Daily fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings are illegal in Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Madigan spells out her conclusion in a 14-page letter sent to lawmakers, in response to their request for her opinion about whether the state's anti-gambling laws apply to daily fantasy sports.
"Absent legislation specifically exempting daily fantasy sports contests from the gambling provisions, it is my opinion that daily fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling under Illinois law," Madigan writes.
DraftKings attorney David Boies says he will ask a court to rule on the legality of daily fantasy sites.
"The company intends to promptly seek a judicial resolution of its right to offer daily fantasy sports contests to Illinois residents," Boies said in a statement. "As it does so, it will continue to abide by all relevant laws and will follow the direction of the courts. Pending that resolution the company will preserve the status quo.”
An Illinois law makes it a crime to bet on a sporting event, but an exception that allows contestants to collect prize money for winning. Madigan addressed that exception in her opinion, concluding that people who play in fantasy leagues aren't "contestants."
She wrote that the exception "exempts only those who actually engage in a bona fide contest for the determination of skill, speed, strength, or endurance, and not a daily fantasy sports participant who pays a fee to build a 'team' and who may win a prize based on the statistical performance of particular athletes."
Madigan added: "In this regard, persons whose wagers depend upon how particular, selected athletes perform in actual sporting events stand in no different stead than persons who wager on the outcome of any sporting event in which they are not participants."
Elected officials in Illinois are considering whether to pass a bill aimed at legalizing daily fantasy sites.
DraftKings and FanDuel also are fighting to continue operating in New York. Two weeks ago, a trial judge ruled that the sites are illegal and ordered them to shut down. But an appellate judge stayed that ruling, allowing the sites to continue operating while they appeal.