found guilty of a Class 4 felony, which carries a fine of up to $25,000 and a sentence of between one and three years. Remember that it's not clear whether or not playing on your computer from home would cause you to be in violation of these laws. In any event, law enforcement in IL has never charged or arrested a regular online poker player for breaking the gambling regulations. The only poker games that the authorities have shut down have involved live gaming that occurred without a proper license. You can play on the internet with confidence because there's no history of anyone in the Prairie State ever getting in legal trouble for doing so.

There's another Illinois law that enables gambling losers to recover money from the people they lost to (720 ILCS 5/28-8). If the original loser fails to sue to reclaim his losses within six months, then any third-party can initiate legal action against the winner who will have to pay triple what he or she won. Someone actually attempted to use this law to go after PokerStars, but an appellate court found that an online poker site isn't really a winner for the purposes of this statute but rather just a service provider.

 

History of Gambling in Illinois

Hourless

Betting activities in the area now called Illinois date way back to even before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. Ruins from the native city of Cahokia (near modern-day Collinsville) indicate that gambling was taking place perhaps as early as 600 A.D. The game Chunkey involved rolling a disc on the ground and trying to throw a spear as close to the final stopping point of the object as possible. Wagering on the outcome was a commonplace pastime. Even after Cahokia was abandoned around the year 1300, Chunkey continued to be played by tribal groups throughout a wide geographic area, including the Creek, Cherokee, and Chickasaw tribes.

European exploration of what we now call Illinois was halfhearted at first, and even in 1820, a few years after statehood, there were barely 50,000 people registered on the census rolls. Yet, the groundwork was laid for Chicago a scant 10 years later. The metropolis soon blossomed into a major transportation center with its location close to both the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. It was this river that provided the environment for waterborne hustlers to operate on steam-powered craft, milking the other passengers at games of poker and faro.

Michael McDonald
Michael McDonald
Original Chicago Crime Boss

The steamboat went into decline after the Civil War, but the railroad more than compensated, and Chicago remained one of the most important cities in the country. Despite strict laws against gambling, underground establishments popped up by the hundreds, and racetracks were also a popular venue for betting. It was during this time that the criminal element first stepped into the role of protector and exploiter of gambling enterprises. Michael Cassius McDonald, originally from New York, was the original Chicago crime boss, cutting deals with politicians to leave his illicit betting halls alone. He reportedly “owned” politicians Harvey Colvin (mayor from 1873 - 1875) and Carter Harrison, Sr. (mayor 1879 - 1887). McDonald died in 1907 but not before showing the Windy City how organized crime was done.

Al Capone
Al Capone
Chicagoland Bootlegging Gangster

These lessons were taken up by an eager acolyte a few decades later: Al “Scarface” Capone. Though his “Chicago Outfit” was focused mainly on bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition, it did maintain a profitable sideline in gambling. Patrons at these shady gambling dens should have perhaps been suspicious of the games – evidence has surfaced that some of the roulette tables at least were rigged. But then again, who in his right mind would accuse the house of cheating at an establishment run by the notoriously violent Capone? The Feds thought they had ended the Chicago crime syndicate when they sent Al Capone to prison for tax evasion in 1932, but his subordinates continued on albeit with a much-reduced public profile.

On the legal gaming front, officials of the Land of Lincoln began to permit charitable bingo in 1971 and instituted the Illinois Lottery in 1974. A Horse Racing Act was passed the following year. In 1990, the state authorized the return of riverboat casinos. At first, these vessels were prohibited from offering games unless they were actually moving on a river, but these restrictions were waived in subsequent years. Today, most of them are permanently docked and are basically the same as any other land-based casino. In 2009, an activity called “video gaming” was authorized by lawmakers. This refers to small terminals located in bars, restaurants, and other licensed businesses where patrons can play slots, keno, and similar games of chance.

 

Chance for Online Poker Regulation

File Folder

Illinois is a prime candidate to legalize poker as they have major budget problems and a large population that has an above average income. The state legislature has already talked about the possibility of legalizing online gaming, and there have been a few abortive attempts to do so over the years. The latest effort was HB0479 in 2017, which passed the State Senate in a 42-10 vote but stalled in the House. Illinois seems to be getting there slowly but surely, and it should be looked at as one of the more likely states to regulate real money internet gaming in the next couple of years.

 

Land Based Gambling

Harrah's Casino in Joliet, IL

Horse tracks allow pari-mutuel wagering, and there are a number of charitable gaming opportunities in Illinois too along with a state lottery. Riverboat casinos number around 10, and they're a far cry from their ancestors in the 19th century because they're allowed to be moored in port continuously and have attached hotels and event venues. None of them is particularly large, but the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin may have the best poker room among them. There are 13 tables spreading low-stakes NL Hold'em cash every day with tournaments a couple of times per week. Charitable poker games are another possibility although they move around frequently to different venues because of rules limiting the number of poker events a qualifying organization can host in the same place.

There are enough traditional casino companies in the state that if online gambling were to be legalized, there would be a pretty natural and competitive scene develop in the area. Harrah's and Hollywood Casino both operate within the state while Ameristar has a property just across the border in Indiana. These traditional powers would be in a prime position to expand their brands in the event of licensed online poker becoming a reality in IL.

 

Conclusion

The laws on the books regarding gambling aren't ever enforced against Illinois online poker fans. You can choose a site from our list of top-rate firms and start playing cards today right from your home. Online poker in Illinois is certainly a fun way to pass the time, especially during the frigid winter months, so begin your poker-playing adventure online today!

 

 

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

States Bordering Illinois

If you are lucky enough to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family home, etc, you may have other online poker options available to you.  Here are a list of the states that border Illinois and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. For an overall picture of the internet poker scene in the United States, head over to our players guide to U.S.A. online poker.

There's plenty of ignorance among the population regarding online poker in Illinois, but you can do something to address this problem. If you have any friends or family members who are interested in this subject, then please share this page with them so that you can inform them about the game they enjoy.