Fantasy League Sports: An Ever-Evolving Business

Fantasy sports leagues are synonymous with the most popular sports today. Just as it’s common to hear a fan celebrate their team’s big win, it’s also standard to hear fans cheer for players on other teams and in other divisions who are earning their fantasy team points.

What began in 1960 as an affair with real stats and dream teams quickly spiraled into an American sporting pastime. By the 1980s, fantasy leagues began to crop up between friends who all wanted to put their knowledge to the test. By the early 2000s, websites dedicated to ‘roto’ popped up, and soon, DFS was born.

Daily fantasy sports condenses the season-long action into a single-week or single-day event. In the US, fantasy providers have recently expanded their DFS services to now include sportsbooks. For example, one of the pros listed on a DraftKings sportsbook review states that users can have dual fantasy and sportsbooks accounts.

Top fantasy and DFS providers have looked to partner and piggyback off the lucrative sports betting sector, taking advantage of overlaps in fandom. After all, the technical knowledge that goes behind making informed DFS decisions can also help users wager more smartly.

With DFS coupled with sportsbooks, both industries have proved their worth with both sports fans and investors alike. According to the National Conference of State Legislators in the US, 59 million Americans play in fantasy leagues every year, while an Opportunity Financial survey found that each player spends an average of $131 on their fantasy league each year.

The Future of Fantasy Sports: DFS

In the past, most fantasy leagues were DIY. Many friends and fan groups were happy to build their own teams and leagues, then appoint their own GMs to tally points. Others who out-competed their friends sought out fantasy providers like those created by Yahoo and CBS. Then came DFS, which combined elements of betting with shortened events.

The emergence of DFS quickly proved popular amongst fans who enjoyed fantasy leagues and moneylines alike. For those looking at fantasy sports from a business perspective, the industry’s future will be tied to cash games from groups like DraftKings, who will, in turn, diversify what DFS looks like. Originally, leagues spanned regular seasons; today, they cover single matches.

DFS’s latest venture includes eSports fixtures. Newzoo predicts that 351 million viewers will be tuning into major eSporting events by 2023, while Statista forecasts the industry will be worth $1.6 billion by 2024. With booms in the virtual sports world, DFS will shift to cover leagues like Overwatch League and Call of Duty League.

Looking ahead, DFS will also have to sort through regulatory issues in US states that banned the sector along with other forms of sports betting. However, since the US Supreme Court repealed a federal ban on sports betting in 2018, these ongoing issues will likely be resolved as states spearheading the industry (like New Jersey and Pennsylvania) set regulatory standards that can be adopted by others.

All The Tiny Details

As fantasy leagues continue to adapt to include sports betting and eSports considerations, the diversity of professionals involved in the industry will also expand. For example, top DFS providers have begun to employ their own meteorologists to determine weather forecasts, and then gauge how the climate could affect the game.

For others, the DFS boom has helped them capitalize on their stats-inclined minds and passion for a specific league. Many groups end up branching off to start their own projects, such as the new Establish the Run, which covers fantasy football. Users can purchase ranking and analysis bundles for a flat rate in order to maximize winnings in a DFS setting.

Then there are the smaller fish following the fantasy sports whale. There are retail clothing sites for fantasy enthusiasts, trophy professionals who create fantasy-specific awards, and even more bars and restaurants that host fantasy league nights.

In response to the massive influx of DFS players, there could also be offshoots that harken back to the ‘good old days’ of fantasy leagues. These would likely include a limited number of entrants and a smaller pay-in.

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