Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) operators were optimistic about getting an Illinois DFS bill passed but legislators decided to put the bill on hold after allegations were made regarding a-cash-for-votes scheme.
The DFS bill was supposed to be put up for votes before the legislature committee adjourns for its spring season at the end of the month. However Democratic Rep. Michael Zalewski, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, informed the House committee on May 29 that he was not going to put the bill to vote in light of the vote-buying allegations. Zalewski did not make reference to the legislator who highlighted these allegations but stated that it had shed a negative light on the voting process of the DFS bill and hence it was best to keep it on hold for now.
The vote-buying allegations were first introduced by Democratic Rep. Rita Mayfield who stated that she had been shown an email where a lobbyist who represents DraftKings and FanDuel, two of the biggest DFS operators in the country stated that he could influence the voting process. The lobbyist who wasn’t named stated that he could secure votes from the House Legislative Black Caucus members if financial donations were made to their respective foundations.
Mayfield stated that the e-mail made it clear that votes could be secured if special favours and financial contributions were made. She did not reveal any information as to how she became privy to this information or who was the recipient of the email but made it clear that she wasn’t comfortable voting on the DFS bill as of now.
DFS operators were in favor of the bill being introduced in Illinois as it is the third biggest market for DFS operators based on stats from the Fantasy Trade Association. The association estimates that more than 2 million people take part in DFS games and the new bill would have set in place guidelines for DFS players in Illinois and placed restrictions on those below the ages of 21 and those who were employed by DFS operators.
Spokesman Jeremy Kudon, who represents both DraftKings and FanDuel, denied all the allegations about vote-buying. In a statement on behalf of both companies, Kudon said “We categorically reject the implication that DraftKings or FanDuel would partake in such behaviour. We do not condone this type of activity. It’s simply not how we do business, here or anywhere in the country.”
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had stated in December 2015 that although DFS games were illegal as per state law, it would require someone to challenge these DFS operators in court in order for the websites to be shutdown. Zalewski has stated that he would continue to push for the DFS bill to be passed in the near future.