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The news that FanDuel is launching a golf product was not new — the site announced its intention earlier this year.
But after a few months of beta testing, golf is ready for its real debut. Its initial contests will be based on the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational that starts on Thursday. One of the biggest weekends for fantasy golf — The Masters — is less than a month away.
The product is different from DraftKings’ offering and other iterations of fantasy golf in how it is structured. Users must select four players from rounds one and two of a tournament, then four players from rounds three and four. (At DraftKings, you just pick one group of golfers for an entire tournament.)
FanDuel said in its initial announcement that the game’s construction was based on the desire to add a strategy element. But CEO Nigel Eccles once questioned the legality of a fantasy golf product, at least as DraftKings offered it. (The two operators competing for No. 3 in the space — FantasyDraft and Yahoo Daily Fantasy — take different tacks with golf. The former offers golf, while the latter does not.)
The top three contests FanDuel is offering guarantee more than half a million dollars combined, each at varying price points. But that pales in comparison to DraftKings, which has more than $1.2 million guaranteed across its top three contests.
There are several reasons for that, first among them that DraftKings has an established audience for golf: it has offered it for years. There’s also the matter of tens of millions of fantasy users that DraftKings can serve for golf, but FanDuel can’t.
One of the problem states is Texas, where DraftKings takes paid entries and FanDuel does not. The other?
There is one state where FanDuel users cannot play paid-entry fantasy golf: New York.
While New York legalized and regulated DFS in 2016, FanDuel and other sites still operate under a temporary license. That is complicating FanDuel offering a new sport on its platform in the state
FanDuel offered this statement:
We are disappointed for our New York users that the New York Gaming Commission has taken the position that it cannot authorize fantasy sports operators to launch paid contests for sports they did not offer prior to November 2015 under the temporary license. We do not believe the temporary permitting process was intended to preclude New York users from being able to participate in fantasy contests that comply with the New York statute.
But, as we work through this issue with the Commission, we will block paid entries from New York in new sports. We hope to resolve this issue soon so we can offer the same product innovations to our New York users that are enjoyed by sports fans around the country, and begin generating additional tax revenue for the state from these contests.
The new FanDuel offering comes as the PGA Tour appears to have been softening its stance on daily fantasy sports and sports betting.