I’m not really a sports person. That doesn’t mean I’m not an outdoor person. In fact, I love to travel. If you visited me in the summer, you’d probably find me lounging on the beaches, taking a hike to the highest mountain in the area or off visiting some exotic location in some faraway corner of the world. I don’t, however, consider myself a big fan of outdoor sports. Games like baseball, soccer and cricket generally go over my head, and even if I do understand them, I hardly ever enjoy them. That said, professional sports is a billion-dollar industry and people are always coming up with new and innovative ways to milk it for all it’s worth. The newest and most innovative of them right now being daily fantasy sports.
Fantasy football has actually been around for a lot longer than you might think. Sportswriter Daniel Okrent, while at a get-together with his friends at a hotel in Manhattan, created the first-ever fantasy baseball league in 1980. The concept gained popularity faster than was expected. The 1984 Fantasy Football Digest, co-authored by Tom Kane Jr. and Cliff Charpentier, was the very first to document the rules of fantasy football in paper. The idea spiralled through all the way to the nineties, when USA Today launched a weekly column dedicated to the subject. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association was founded in 1999. From then on, the fire spread rather quickly.
For those of you who are still wondering what fantasy football might be, it’s a game where a group of players, called a league, select from among a bunch of real-life professional footballers to assemble fantasy teams. Then, based on the way each real-life footballer performs throughout the season, the fantasy teams are assigned points. The player whose fantasy team won the most points throughout the season wins the game. Fantasy football is a game played mostly amongst friends or coworkers and some friendly betting with real-world money is sometimes involved.
So, that was fantasy sports. Daily fantasy sports, on the other hand, is a slightly different little beastie. Instead of players waiting throughout an entire football season to know who won and who lost, in a game of daily fantasy sports, results are announced each day. So you may place your bets in the morning, and by the time the sun comes down, you’ll know if you won anything for your troubles. Also, while fantasy football is played mostly amongst friends and co-workers, daily fantasy sports is played online with thousands of other players. Each player contributes a couple of dollars to buy into the league, so the player who wins stands to win as much as a million dollars or more.
Over the years, two separate companies have come forward as the largest platforms for playing daily fantasy sports for real-world money. Those two companies are DraftKings and FanDuel. Each of these companies hosts thousands of dollars in daily fantasy sports bettings each day. DraftKings alone boasts a platform of eight million users as of this year. Still, given the amount of money each of these companies must send down the drain each year in advertisements, for the only purpose keeping the other down, for a while it seemed that it was only natural for the two companies to merge for the sake of the longevity of the industry. After several months of talks, however, the merger was abruptly called off. As of today, DraftKings and Fanduel continue to remain separate business entities.
The daily fantasy sports industry, however, has showed no signs of slowing down. New innovations happen every day. For example, it was not long ago that a bunch of companies got together to create an entirely new industry of daily fantasy sports, based off of video games. Daily fantasy esports, as it came to be called, is a big thing amongst gamers these days. In case you’d like to burn some money on a competitive game of CS:Go or League of Legends, Alphadraft and ESP.bet are your best options. Speaking of innovations, I can’t help but mention Fantasy Advantage, which is a new kind of machine learning algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to help assemble you the perfect team of fantasy football players that increase your chances of winning. I can’t speak to just how accurate the results are, but the tech is completely free to use, so it can’t hurt to give it a try. There is also Scorum, an interesting new platform that makes use of blockchain technology to democratize the world of fantasy sports and sports journalism. It even has a zero commission daily fantasy sports platform, so that might be something worth trying.
Popularity aside, there is a clear legal dilemma that presents itself as far as daily fantasy sports betting is concerned. As you might already know, sports gambling is illegal in the United States, except for in Las Vegas. While daily fantasy sports is a much newer concept that is not quite similar to sports betting in the traditional sense, one could still argue that betting on fantasy sports, especially daily fantasy sports, is the same as illegal gambling. First off, unlike in its early days, fantasy sports today is played amongst thousands of players online, considerably increasing the stakes involved. The concept of it being a harmless game amongst friendly coworkers is no longer applicable. Further, unlike fantasy sports, daily fantasy sports results are announced in a matter of hours, which makes it considerably easier to win or lose a lot of money over a very short span of time.
For a while, the federal government showed no interest whatsoever in legislating the issue of daily fantasy sports, which is why the prerogative clearly fell in the hands of individual states. In 2015, however, the US Department of Justice and the FBI launched a joint investigation into the legality of daily fantasy sports, causing companies like DraftKings and Fanduel to lawyer up and hire lobbyists in anticipation of the great war that was about to come. The fantasy sports industry eventually won that war, and daily fantasy sports continues to be legal in most states above the age of eighteen, though certain states, such as Washington, Arizona and Iowa, continue to ban the practice from the very start. To find out whether fantasy sports betting is legal within your state, try checking out this article.
With everything that it’s been through, one thing is certain. Daily fantasy sports is here to say. Millions of dollars in transactions are processed each year with thousands of people across the world betting on games like the NFL, MBA, NHL, EPL and so on. Betting on esports, too, is gaining quite the traction these days. While only time will tell whether legal authorities will continue to look at this industry with such benevolence, the people seem to love it, at least for now. Over to you.
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