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September 22, 2020

Committee members believe HB 4323 needs major changes before becoming law

Illinois Gaming Board fights fantasy sports measure

Illinois Gaming Board fights fantasy sports measure
An amended bill that would legalize and regulate fantasy sports in Illinois is one step closer to becoming law, despite strong opposition from other gambling stakeholders and the Illinois Gaming Board.
United States | 04/22/2016

An amended bill that would legalize and regulate fantasy sports in Illinois is one step closer to becoming law, despite strong opposition from other gambling stakeholders and the Illinois Gaming Board.

I

n a 9-4 vote following heated testimony and concerns that the bill was being rushed, the House Criminal Law Committee sent House Bill 4323, known as the Fantasy Contests Act, to the House floor.

State lawmakers in the House could vote on the bill, authored by Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, but committee members said it still needs major changes before becoming law.

 

The Illinois Gaming Board, which would be charged with overseeing the industry if the bill is passed, expressed doubts about its capacity to do so

 

"Constituents of ours play these games regardless of whether we agree with their decision to do so," Zalewski testified in Springfield. "This is an opportunity to create a safe place for these games to occur. We have an opportunity to pass one of the most comprehensive daily fantasy sports laws in the country."

Zalewski filed a major amendment to his bill, adding regulatory guidelines, a license fee and tax structure to the original proposal he introduced last year.

Under the revised bill, fantasy sports games run by operators like New York-based FanDuel and Boston-based DraftKings would be regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board, the government body that oversees the state's casino, video gambling and horse racing operators. Other rules addressing who can play, how often they can play and limits on betting were also part of the new bill.

But opposition to those proposed guidelines was staunch from the Illinois Gaming Board itself. The agency, which would be charged with overseeing the industry if the bill is passed, expressed doubts about its capacity to do so.

Fantasy sports "puts gaming into people's homes," said gaming board legislative liaison Caleb Melamed during his testimony before the committee, pointing to protections that casino and video gambling operators can put in place to ensure residents under age 21 aren't playing their games. "We don't see a way to prevent teenagers or children even younger from getting their parents' account numbers and using the internet to game."

That sentiment was echoed by committee members from both sides of the aisle. Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, scolded his colleagues for what he called a rushed process to move the bill through committee, highlighting concerns about how the gaming board could guarantee that minors aren't playing.

"The bill accomplishes very little. The requirements in there are much ado about nothing," he said. "We're opening the door to legitimizing gambling for minors, causing a huge social impact down the road."

State Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, voted against the bill because it would allow companies like FanDuel and DraftKings—which are currently violating Illinois law, according to Attorney General Lisa Madigan—to continue operating while the Illinois Gaming Board vets them.

"It is an important bill, and big enough and important enough to do right. We are not doing the committee process right by a truncated hearing," said Sandack. "This bill is not ready for prime time."

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