There aren’t many events that attract as many people as the National Football League season. During that period millions of fans pay to pick their NFL teams, the players that will then compete against each other.
The expression fantasy sports comes precisely from the fact of the creation of an ideal team where everything is possible, even picking the stars from each different NFL team and grouping them together.
Each Sunday the performance of that fantasy team, of those selected stars, will determine who gets the prize, who wins the jackpots which can worth as much as $1 million.
This additional appeal of the game, which is strongly advertised on TV, changed the way people watch the game, shifting their attention to the performance of the individual player.
Unregulated Fantasy Sports
The above fantasy scenario has an if, which is that throughout the United State online gambling is mostly illegal, so fantasy sports might also be an unregulated activity and, therefore, illegal. The years when fantasy sports evaded the scrutiny of regulators are coming to an end though.
Claims of inside information around FanDuel and DraftKings, the two companies that dominate the market, lead to a scandal and several lawsuits with the allegations that the games were not fair.
This lead to an investigation of the New York attorney general and the FBI, and ultimately the New York state attorney instructed DraftKings and FanDuel to stop accepting bets from New Yorkers.
The concerns of the Congress banning daily fantasy sports were very much real a couple of years ago, like it happened with online poker in 2006, but today the situation seems to be more stable.
The exemption from the federal ban o fantasy sports generated more fans for the professional leagues, and today only eight states (Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa and Alabama) have the activity illegal or at least most operators don’t take customers in the state.
A new format
With so much interest from the participants, even the concept of fantasy sports has changed, and the format that existed for decades where a team was assembled for a whole season prize has been replaced, or has the company of, a daily fantasy team for whatever sport has games on that day.
This new format involves the investment of imaginary money, a budget to buy running backs, receivers, a quarterback, and so on, in the NFL case. The best team will get the best results and the bigger piece of the $3 billion paid yearly in prices by FanDuel and DraftKings.
The fast rise of fantasy sports, which is making money for both players and operators, does create a similar problem to online gambling, the threat to the land-based operations, which inclusively lead to the Nevada ban.
Also, the lack of regulation that lead to a FanDuel employee winning $350.000 after data being leaked caused the ban of employees with access to sensitive information, a simple measure that could have been taken previously before such a scandal happened.
This inside scandal also brought the attention again over the topic if fantasy sport is, or not, gambling, because if information can help a player win, it’s definitely a game of skill, which just reinforced the will from gamblers, players or participants that with hard work and some luck the jackpot might be at their door one of these days.