Illinois

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Major events in Illinois gaming history

1884

The first Washington Park opens in Chicago

1891

Hawthorne Park opens in May

1905

Racing is banned in Chicago

1922

Racing returns to Chicago for good after several previous attempts

1923

Aurora Downs opens

1926

Lincoln Fields opens in August as a Thoroughbred racetrack
The modern Washington Park Race Track opens

1927

Pari-mutuel wagering is legalized
Arlington Park opens in October

1931

Hawthorne becomes the first major track in the United States to use an electrical timer

1932

Sportsman’s Park opens in May

1933

The Illinois Racing Board is created

1942

Lincoln Fields closes for several years as its meets are run at Hawthorne and Washington Park through 1953

1946

Maywood Park opens as the state’s first harness track

1954

Thoroughbred racing returns to Lincoln Fields
Cahokia Downs opens in July

1955

Lincoln Fields is sold and renamed Balmoral Park; its Thoroughbred meetings are held at Washington Park, Arlington Park and Hawthorne through 1977

1967

The Balmoral track is converted to harness racing

1973

Balmoral’s track is changed again to accommodate both Thoroughbred and harness racing
Quad City Downs opens

1974

The Lottery begins ticket sales on July 30

1975

The Lottery offers its first instant scratch ticket in October

1976

Last year of racing at Aurora Downs

1977

The Washington Park grandstand burns down in February and the track closes for good

1978

Thoroughbred racing resumes at Balmoral Park

1979

Last year of racing at Cahokia Downs

1980

In February, the Lottery launches Pick 3, its first daily game

1983

Lotto is introduced in February

1984

 Intertrack wagering is introduced

1985

Arlington Park burns down on July 31

1987

Off-track betting begins, the first racetrack-owned OTB system in the country

1989

The rebuilt Arlington Park opens on June 28

1990

Last year of Thoroughbred racing at Balmoral Park, which continues to offer harness racing
The Riverboat Gambling Act was enacted in February

1991

 In September, the Alton Belle is the first riverboat casino to open; it is followed by the Par-A-Dice in November

1992

The Lottery offers keno as a limited test game during the Illinois State Fair
The Casino Rock Island, Empress Casino Joliet and Emerald Casino open

1993

The Metropolis Casino, Harrah’s Joliet, Aurora Hollywood and Casino Queen open

1994

The Elgin Grand Victoria casino opens

1995

Last year of racing at Quad City Downs

1996

The Lottery joins other states in The Big Game (now Mega Millions)

1997

The Emerald Casino shuts down on July 29

1999

The Riverboat Gambling Act is amended to allow dockside gaming without a cruising requirement
Sportsman’s Park is converted to a combination horse racing and auto racing track

2002

Last year of horse racing at Sportsman’s Park

2005

Balmoral and Maywood are the first U.S. racetracks to conduct common-pool wagering from Canadian racetracks

2009

Advance deposit wagering is authorized
The legislature legalizes video lottery terminals and approves a measure to outsource the sales and marketing functions of the Illinois Lottery

2010

The last casino license under the original gaming legislation is awarded to Midwest Gaming and Entertainment

2011

In January, a private management agreement is signed with Northstar Lottery Group, outsourcing the Lottery's sales and marketing functions
The Rivers Casino opens in Des Plaines in July

2012

The Lottery launches Internet-based play in March
Video lottery terminals launch in October
ADW legislation expires December 31

2013

ADW wagering resumes in June after new legislation is signed

2015

Maywood Park closes in October
Balmoral Park closes in December

 

Online gaming

The Illinois Lottery began selling tickets via the Internet to in-state players on March 25, 2012. Only Mega Millions and Lotto tickets were included at the launch; Powerball was added at the end of November. Illinois was the first U.S. lottery to offer regular ticket sales online.

 

Casinos and casino-style gaming

Riverboat casinos were launched in September, 1991, after 1990 enabling legislation authorizing up to ten casino licenses. Each riverboat gaming operation is authorized to offer up to 1,200 gaming positions, consisting of a mix of electronic gaming devices and table games.

Locations:
Argosy Casino, Alton – 825 slots, 12 tables
Hollywood Casino, Aurora – 1,100 slots, 29 tables
Rivers Casino, Des Plaines – 1,022 slots, 51 tables
Par-A-Dice, East Peoria – 919 slots, 30 tables
Casino Queen, East St. Louis – 1,079 slots, 26 tables
Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin – 1,088 slots, 42 tables
Hollywood Casino, Joliet  – 1,100 slots, 19 tables
Harrah’s Joliet Casino, Joliet – 1,100 slots, 39 tables
Harrah’s Metropolis Casino, Metropolis – 836 slots, 21 tables
Jumer's Casino & Hotel, Rock Island – 996 slots, 28 tables

 

In July, 2009, video gaming terminals became legal in Illinois. The Video Gaming Act allows video gaming terminals to be placed in certain liquor establishments, truck stops and fraternal/veterans clubs throughout the state. A central system was awarded to Scientific Games in May, 2010.

The first VLTs went live October 9, 2012. As of February 2017, 25,363  machines were operating in 5,824 establishments.

Illinois Gaming Board
800 South Seventh Street, Suite 400 - South
P.O. Box 19474
Springfield, IL 62794
Phone: (217) 524-0226
 

Lottery

The Illinois Lottery was launched on July 30, 1974. The current game offerings include instant tickets, Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto, Lucky Day Lotto, Pick 3 and Pick 4. The lottery also offers limited-run raffle games. Illinoiis became the first lottery in the United States to offer regular sales through the Internet on March 25, 2012, when Mega Millions and Lotto became available through that channel; Powerball was added in November.

Proceeds benefit the Illinois Common School Fund. Special-run instant games may benefit specific worthy causes.

Illinois Lottery                        
101 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, IL 62702
Phone (217) 557-6493

 

Pari-mutuel facilities

There are currently three licensed race tracks in Illinois after the closures of Balmoral and Maywood in 2015. All offer Thoroughbred racing, while Hawthorne offers both Thoroughbred and harness racing. Each track may hold a number of off-track betting licenses; a total of 37 OTB facilities are authorized by statute. As of November 2016, 21 OTB facilities were operating. Advance deposit wagering was authorized in 2009, but legislation expired December 31, 2012. New legislation was passed in June 2013, enabling ADW to resume.

Arlington Park
2200 Euclid
Arlington Heights, IL 60006

Hawthorne Race Course
3501 S. Laramie
Cicero, IL 60804

Fairmount Park
9301 Collinsville Road
Collinsville, IL 62234
             

There are also fairs at Springfield, DuQuoin and Brown County

Illinois Racing Board
100 West Randolph, Suite 7-701
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 814-2600

 

Charitable gaming

Bingo and pulltabs are among the charitable games offered in Illinois, which also include bang, beat the dealer, big six, blackjack, chuck-a-luck, craps, five-card stud poker, gin rummy, hold-em poker, keno, merchandise wheel, poker, pulltabs and roulette.

Bingo and pulltab operators must be a licensed bona fide religious, charitable, labor, fraternal, youth athletic, senior citizens’, educational, or veterans’ organization in Illinois, operating as a non-profit entity.

Illinois Department of Revenue
Office of Bingo & Charitable Games
P.O. Box 19480
Springfield, IL 62794-9480
Phone: (217) 785-5864

 

Last updated on March 18, 2017