The heat is on in Illinois daily fantasy sports as lawmakers race against a procedural deadline of end May to legalise DFS and render moot the state Attorney General’s opinion that the genre constitutes illegal gambling.
Our readers will recall that as interest in daily fantasy sports ramped up towards the end of last year Lisa Madigan, the state Attorney General, issued an opinion that playing a game of chance or skill for money is illegal gambling in terms of state law. The opinion prompted market leaders to file litigation against the AG’s view.
Madigan’s opinion also spelled trouble for Representative Mike Zalewski, who had just introduced language to regulate the DFS industry in October. He persevered, however pushing Bill HB 3655 through committee stages, although it has yet to reach the floor for debate and vote.
In the meantime a similar bill, S 469, appeared in the state Senate and was reportedly progressed, along with HB3655 by an executive committee session on Wednesday, according to an Associated Press report. However, it has similarly not yet reached the floor.
If lawmakers are unable to get the bill to the state governor’s desk on a floor vote by the end of May, it looks as if the legality of DFS in Illinois will rest in the hands of the courts adjudicating the DFS companies’ legal arguments.
The issue is not without opposition, including the Illinois Casino Gaming Association representing land casino interests, which has suggested that any regulation of DFS should be to the same high standards as those required of land casino licensees, and that DFS should be made to compete on a level field with land operators rather than simply being declared to be legal.
Other opponents include the Chicago Crime Commission and the Illinois Harness Horsemen.
The bill approved by the Senate committee requires that DFS activity is overseen by the Illinois Gaming Board and includes provisions for the exclusion of contestants below age 21 years, among other requirements.