Illinois Casinos and Gambling
The gaming industry is alive and well in Illinois and has been thriving since the first riverboat casino opened its doors back in 1991. Illinois was the second state to allow the riverboat casinos and now has nine full-scale riverboat casinos operating in the state. Horse racing is another form of gambling that is quite popular in that state and there are a number of fine tracks in operation.
The Illinois Casino Gaming Association (ICGA) is a non-profit trade association that represents seven of the nine gambling concerns in the state. According to their statistics (covering all nine casinos), there are over 14,600,000 visitors to the casinos every year. The casinos provide more than 7500 jobs and the industry pumps more than a billion dollars annually into the economy.
History of Gaming in Illinois
When riverboat casinos were first legalized, state law required them to cruise. Gambling was only to take place on the boats as they moved up and down the rivers. However, in June of 1999, the state changed that to allow gaming while dockside. Regulations do not allow round-the-clock play as in some other states. Illinois strictly regulates gaming licenses, limiting them to only 10, and has set a cap of 1200 gaming machines per license. Minimum age to gamble in Illinois is set at 21, although attempts to lower the age to 18 are made periodically.
Legal Casino and Poker regulations in Illinois
A bill was introduced in May, 2011, that proposed a large expansion in gaming for the state. The proposal would have allowed for about 26,000 slot machines alone, at the tracks and at Chicago’s two airports, as well as nine new gambling locations. Governor Pat Quinn has made it clear that he does not support the legislation as it stands and stated in October, 2011, that he opposed the idea of allowing slot machines in the airports and would only support expansion limited to five new locations. If the legislation, slated for voting in 2012, is passed it will allow for new casinos in Chicago, Rockford, Danville, Lake County and Cook County.
Types of Gaming and Other Entertainment
Gamblers will find all of the most popular games on the riverboat casinos including blackjack, craps, roulette, Caribbean stud poker and slot machines. Some of the casinos also offer other types of poker games and variations of baccarat. While some of the riverboats do still cruise the river, some of them operate strictly dockside at this point.
Of course, gambling isn’t the only entertainment to be had at the riverboat casinos. They offer frequent live performances by a variety of well-known musical and comedy stars including entertainers such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett and Bill Cosby. The dining experience is rich and varied among both the casinos and the local area. Whether it’s a casual meal with friends or fine dining for two, there is no lack of choice.
The Casinos of Illinois
Argosy’s Alton – Open daily from 8 am right through to 6 am the next morning, Argosy’s was the first riverboat casino in Illinois. There is 23,000 square feet of gaming space at Argosy’s with 15 table games and over 1,000 gambling machines to keep guests occupied. With a bar and three separate restaurants, there is no lack of dining options at Argosy’s in Alton, Illinois.
Hollywood Casino Aurora – Located in Aurora, Illinois, the Hollywood Casino features 53,000 square feet of gaming space with 28 tables of poker and other popular games, along with almost 1,200 gaming machines. There are three full restaurants on the property and the casino hours are daily from 9:30 am through to 5:30 am.
Rivers Casino – Rivers Casino boasts of 43,000 square feet of gaming space located in Des Plaines, Illinois. In that space, visitors will find over 1,000 gaming machines and a huge 48 table games available. Open daily from 9 am through 7 am, guests also will discover five different eating establishments to choose from when refortifying from their night of excitement.
Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino – Located in lovely East Peoria, Illinois, the Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino offers a full hotel with 202 units, a full bar and three separate restaurants. The boat is open every day from 8 am through 6 am. The 26,116 square feet of gaming space holds 1,170 gaming machines and 27 table and poker games.
Casino Queen Hotel – Over in East Saint Louis, Illinois, visitors will enjoy the 38,000 square feet of gaming space available at the Casino Queen Hotel. With 1,155 gaming machines and 28 table games, guests will have plenty to do. In between games, visitors can eat at any of the four separate eateries on the property and stay in one of the hotel’s 157 luxury rooms. The casino is open every day from 8 am through 6 am.
Grand Victoria Casino – Open daily from 8:30 am through 6:30 am, the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Illinois, offers 29,000 square feet of gaming space. Visitors can choose from 29 exciting table games or play any of the 1,150 gaming machines. There are 201 hotel units on the property along with a bar and three restaurants.
Harrah’s Joliet Casino and Hotel – One of two casinos located in Joliet, Illinois, Harrah’s offers a huge 40,000 square foot gaming space packed with 32 table games and almost 1,200 gaming machines. Visitors can stay in the 204 unit hotel and enjoy any of five different eating establishments. Open 8 am through 6 am, there is always something exciting going on at Harrah’s.
Hollywood Casino Joliet – The second of the two Joliet casinos, Hollywood Casino is the largest casino in the state with a whopping 50,000 square feet of gaming space. Open every day from 8:30 am through 6:30 am, there are 1,194 gaming machines and 23 table and poker games to choose from. Though the hotel is rather small, with only 100 rooms, the units are luxuriously appointed. Also on the property are six full eateries and a full-service bar.
Harrah’s Metropolis Casino – The second Illinois casino to be operated by Harrah’s, the Metropolis is a stationary riverboat permanently docked in Metropolis. The hours of operation are 9 am through 5 am from Sunday through Thursday and 9 am through 7 am Friday and Saturday. The property features a hotel with 252 rooms and four restaurants. The 36,000 square feet of gaming space holds 27 table and poker games along with 1,172 gaming machines.
Jumer’s Casino and Hotel – Located in beautiful Rock Island, Illinois, this casino features 42,500 square feet of gaming space, making it the second largest casino in the state. They offer 1,100 gaming machines and a full 30 table and poker games. Featuring a 205 room hotel, a bar and four restaurants, this facility is open daily from 7 am through 5 am.
Online Casinos and Online Poker in Illinois
Illinois is one of the few American states that explicitly prohibits internet gambling. The precise wording of the Illinois anti-gaming statutes that reference internet wagering are that it is illegal to “Knowingly establish, maintain, or operate 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.”
However at the time of writing no one has ever been successfully prosecuted for using the internet to place wagers and this is reflected in the number of online casinos and online poker rooms that accept players from Illinois. We have compiled a list of the safest, most secure and established online gaming venues that continue to take US players, though remember you play at your own risk.