- Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) has been ruled by the Illinois Supreme Court as a legal game of skill that is open for wagers.
- Unregulated games of chance are not allowed to gamble on under the Illinois Constitution but games of skill are allowed.
- Any person that engages in unauthorized games of chance can file legal action to get their money back should they lose under the Illinois Recovery Act of 1819.
CHICAGO – The Illinois Supreme Court handed down a ruling on Thursday that determined Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) as a game of skill rather than a game of chance in the state.
A statute within the Illinois Constitution from the 1800s does not allow for bets on games of chance. The court concluded that betting on DFS is legal as it does not fall under that “games of chance” restriction within the Constitution.
The Court’s Decision
The topic came about stemming from a lawsuit dating back to 2016. Illinois has a law to protect gamblers from losing bets by allowing them to recover their losses should they engage in gambling that is not legal. The Loss Recovery Act from 1819 gives those that have participated and lost illegal bets the ability to take legal action in order to get their money back.
Colin Dew-Becker played against Andrew Wu in April of 2016 using daily fantasy sports and now legal sports betting company, FanDuel, for NBA DFS. Each man put $109 into the game and when Wu came out as the winner, Dew-Becker filed to get his money back under the Loss Recovery Act.
However, four years later, Illinois has ruled that DFS is a game of skill rather than one of chance and therefore any money gambled on it cannot be recovered.
“Because the outcomes of head-to-head DFS contests are predominately skill based, we conclude that Dew-Becker was not engaged in ‘gambling’ with Wu as required” under the statute, “said Chief Justice Anne Burke. “We determine here only that the DFS contest at issue in this case does not fall under the current legal definition of gambling.”
The Supreme Court did extensive research on DFS and how states nationwide see the gaming platform. It was noted that those who gamble on daily fantasy sports need to be knowledgeable on the subject when they make their choices. This makes it a game of skill rather than one of chance because a player goes into the game as a well-informed participant.
While ultimately the votes were in favor of DFS being ruled a game of skill, there was opposition from the other side of it being one of chance.
“Throughout the history of antigambling laws, courts have recognized the effort and ingenuity man has exerted to circumvent the law by disguising activities as legal or contests of skill although the intended appeal is to chance,” said Justice Lloyd Karmeier. “The ingenuity exerted in head-to-head DFS contests duped the majority into believing it is a game of skill when truly it is a game of chance.”
People like Karmeier argue that while it does take skill to research on the subject of DFS, it is still a game of chance. Why? Because there is no telling how the athletes chosen by DFS gamblers will play during the events. That leads it to be a game of chance.
However, that is a gray area argument as it’s been said that so many games of skill could ultimately fall into that category.
In The End
At the end of the day, the state of Illinois now sees DFS as a legal pastime for residents to wager on. This is another pivotal step in for the Illinois sports betting industry.
The state made sports betting legal in June of 2019 and now DFS can be added to that list. The only people that stand to lose from the ruling are those that have lost while engaging in Daily Fantasy Sports activities and will no longer be allowed to recover their money as it is no longer covered under the Loss Recovery Act.
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.