Back in 2018, the US Supreme Court repealed a federal ban on sports betting. The decision came 26 years after the NCAA led a successful charge to ban sports betting outside of Nevada. But that didn’t mean sports fans countrywide lacked a sports competition to feed their interest.
While multiple laws on a local and federal level have influenced sports betting, fans have always had fantasy leagues to fall back on. Fantasy leagues let groups draft their own unique lineups according to certain parameters, then these teams compete according to real-life stats on the NFL, NHL, MLB, etc. Hence, the name ‘fantasy sports’.
But in the early 2000s, a new type of fantasy sport took off: daily fantasy sports. The average fantasy league lasts the duration of its actual counterpart; an NFL fantasy team competes over 17 weeks, while an MLB fantasy league will stretch on for the standard 162 regular season games. But daily fantasy sports (DFS) shrunk the playing period to a single day to fall in line with a single sports event, like a game or a double-header.
Even better for sports fans, DFS wasn’t considered actual sports betting. To this day, it remains a popular alternative for sports fans in states that haven’t yet launched legal betting markets. By the 2010s, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel spearheaded rising interest in DFS.
In 2022, both companies are posting strong numbers—but what does the future hold for DFS? Let’s take a closer look at five possibilities.
First: Expansion Beyond DraftKings & FanDuel
Though DraftKings and FanDuel helped build the current DFS market, the future of DFS will spread far beyond both American platforms. In fact, established groups like Caesars Sportsbook, which has run continuously from its Vegas base for decades, is now showing interest in DFS.
The standard Caesar’s promo code, which is one of the most competitive in the industry, includes up to $1,500 in betting insurance. The offer is designed for sports bettors to try out the group’s expanded lines on dozens of sports rather than DFS buffs. However, Caesar’s recently invested in SuperDraft.
So, why are traditional sportsbooks showing interest in DFS—especially those not pressed for new customers? Caesars’ partnership with SuperDraft highlights the fact that many bettors now expect DFS as part of their sports betting suite, alongside other features like live betting and data reports.
Second: Alternative DFS Models
One of the biggest appeals of the contemporary DFS market is its options for competition types. The idea behind DFS is to make fantasy sports more accessible by framing competitions around a shortened time period. This allows for plenty of diversification in the coming years.
For example, leading DFS platforms today offer different types of games. A few of the most popular include GPP, or guaranteed prize pool tournaments that usually have large grand prizes; 50/50 competitions that require players to finish in front of half the competition to earn back their entry fee; and head-to-heads that set players against each other in a basic format.
But not all DFS expansion is focused on competition type, like those listed above. Instead, DFS is inspiring new types of sports betting. Prop bets are single-outcome wagers that sportsbooks release on various competition types. However, prop bets are now hedging into DFS spaces, letting players wager on single outcomes within a DFS tournament.
Third: Simulated Contests
Clearly, the range of DFS competitions will continue to expand along with player interest. Already, DraftKings has started to offer tournaments on simulated sports. This closely mirrors betting offered on sports simulations. Sports simulations are virtual games played by a computer algorithm based on live, factual sports stats from teams and players.
In a DFS landscape, these are considered simulated contests. Like usual, players draft a team and build a lineup, many times with salary cap considerations, and then see how their team fares in a virtual setup. The virtual game pits two real teams against one another—typically in the off-season when there aren’t any actual games to base DFS tournaments on.
However, there are still a few kinks being hammered out. For instance, simulated contests run based on a team’s stats from a certain period. For example, DraftKings might pit the Week 15 Colts against the Week 1 Chiefs in a simulated contest, which adds even more intrigue for football diehards.
Fourth: Live DFS
Clearly, the future of DFS will be closely tied to the latest trends in sports betting. That’s true when it comes to live betting. Live betting, also called in-play betting, lets sports fans wager on outcomes as a game or competition unfolds. They’re literally betting ‘live’ to see which player will score the next basket or make the next tackle.
One of the biggest cons of DFS is its lack of in-play options. After all, only players with foresight can craft the ultimate DFS lineup… so how will integrating in-play options affect DFS? It may allow players to alter their lineup as a game unfolds live, or maybe even enable ‘pushes’ as a game’s momentum changes, enabling them to increase their original competition fee or enable another prize.
Fifth: Expanded eSports DFS
Just like in-play betting, many traditional sports bettors are now showing interest in eSports. Esports betting covers gamers, teams, and leagues that cover some of the world’s most popular games, including Call of Duty, Dota 2, League of Legends, and many more.
So far, DFS is offered in competitions that cover League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, and eNASCAR—but these rudimentary DFS competitions are expected to grow immensely. One reason is the mutual emphasis on stats in both eSports and DFS.
Typically, DFS players comb through the latest stats reports in order to glean insights into their team and players. Some DFS buffs even pay for stats subscriptions to enable them to show greater attention to detail. Esports are similarly obsessed with minute stats, which are used to rank players and teams, along with determining champions in certain tournament types. For DFS fans obsessed with data-driven insights, competing in eSports will provide endless entertainment.