Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a statement on Wednesday declaring that fantasy sports leagues of the type offered by FanDuel and DraftKings are “illegal gambling under Illinois law,” according to AP via The Province.
Two Democratic legislators were reported to have asked for Madigan’s opinion on whether fantasy sports leagues that are available online, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, in Illinois, involve “skill or luck.” Each of the sites is reported to hold the belief that their fantasy sports sites are providing games of skill — not mere gambling — so they should not be illegal, according to NPR.
It turns out that the debate into whether fantasy sports leagues are games of skill or luck is “irrelevant.” According to Ms. Madigan, both are illegal under Illinois state law, which “clearly declares that all games of chance or skill, when played for money, are illegal gambling in Illinois.”
“Persons whose wagers depend upon how particular, selected athletes perform in actual sporting events stand in no different stead than persons who wager on the outcome of any sporting event in which they are not participants.”
“Chicago may be the best sports town in the country. It’s a city — and Illinois is a state — that plays fantasy sports like almost no other,” FanDuel said in a released statement addressing the Illinois attorney general’s concerns. There was no indication on whether the sites would continue to be accessible to users in the state and what steps could be taken by the state to block access.
Donald Trump recently suggested that the United States should attempt to block access to the Internet. The New Yorker conceded that while it was possible to shut down the Internet — or at least portions of it — that it would involve a plan to “sever fibre-optic cables, destroy satellite dishes, and knock out cellular towers;” a seeming step backwards.
More likely, the Illinois attorney general could require DraftKings and FanDuel to not accept the business of customers who reside in the state, which is presumably what has occurred in Nevada and other states where fantasy sports is deemed to be illegal and a form of gambling, as reported by AP.
Reportedly, it is the daily and weekly fantasy sports leagues operated by DraftKings and FanDuel that are seen as being in violation of the law. Season-long games are said to not be affected and allowed to continue, uninterrupted.
Both sites have attempted to portray themselves as legitimate businesses who takes steps to ensure the identity of their players, enforce strict rules on employees and other insiders, ensure all players are at least 18-years-old, and ensure that no players owe debts to society, such a child support or taxes.
In November, both FanDuel and DraftKings appeared in court in New York to ask for a “reprieve” of an order that the sites cease operating in the state, as reported by The Inquisitr. The fantasy sports sites were reported to have been permitted to continue operating until January.
Lisa Madigan and the state of Illinois have made no such offer to FanDuel and DraftKings. How long the sites will continue to allow customers in Illinois to take part in daily and weekly fantasy pools is unknown. If events play out similarly to how they did in New York, FanDuel and DraftKings representatives may be appearing in an Illinois court asking for accommodations similar to what was provided to the fantasy sports sites in New York. Whether or not the state of Illinois will uphold Lisa Madigan’s decision that fantasy sports are illegal gambling, or permit the sites to continue while the issue is debated, will be intensely scrutinized.
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