Though a new concept, fantasy sports has grown to become one of the fastest growing industries in US and Canada. Today, there are hundreds of websites dedicated to fantasy sports and many radio and television shows based on fantasy events. Though the concept of daily fantasy sports has been around for more than 5 years, it was in the past 2 years that the industry took off.
Meaning of DFS
Daily Fantasy Sports is similar to year-long contests but also differs in various respects like its frequency of contests. Most leagues start with the start of the day’s sporting events and end at the end of the last game of the evening. Payouts are then sent out from the site, and the entire process is repeated a few hours later.
This is different from the season-long leagues most fantasy sports players like, where change of pace is glacial. However in DFS, punters can draft a team every day and regularly face different opponents in various contests and sports.
Sports to bet on
The sports daily fantasy sites cover keeps increasing, where the most popular games amongst players are football, baseball, hockey and basketball.
Best DFS sites
Though there are lots of DFS sites, the best at the moment are DraftDay, Draft Street, Draft Kings and Fan Duel.
The DFS lobby is similar to an online poker lobby where players don’t just join games by sitting down at poker tables but are taken to a ‘draft lobby’ attached to individual leagues. Game fees are similar to the tournament fees for online poker tournaments, about 10% of the buy-in amount. The percentage however reduces as the buy-in amount increases.
DFS sites offer various bonuses and VIP programs where deposit bonuses are constant in all DFS sites. Though they take longer to clear when compared to online poker bonuses, they range from $50 to $600.
Bonuses on sites are reloaded for season’s events like start of NFL or NBA season. VIP programs and similar loyalty schemes consist of tiered reward programs offering incentives for high-volume play.
Salary cap leagues and other leagues
Just like many DFS sites offer ‘snake drafts’, salary cap leagues are the lifeblood of the daily fantasy industry. You just have to sign up for a league and draft a team from a fully-priced player pool where the overall wages should not exceed the ‘salary cap’.
While players’ salaries are connected to their previous performance and the next match-up, they are determined by the site’s management. It is not shared with the DFS punters till the leagues go live. As the change in salary pricing depends a lot on sport and daily fantasy operator, some sites are famous for sharper prices on players while others update them less frequently.
Snake drafts operate like season-long snake drafts where participants fill out their roster using the full list of available players without any salary cap. Other league choices include pick’em contests with fantasy stars pitting against each other and other variations where players are selected from multiple tiers.
A special exemption was made for fantasy sports when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006, making DFS legal and fully regulated in US. However some individual states have laws outlawing real-money sports like Arizona, Iowa, Montana, Louisiana and Vermont.
DFS sites do not accept players from these states. As DFS are not classed as gambling, its profits are taxable income. Based on each site, players eclipsing $400 or more in net profits are sent tax forms at the end of the year.
Popularity and future
Though it’s been only two years since DFS has hit mainstream fantasy sites, its growth has been substantial. A million or more dollars is easily placed on the line every weekend in NFL contests and tens of thousands of dollars going each night in MLB and NBA contests. With player numbers increasing every year, the industry’s future does look bright.