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Dew-Becker v. Wu

Supreme Court of Illinois

April 16, 2020, Opinion Filed

(Docket No. 124472)

Opinion

 [*P1]  In this case, we must determine whether ] the loser of a head-to-head contest on a daily fantasy sports website may recover money lost to the winner of the contest under section 28-8(a) of the Criminal Code of 2012 (720 ILCS 5/28-8(a) (West 2014)). For the following reasons, we hold that recovery is unavailable.

 [*P2]  BACKGROUND

 [*P3]  On April 4, 2016, the plaintiff, Colin Dew-Becker, filed a complaint in the circuit court of Cook County against the defendant, Andrew Wu. The complaint alleged that plaintiff and defendant had engaged in a daily fantasy sports (DFS) contest on a website known as FanDuel and that, as a result of this contest, plaintiff had lost $100 to defendant. The complaint further alleged that the DFS contest constituted illegal gambling under Illinois law and, therefore, plaintiff was entitled to recover the lost money under section 28-8(a) of the Criminal Code of 2012 (id. § 28-8(a)), a statutory provision which allows the loser of certain illegal bets to seek recovery [**2]  from the winner.

 [*P4]  At a bench trial, plaintiff testified that in a DFS contest each participant creates a virtual roster of players by selecting from among current athletes in a real professional or amateur sports league. Each participant then earns fantasy points based on how well the selected athletes perform individually in their actual professional or college sports games on a given day. After all such games are completed, a total score is calculated for each of the virtual rosters, and the winner of the contest is the participant whose roster has the most points. A head-to-head DFS contest is one that involves only two participants who compete against each other directly.

 [*P5]  Plaintiff testified that on April 1, 2016, he and defendant each paid a $109 entrance fee to participate in a head-to-head DFS contest on the FanDuel website. The contest involved National Basketball Association (NBA) games, and both plaintiff and defendant selected a fantasy roster of nine NBA players. Plaintiff stated that he understood when entering the contest that the winner would keep $200, the loser would get nothing, and FanDuel would keep $18. Plaintiff testified that defendant won the DFS contest by a [**3]  score of 221.1 to 96.3 and that defendant received the $200 due him.

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2020 IL 124472 *; 2020 Ill. LEXIS 389 **

COLIN DEW-BECKER, Appellant, v. ANDREW WU, Appellee.

Notice: THIS DECISION IS NOT FINAL UNTIL EXPIRATION OF THE 21 DAY PETITION FOR REHEARING PERIOD.

Prior History: Dew-Becker v. Wu, 2018 IL App (1st) 171675, 2018 Ill. App. LEXIS 955, 428 Ill. Dec. 622, 123 N.E.3d 86 (Dec. 14, 2018)

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

contest, skill, gambling, sports, predominate, fantasy, appellate court, game of chance, games, wager, websites, studies, head-to-head, winner, poker, illegal gambling, game of skill, statistics, players, screen name, athletes, courts, loser, contingent event, qualitative

Business & Corporate Compliance, Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Gaming & Lotteries, Governments, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Interpretation, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Constitutionality of Legislation