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How Fantasy Sports Could Change the Face of Betting in the US

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If major bookmakers are allowed to enter the world of fantasy sports, they will revolutionize American betting.

America has always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with gambling, but since Nevada became the first state to allow casinos in 1931, the country seems to have embraced this shiny new industry. It was hard to say no to all that cash, and today there are as much as 18 states offering commercial or tribal casinos.

However, for some reason authorities chose to discriminate against two very profitable branches of the industry: sports betting and online casinos. Five US states have even banned fantasy sports.

All this could change after Governor Chris Christie’s administration signed an order saying casinos and racetracks that offer betting will not be prosecuted. The fate of both offline and online sportsbooks in the US will be decided on October 6, when the federal court will rule on the issue.

To bet or not to bet?

Under the current American gambling laws, only Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon can offer wagering, while three other states have introduced some form of internet gambling last year. But until politicians make a decision once and for all, to clear up the legality of these two industries, they will remain the number one outcasts of US gambling.

America’s most popular sports fantasy websites are:

• DraftDay
• DraftHero
• SwaggerStadium
• FantasyFeud
• SportsTradex

So while gambling in the physical world is growing, virtual casinos are frowned upon. Some say the reason behind this situation is simple: money. Both land-based casinos and tribal associations have enough influence to keep politicians from giving these activities the green light.

That being said, betting on fantasy sports is a whole different thing. The legality of it is hazy, because if there’s money involved, it technically counts as gambling. Most of the time, however, it’s considered to be a social game where players are part of a community and compete for recognition and trophies.

An alternative to poker

People who play fantasy sports invest a lot of time into it, as they need to draft a team at the beginning of the season and then follow that roster all year, with the competition spreading over an entire season. For the majority of players, the game is about community. And in the end, it’s the trophy that matters, not the money.

With daily play, things are a bit different. Whenever there’s a new slate of games, users are allowed to draft a new lineup. Players don’t have to dedicate a lot of time to this activity and the results are immediate. Payoffs can also be huge, which is another reason why daily play is becoming more and more popular. This type of fantasy sports is also the one that could change America’s wagering industry.

The activity has become extremely popular in the US, and now major bookmakers are hoping that laws will change, so they can get a piece of the sport fantasy betting action. Allowing these companies to offer odds in the virtual world would surely change the face of gambling in the US, taking betting to a whole new level.

The fantasy sports craze

In 2010, the first site offering daily fantasy went live. But the game wasn’t very popular while players still had access to online poker sites in the US. After officials shut them down, gamblers were left with very limited options, and single-day fantasy sports created a new opportunity. By 2012, a number of websites started offering the service, and the industry was growing rapidly.

“While some consumers play both full-season and short-duration fantasy sports games, there does seem to be a distinction in the core fan base of each. The earliest participants in daily fantasy sports do seem to have emerged from the poker world,” Marc Edelman, a law professor at Baruch College explained.

It is estimated that the number of fantasy sports fans will go up to 41 million Americans and Canadians in 2014, reflecting a 25% increase compared to 2010.

In Ireland and the UK, the sports betting industry is doing great. Some experts believe America might soon follow, as the growing popularity of fantasy sports might influence officials to seriously consider allowing players to bet on sports in the US.

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