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DraftKings, other DFS sites OK in Illinois while lawsuit plays out

Daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel will be able to operate in Illinois while the courts decide on DraftKings’ lawsuit challenging Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s finding that the companies’ games are illegal gambling operations.

The attorney general’s office and lawyers for DraftKings, one of the two largest websites in the burgeoning business of daily fantasy sports tournaments, have agreed to not take other legal action over the websites while the DraftKings lawsuit works its way through the courts. A trial is set for June.

“We are pleased that we have reached agreement with the Illinois attorney general’s office today on an expedited court schedule ‎for determining the legality of the daily fantasy sports contests that DraftKings is offering in Illinois,” lawyer Randy Mastro said in a statement issued Tuesday. “We remain committed to providing DFS to the hundreds of thousands of loyal Illinois fans who love the game, and we look forward to our day in court, where we are confident we will prevail.”

Madigan last week issued an opinion letter, at the request of state legislators and the Gaming Commission, finding that daily fantasy games like the ones operated by DraftKings are illegal gambling. Madigan also asked the sites to add Illinois to the list of states whose residents cannot legally participate in the so-called daily fantasy games.

State lawmakers are considering legislation to regulate fantasy gaming in the state. Madigan stated daily fantasy games, in which competitors compete against each other to build “teams” of players in NFL, NBA and other pro or college sports, and score points based on the real-life athletes’ statistics in actual games, are games of chance under state law.

Lawyers for the websites claim their contests are dependent on skill, namely the fantasy players’ ability to choose real-world athletes who are going to tally good stats in a given matchup.

The daily fantasy games have existed for more than a decade, alongside the more traditional fantasy sports in which groups of players play against each other in season-long leagues, according to lawyers for the daily fantasy sites. The DraftKings lawsuit claims Madigan’s ruling could destroy the booming business.