The Fantasy Sports Trade Association is lobbying vigorously in Illinois for a regulatory bill launched by Rep. Mike Zalewski (see previous reports) but faces determined opposition in the state following an opinion by Illinois AG Lisa Madigan that DFS contests are illegal gambling under state law.
The Zalewski bill sets a minimum age of 18 and limits insider trading by prohibiting employees from playing on their own sites or those of competitors.
FSTA chairman Peter Schoenke claims that over 2 million Illinois residents participate in fantasy sports contests, and says they deserve clarity in the law and the right to play.
Rep. Zalewski said Thursday that the state’s gambling laws don’t make distinctions about online fantasy sports games.
“When you couple fantasy football, which is something everybody loves, with a bill that will grow Illinois’ jobs and Illinois’ economy this should be something Democrats and Republicans in Illinois can agree on and move forward on together,” he said.
But religious and problem gambling opponents of the measure have vowed to fight the bill in its present form, supporting the state AG’s opinion that DFS constitutes gambling.
The Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems has pledged to raise petitions and testify at hearings in protest at the proposed bill.
At least one DFS company has halted Illinois operations and is feeling financial pain as the debate in Illinois continues. Chicago-based SideLeague says it is in “legal limbo” at present.
“Unlike DraftKings and FanDuel we don’t have financial backing that would allow us to take on any litigation risk,” said SideLeague co-owner Tony Giordano. “We’ve stopped offering our contests in Illinois as of December.”
Rep. Zalewski’s proposal is scheduled for a House judiciary committee hearing in April.