The daily fantasy sports industry is dominated by DraftKings and FanDuel. But they offer just one fairly narrow variation on fantasy sports; others have cropped up in the wake of their domination of the industry.
One of those segments is a version that varies wildly from the salary-cap model offered by the “Big Two,” in which you don’t create rosters of fantasy players, but instead predict how players will perform.
How these other forms of fantasy sports work
There are several of these products on or coming to the US market — such as USFantasy, Draft, Boom Fantasy and FastPick. (More on all of these later.) And they all have their own spin on how their “fantasy” contests work.
But here are the basics:
- You pick a player, or players, based on how you think they will perform in a live sports event (sometimes using statistics commonly involved in fantasy contests).
- The sporting event(s) take place, and you can follow how your selected players do.
- If you pick correctly, you receive a payout, sometimes based on how other users/players/bettors do.
These types of DFS operators stretch the limits of what is traditionally considered to be “fantasy sports.” Nonetheless, they generally fit into the fantasy carveout in federal law (via the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) and into a variety of state fantasy sports laws (which mimic UIGEA language.)
Making picks in these forms of fantasy is often a much simpler affair than in traditional DFS, where rosters of many players must be selected out of a giant pool of possible selections
USFantasy is a form of pari-mutuel fantasy sports offered in Nevada and Colorado, with hopes of expanding to other states in the future.
USFantasy betting works much like betting on a horse race does, but it is based on a player’s fantasy scoring or statistical performance.
At core, you pick a player or players competing in a sporting event. They are assigned odds at the start to have the most fantasy sports points at their position, or out of all other players competing that day. (For instance, in football, you would pick a quarterback out of a pool of quarterbacks.)
The odds and betting pool change as more money is wagered on different players. If your player scores the first, second, or third most fantasy sports, you get a payout like you would for win, place and show in horse racing.
You can also play exotics, like exactas (pick the top two scoring players) and daily doubles (pick the top scorer in two different contests).
USFantasy features a variety of sports, including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, NASCAR, MMA and boxing.
FastPick is a house-banked parlay game that is coming to Atlantic City this year, likely with plans to enter more markets in the future.
The product is not yet available, but we know it amounts to fantasy parlay betting on player performances (i.e. placing a bet on the fantasy points scored by more than one player).
Parlay betting is common in Nevada sports betting and sports wagering around the world, in which you bet on the outcome of two or more games in the hopes of getting a much higher payout. (Obviously, parlays come with more risk than betting on single games or events.)
FastPick users select from three to ten heads-up matches selected by FastPick. They must pick the player that scores the most fantasy points in each matchup.
Per the SportsAD.co website:
“In its simplest form, Users make predictions on which athlete will score more from our pairings. Results are based on our rigorously formulated scoring schemas and winnings determined by the number of selections made.”
If you get all your picks correct, you get money back based on how many picks you made. If you don’t correctly pick all of them, you don’t win anything. The more picks, the more money you get.
Where are these forms of fantasy sports headed?
All of these forms of fantasy sports have the future in mind.
Currently, single-game sports wagering is not available in the United States outside of Nevada. Fantasy sports-esque products that toe the line of sports betting are looking to fill that vacuum.
DraftKings and FanDuel have carved out decent marketshare, but the complexity of the contests and their logistics have some questioning how high their ceilings are. (To their credit, they have started iterating and simplifying their own products, with Mixup at FanDuel and Arcade Mode at DraftKings.
Regardless, these and other products are likely to try to exploit existing laws to offer something that approximates sports betting, while still trying to be a “game of skill” that keeps them on the right side of state laws.