Legislator Files Illinois Sports Betting Bill Prohibiting Wagers At Dave & Busters

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Illinois Sports Betting

An Illinois lawmaker believes a new Dave & Busters offering is a bit too close to Illinois sports betting and is pushing legislation to prohibit the product.

On Thursday, Rep. Dan Didech filed a bill to create the Family Amusement Wagering Prohibition Act. The legislation would prohibit businesses, such as Dave & Busters, from engaging in facilitating or promoting wagering on their games. Didech chairs the House Gaming Committee, which considers Illinois sports betting and gambling issues.

Didech filed House Bill 5832, which has more than 25 cosponsors, after Dave & Buster’s announced a partnership with Lucra to allow customers to “digitally compete with each other.” The Illinois legislature adjourns May 24.

“Gambling entities, businesses involved in Illinois and elsewhere, it’s a heavily regulated sector for a whole host of good reasons,” said Didech. “When the press reports came out earlier this week that Dave & Busters was in partnership to begin unregulated and unlicensed gambling games on-premise, that raises a whole host of issues of if it’s possible in a way we consider safe and responsible.” 

Would Dave & Buster’s be Illinois sports betting?

National media reported the Dave & Buster’s news with headlines like CNBC’s “Dave & Buster’s to allow customers to bet on arcade games.” Customers will be able to compete for real money against each other within the Dave & Buster’s app, including at five Illinois locations.

The games are for customers older than 18, and the company will limit wager sizes, according to Lucra.

The companies argue the games are skill-based, and they avoid using the terms “bet” and “wager.”

Illinois legislator looks to curb gambling

Didech said he believes three weeks is enough time to get something across the line this session. He said he is in talks with legislative colleagues and the governor’s office about the issue.

“When the announcement was made, it raised a lot of red flags about whether they have the wherewithal and done the due diligence to offer this in a safe way,” Didech said. 

Didech noted the bill also applies to Dave & Buster’s competitors.

Didech argues definition of skill games

Dave & Buster’s and Lucra argue the new offering is a game of skill. Didech, however, said no regulation is in place to guarantee chance does not influence an outcome.

“The company is planning to operate this, leaning heavily into what they say is a distinction of games of chance and games of skill,” Didech said. “That’s a dichotomy I reject. And as legislators and regulators across the country take a look at this, we should be active in rejecting that.”

“Every game has an element of skill or chance. You can play blackjack, a game everyone agrees is gambling, in a more skillful and less skillful way.”

Luck in arcade games vs. Illinois sports betting

Didech used an example of the basketball game Hot Shots to demonstrate how a winner might be lucky.

“What regulations are in place? Are the hoops the same diameter? Or are the balls all inflated the same? Or are the return mechanisms programmed so it’s a fair game? The answer is that’s not happening,” he said. “I’ve played pop-a-shot and waited 15 seconds for the ball and the person I’m playing against is getting ball after ball after ball, it’s not because he’s better, it was bad luck I was at a station the balls were getting caught.”

He said there are no regulations in place to ensure games at the more than 200 North American Dave & Buster’s locations are fair.