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21. Betting, Daily Fantasy Sports - change in the landscape of Engagement

When it comes to sports betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS), the sporting world is divided into two extremely polar opinions. Some believe it is good and some believe it is bad. No matter what you believe, it is here, it is growing and it is engaging people now more than ever.


Sports Betting vs Daily Fantasy Sports


First, it is important to understand the difference between betting and DFS. Although traditional betting and DFS may require the same depth of knowledge and skill sets, the major difference lies in the fact that in betting it all boils down to one particular event/score/team/player on which the said bet is being made and hence chance plays a much more important factor. Whereas in DFS, the chances of you winning depends not on one particular event but multiple factors and hence a relative knowledge of the game comes in use.


For example, in football you can bet on a particular game, as to who wins the match, or which team scores the first goal, or if a certain player will score or not score in the game. There are preset odds for every possible event that can happen within the game and you bet an X amount of money against that odd.


But when it comes to DFS, you make an imaginary team of players based on a fixed imaginary wallet given to you and you compete with other people based on the points your team scores. And since you have players from various teams playing in various matches, the points you score is not solely dependant on one player match or team. And hence it is not just about luck or chance but also about the knowledge and understanding of the game.


Also, not all DFS involves monetary transactions and some are simply played in a friendly nature which is not the case with betting.


The Positives


Betting and DFS have their positives that they bring to sports. First and foremost, it's a whole new revenue stream for leagues / federations who run their own Fantasy gaming. Fantasy Premier League (FPL) for instance is the official fantasy gaming portal of the English Premier League which is by far the most widely used fantasy sport platform across the world. EPL has exclusive sponsors and activations for FPL and FPL is a good revenue generator for the league. Another advantage that DFS gives is that more casual fans are being converted to avid fans. For example, I was someone who only watched games when my favourite team was playing, but ever since I started playing FPL I started watching as many matches as possible because most matches had a player or two who was in my FPL team. This has been one of the biggest positives for DFS as it increases the engagement of the average fan with the sport and makes him consume more of it.


Same can also be applicable to traditional betting as well. Also most betting and DFS companies have started sponsoring teams and leagues across the world. In EPL itself 8 out of the 20 teams have a betting company as their primary sponsor. Last year, Indian Premier League, the worlds biggest cricket league had a DFS company as their title sponsor. Also 3 out of 5 TV commercials during an IPL match was that of a Fantasy Sport platform. As of 2019, a few betting companies also started acquiring broadcasting rights of few sporting events including a few tennis masters and majors. This all means that betting and DFS companies are without doubt bringing in more revenue to the Sports ecosystem. But at what cost?


The Concerns


One of the biggest concerns when it comes to betting and DFS is the addiction. Betting just like gambling is an addictive habit and people tend to lose all their money due to their addiction to the same. Also, betting and DFS tend to promote a sense of quick money or easy money which does not really align with the values sports stand for. Many traditionalists believe betting and fantasy gaming is slowly killing the integrity of the game and passion that fans have for the sport. People who tend to play fantasy sports while watching a match tend to have mixed emotions on occasions when they might want one team to win but they might have players from the opposite team in their fantasy XI and want those players to do well. And amidst all this conflict they end up not enjoying the match as they would have wanted to.


Another concern is the corruption that comes along with betting especially in lower levels of sports. There has been a lot of talks about matches being rigged in smaller tennis tournaments and other tournaments as well. There have been instances where some high profile games we