Last-Minute Push For Legalized Fantasy Sports In Illinois

Last-Minute Push For Legalized Fantasy Sports In IllinoisAfter the topic of daily fantasy sports was kept under lock and key during the majority of the General Assembly’s session, it caught many lawmakers by surprise when three DFS bills were brought to the table just two days before its scheduled recess.

Read The Legislation

IL SB 208 would legalize online gambling in the state along with daily fantasy sports. Players over 21 would be permitted to join DFS sites. Illinois casino operators would be required to pay a $10 million licensing fee should they want to offer online gambling, and there would be a flat 15% tax rate on gaming revenue.

Read The Legislation

Read The Legislation

IL SB 1805 amends the Riverboat Gambling Act while IL SB 1667 amends the Title Insurance Act. Both of these amendments include daily fantasy sports regulations and would put the Illinois Gaming Board in charge of overseeing DFS. The two bills have already passed the House Rules Committee and are working their way through the House Executive Committee.

Why The Sudden Push For Online Gambling & DFS?

The issue of daily fantasy sports is nothing new to the state of Illinois. In 2015, Representative Michael Zalewski began to advocate for DFS in the state. Shortly after, State Attorney General Lisa Madigan told DFS companies FanDuel and DraftKings that they would have to stop accepting Illinois players unless the legislator legalized daily fantasy contests. The duo disputed the warning in court, but have since remained in the Illinois market. This ongoing legal battle is likely one of the reasons behind the proposed pieces of legislation.

Rivers Casino has also been vocal about their opposition to regulating DFS, but have huge proponents of legalizing online gambling within Illinois. Rivers has supported recent legalization efforts in PA and is already licensed for online gaming in New Jersey. Paul Gaynor, of parent company Midwest Gaming & Entertainment, had the following to say regarding the bills currently working their way through the House.

“We support a strong comprehensive internet gaming bill — not piecemeal — that would allow for numerous games to be fairly and safely played online, while providing significant tax revenue for the state.”

Judging from Gaynor and the overall attitude represented by Illinois Casino Gaming Association, the proposed bills could be seen as a way to meet in the middle. By giving the industry the legalized online gambling that they seek, it could possibly soften their stance on daily fantasy sports.

"There was controversy last year as to why are we regulating daily fantasy sports activity, which is ongoing in the state, and not regulating internet gaming, which is also occurring," said Senator Kwame Raoul. "So what this bill attempts to do is also regulate and bring licensure and supervision of internet gaming under the jurisdiction of the Gaming Board.”

The DFS Outlook In Illinois

The state has been down this road before, with a prior DFS bill failing in 2016. There is no clear indication yet as to whether or not any of the bills will continue to move forward, but with 2 million players from Illinois already participating in fantasy sports contests - per the Fantasy Sports Trade Association - it seems that residents will be able to enjoy sports betting in Illinois no matter which way the coin flips.

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