The legalization of no deposit bonus codes sports betting and the emergence of the fantasy sports industry is ushering in a new era for sports enthusiasts who want to go beyond traditional “will the home team win this game?”
There’s a new type of sports fandom which sees individual player performance as important and exciting as anything that the team might do. The industry includes merchandising stores, sports bars, sportsbooks, Yahoo and ESPN sports media, niche sites and companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. All are lining up to cash in on the growing market.
Since it was legalized in the United States in May 2018, legal sports betting has brought in $1.2 billion in revenue through $17 billion in wagers. Sports betting is currently legal and operational in 19 states (4 states have legalized sports betting but do not yet have the regulatory infrastructure in place to get it started and 9 states have legislation or referendums pending) and daily fantasy sports is legal and operational in 43 states and Washington DC. Analysts say that in 2019 the DFS industry grossed more than $350 million in revenue.
Sports betting and DFS are separate products but there’s a lot in common. According to a 2018 Ipsos study, “79% of fantasy sports players who are not current sports wagerers say they will likely participate in sports betting once legalized in their state.” That goes a long way to explaining why many of the DFS operators are exploring the world of sports wagering. FanDuel and DraftKings operate sportsbooks in addition to their base fantasy products.
Dustin Gouker is head of content for LegalSportsReport and several related websites. He saw DFS as a “placeholder” to keep sports betting fans satisfied until sports betting became legal. Both involve “having money on the outcome of a game,” said Gouker, as reported by VOX. “I think there still would’ve been a pretty decent groundswell without it because I think there’s a pent-up demand for sports betting, but everyone got more comfortable with it a little bit more quickly because of daily fantasy.”
The media has always played a significant role in the sports world. Fantasy sports began to become popular in the 1980s and fantasy-focused businesses developed on the periphery of the fantasy sports world, first with fantasy sports and then with Daily Fantasy Sports. Daniel Okrent was a journalist who invented a season-long rotisserie baseball game that was played during the 1980 MLB season.
Okrent became the New York Times’ first public editor. He and other team-managers were all working in journalism and they were instrumental in getting the media involved in the new pastime. In a 2008 Vanity Fair interview, Okrent said, “The second season, there were Rotisserie leagues in every Major League press box. In 1981 there was a players’ strike, and the writers who were covering baseball had nothing to write about, so they began writing about the teams they had assembled in their own leagues.”
ESPN became the first broadcast media station to add fantasy sports to its website in 1995. CBS Sports followed in 1997 and Yahoo started to host fantasy leagues that people could join for free in 1999. Yahoo’s platform had ad revenue supporting the platform with no user fees charged.
Today it’s hard to find a sports media organization that doesn’t have some kind of involvement with fantasy sports. These reports include statistical analysis, player-by-player insights, articles, databases and podcasts. Fantasy managers rely on this data in order to maintain their teams and make educated decisions in the drafts.
Fantasy sports operators and sportsbooks take in a big chunk of the money from fantasy sports betting but the industry is now the center of a cottage media industry. The supporting players include niche sites which provide sports statistics that are analyzed for specific audiences, certain fantasy games and particular sports bets. These include podcasts that bring old-time sports talk radio to a 21st century audience.
As with any industry, some analysts are more reliable than others. All, however, aim to sell their sports betting and fantasy picks knowledge and they do so by charging listeners hefty subscription fees.
Adam Levitan is one such commentator. He writes for RotoWorld and recently launched Establish the Run with a partner. They charge subscribers $205 for a season of analysis, rankings, top plays and more. “I like football, but I like playing fantasy and trying to outsmart people more,” Levitan said, as reported by VOX. “I think if I didn’t play fantasy, I don’t know how much sports I would really watch. People don’t want to hear that. But I think you could be better at fantasy when you don’t care. And I think that if you follow the game from more of a data-driven perspective, you don’t get swayed by small-sample outlier stuff….I would never watch Jaguars-Titans in a million years, but if I have fantasy players in it, then of course I’m watching Jaguars-Titans,” Levitan says. “I really think without fantasy football, the NFL would not be where it is today.”
Mainstream media has also jumped on the bandwagon. Yahoo hosts Fantasy Football Live and ESPN airs The Fantasy Show. These big networks are also offering sports betting content including Fox Sports’ Lock It In and ESPN’s Daily Wager.
Retailers are making their mark on the sector with sales of DFS-related merchandise. A number of bars and restaurants have installed fantasy kiosks and host live fantasy competitions. Washington DC allows these eateries to apply for special licenses where they can also host sportsbooks. Many observers see the day coming quickly when fantasy and sports betting because a regular sports bar attraction.