Illinois became the eighth state to prohibit daily fantasy behemoths DraftKings and FanDuel from operating in their state, as attorney general Lisa Madigan declared that daily fantasy constitutes gambling under state law. Madigan based her interpretation on the following sections of the Illinois Criminal Code, which define gambling as:
(a) A person commits gambling when he or she:
(1) knowingly plays a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value; unless excepted in subsection (b) of this Section;
(12) knowingly establishes, maintains, or operates an Internet site that permits a person to play a game of chance or skill for money or other thing of value by means of the Internet or to make a wager upon the result of any game, contest, political nomination, appointment, or election by means of the Internet.
DraftKings and FanDuel have stridently maintained that daily fantasy is a game of skill, and therefore doesn’t amount to gambling. Daily fantasy is undoubtedly a game of skill (as is poker, which is nonetheless considered gambling), but Illinois law explicitly says games of skill for money are gambling. While FanDuel issued a nonsense statement in response to the ruling, it doesn’t seem like they and DraftKings have a leg to stand on.
At this point, the only positive endgame for daily fantasy operators is clear. The drumbeat of bad press and even worse rulings won’t cease unless something materially changes, and what needs to change is the law. Legislation to legalize daily fantasy was introduced in Illinois in October, and Madigan’s declaration will only spur it along.
Photo via Getty; Image via Jim Cooke