* Can you imagine the uproar from the Tribune and others if Gov. Pat Quinn had stuck his nose this far into Illinois Gaming Board regulations? Wow…
In a move loaded with political implications, Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to put a brick on efforts to regulate and potentially block fantasy sports sites such as Draft Kings and Fan Duel from accepting bets in the state.
The action appears at least partially linked to poor relations among Rauner, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and her father, Rauner’s arch foe, Mike Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House. But it also comes after the sports sites retained lobbyist Eric Elk, who hired or supervised several senior Rauner aides when they all worked in U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s office.
The Illinois Gaming Board this fall had publicly expressed its intention to seek a legal opinion from Lisa Madigan, the state’s chief legal officer, on whether the sites can legally operate here. AGs in Massachusetts and New York have recently argued that major consumer protections are needed.
But at a meeting two weeks ago, the gaming board abruptly backed away from its request, with its spokesman saying the fantasy sports operations are “currently under review.”
The reason is Rauner. “We suggested to the Gaming Board that they should gather more information and complete a review before seeking an opinion from the AG, just as a matter of good practice,” Rauner Communications Director Lance Trover told me in an email. Rauner appoints the members of the gaming board.
“The administration believes there are laws on the books to deal with this issue,” Trover added. “As to requesting an opinion from the attorney general, that’s up to the IGB once they complete their review.”
I’m sure there’s zero coincidence that Eric signed up as a lobbyist for Draft Kings and Fan Duel earlier this month.
Elk said he had nothing to do with it, but again, this is a highly unusual move by a governor.
…Adding… As pointed out in comments, it probably doesn’t help Rauner’s position that he’s a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFL has been a player in those fan sites.