By State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) -
A recent Sun-Times editorial (Bet on steep regulations for daily fantasy sports) would have readers believe that the best way to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports betting is to take the word, and the draft legislation, from the very businesses that seek to benefit from open disregard for our laws. I think we should aspire to do better.
Legislators who have concerns with this bill do not oppose fantasy sports. Instead, we want to ensure that consumers aren’t playing a rigged game, that those profiting from these contests aren’t criminals, and that the bill is forward thinking so that we don’t have to come back in six months or a year, to fix obvious problems with Internet gambling.
As the editorial and the Illinois Attorney General noted, under current law those who operate Daily Fantasy Sports contests are illegal gambling syndicates. These companies have been flagrantly operating outside the law since day one.
In numerous states many of these same operators, particularly Fan Duel and Draft Kings, stopped collecting bets after they were challenged. In Illinois, however, they made the deliberate decision to continue operating to keep the pressure on lawmakers to approve a favorable bill.
Rather than rush to pass a bill drafted by the businesses that broke the law, the General Assembly, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Illinois Gaming Board (which opposes the current bill offered by these operators), should establish its own priorities to ensure there will be integrity in Daily Fantasy Sports gambling and betting.
Time and time again this industry has told the public and officials to trust them, but look at their record:
- They said their contests complied with the law, yet at least 14 attorneys general have said the companies broke various state laws.
- They said their contests were fair, yet one employee used inside information to win a massive jackpot.
- They said minors couldn’t play, but at our committee hearing one lawyer for Daily Fantasy Sports said their process merely required a player to submit a name, address and birthday and they could bet for up to 10 days. What could possibly go wrong there?
- They said they were unaware of any players with gambling addictions using their sites, yet the media has unearthed victims that relapsed in their compulsive gambling illness by betting on fantasy sports.
The bill does absolutely nothing to protect problem gamblers. Internet operators must have as stringent a process in place as the self-exclusion program at the state’s casinos.
We must also make sure that the Illinois Gaming Board is required, and has the resources, to vet all key employees, vendors and contractors through background checks and review of contracts. Under the industry-draft, criminals could establish front organizations that funnel money from the ‘owners’ back to criminal syndicates if the background check loophole isn’t closed. That’s another reason why the Illinois Gaming Board opposes this bill.
The companies pretend they are not gambling providers. Perhaps that is why their bill lacks the rigor of other regulating gambling bills. However, as the Attorney General of Illinois opined, paid Daily Fantasy Sports is gambling. Accordingly, I believe it should be held to the same standards that have worked well in this state.
Contrary to their propaganda, the fantasy sports industry does not have a record of trustworthiness and does not have the best interests of Illinois families at heart. The current bill must be improved, otherwise the General Assembly will be handing over too much power to Internet gambling companies.