The Illinois state legislature wrapped up its spring session on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, and came with it the disappointment of many an avid daily fantasy sports player, as a proposed bill regulating the fantasy industry failed to be called to a vote before the end of the session. The bill, which had already passed in the Illinois Senate, seeks to allow DFS giants DraftKings and FanDuel to legally operate throughout the state under specific regulations. Some of those potential restrictions include limiting DFS games to professional sports only, requiring players be at least 21 years of age or older, and capping the amount of money players are able to hold in their account at one time.
However, during the last weekend of the spring session and in the days following, details have emerged of potential impropriety by the DFS industry; specifically, it is alleged that emails exist between a DFS lobbyist and his/her boss, both of whom have been working to secure the necessary votes for the bill to pass, in which they discuss the viability of exchanging House votes for charitable donations. While no individual assemblyman or woman are named in the emails and no allegation shave yet been brought suggesting any potential votes were actually attempted to be secured this way, the fact that the vote itself was shelved for the session proves just how toxic accusations of legislative impropriety can be on any pending bill.
According to sponsor Rep. Mike Zalewski’s team, the bill could still pass during the Legislature’s summer session, although it would now require a higher amount of votes to do so; a proposition which may be difficult to overcome, as Illinois casinos continue to lobby heavily against the legalization of fantasy sports in order to maintain a firm grip over gambling in the state.
The status of the bill will continue to be one of the most heavily monitored this summer, as Illinois is widely seen as being a key state to set an example for the regulation of the industry, with its large population, historic professional sports moments, and rich, beloved franchises.