A bill introduced to the Illinois House of Representatives, designed to criminalize fantasy sports, has been assigned to the Executive Committee for further review and analysis. The move advances the bill one step closer to passage. Fantasy sports lawyers, and the operators that they represent, continue to grapple with the challenges presented by governmental intervention. Solace may be taken, however, that with so few days left in the calendar, lawmakers may lack sufficient time to conduct a vote on the bill in the current legislative session.

What activity does the Illinois proposal prohibit and what penalties do violations carry?

The bill seeks to amend the State’s penal code to provide that it is a violation of gambling prohibitions to establish, maintain, operate or offer an Internet website or smartphone application that permits participation in a fantasy sports contest, excluding season-long fantasy sports contests. The bill envisions first time violations to be classified at the most serious misdemeanor level, carrying a maximum penalty of a $2,500 fine and up to one year in jail. All subsequent violations classified at the lowest felony designation, carrying with it maximum penalties of up to $25,000 fines and prison sentences of one to three years. The news about the progression of the bill bookends a turbulent year for the fantasy sports industry in the State of Illinois, which last December saw the Attorney General declare that fantasy sports are illegal gambling under State law.

The Ongoing Need for Fantasy Sports Lawyers: Keeping Fantasy Sports Ventures Compliant

Fantasy sports contests and the laws and regulations that govern them, continue to grow and evolve. Between various legislative efforts across the country affecting the industry, conflicting opinions from attorneys general and court challenges to newly-enacted legislation, it is clear that the legal landscape of the fantasy sports space is far from settled. Against this backdrop, it remains imperative to engage a competent fantasy sports lawyer to become/remain compliant with applicable law when setting up and operating fantasy sports contests.