The law in the State of Illinois as it relates to gambling is quite clear. In some states, whether or not the present law applies to playing poker, or in particular, playing poker online may be subject to at least some interpretation, however the law of Illinois speaks very plainly on the subject:
“Section 28-1. 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;
(2) knowingly makes a wager upon the result of any game, contest, or any political nomination, appointment, or election” (1)
So subsection (1) would be the one that applies to poker, including online poker, as if you reside in Illinois and you are playing online poker for money then you are clearly playing a game for money.
What about the exceptions contained in subsection (b)? Well the list is a rather long one, but none of it includes playing poker unless it is at a charitable event or is specifically sanctioned by the state, which would exclude all forms of online poker since online poker is not currently sanctioned and regulated.
So basically, if the State of Illinois does not approve it specifically, it is illegal under state law, which applies to all forms of unauthorized gambling, not just poker.
I have read some people say that while state law does prohibit the setting up of gambling sites on the internet, it doesn’t specifically address whether playing on such internet gambling sites would be illegal. However, given that any gambling in Illinois that is not officially sanctioned is illegal, and gambling online surely consists of gambling, and this is definitely not state sanctioned, then it is very clearly not legal at all.
As is the case in other states though, just because playing online poker is against the law, this does not stop a lot of people from doing it, and they don’t worry about this as long as the law isn’t being enforced, and it’s not being enforced in any state right now, including in Illinois.
Illinois Online Poker Prospects
Illinois is the fifth most populous state in the United States, with a population of almost 13 million people. So this represents a very large potential market and could expand tax revenue in the state at a level that exceeds states like New Jersey and Nevada.
So with this money on the table, and given the fairly progressive attitude that the state has toward gambling, in 2013 a bill was presented that not only expanded the allowable number of casinos in the state, but also contained provisions to allow online gambling , including poker, to be legalized as well. (2)
The online gambling part of the bill ended up being stripped away during the debate that ensued, and eventually the entire bill became scrapped.
So there are two main issues here, expansion of casino gambling and expanding into regulating online gambling, and while the two may occur together, there may be more resistance to online gambling and that may take longer. There also may be more resistance to online gambling in general than there may be to just offering online poker as some states have done, although so far the focus has been on online gambling, and it’s true that this would provide more of the needed tax revenue that is being sought.
It may be a year or two before we see online gambling being regulated here, but there seems to be a strong enough will to see it happen to make Illinois one of the leading prospects in getting a bill passed in the foreseeable future.
Live Poker in Illinois
Fortunately, for those who crave live poker, there is a fair bit of action in and around the State of Illinois as far as live table action goes. A lot of this is centered around the Chicago area, but live poker rooms exist in other parts of the state as well, in addition to a good amount not far away in neighboring states such as Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.
Within Illinois itself, there are a total of seven poker rooms: The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin (12 tables), Harrah’s Metropolis Casino in Metropolis (4 tables), the Hollywood Casino Joliet in Joliet (5 tables), the Par A Dice Casino in East Peoria (5 tables), Harrah’s Joliet in Joliet (8 tables), the Hollywood Casino Aurora in Aurora (15 tables), and Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island (6 tables). (3)
So in spite of these poker rooms all being on the smaller side with most being very small, with five of the seven containing a half a dozen tables or less, there still are opportunities out there, although nothing really beats the convenience of playing poker right in the comfort of your own home, and fortunately, no online poker room that offers play to residents of the United States has a problem accepting players from Illinois.
Online Poker In Illinois
Given that people in Illinois can choose to play at any site accepting Americans, here is our two top picks for you if you live in Illinois and are up for some online poker, which you can start enjoying right now in fact if you wish:
- Ignition Poker is an excellent place to play these days, especially with a great mix of real money traffic and bonuses. In fact, they offer a massive welcome bonus of 100% of your first deposit up to $1,000. They also give you a free $5 chip to use at their casino, which features hundreds of slots, table games and more.
- America’s Cardroom is another of our top picks who warmly welcome residents of Illinois, and they also feature some great poker action at any time of the day or night, whenever you are ready they are, as well as all of their players who are just waiting for you to join in on the fun. New depositors receive a match of their first deposit in bonus cash, to the tune of up to $1000 in free money.
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