Could Daily Fantasy Sports Take off in the UK? Fantasy football and sports betting are agreeable enough bedfellows and something of an institution in the UK, a trait that owes a great deal to the ease at which both are picked up – simply choose your team and see what happens. Whether you take the academic approach or try petitioning Lady Luck for favour is up to you but there are rewards for all kinds of players in fantasy and sports betting: you might win big; you might just get bragging rights at work.
Fantasy Betting: Could Daily Fantasy Sports Take off in the UK?
Betting on Data
Daily fantasy sports (DFS), a game that takes the form of a fantasy league melted down and reformed as a day or weekend of competition, are impossibly popular in the US. While the overlap between fantasy and sports betting became an industry in its own right in the United States, UK versions of the two hobbies have merged in more subtle ways, with prize money added to fantasy leagues and odds used to inform players’ selections, for example.
It’s arguably the importance of research that unifies the two though. For instance, a standard football betting tip for Liverpool vs. Manchester City in the English Premier League involves information on league position, goals scored, recent form, home or away rating, previous meetings, clean sheets and tens of other datasets. A similar attention to detail is key in creating a fantasy lineup too. Nobody wants to head into the weekend with a goalkeeper who hasn’t kept a clean sheet all season.
Fantasy websites increasingly offer incentives to players to get involved too, a technique that’s popular with companies associated with football betting UK too, from online bookies to sports betting shops. For example, while Betway gives a 100% deposit bonus to its football fans and 21Bet simply gives away £10 in free bets, a site like The Telegraph puts up prizes of around £250,000 a season for the winners of its fantasy league. It can pay to shop around before getting involved in either pastime.
Daily Fantasy in the UK
The merging of fantasy and betting could be the start of something huge for the UK gaming scene. As mentioned, daily fantasy sports have completely changed the way players approach both aspects of sporting culture in the US, with casinos in Atlantic City – like Resorts Casino – opting to build a dedicated DFS lounge to take advantage of the phenomenon. With a huge betting culture in the country, the UK already has the framework in place to support DFS.
Fantasy sports offer an ideal jumping-on point for would-be gamblers – it’s Football Manager mixed with a visit to the bookies. However, even though one of the first dedicated DFS exchanges was founded in Scotland, it’s not something that has much visibility in the UK; in fact, the first gaming licenses for daily fantasy weren’t handed out until after 2015, to long-running providers DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo.
The one major difference between sports betting in the UK and DFS in the USA is that the most popular market, wagering on the final score or “point-spread”, isn’t possible in the latter. DFS is also far more involved, requiring the player to choose a sport from a list of five (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL or football of the original UK definition), a league or contest (prizes are determined by the entry fee), and a line-up of players.
The major challenge for the DFS business is marketing though – how do you convince a nation of sports gamblers to make the leap to a different kind of game? The answer appears to lie in a bit of pre-emptive expansion by UK betting companies; Unibet recently began supporting daily fantasy to corner a new market, one occupied by “less bet-savvy” folk who are into fantasy sports but not necessarily familiar with betting.
It perhaps doesn’t help that British fans, in general, have little love for the States’ sporting acronyms, the NBA and NFL. Until a tea-sipping, bulldog-owning equivalent comes along, offering markets on rugby, cricket, football, tennis, and horse racing, the slight overlap between fantasy sports and sports betting is likely to serve as the UK’s equivalent of DFS for some time yet. In any case, it’ll be interesting to see how sports betting evolves over the next few months and years.