DraftKings says game
still on in Illinois; attorney says company will take dispute to court
Mark Fitton | December 24, 2015 | News
— Despite an opinion by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that
daily fantasy sports contests such as those offered by DraftKings and
FanDuel are illegal gambling under state law, one of the big providers
said it intends to keep offering the games in Illinois.
DraftKings’ attorney late Wednesday issued a statement saying the company
disagrees with the attorney general and believes “daily fantasy sports, which
Illinois residents have been playing for years, are lawful under state law.”
“The company intends to promptly seek a judicial resolution of its right to
offer daily fantasy sports contests to Illinois residents,” wrote DraftKings
attorney , chairman of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.
“As it does so, it will continue to abide by all relevant laws and will follow
the direction of the courts. Pending that resolution the company will preserve
the status quo,” Boies said.
Comment from the attorney general’s office, other than a referral to the opinion
issued Wednesday, wasn’t available on Thursday.
In her opinion, Madigan did note that legislation has been introduced in the
Illinois General Assembly that could legalize the games in Illinois. However,
her office also told attorneys for the companies that unless or until that
legislation should become law, it expects DraftKings and FanDuel to make
Illinoisans ineligible to play.
In daily fantasy sports, participants open a real-money account with the game
operators and — for sports such as baseball and basketball — can play daily if
they wish. The fantasy teams are composed of actual athletes who are “drafted”
for the fantasy match.
Operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel keep a certain amount or “fee” for
administering the entire enterprise.
State Rep. Mike Zalewski, one of the sponsors of the proposed Fantasy Contests
Act, said it’s clear from his perspective “that what we’re to do in the
Generally Assembly (is) to reconcile our law to make sure that players are
protected with strong consumer protections but also allow them to play this
popular game in Illinois.”
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Zalewski, D-Riverside, said he’d try to pass the bill in the
“It’s a very easy change to the law that we can make with a
couple strokes of the pen,” he said.
Zalewski’s legislation is House Bill 4323. A similar measure in the
Senate, SB 2193, is sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.
Anti-gambling groups are expected to oppose the proposed act, as
they consider fantasy sports contests an expansion of gambling.
Although Madigan examined several questions in her opinion, she also
said the fantasy sites’ stance that their contests are matters of
skill, and not chance, aren’t terribly relevant in Illinois because
the state’s criminal code “prohibits the playing of both ‘games of
chance or skill for money.'”
Illinois News Networks’ messages to FanDuel’s attorneys have yet to
A press release issued Thursday by FanDuel said “why the attorney
general would tell her 13.5 million constituents they can’t play
fantasy sports anymore as they know it — and make no mistake, her
opinion bans all forms of fantasy sports played for money — is
beyond us. Hopefully, the legislature will give back to the people
of Illinois the games they love.”
The attorney general’s opinion can be viewed here
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