An Illinois based small business says they can’t operate their fantasy sports operation in the state because of the uncertainty, something they say a proposed law will change, while opponents say the push to legalize fantasy sports is an effort to expand gambling further in the Land of Lincoln.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a ruling in December that said fantasy sports is a game of chance and violates the state’s gambling law.
Tony Giordano, founder of Chicago-based Sideleague Fantasy Sports, says when that ruling came down he stopped offering his product to Illinois residents.
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“It’s really just important that we get, kind of a hold, on the legislative outlook for daily online fantasy,” Giordano said.
Democratic Representative Mike Zalewski said his legislation would remove the uncertainty and allow for Giordano’s and others’ businesses to thrive in Illinois and allow players to play without fear of breaking the law.
“So what’s it’s done is to create a legal limbo where we don’t have an idea of what’s okay and what’s not okay,” Zalewski said.
Zalewski said the measure is necessary.
“We need to protect people and make sure that they’re not subject to unscrupulous business practices,” Zalewski said.
However, Anita Bedell, with Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, says the measure is really about expanding gambling beyond riverboats and video gaming parlors.
“[At] their homes, on their cell phones, or tablets,” Bedell said. “They can have it anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, non stop. That’s the problem.”
Similar measures to allow for fantasy sports to be legal in Illinois have been introduced in both the House and Senate.