FanDuel & DraftKings Are “Illegal Gambling”, Says Illinois A.G.

Another state has bet against fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings and moved them into the illegal gambling column. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told legislators today that the sites are breaking the laws of the Prairie State.

“Absent legislation specifically exempting daily fantasy sports contests from the gambling provisions, it is my opinion that daily fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling under Illinois law,” said the opinion released today. Also, in a letter accompanying the opinion delivered to Springfield pols, Madigan’s office says that FanDuel and DraftKings need to “amend their Terms of Use” and make Illinois residents ineligible to use their service until new legislation is passed.

“Chicago may be the best sports town in the country,” said FanDuel in response to today’s opinion. “It’s a city — and Illinois is a state — that plays fantasy sports like almost no other. The League is even set in Illinois,” they added, noting the just-concluded FXX series that revolves around a fantasy football league. “So 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. A sports town like Chicago and a sports loving state like Illinois deserves nothing less.”

State of Illinois seal

Today’s move in the sports-heavy state is but the latest blow to the sites that are facing a ban in New York and already have been booted out of the likes of Nevada. Familiar to almost all sports fans onscreen and online, FanDuel and DraftKings have long argued that their participants are not engaged in gambling but games of skill. That distinction is irrelevant, AG Madigan said today. As a part of the documents presented Wednesday, she said that illegal gambling occurs in Illinois when a participant “plays a game of chance or skill for money.”

Unlike the sudden cease-and-desist letters that NY AG Eric Schneiderman sent the fantasy sites’ CEOs on November 10, today’s opinion did not come out of the blue. With various states looking at their laws in relation to FanDuel and DraftKings, Illinois state Rep. Mike Zalewski introduced legislation in the fall to make the sites’ actions legal. On Wednesday, Zalewski said he does not “believe daily fantasy sports involve gambling’ but that the AG’s opinion offers “clarity” to the matter at hand. No solid timeline is in place yet for when a vote on such legislation will be held in Illinois.

DraftKings has not responded to requests for comment.

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