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Illinois Online Gambling Gets Fighting Chance

20 August 2017 by Devon Chappell

Daily Fantasy Sports have existed in a floated in a legal limbo in Illinois ever since the state’s Attorney General Lisa Madigan penned in 2015 that the popular pastime was illegal in her opinion. She wrote, “ Absent legislation specifically exempting daily fantasy sports contests from the gambling provisions, it is my opinion that daily fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling under Illinois law.”

Representative Michael Zalewski, a vocal proponent for online betting and daily fantasy sports, was not deterred by the Attorney General’s less than enthusiastic assessment. He issued a statement thanking Madigan for her clarity and expressed his intention to continue finding a way to bring regulated online gambling to Illinois.

“Now that we have more clarity, I look forward to working with all involved in the upcoming legislative session to allow Illinoisans to continue to play these contests and provide the necessary strong consumer protections for safe, fun play.”

Zalewski kept his word and introduced a piece of legislation that would legalize online gambling, and in turn, fantasy sports, by proposing rigorous regulation of the industry within the state. The bill passed the Senate easily, but became stymied shortly thereafter in the House. But ever the determined optimist, Representative Zalewski has become more focused on the necessity of convincing Illinois’ land based casino’s that they could also benefit from the legalization of online gaming. “I’ve come to the conclusion this needs to be a collaborative approach.”

The shift in favor by the state’s land based casinos could help the House’s committee move toward a more supportive position on online gambling and internet betting, which would then allow the increasingly popular pastime of fantasy sports betting to gain legal standing. The Illinois state House is expected to move toward considering the legislation this November or possibly early 2018.

Illinois now stands to be in an undeclared race with Pennsylvania to be the first of the two to legalize online gambling next. Both states are primed with a track record of kicking the can down the road when it comes to the potential of utilizing the tax potential of regulating online gambling. When it come to the future of daily fantasy sports and internet wagering, only time will tell.


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