Expedited Hearing Schedule set in Illinois DFS Case

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) giant DraftKings will get its chance to argue for its service’s legality under Illinois gambling statutes a little sooner than anticipated, thanks to a Cook County (IL) circuit court judge who ordered that a complaint brought last week by DraftKings, against Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, will be heard according to an expedited schedule.

illinois-license-plateCircuit Court Judge David B. Atkins ruled yesterday that DraftKings’attorneys and the Illinois AG’s office have already agreed to the expedited schedule, which requires Madigan’s office to file an initial response to DraftKings complaint, filed on Christmas Eve, by January 22nd.  An eventual trial date looms next June, should all other judicial or legislative avenues fail to produce a solution.

DraftKings immediately sought an injunction against an opinion offered by Madigan last Wednesday in which she declared DFS services such as that offered by DraftKings to be illegal under Illinois law.  However, no criminal or civil complaint has been brought to date by the state against any DFS site, though Madigan did cite DraftKings and FanDuel as two such sites that she expected to discontinue services to the state, one of the US’s most populous.

Neither DraftKings nor FanDuel showed any inclination to comply, and DraftKings took the legal lead with its filing against Madigan’s AG office, seeking an injunction against the opinion and hoping to have it eventually declared null and void.

The ruling by Atkins included six brief points:

The Parties agree as follows:

1. Defendant shall answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint on or before January 22, 2016.

2. All pretrial proceedings, including any discovery or pre-trial motion practice (other than summary judgment motions), shall be completed on or before April 28, 2016, with the Parties to reach agreement on an expedited discovery schedule or else the Court shall direct one.

3. The Parties shall submit any cross-motions for summary judgment on or before May 5, 2016; oppositions to any such motions shall be due on May 19, 2016; and any reply papers shall be due on May 26, 2016.

4. Trial, if necessary, shall be set for June 27, 2016, or as soon thereafter as the Court is able to hear the case for trial.

5. The Parties waive any demand for a jury trial and agree to proceed by bench trial before this Court. The jury demand in the Complaint is stricken.

6. The Parties will not pursue any other action against the other Party concerning the legality of the daily fantasy sports contests that Plaintiff offers in Illinois, except before this Court.

The fifth point was in response to DraftKings’ initial demand for a jury trial, though it appears unlikely that the case would have qualified on that count, rendered the jury demand moot.

The key point, though, may be the final one.  Not only will no further action be brought by Madigan’s office against DraftKings — or, one would presume, any other DFS site — it will give Illinois legislators a chance to thoroughly examine DFS-regulating legislation that’s already been submitted.  The passage of such a pro-regulatory measure would likely result in DFS sites getting a green light in Illinois without any threat of Madigan’s office filing a suit, similar to that brought in New York State last month.

According to Randy Mastro, counsel to DraftKings and a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, “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. 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.”

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