Daily Fantasy Sports Resurfaces In Illinois, But Not In A Good Way

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DFS resurfaces Illinois

A bill that would make it illegal to operate a daily fantasy sports site in Illinois has resurfaced, but its prospects of passage seem dim with a short time on the legislative calendar.

The latest on Illinois and DFS

One of two competing bills dealing with the DFS industry popped up on Monday, as H 6586 was assigned to a committee.

That bill, authored by Rep. Scott Drury, was actually introduced in the summer but has sat idle since then.

The movement on the bill does not seem to indicate a groundswell of interest or support for the bill, but it is at least back on the agenda. At time of publication, the bill is not currently even scheduled to be heard or noted on in the committee it was assigned to. The committee is considering other gaming measures, however.

Illinois’ legislature is only in session this week for two or possibly three days. It would take a herculean effort to get a bill that has seen no action to date to the finish line.

What the Illinois DFS bill does

Here is what the bill would do, altering the state criminal code when it comes to gambling:

Provides that a person also commits gambling when he or she knowingly establishes, maintains, operates, or offers an Internet site, smartphone application, or other similar electronic or digital media or communication technology that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value by means of the Internet, smartphone application, or other similar electronic or digital media or communication technology or to make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet, smartphone application, or other similar electronic or digital media or communication technology, or knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates a fantasy sports contest that permits a person to play the contest for money or other thing of value.

A DFS operator would be committing a misdemeanor on a first offense and a felony on a second offense.

The language of the bill would also tacitly make illegal any form of online gambling, in addition to DFS, by its language. The bill explicitly exempts season-long fantasy sports.

The backstory of DFS and Illinois

Drury has long been an opponent of the DFS industry, dating back to the spring when a bill that would legalize and regulate DFS was making its way through the legislature. That effort stalled over allegations of impropriety by a lobbyist for the DFS industry.

Illinois has been thinking about the DFS industry longer than most states, dating back to early 2015. A bill on the subject was first surfaced in October.

Adding to the complicated climate for DFS in the state, Attorney General Lisa Madigan opined that DFS is illegal gambling under state law. DFS operators DraftKings and FanDuel took Madigan to court regarding her opinion, a case that is still in court, with little action over the past year.

What’s next for Illinois and DFS

Observers will be watching for movement on the Drury bill during the current session and for it to resurface in 2017, as well.

Meanwhile, Rep. Michael Zalewski is the author of a competing legalization bill, H 3655. That bill will not be advanced during the session, but it is likely to see action early next year, Zalewski told Legal Sports Report.

“My goal will be to get the bill to a vote in January,” Zalewski said. “That would be my hope.”

DraftKings and FanDuel had already been working together on lobbying efforts in Illinois and elsewhere. The two companies have agreed to a planned merger since the last time Illinois pondered DFS.