Online poker was consciously absent from Illinois’ massive gambling expansion so players itching to play Texas Hold’em online will have to wait a while longer.
Illinois approved a huge gambling expansion bill in June 2019 that legalized online sports betting and will add a half dozen new casinos in the state, as well as sports betting operations at major sports stadiums and slot terminals in airports.
Unfortunately, online poker and online casino games were left out of the bill and gamers will have to wait a while longer for the state to take the issue up again.
Here is a quick primer on the new Illinois gambling law and what it means for online poker.
Illinois online poker advocates were optimistic that the state would lift its ban once new Governor J.B. Pritzker announced his push to expand gambling. Despite passing a sweeping 800-page bill that legalized sports betting and expanded the number of casino and gambling venues in the state, lawmakers punted on the issue of online poker, online casino games, and daily fantasy sports.
Under the bill, Illinois will allow sports betting in person and online, bring six new casinos to the state with a mega-casino planned for Chicago, add betting venues to stadiums like Wrigley Field and Soldier Field, and add slot terminals to locations like O’Hare Airport. Players itching to try their luck at hold’em will still have to travel to one of the state’s riverboat casinos for the time being.
Though Illinois still has not legalized online poker, sweepstakes-based “social” casinos have found a way to skirt the law and play online poker for real cash money legally. These casinos do not allow you to deposit or bet real money. Instead, you can buy fake coins and the site will “gift” you cash-equivalent play money you can use to play hold’em or Omaha and then redeem for real money when you cash out.
The offerings at these casinos tend to be limited compared to what is offered at physical casinos and states where online poker have already been legalized. Online poker has already been legalized in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. States like New York and Michigan have moved toward legalization as well.
With a massive gambling expansion afoot and online sports betting already approved, it appears to be only a matter of time until Illinois legislators pick up the issue again and finally allow online poker in the Prairie State.