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FanDuel Fantasy NASCAR opens this weekend for the Geico 500 race at Talladega Superspeedway. The new game type asks players to select five drivers under a salary cap, similar to contests for other sports.
There will be a series of free-to-play contests with $25,000 in cash and prizes, including a VIP trip to Daytona. The top contest for the opening week is $25,000 guaranteed with a $4 entry fee.
“Our fans wanted us to develop a NASCAR product and we listened. Our new NASCAR game gives users a brand new sport to play when visiting our site,” said Nik Bonaddio, FanDuel’s Head of Product.
Not that long ago, FanDuel took the stance that NASCAR crossed into legal territory too dangerous for business. Former CEO Nigel Eccles laid out his reasoning in 2015:
“The legal status is very negative,” Eccles said of fantasy NASCAR that year on RotoGrinders. “NASCAR doesn’t provide a lot of stats that you could construct a fantasy game around, and so any game quickly resembles sports betting. Unless that changes I can’t see us offering fantasy NASCAR.”
Eccles left the company at the end of 2017.
The law in question is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Language within UIGEA spells out the terms that gave FanDuel pause:
All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes in the case of sports events) in multiple real-world sporting or other events.
And since Eccles’ comments, the legal landscape has changed at the state level, with about 40 percent of states putting a daily fantasy sports law on the books. Many of those laws seem to permissive of boiling fantasy contests down to a single real-world game.
Apparently, FanDuel feels it found a way around the stats issue, although the game is about the same as DraftKings’. The game will not enjoy a statistics environment as rich as daily fantasy baseball or daily fantasy football, but will feature four scoring categories:
FanDuel’s contests will lag far behind the established market at DraftKings. The latter’s top contest will guarantee $300,000 ($10 entry fee).