Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports Sites: The Best DFS Sites for Legal Betting

Daily Fantasy Betting in Illinois
Daily Fantasy NFL Legal Since: 2019
Daily Fantasy NHL Legal Since: 2019
Daily Fantasy NBA Legal Since: 2019
Daily Fantasy MLB Legal Since: 2019
When it comes to daily fantasy sports in Illinois, their legal status remains unclear. All major operators, including the market leaders Draft Kings and Fanduel, accept players from the state, despite a 2015 opinion from the then-state attorney general that daily fantasy sports constituted illegal gambling. For would-be participants in the Prairie State, there is no legal risk to playing daily fantasy sports, but operators remain in a gray area with regards to the law. With the recent legalization of sports betting in the state, hopes are high that these legal questions will soon be resolved.

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Last updated: July 15, 2021
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Online Daily Fantasy Sports in Illinois – Overview

Since 2015, when the Illinois attorney general opined that daily fantasy sports should be considered illegal gambling, their actual legal status has been anything but clear. Illinois residents can participate in games organized by all the major fantasy operators and there is no risk of the police knocking on the door.

However, daily fantasy sports remain technically illegal in the Prairie State and, as major operators attempt to overturn this through the courts, this may well be enforced in the future. Even if players remain legally untouchable, the providers themselves may choose to withdraw from Illinois, if faced with the prospect of heavy fines by the state authority.

Presently, daily fantasy sports in Illinois is illegal by default, as it is not explicitly exempted from illegal gambling laws. However, there is interest among lawmakers to expressly ban it, with a bill tabled to do just that in late 2016. This plan was shelved without a vote being held, but there is every chance it will be revisited in the future. If this happened, it is likely daily fantasy sports will become significantly more inaccessible for Illinois residents, if not virtually impossible.

Here is a list of daily fantasy sports available in Illinois:

Online Daily Fantasy NFL – test your football knowledge and compete against fellow fans

Illinois is home to one of the NFL’s most historic and well-known franchises, the Chicago Bears, and under current NFL coach of the year Matt Nagy and young franchise quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, hopes are high once again for Bears fans. This newfound enthusiasm extends to daily fantasy sports and NFL fantasy is booming in Illinois. Unlike the season-long formats, players redraft their team every week so bad drafts are quickly forgotten. Be sure to stay on top of things, however, or you’re likely to miss the best value picks that could take you to the playoffs.

Online Daily Fantasy NHL – your chance to prove who really knows the most about hockey

The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the original six NHL teams, founded in 1926, and so ice hockey goes back a long way in Illinois. Residents of the Prairie State are also keen to flaunt their hockey knowledge when it comes to fantasy hockey. It’s a long season for hockey fans with many games so daily fantasy hockey demands patience. For hockey-mad fans though, there are few things more satisfying than seeing your hard work pay off.

Online Daily Fantasy NBA – apply your basketball knowledge to win awesome prizes

Illinoisans are crazy about basketball and with good reason: the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, featuring a dominant Michael Jordan, are one of the great sporting dynasties and helped propel the NBA to the global sensation it now is. Fantasy basketball has never been bigger and Illinois residents have been quick to get in on the action. For daily fantasy players, it is certainly more of a marathon than a sprint and prizes are usually given to those who finish strong, rather than those who start fast.

Online Daily Fantasy MLB – a whole other ballgame

Chicago has had two MLB teams since 1900 and, since the Cubs ended the curse of the Billy Goat with a World Series win in 2016, baseball has never been more popular. MLB Fantasy is one for hardcore fans as there is a new draft almost every night for its six-month season, but many Illinoisans are up for the challenge. For the more mathematically-minded of fantasy fans, this is the sport for you.

College Fantasy Sport – more games = more action = more prizes

There are dozens of major colleges in Illinois, many of whom compete in NCAA Division I across football, baseball, basketball, softball and soccer. From the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston to the Loyola Ramblers in Chicago, no part of Illinois lacks a nearby college team, which explains the college fantasy fever.

Football is arguably the most popular college sport in the state as there are many Illinois college alumni currently playing in the NFL. The Eastern Illinois Panthers have a particularly impressive athletic programme, with representatives in the pro leagues for soccer, football, basketball and baseball.

With all the college sport happening in Illinois, there is little doubt that college fantasy sports will continue its impressive growth in the future.

Timeline of Daily Fantasy Sports Legislation

Illinois’ attorney general’s 2015 decision to declare daily fantasy sports to be an illegal form of gambling in Illinois was a big blow to the industry. Prior to that, daily fantasy sports in Illinois had been marketed as games of skill and therefore exempt from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The attorney general’s announcement was a disappointment to fantasy sports operators, but far from the final word. This will continue to be played out in the courts in the coming months and years, but there is cause for hope given Illinois’ very liberal attitude to other forms of gambling.

Illinois Daily Fantasy Sports History
2019 Amidst legal confusion, daily fantasy sports operators continue to be available in Illinois and state residents can participate without fear of legal consequences.
2017 There are several legislative efforts to legalize daily fantasy sports, but none of them get off the ground.
2016 State representatives prepare legislation to explicitly ban daily fantasy sports in Illinois, but the session closes before this can be put to a vote.
2015 The Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, issues opinion that daily fantasy sports are games of chance and should therefore be considered illegal gambling under state law.
2006 The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 prohibits betting on games of chance, but excludes fantasy sports under certain conditions. The matter is effectively devolved to the state level.

Legal Daily Fantasy Betting Age in Illinois

As daily fantasy sports in Illinois is currently a legal gray area, there is no official minimum age, but in practice it is likely to match the state’s gambling age, which is 21 years old. As is the case in the rest of the US, the authorities tend to focus on the establishments that serve underage gamblers rather than the gamblers themselves and a number of Illinois restaurants have been hit by police sting operations in recent years. In any event, players should stay up to date with standard practice to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

  • DFS Betting Age
    DFS is technically illegal in Illinois but the minimum betting in practice is 21
  • Alcohol Age
    Anyone aged 21 or over may legally drink in Illinois
  • Weed Age
    Recreational marijuana will be legal from 2020 onwards in Illinois for those aged 21 and above

Daily fantasy sports is a relatively new form of betting in the US, which is comfortably its biggest market. Daily fantasy players and providers in many states, including Illinois, operate in a legally unclear environment where betting on DFS is neither officially legal or unambiguously illegal.

It is considered a state-level question and generally hinges on an opinion from the state attorney general if they have given one. In Idaho, for example, major daily fantasy sports operators left the state following a deal with the state attorney general. Daily Fantasy Betting in West Virginia, was officially legalized following a positive opinion from their attorney general.

Illinois is not the only state facing uncertainty after a negative attorney general position, however, Texas continues to be served by DraftKings and FanDuel, despite the attorney general designating it to be gambling in 2016.

The Best Fantasy Sports App in Illinois

If you’re an Illinoisan looking for a fantasy sports app, look no further than market leaders, Draft Kings and Fanduel. Playing daily fantasy sports on an app is super easy and allows you to draft on the go, which is particularly useful if there’s a new one on every night. Fanduel is widely considered to be the best app out there with a slick easy-to-use interface and gentle learning curve. Draft Kings also holds its own and edges out its competitor for the number of competitions happening so there’s no harm in having both on your phone.

Taxes on Daily Fantasy Winnings: Legal Overview

All Illinois residents have to pay income tax on any gambling winnings, which presumably extends to daily fantasy sports despite the legal question marks. Those who play daily fantasy sports as a business (i.e. regularly and with the intention of making money) can treat the income as such and deduct their losses. Otherwise, federal tax laws require players to report an annual net profit of $600 or more to the IRS as taxable income.

Upcoming Regulation Changes to Be Aware Of

Illinois has long been one of the more liberal states when it comes to all forms of gambling, which is why the 2015 attorney general decision came as something of a shock. After a prolonged battle in the state legislature, sports betting is set to be legalized across the state in the next year or two and the hope is that daily fantasy sports will soon follow.

While the attorney general’s opinion was only advisory, it may be difficult for a successor to overrule it without provoking a substantial backlash. A likely future outcome is a continuation of the current state of affairs, where daily fantasy sports continues to be technically illegal but legal for all intents and purposes, as observed in Texas.

Daily Fantasy Guides for Nearby States

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