Illinois may be known as the “Land of Lincoln” but gambling insiders view Illinois as another exciting gambling destination. The state’s nine riverboat casinos provide tourists with the most gambling action, but Illinois also offers visitors gaming alternatives including horse racing and the state lottery. In fact, Illinois state law authorizes seven forms of gambling. These include horse racing, state lottery, bingo, off-track betting parlors, charitable games, pull tabs and jar games and Illinois riverboat casinos.
Travelers to Illinois won’t have to visit the big cities to find the gambling action either. In fact, the biggest city in Illinois, Chicago, has no casinos or race tracks. However, visitors can find casinos, horse racing tracks and other gambling venues throughout the city’s suburban area. Plus, casinos and other gambling facilities are scattered throughout the state so that no matter where you are in Illinois, you can enjoy a gaming experience. And your gaming experience doesn’t have to center around casinos and race tracks either. There are many alternative forms of gaming that are available in Illinois.
Perhaps you’re passing through the state and find a carnival or fair that peaks your interest. When you enter you might find that this carnival is offering charitable games. In Illinois, nonprofit groups such as religious, educational, fraternal, veterans’ or labor organizations can operate games such as roulette, blackjack and poker. However, the maximum bet for any of these games is $10 but the prizes you might win can be much, much more. Also, carnival goers might be intrigued by the pull tab and jar games that are offered at many of these types of events. A person purchases a ticket and pulls the tabs or opens the ticket to find out if he or she is a winner. Prizes include money, free tickets, cars, vacations, cookware or a variety of other items. Or perhaps a relaxing game of bingo might be the type of gambling experience you’re looking for. A weekend at the Illinois State Fair or any of the state’s many county fairs will provide visitors with ample opportunities to play these types of games.
Visitors might also be intrigued by the Illinois State Lottery. Whether stopping for gas or a quick bite to eat, visitors have the opportunity to try their luck with the Illinois lottery. Illinois offers drawings throughout the week. Players can purchase tickets for as little as 50 cents. Plus, you’ll find the Illinois Lottery also offers a variety of instant scratch-off tickets where you can win prizes from free tickets to $10,000 or more. Instant scratch-off tickets start at $1 each. Lottery tickets can be purchased from over 8,400 retail outlets throughout the state.
While travelers might not go out of their way to seek out a lottery ticket or a church-sponsored poker game or roulette wheel, these games provide some people with a fun gambling alternative. Serious gamblers, however, will find the state’s riverboat casinos, horse racing tracks and off-track betting parlors much more alluring.
Travelers can enjoy a wide variety of Las Vegas-style casino games at any of the nine casinos located in Illinois. Most casinos offer an expansive gaming menu that includes roulette, craps, poker, video poker, slots and much more. Slot players can spend the day playing penny slots or risk a bit more at dollar or hundred-dollar slot machines. Gamblers will also enjoy the progressive slot machines that are numerous throughout Illinois’ riverboat casinos. Pop in a dollar and you just might win a jackpot which can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to one million dollars. Lovers of video gambling will enjoy playing video keno or video poker where players can bet anywhere from twenty-five cents to twenty-five dollars at most casinos. Poker lovers will find that most Illinois casinos offer poker games such as Caribbean Stud Poker, Pai Gow and Three-Card Poker. A few Illinois casinos have special poker rooms where players can play a variety of Texas Hold ‘Em and other poker games or where more serious poker players can bet higher stakes. Some Illinois casinos have regular weekly poker tournaments as well.
There is a wide variety of lodging available near almost every casino in Illinois. Some casinos have hotels on-site. At other casinos, visitors will find affordable lodging conveniently located nearby. Transportation is usually readily available at casinos that do not offer on-site hotels. Casinos are more than willing to offer complimentary transportation to take guests from hotels to casinos and back. In addition, travelers can choose from many dining options. Whether it’s a restaurant in the casino or one of the many restaurants that can be found in the surrounding communities, visitors should have no problem finding a restaurant to suit their tastes and their budget.
In addition, tourists will find that Illinois’s riverboat casinos offer much more than just a place for gambling. Many casinos offer live entertainment including concerts, comedy acts and performance by well-known acts like Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin and Bill Cosby. Some casinos offer a variety of shopping facilities on site. A traveler might also find that Illinois casinos are the perfect spot for meetings or conventions. Most Illinois casinos offer business services that cater to businesses and organizations looking for a fun and unique venue for their meeting or convention.
Tourists who aren’t interested in gambling their money on slots or video poker or who don’t want to plunk down a few bucks for a poker game might find pari-mutuel betting more appealing. There are two types of horse racing in Illinois, thoroughbred racing and harness racing. There are six race tracks in Illinois but only five offer live racing. Most are located near Chicago where lodging, dining and transportation is readily available and convenient. In addition to the six race tracks, Illinois offers gamblers 20 off-track betting parlors where visitors can place pari-mutuel bets on races not only in Illinois but across the country including big cities like New York and Louisville.
No matter where you go in Illinois, you’re sure to find a gaming adventure that’s right for you.
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