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DraftKings and FanDuel recently ran contests for select NFL playoff games and the Super Bowl, the first major sites to do so. Boom Fantasy hosted NCAA contests for individual bowl games, too. It seemed like they were testing the waters.
Sure enough, FanDuel recently rolled out a slate of contests for NBA All-Star Weekend. They’ll be the first-ever daily fantasy basketball contests based only on the All-Star Game. In addition to the familiar salary-cap contest, FanDuel is also bringing back bingo for the weekend’s secondary events.
In the meantime, single-game slates have already rolled out on the platform.
The contests occupy a new spot in the NBA “Game Styles” menu. There are now four to choose from:
Single-game contests bring a new set of roster requirements. Users select a total of five players — one guard, one forward/center, and two utility players. There is also an “MVP” slot, a utility position which includes a 1.5x multiplier for the player.
The timing of the rollout allows users to get familiar with the new format ahead of All-Star weekend. The contests surrounding that game will be posted later this week. Given the interest in the on-court event, they figure to carry substantial prize pools.
In the announcement, the company piggybacks on the way rosters were selected this year.
In a new twist, All-Star Game captains — LeBron James and Stephen Curry — picked their teammates for the All-Star Game and FanDuel will follow suit offering sports fans the opportunity to choose their own lineup of NBA All-Stars for the ultimate NBA fantasy basketball event.
FanDuel’s single-game NBA contests launched on Feb. 1. So far, DraftKings has not followed suit.
FanDuel’s new bingo format is a free game that requires no decision making. The first contest was held on Super Bowl Sunday, with close to 300,000 people participating.
The game is based around a digital, five-by-five card with small achievements in each square. They’re not necessarily tied to the game itself, either. In the Super Bowl contest, for example, some cards had squares based on TV commercials and the halftime show. At least one user was just an *NSYNC reunion away from calling the first bingo.
During the contest, FanDuel’s team manually checks off squares on the back-end of the client. Connect five squares in a row and press the big green button to submit a valid card. The first user to do so wins the big prize, but all users who make bingo receive some sort of compensation.
This NBA contest covers the Saturday events of All-Star weekend, which include the skills competition, the three-point contest, and the dunk contest.
In a press release, FanDuel pitches it as a way to get engaged in the action surrounding the all-star game.
NBA All-Star Bingo will transform NBA All-Star Saturday Night from a ground-breaking exhibition of skill into an immersive fan experience where fans have a rooting interest in what happens in the dunk contest, the three point contest, and the skills challenge.
NBA All-Star Bingo is free to play and has $25,000 in prizes.
These products and others are the brain-child of the new FanDuel Labs team. They’re charged with innovating FanDuel’s contest offerings, and they’ve been busy. FanDuel has rolled out a handful of new formats over the last few months, like NFL Super and NHL Captain.
Single-game contests are new in the industry, and they’re at least slightly controversial from a legal standpoint. The UIGEA, a federal anti-gambling law, contains a carve-out for DFS contests that meet certain requirements. One of those requirements is that they must be based on ‘multiple real-world sporting or other events.’ The idea was to create a firewall between fantasy sports and sports betting.
The new NBA contests are based on real-world sporting events, but they seem to skirt the “multiple” requirement. Sites would argue that games themselves are comprised of multiple events — four quarters in a basketball game, for example.
State-based DFS laws do not contain the same stipulation as UIGEA, though, and operators seem to think that is sufficient permission. As long as single-game remains a secondary offering, it’s unlikely to attract too much negative attention.
As far as bingo goes, it is literally a casino game. Paid-entry bingo would almost certainly be problematic, but FanDuel is running free contests. The site doesn’t receive any revenue from the entries, and the prize pool is clearly defined in advance. It is a way to activate and acquire customers.
Still, there is an underlying movement toward games more akin to gaming. Single-game contests provide some evidence of this, along with shortened slates and abbreviated formats like Pick’em and Mini. There’s even a free-to-play tic-tac-toe DFS product on the market. Now, bingo.
DFS operators have spent years trying to separate themselves from gambling, but there’s an evolution in progress. If FanDuel continues down this path in earnest, Labs could have free rein to innovate across the gap between DFS and gambling.
FanDuel Bingo is free for now, at least. But some would argue that “DFS” is becoming indistinguishable from some types of gaming with each passing day.