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Illinois Poker Laws

It is a violation of the law to own or run an online gambling website in the state of Illinois. Anyone who does try to own or run an online gambling site in Illinois is in violation of the state gambling laws and will face charges if they are caught. It is unlikely that players of these illegal websites will face charges, but owners and operators will.

It is illegal if someone "Knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates 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" (Section 28-1(12)) ... but

Early paragraphs in below section of Illinois law directly address the act of participating on such "Internet sites" as a mere player. What does this mean? Gambling is legal in Illinois only at sites operated by authorized gambling providers.

It should be mentioned that Illinois, or any other state, to common public knowledge, does not have a history of aggressively pursuing mere participants in illegal gambling.



(720 ILCS 5/28-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 28-1)   

    Sec. 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;

        (3) knowingly operates, keeps, owns, uses, purchases, exhibits, rents, sells, bargains for the sale or lease of, manufactures or distributes any gambling device;

        (4) contracts to have or give himself or herself or another the option to buy or sell, or contracts to buy or sell, at a future time, any grain or other commodity whatsoever, or any stock or security of any company, where it is at the time of making such contract intended by both parties thereto that the contract to buy or sell, or the option, whenever exercised, or the contract resulting therefrom, shall be settled, not by the receipt or delivery of such property, but by the payment only of differences in prices thereof; however, the issuance, purchase, sale, exercise, endorsement or guarantee, by or through a person registered with the Secretary of State pursuant to Section 8 of the Illinois Securities Law of 1953, or by or through a person exempt from such registration under said Section 8, of a put, call, or other option to buy or sell securities which have been registered with the Secretary of State or which are exempt from such registration under Section 3 of the Illinois Securities Law of 1953 is not gambling within the meaning of this paragraph (4);

        (5) knowingly owns or possesses any book, instrument or apparatus by means of which bets or wagers have been, or are, recorded or registered, or knowingly possesses any money which he has received in the course of a bet or wager;

        (6) knowingly sells pools upon the result of any game or contest of skill or chance, political nomination, appointment or election;

        (7) knowingly sets up or promotes any lottery or sells, offers to sell or transfers any ticket or share for any lottery;

        (8) knowingly sets up or promotes any policy game or sells, offers to sell or knowingly possesses or transfers any policy ticket, slip, record, document or other similar device;

        (9) knowingly drafts, prints or publishes any lottery ticket or share, or any policy ticket, slip, record, document or similar device, except for such activity related to lotteries, bingo games and raffles authorized by and conducted in accordance with the laws of Illinois or any other state or foreign government;

        (10) knowingly advertises any lottery or policy game, except for such activity related to lotteries, bingo games and raffles authorized by and conducted in accordance with the laws of Illinois or any other state;

        (11) knowingly transmits information as to wagers, betting odds, or changes in betting odds by telephone, telegraph, radio, semaphore or similar means; or knowingly installs or maintains equipment for the transmission or receipt of such information; except that nothing in this subdivision (11) prohibits transmission or receipt of such information for use in news reporting of sporting events or contests; or

        (12) knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates 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. This item (12) does not apply to activities referenced in items (6) and (6.1) of subsection (b) of this Section.

    (b) Participants in any of the following activities shall not be convicted of gambling:

        (1) Agreements to compensate for loss caused by the happening of chance including without limitation contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life or health or accident insurance.

        (2) Offers of prizes, award or compensation to the actual contestants in any bona fide contest for the determination of skill, speed, strength or endurance or to the owners of animals or vehicles entered in such contest.

        (3) Pari-mutuel betting as authorized by the law of this State.

        (4) Manufacture of gambling devices, including the acquisition of essential parts therefor and the assembly thereof, for transportation in interstate or foreign commerce to any place outside this State when such transportation is not prohibited by any applicable Federal law; or the manufacture, distribution, or possession of video gaming terminals, as defined in the Video Gaming Act, by manufacturers, distributors, and terminal operators licensed to do so under the Video Gaming Act.

        (5) The game commonly known as "bingo", when conducted in accordance with the Bingo License and Tax Act.

        (6) Lotteries when conducted by the State of Illinois in accordance with the Illinois Lottery Law. This exemption includes any activity conducted by the Department of Revenue to sell lottery tickets pursuant to the provisions of the Illinois Lottery Law and its rules.

        (6.1) The purchase of lottery tickets through the Internet for a lottery conducted by the State of Illinois under the program established in Section 7.12 of the Illinois Lottery Law.

        (7) Possession of an antique slot machine that is neither used nor intended to be used in the operation or promotion of any unlawful gambling activity or enterprise. For the purpose of this subparagraph (b)(7), an antique slot machine is one manufactured 25 years ago or earlier.

        (8) Raffles and poker runs when conducted in accordance with the Raffles and Poker Runs Act.

        (9) Charitable games when conducted in accordance with the Charitable Games Act.

        (10) Pull tabs and jar games when conducted under the Illinois Pull Tabs and Jar Games Act.

        (11) Gambling games conducted on riverboats when authorized by the Riverboat Gambling Act.

        (12) Video gaming terminal games at a licensed establishment, licensed truck stop establishment, licensed fraternal establishment, or licensed veteran’s establishment when conducted in accordance with the Video Gaming Act.  

        (13) Games of skill or chance where money or other things of value can be won but no payment or purchase is required to participate.  

        (14) Savings promotion raffles authorized under  

Section 5g of the Illinois Banking Act, Section 7008 of the Savings Bank Act, Section 42.7 of the Illinois Credit Union Act, Section 5136B of the National Bank Act (12 U.S.C. 25a), or Section 4 of the Home Owners' Loan Act (12 U.S.C. 1463).  

    (c) Sentence.

    Gambling is a Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction under subsections (a)(3) through (a)(12), is a Class 4 felony.

    (d) Circumstantial evidence.

    In prosecutions under this Section circumstantial evidence shall have the same validity and weight as in any criminal prosecution.

(Source: P.A. 98-644, eff. 6-10-14; 99-149, eff. 1-1-16.)  


Source: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K28-1










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