Fantasy Sports Games: When Betting Gets Virtual



Most of us know about traditional sports betting. You predict the outcome of a sporting event and place a wager on that outcome happening with a bookmaker, often times online. In most U.S. states this practice is illegal but elsewhere in the world, especially Europe, sports betting is allowed and regulated. Most of us, too, will be familiar with fantasy sports leagues where participants build a team from real players whose actual, statistical performances are converted into points. Well, what if you could place bets on fantasy sports games? That might not be far from becoming reality: virtual reality.

Way back in March the casinos of Atlantic City were talking about introducing fantasy sports betting as an option for punters. The proposals to legalise sports gambling in New Jersey had been held up in the courts, and fantasy sports betting was seen as a good alternative.  Under federal law, it is not currently considered gambling because the outcome “reflects the relative knowledge of the participants, or their skill at physical reaction or physical manipulation (but not chance), and, in the case of fantasy or simulation sports game, has an outcome that is determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of sporting events, including any non-participant’s individual performances in such sporting events”.

For that reason there are already existing real-money fantasy sports providers like FanDuel or DraftDay and even several apps. It was hoped that these providers would join forces with casinos to expand their reach and generate new revenue streams. At the time, Lisa Spengler, an analyst at the Division of Gaming Enforcement for New Jersey, said: “This presents a great opportunity for both casinos and companies currently providing fantasy sports tournaments to create a mutually beneficial relationship where the fantasy providers can expand their business and the casinos can have another attractive amenity to bring visitors to Atlantic City”. For residents of the U.K. and Europe it’s simple to indulge in games and bets at Online Casino Tropez or other establishments, without the stigma of illegality.

To this date, however, fantasy sports betting is still not being offered as an option. Why is this? Some think it is down to the prevalence of such games on major media outlets such as ESPN – the demand is already met so the business model isn’t robust enough. Atlantic City would have to compete on a national level which is unlikely to happen without significant investment. Nevertheless, it’s a market that is already played by more than 35 million players across the States so it’s still a potential money-making opportunity. Casinos in Atlantic City are more focused on the lucrative business of actual sports betting and online casinos at the moment to put enough time and energy into the fantasy side of things, according to casino analyst Israel Posner. There could be another explanation: it’s simply not a good time to introduce the fantasy sports betting option as betting only really kicks off with the Super Bowl and March Madness.

Whatever the case, fantasy sports betting is still an option for many gamblers, thanks to existing outlets. As a game of skill, it’s an extremely satisfying one, and can greatly augment the real thing.

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  1. Fantasy sports betting has been around in one form or another in the UK for years and it has quite a large following from mates getting together to do it for small sums to much larger games.

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