Is Online Poker Legal in Illinois?
The law in Illinois surrounding gambling is pretty relaxed. There are more than enough regulated gambling options available here to keep even the most avid gambler happy. However, Illinois is one of the states which takes a very strict view of unregulated gambling of any time. This is demonstrated not only by the strict penalties that people will face if they are caught gambling or running an unregulated establishment, but also in the fact that the definition of gambling is very wide. Let’s take a little look.
As I mentioned previously, the definition of gambling in Illinois is particularly broad, it is also one of the simplest explanations from all of the states. It reads simply as:
(a) A person commits gambling when he:
(1) Plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value 
So what is unique about this legislation? Well, even games which rely purely on skill are defined as ‘gambling’ under the legislation in Illinois, which means they get a resounding no to playing unless regulated. In addition to this rather strict definition, those that are caught gambling in Illinois will face charges which get higher the more they are caught. Those that run gambling outfits face felony charges if caught.
So what is legal in Illinois when it comes to gambling? Well, quite a lot. This includes lottery and horse racing as well as riverboat gambling, there are quite a few of them out there and many of them offer all of the casino games you can imagine. Charitable gambling is also allowed, providing they have a license. A lot of games are covered here which is fantastic news!
Casinos and Live Poker
There are very few chances for people to play poker or at a casino in Illinois, on the land at least. There are a number of riverboats around the states which traverse the waters, apart from Lake Michigan and offer gambling options. Many of these offer all of the gambling that you could possible want, and yes, that does include poker! Outside of a charity game or a riverboat casino and you could probably be in violation of the law, which means that you will suffer penalties if you are caught.
The legislation does not specifically exclude social games, which means that these aren’t allowed and it is unlikely that the police would raid a home that is offering these sorts of games, however it is a possibility. Recent raids on private games have shown that the state is more interested in bringing those that run the games to justice as opposed to those that are playing, in fact, there have been no charges in recent years for those that have been caught playing these games!
You may be surprised to know that Illinois actually makes specific provision in its legislation for online poker, although you won’t be pleased to know that this mention, added only recently, prohibits playing the game online!
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. 
It is unknown whether Illinois is going to regulate online gambling any time soon, although there is a belief that it may happen. After all, a lot of what they offer in terms of gambling options is available online at the moment. However, don’t expect it to happen soon, nobody is trying to push through legislation at the moment.