Illinois Rules Daily Fantasy Sports as "Games of Skill"

On April 16th the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that some, not all, daily fantasy sports contests be designated under games of skill and became legal in the state.

This decision contrasts a 2015 statement by the Illinois Attorney General that daily fantasy games violate state gambling sanctions. This statement was the basis for the Illinois 2019 sports betting bill that stopped any company that offered daily fantasy games deemed illegal from entering the mobile sports betting market. That bill would enforce a waiting period of 18 months.

Of course, as Illinois legalized sports betting in March of 2020, the Supreme Courts’ decision is in line with many states who are trying to drive revenue during this pandemic period. Several major fantasy sports services such as FanDuel and DraftKings have been active within the state.

Some daily fantasy sports games are legal in Illinois, but not all.

A 2016 case between two sports bettors in daily fantasy sports opened the active possibility of open sports betting, as the plaintiff looked to sue a former DFS opponent after losing money in a head-to-head contest.

After ruling in favor of the defendant, the court made a public statement after an investigation:

The majority looked to ‘recent research’ to find that skill is the predominant factor in determining the result of head-to-head daily fantasy contests. As a result, the court determined that the plaintiff was not engaged in gambling and thus, could not recover gambling losses.

It was a great step for sports betting in Illinois, but it only specified head-to-head contests and not other forms of daily fantasy sports.

Illinois “Penalty Box” Provision

The penalty box provision is the waiting period which operators must maintain before they are legally allowed into the sports gambling market.

DraftKings and FanDuel offer more than daily fantasy sports, so they are not out of the clear quite yet – they may still be called back under the penalty box provision.

However, the decision to open daily fantasy sports has been positive for the sports betting market. As the penalty box provision continues to be challenged, sports bettors and operators have their fingers crossed. Should it be deemed unlawful, it would buoy sports gambling in Illinois.

Sports Betting in Illinois FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Illinois?

Legal sports betting arrived in Illinois on March 9, 2020. The legislature was passed in June 2019. While both in-person and online sports betting is available, there is a timed rollout/waiting period for certain services.

What is the most popular sport in Illinois?

The most popular sport in Illinois is known as the Great American Pastime, Baseball. Home of the Chicago White Sox and Cubs, baseball reigns king. Illini are also fans of basketball, home of the legendary Chicago Bulls.

How many casinos does Illinois have?

There are currently 10 casinos legally operating in the state of Illinois.

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