For many folks, the start of football season marks the start of daily fantasy sports season. The arrival of the NFL brings a huge influx of new and returning daily fantasy football customers to sites like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Football is the most popular sport in the US, but the two biggest DFS operators have been limited to the pros for the last two years — the NFL and Canadian cousin CFL. The two sites both offered college football action in the past before closing their lobbies amid pushback from the NCAA.
DraftKings is feeling a little nostalgic this year, it seems. A new “CFB” tab has appeared in the lobby this week, signaling the return of college football to the platform.
The newly launched DraftKings Sportsbook offers full-scale wagering on college sports, as well, as long as the games and/or schools are not from New Jersey.
Later in the week, FanDuel also launched college football contests.
DraftKings bringing back college football contests?
At long last, the faithful CFB tab is back! Look:
Told you so. DraftKings confirmed the news in a statement to Legal Sports Report:
DraftKings voluntarily removed college sports daily fantasy sports contests in 2016. Since that time, our player community has continually advocated to bring these popular contests back to the DraftKings platform. After careful consideration, we have decided to once again offer college sports DFS contests in states where permitted.
The lobby went live on Thursday afternoon, and games for opening weekend are now posted. At the time of writing, an $8 contest with a $20,000 prize pool was the largest for the three-game slate.
The 2018-19 NCAA football season kicks off this Saturday.
NCAA not a fan of fantasy
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) oversees university athletics, and it does not approve of fantasy sports. Student-athletes are prohibited from participating in paid contests, a rule that the league is unafraid to enforce.
As the DFS industry began to mature, the NCAA began to push back against operators with some diligence.
In 2015, commissioners from the “power five” conferences penned a joint letter to DraftKings and FanDuel, asking them to cease offering college football contests. The request didn’t result in immediate change, though ESPN did agree to stop showing fantasy sports ads during the college football playoff.
Nobody really expected the big DFS operators to yield, but they did.
The following year, DraftKings and FanDuel agreed to stop offering contests involving all collegiate sports. The concession was seen as a choosing of their battles amid NCAA pressure and unrelated legal concerns. While some smaller operators have continued to provide NCAA contests, they’ve been mostly off the table for the better part of two years.
Earlier this year, though, Boom Fantasy reignited the craze by launching single-game CFB contests surrounding bowl games. Now DraftKings will return those collegiate contests to its much-larger audience of several million customers.
CFB contests won’t be available in every market DraftKings serves, though. Expect the sport to be ring-fenced in all the states which have explicitly banned collegiate DFS, including New York, Massachusetts and the NCAA’s home state of Indiana.
From the landing page: