You've probably heard a fair bit about daily fantasy sports (DFS) in the media recently, and some of it will leave you with questions that you want answered. But what exactly are daily fantasy sports, and why are they legal? After all, it sounds very similar to internet gambling, which is only legal in very specific circumstances in the UK. We investigate and answer these questions.
For more than 20 years in the UK, season-long fantasy sports have held the attention of casual and committed sports fans. It began with football, but now you can put together fantasy cricket or rugby teams, plus a whole host of other sports depending on your personal preference. The legality of daily fantasy sports games is ostensibly the same as that of season-long fantasy sports.
DraftKings UK Launch
The difference in the UK is a small one, based on UK regulation of the gaming industry. Because of the way UK law functions, daily fantasy sports providers such as DraftKings, which launches in the UK in February 2016, have licences from the UK Gambling Commission. This doesn't make the games gambling by definition — it is just a function of the fact that daily fantasy sports currently occupies a legal space that allows it to exist outside of the regulatory umbrella.
However, daily fantasy sports and sports betting are very different — indeed, DFS has much more in common with the season-long fantasy game. Both involve you choosing players from a sports league to form an imaginary team. Both involve you scoring points for what players do on the pitch — in the case of fantasy soccer, goals, assists, saves, interceptions and so on. Both rely on the skill of the fantasy manager in putting together a team of players who will win him or her a prize, either at the end of the season or the end of the match day.
DFS Different Than Sports Betting
The way of differentiating between daily fantasy sports and sports betting is that sports betting is about chance. Of course you must formulate a strategy to win a bet — but fundamentally, anyone can place a bet, and it's easy to win a bet without much skill or thought, if you are fortunate. Also, in most bets, there are only two possible outcomes — the outcome you are betting on either happens, or it does not. Of course there are exceptions, but in the main, that's true.
On the other hand, with daily fantasy sports, you can have infinitely-varying degrees of success. Your team might be very strong in attack thanks to a key goalscorer from the weekend's action, but it might suffer due to poor goalkeeping from your choice, or any number of variations within. This is because of the intricate scoring system set up to make sure daily fantasy sports mirrors its real-life version as accurately as possible, to give you the feeling of being a real football manager from the comfort of your computer or mobile device.
Do Issues in the US Affect the Game in the UK?
There have been well-publicised issues in the United States, where state legislatures have, in some cases, ruled that daily fantasy sports is a kind of online gambling that is prohibited in the US. However, the problems the daily fantasy industry has suffered in the US do not affect its potential popularity in Europe. It's going to become the game everyone is talking about, in cafes, bars and sports stadiums, and becoming an early-adopter has never felt so good.
The most important thing to know about daily fantasy sports is that it is all completely legal in the UK. You can go onto DraftKings or one of the other licensed daily fantasy sports sites with total confidence that the game is fair, balanced and simple to enter. The aim, as with all contests, should be to have fun - and the more fun you have, the more you will enjoy examining the records of players in your team, and the more you are likely to win money through the contests being played.
So our advice to you is: find your best team, play daily fantasy sports, and whatever you do, enjoy the game.