Lawmaker accuses fantasy sports lobby of ethics violations

  • Rita Mayfield

    Rita Mayfield

By Mary Hansen
Updated 5/26/2016 1:43 PM

A suburban Democratic lawmaker accused a daily fantasy sports lobbyist of implying a trade of donations for favorable votes from lawmakers in "a very inappropriate email."

"What he sent out was unethical and, in my opinion, illegal," state Rep. Rita Mayfield, a Waukegan Democrat, said in an Illinois House hearing Thursday.


Mayfield didn't say which lobbyist sent the email or to whom. But she said she reported it to an ethics officer.

The public accusation on the controversial topic could significantly impede the measure that industry giants DraftKings and FanDuel have been pushing since the fall.

Lobbyists for the companies deny that there was any wrongdoing.

"We categorically reject the implication that DraftKings or FanDuel would partake in such behavior. We do not condone this type of activity," said Jeremy Kudon, a national lobbyist for the industry, in a statement.

"I didn't have anything to do with that," said state Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Riverside Democrat who has shepherded the bill. "It is regrettable to me that this became such an opportunity for that kind of behavior and I apologize to members for that."

The Illinois Senate last week passed the regulation measure that sets the minimum age to play at 21 years, imposes some taxes and fees, and allows casinos to set up daily fantasy sports contests.

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Despite this, casino representatives oppose the measure. They have said they hoped to get a comprehensive online gambling deal, not just the ability to run online fantasy sports games.

The next step is a vote in the Illinois House. But at a time when tensions around a budget deal are high and time is running out to reach a deal, a vote on a controversial gaming bill is questionable.

"Any vote is tainted on this," state Rep. Scott Drury, a Highwood Democrat said.

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