After last month saw Mississippi become the twelfth American state to legalize daily fantasy sports, legislators in Illinois are reportedly set to be given the chance to follow suit once they return from their Easter holidays later this month.
According to a report from The State Journal-Register newspaper, Michael Zalewski, a Democratic member of the Illinois House Of Representatives, has proposed legislation that would legalize daily fantasy sports in the Midwestern state in an attempt to raise millions of dollars in new revenues for schools and other services.
“There’s untapped tax revenues that would go in either schools or infrastructure or whatever the legislature deems appropriate, which we’re not taking advantage of right now,” Zalewski told the newspaper. “We are in a state that is $14 billion behind in paying its bills.”
Zalewski reportedly explained that his measure would institute protections such as an age restriction of 21, prohibit employees of any daily fantasy sports operator from playing and require annual independent audits to ensure providers are complying with requirements.
“I think daily fantasy sports continue to be operating in a regulatory vacuum,” said Zalewski, who represents the Illinois House Of Representative’s 23rd district centered on the Chicago suburb of Riverside. “This has been going on for two or three years now where their sites have operated free and clear of regulatory laws or tax rates.”
Zalewski told The State Journal-Register that his legislation would supersede a 2015 advisory opinion from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that it is illegal under current state laws to wager on daily fantasy sports contests while the newspaper additionally reported that leading operators FanDuel and Draft Kings have already voiced their support for the proposed measure.
However, not everyone is in favor of Zalewski’s legislation with the Illinois Gaming Board, which would be required to supervise all daily fantasy sports in Illinois, reportedly stating that overseeing the games would be incredibly difficult since contests usually take place in players’ homes.
“In a casino, we monitor everything,” Caleb Melamed, a legislative liaison with the Illinois Gaming Board, told The State Journal-Register. “We have surveillance and a central computer system. This would be an outside computer system, probably located outside of Illinois.”
Melamed reportedly declared that the legalization of daily fantasy sports in Illinois could moreover negatively impact existing gambling establishments such as licensed casinos and video gaming parlors.
“This is going to have a tremendous impact on gaming,” Melamed told the newspaper. “This is another step to making gaming more pervasive by putting it inside people’s households.”
But, Zalewski reportedly disagreed and pointed to states that had recently passed similar legislation encompassing Virginia, Rhode Island, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Tennessee and West Virginia.
“I disagree with the Illinois Gaming Board on the difficulty of regulating this only because other states are doing it,” told The State Journal-Register. “I just believe the Illinois Gaming Board is able to do the things that other states are able to figure out.”
Peter Schoenke, President for RotoWire.com, which is a Wisconsin service that provides daily fantasy sports participants with information and statistics, reportedly agreed with Zalewski’s assessment that casinos would not lose out if such contests were legalized.
“Fantasy sports are not a competitor to traditional casino games,” Schoenke told the newspaper. “They’re just very different. Fantasy sports you play on your computer at home, you’re watching the game on Sundays. You’re not going to a bricks-and-mortar building and playing. It’s just a totally different product.”