Casinos, Fantasy Sports, and Divorce

Gambling is going to become to become more prevalent in Illinois.  Illinois has passed a law that is going to make gambling more prevalent, casinos, gambling, and fantasy sports are going to have a much greater impact on divorce.  First, the new law will allow new casinos to be built throughout Illinois, including in Chicago (6 casinos currently planned).  The bill also legalizes betting on sports games in Illinois.  It used to be one would have to go to Las Vegas or a few other cities, in order to legally place a bet on a sporting event.  Now individuals will be able to do so at an Illinois casino or horse racing tracks.  The law will also permit individuals to legally participate in Fantasy Sport games.

What does all of this have to do with divorce?  Given that gambling and fantasy sports participation is becoming more accessible, more people are and will participate in these activities as a form of income or at least as a supplement to their regular income.  More people are considering themselves to be professional poker players, fantasy sports players, or professional gamblers.  As a result, if a husband or wife participates in these activities for the purpose of making money, even if only part-time, the money made from these activities can be considered part of the husband or wife’s income for calculating support, maintenance, and division of the marital assets.

Spouses need to be aware that whether you have a moral aversion or not to gambling, the income from gambling, especially if done regularly and with the purpose to increase income, can be considered by the courts as income.  As a result, when you are considering divorce, if your spouse is gambles or participates in fantasy sports in order to make money, they can be considered a professional in these areas.  You should make sure that your attorney knows this and gets the information related to the gambling and fantasy sports playing.  If your spouse does not keep records on the money spent and the money won, then the information can be obtained through the gambling sites or facilities.  With the legalization of professional gambling and gaming institutions, these institutions must be vigilant in keeping track of the money spent and won by its customers.  The money made by a spouse in gambling or gaming could be a significant increase to the marital income and the marital estate.

Gambling, casinos, and fantasy sports gaming is also important in divorce even if it is not income.  If your spouse does not participate in these activities with the intent or enough regularity to make it income, but is doing it during the divorce process, these activities can be considered dissipation of the marital estate.  Dissipation of the marital estate is when a spouse spends marital money or assets, like the spouses income, on non-marital expenses (i.e. romantic dates with a non-spouse or gambling).  The spouse spending the money improperly will either have to repay the marital estate before the money is divided up as part of the divorce or will have to give the other spouse more of the marital estate to make up for wasting the money.  This repayment of dissipated funds could be a significant increase to the marital estate to be divided.

The dissipation through gambling or gaming could also mean a significant reduction in the gambling or gaming spouse’s portion of the divided marital estate in the divorce.  In the end, gambling or gaming can have a significant impact on a divorce.  It should be disclosed by the participating spouse and should be thoroughly invested by the non-participating spouse.

If you have questions about this or other divorce issues, you may contact me at 630.434.0551 or clunardini@spydavlaw.com

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