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Daily fantasy sports


Daily fantasy sports (DFS) are a subset of fantasy sport games. As with traditional fantasy sports games, players compete against others by building a team of professional athletes from a particular league or competition, and earn points based on the actual statistical performance of the players in real-world competitions. Daily fantasy sports are an accelerated variant of traditional fantasy sports that are conducted over short-term periods, such as a week or single day of competition, as opposed to those that are played across an entire season. Daily fantasy sports are structured in the form of competitions (typically referred to as a “contest”); users pay an entry fee in order to participate, and build a team of players in a certain sport while complying with a salary cap. Depending on their overall performance, players may win a share of a pre-determined pot. Entry fees help fund prizes, while a portion of the entry fee goes to the provider as rake-off revenue.[1][2]

In the United States, the daily fantasy sports industry is dominated by two competing services; the New York-based FanDuel, and the Boston-based DraftKings. Both companies were established as venture capital-backed startup companies, received funding from investment firms, sports broadcasters, leagues, and team owners, and became known for the aggressive marketing of their services. As of September 2015, both companies have an estimated value of at least $1 billion in the United States, and control 95% of the DFS market there. The two primarily compete against smaller DFS services, such as Fantasy Aces and Yahoo! Sports. The popularity of the daily fantasy format has been credited to its convenience in comparison to season-length games, as well as the focus on major cash prizes in the promotion of these services. Daily fantasy has also been credited with helping to improve television viewership and engagement with sports.

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Daily fantasy sports have faced notable legal challenges in the United States, such as most prominently, discussion over whether they constitute gambling. It has been argued that due to their format, players are essentially making proposition wagers on the varying performance of individual athletes in specific games, and not managing the performance of their selections on a week-to-week basis. Proponents have defended DFS as being a game of skill, as the required familiarity with the players and teams, as well as salary cap management, reward more skilled players.

The United States’ Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIEGA) contains language dictating that fantasy sports are not considered an unlawful wager under the act; however, the act only prohibits the electronic transfer of funds from unlawful gambling as defined under state laws—which typically define gambling by either the predominance of chance over skill in a game, or how much control the player has over the outcome. The U.S. states of Illinois, Nevada, New York, Texas, and Hawaii have issued rulings or opinions classifying DFS contests as gambling, with Attorney Generals in all of these states but Nevada (which declared that they are only legal if operated as a licensed sports pool) considering them to be illegal. The Illinois and New York rulings—the latter having resulted from an investigation of DFS services after it was alleged that employees working for DraftKings and FanDuel had used inside information to win cash prizes from each other, spawned retaliatory lawsuits from DraftKings and FanDuel, alleging that the rulings were the result of a misinterpretation of the nature of their services.



There are several main disciplines of daily fantasy sports competitions, divided into two categories: cash games, and guaranteed prize pool (GPP). DFS contests typically utilize a salary cap format, in which players are allotted a maximum budget to spend on athletes for their team, represented as either play money or points. Each athlete has their own cost, with elite athletes having the highest costs.[9]

In “Double-up” or “50/50” cash game competitions, the object is to finish with a point total within the top 50% of all participants; players who finish in the top half of the field all share an equal prize that is equal to double the entry fee, while the remainder lose their entry fee. Head-to-head competitions are similar, except that players choose an opponent they must beat to win the prize. Guaranteed prize pool contests have higher stakes, using tiered payouts based on finishing in different percentiles or positions of the field of contestants.[10] Further variations of double-up games, including Triple-up, Quadruple-up, and Quintuple-up, may also be offered.[11]

Daily fantasy games exist in a variety of major sports, depending on service, including but not limited to American football (including college football and the NFL), association football (soccer), auto racing, baseball, basketball, cricket, golf, hockey, rugby league and rugby union. Daily fantasy contests have also been held in professional e-sports competitions, such as League of Legends



Skill of players

Inexperienced players may be at a disadvantage due to the skill of their opponents;[14] Bloomberg Businessweek acknowledged that the majority of prize money in daily fantasy games were often won by a minority of professional players, or “sharks“, who employ “elaborate statistical modeling and automated tools that can manage hundreds of entries at once and identify the weakest opponents”.[59] Professional players may also engage in the practice of “bumhunting”—in which they utilize their heavy saturation of entries to target inexperienced players.[14]

A study by McKinsey & Company over the first half of the 2015 MLB season estimated that 91% of winnings were won by only 1.3% of players. FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles disputed the study due to the larger draw that daily fantasy football provides.

Outlining his opinion on the matter, Kang explained that:

D.F.S., the game itself, is not inherently crooked. Most of the benefits praised by its enthusiasts — the ease of play, the camaraderie among fans, the challenge of solving what amounts to a math puzzle — are real. It does take skill to parse game film, diligently follow the news and interpret the thousands of bits of sports information that are generated each night. If a problem gambler at the poker rooms I frequent in New York City were to hire a programmer and flood the D.F.S. market with his lineups, he would almost certainly hemorrhage money.

In January 2016, DraftKings announced that it would implement changes to counter some of these issues, including banning the use of off-site scripting by players, introducing a classification system to identify professional players, and adding entry limits to its non-guaranteed contests. The site had also added “beginner” contests and the ability for users to block players they do not wish to compete against