Future of Illinois' daily fantasy sports bill unclear

A last-minute push to legalize daily fantasy sports betting in Illinois cleared the state Senate on Thursday, but the bill's future is in limbo because of some legislative maneuvering.

Several states have deemed the contests illegal and lawmakers nationwide have responded by trying to set regulations. But reaching an agreement in Illinois has been a challenge, even after months of negotiations.

The Senate passed the bill on a 32-22 vote Thursday but shortly afterward, one of the measure's supporters filed a motion to reconsider, putting the proposal on hold and preventing it from moving to the House.

Chicago Democratic Sen. Antonio Munoz, who filed the motion, didn't immediately return messages left at his office. It wasn't immediately clear why he filed the motion or whether he plans to undo it. There's a little over a week left in the 2016 legislative session.

The Illinois proposal would forbid anyone under 21 from participating in daily fantasy sports and employees at the companies would be barred from playing, in an attempt to address concerns they might have an unfair advantage. Athletes also would be prohibited from playing, and the companies would be forbidden from advertising in college campuses.

Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul, the bill's sponsor, urged lawmakers to consider people in their districts who play the games.

"What we're doing with this bill is making sure that we're responsive to the thousands of citizens who play these fantasy sports and making sure we don't criminalize those citizens who exist in each and every one of our districts," he said.

The measure also would impose taxes and licensing fees. The Illinois Gaming Board would oversee the contests, and fine operators who violate the rules.

A similar bill was considered in the House but the Senate version was the one lawmakers wanted to focus on.

Industry giants DraftKings and FanDuel have been lobbying for regulation around the country that would allow them to continue operating after some states, including Illinois, have said that what they were doing amounted to illegal online gambling.

The companies support the legislation in Illinois, where they say 2 million people participate in the games. That makes the Illinois the third-largest market for the contests, according to the Fantasy Trade Association, which represents DraftKings, FanDuel and 300 other operators.

In March, the governors of Virginia and Indiana signed legislation to regulate the industry. Kansas has also legalized daily fantasy sports. In all, 35 states have introduced legislation addressing daily fantasy sports, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Representatives of Illinois' existing casinos opposed the bill, saying the proposed regulations are insufficient and questioned the cost of enforcement.

One opponent of the bill said it was moving too fast and argued lawmakers should have more time to consider the measure.

"I guess I've said to myself, 'What's this about? Are we jumping at something right now that we really need to take a longer look at it?'" said Sen. David Luechtefeld, a Republican from Okawville.


The legislation is HB3655.