New measure would ban daily fantasy sports in Illinois

  • Scott Drury

    Scott Drury

  • Mike Zalewski

    Mike Zalewski

By Mary Hansen
Updated 6/10/2016 9:57 AM

A proposal introduced this week would ban daily fantasy sports in Illinois.

State Rep. Scott Drury, a Highwood Democrat who has been a vocal opponent of a plan to legalize and regulate the games, sponsored a measure that would make operating games such a crime. Seasonlong fantasy contests would remain legal.


The debate over fantasy sports betting sites, such as those operated by FanDuel and DraftKings, has raged on for months. An industry-supported measure was making progress in the General Assembly, but opposition from casinos and other gambling interests and an allegation of unethical behavior by a lobbyist plagued the proposal and stalled it at the end of the spring legislative session. Drury says he's concerned regulations aren't tough enough.

"There's been no real willingness from the industry to abide by regulations," Drury said.

Fantasy sports supporters continue to advocate for their regulation bill, which would impose some taxes and fees, set the minimum age to play at 21 and require game operators to be licensed.

"I believe that clear choice is outlined in House Bill 3655: the nation's strongest consumer protections for players, the opportunity to put sorely needed money in our education system, and the message to an emerging growth industry -- with 2 million Illinoisans participating -- that we want you here," said state Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Riverside Democrat, in a Facebook post.

The Senate approved the bill in May, but it failed to get enough support to move forward in the House.

Still, supporters say they will continue pushing that version.

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"Legislators should support the Zalewski/Raoul bill, which places careful regulation on all varieties of fantasy sports and protects basic consumer freedoms," said Jay Correia, owner of West Dundee-based DreamCo Design.

Some states, including Massachusetts, Indiana and Virginia, have made the games legal and imposed regulations. Others, including New York, consider the games to be illegal gambling.

The new proposal would make Attorney General Lisa Madigan's opinion on daily fantasy sports the state law. An initial conviction for operating the games would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, while a second conviction would be a felony with a one- to three-year sentence and up to $25,000 in fines.

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