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Raoul's fantasy sports regulation heard in Senate (UPDATED)

fantasysports5.24.16 Update: a motion to reconsider House Bill 3655, which held it in the Senate, has been lifted and the bill now goes to the House.

One of the hottest new trends for sports fans – daily online fantasy contests – could soon become illegal in Illinois. State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) has a better idea: regulate the fledgling but wildly popular industry, tax it and institute strong consumer protections for players, but keep it legal.

Daily fantasy sports sites, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, charge participants a fee to enter a short-term, online contest in which they assemble a virtual team of real-world players. Participants earn points – and can win money – based on the actual performance of the players on their fantasy teams.

Raoul’s legislation, House Bill 3655, puts commonsense restrictions on these games. For instance, it would bar players under the age of 21, prohibit employees of daily fantasy sports operators or pro sports leagues from entering contests and ban contests based on amateur or college sports.

It also requires fantasy sports operators to be licensed – like racetracks, casinos and video gaming establishments are now – and to pay taxes on their revenues. The proceeds will go into the state’s Education Assistance Fund.

In December of last year, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an opinion that daily fantasy sports contests are illegal under the state’s gambling laws. In response, fantasy sports operators filed suit, and the question is still tied up in court. If Raoul’s measure becomes law, it will resolve the uncertainty and let the games go on.

The legislation remains pending in the Senate.

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