Will Legalized Sports Betting Kill Fantasy Football? Not if Operators Innovate

Daniel Smyth Updated on August 14, 2019
sports betting fantasy football

The legalization of sports betting in New Jersey and other parts of the United States has undoubtedly been a positive. Alongside regulations, new safeguards for consumers and, of course, a myriad of ways to wager money, the advent of legal sports betting has brought with it a ton of benefits.

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However, in among the patches of light, fantasy football has been cast into the shadows. Even though Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is still a thriving industry, there’s no doubt regulated sports betting has stolen the limelight over the last 12 months.

Fantasy football remains a draw

With the new football season glinting on the horizon, the status of fantasy leagues has become a topic of debate. Will activity at the top fantasy football sites drop due to sports betting? Or, will betting on sports help DFS and the fantasy football sector?

The answer, obviously, is complex. If we look at the facts, there’s still plenty of prize money out there for the top tipsters. For example, the Fantasy Football Players Championship’s main event has a $3.1 million prizepool and a top prize worth $500,000.

That’s the tip of a much larger iceberg and, when you put some of the prizes in context, they’re more valuable than the average sports win. However, what legal sports betting offers is a more instant form of gratification. When you join a licensed NJ sportsbook, you can place a bet and collect your winnings in minutes.

With fantasy football, the rewards only come at the end of the season. Based on this, sports betting has the edge as it offers an instant form of entertainment. Of course, there plenty of people that love the season-long grind of fantasy football. However, the internet is also a fast-paced world where people want answers and outcomes in seconds. With that being the case, fantasy football revenue could take dive over the coming weeks and months.

DFS operators looking to score with sports betting

During a 2018 interview with VentureBeat, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins admitted that his company’s foray into sports betting was an eye-opener. Even though DraftKings has a 60% share of the DFS market and banks around $500 million in revenue, its earnings from sports betting have been impressive.

“We were the first to get a sports book license in New Jersey, and the results are just blowing away our expectations,” Robins said in 2018.

Robins went on to say that sports betting regulation puts the DFS-debate to bed. In other words, questions regarding the legality of fantasy sports is becoming a moot point as states enact their own regulations.

In light of this, DraftKings is embracing sports betting and expanding its interests within the industry as much as possible. For consumers, this should be seen as a positive as it will create crossover innovations. If we look back to March Madness, DraftKings ran a free bracket via its sports betting app. Offering two separate prizepools worth $80,000, the promo was a way for sports bettors to take part in a DFS-style competition.

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Crossovers will keep fantasy football alive

Looking ahead to the new football season, we’re likely to see more hybrid offers. DraftKings and FanDuel will be the obvious source of these crossovers. However, there’s no reason William Hill, BetStars and New Jersey’s other online sportsbooks can’t get in on the action.

For example, a bookmaker could create a fantasy football-esque competition where players earn points based on their team’s performance. At the end of a specified time period, the top performers could win a share of a prizepool made up of cash or bonus credits. Through these promotions, both verticals should, in theory, thrive.

Of course, legal sports betting isn’t available in every state right now. Therefore, fantasy football will remain a draw across the US as a whole. However, in New Jersey and other likeminded states, it’s a fair bet that fantasy football activity will take a dip this season.

But, even if that does happen, new doors should open up. As bookmakers find ways to tap into fantasy football and DFS sites embrace sports betting, opportunities will abound. So, even if fantasy football has been pushed into the shadows, the sun isn’t likely to set on the industry anytime soon.

 

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