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  • Fantasy Sports: Extensive Guide to the Sector

Fantasy Sports: Extensive Guide to the Sector

Updated 18.01.2024
Here are some statistics
Throughout the latest years, the fantasy sports sector developed from a small entertainment niche into a worldwide industry.
Here are some statistics:
In 2019, the sphere accumulated
$18.6 billion
and is predicted to rise by 120% in the near future.
In the US, there are 59.3 million gamblers in this field, with one player spending up to $653 annually on average.
The consolidated fantasy sports market is valued at $7.22 billion.

Usually, there are no distinct ways to predict the results of gambling. However, several types of such amusement include forecasting with statistics evaluation. Some customers are turning to the more analytical forms of gaming, where they can put knowledge to use and influence the outcome. This is where fantasy sports come in.

Fantasy sports games: general info

Smart Money will introduce you to the extensive world of such competitions. You will also have an opportunity to connect these innovative games to your platform and start attracting an audience.

Basics of Fantasy Sports

The term stands for entertainment that is influenced by statistics rather than luck. Customers can put together virtual groups of sports stars that exist in reality. The performance of the team is assessed given the results these players demonstrate during actual matches.

There is an opportunity to feel like a coach by:

  • choosing athletes for the squad;
  • seeing their performance and analysing it;
  • adjusting the group for better results;
  • taking part in competitions.

Previously, scores were determined by manual counting. In the present day, leagues can use digital technologies to determine the outcomes. The game may be played by a few people with a simple scoring framework, yet for a huge number of members, there are high-level configurations.

Throughout the latest years, the sector developed from an unpopular niche entertainment type into a worldwide industry.

Here are some statistics:

  • In 2019, the sphere accumulated $18.6 billion and is predicted to rise by 120% in the near future.
  • In the US, there are 59.3 million gamblers in this field, with one player spending up to $653 annually on average.
  • The consolidated fantasy sports market is valued at $7.22 billion.

History of Fantasy Competitions

This entertainment segment originated in the 1950s. There used to be baseball games, where the outcome was determined through both luck and skills. Sports enthusiasts analysed data from former seasons to figure out who will emerge victorious.

In the next decade, Wilfred "Bill" Winkenbach created the first-ever football game that used an entirely virtual lineup. The journalists Scotty Stirling and George Ross assisted him with this initiative. Mr Winkenbach had also previously tried different things with golf. He conceived a set of rules that would become the ground for the very first American sports league based on fantasy football, GOPPPL, which operated from his house.

As online assets were absent at that point, details were accumulated by the creator himself. Mr Winkenbach would call the sports magazines and get information about statistics of recent games from them. Fantasy football acquired the special name gridiron and evolved from a hobby for companion groups into a well-known business endeavour.

Baseball Fantasy Games

They became popular among university students, who used their spare time to play. Daniel Okrent, the eventual designer of the Rotisserie League Baseball ruleset, was one of them. It was initially a game between a group of friends who had a passion for sports, and the name derived from the French restaurant where they had meetings.

The difference between this league and the mentioned football tournament was participants earning extra points only based on this year's statistics, without regard for the previous ones. All of the players' successful actions counted as a bonus to the team owner's standings. With time, they could rotate the members of their squad, depending on who are the most and least successful ones.

This entertainment advanced during the baseball strike of 1981 when sports-themed issues reported updates on fantasy leagues while the real ones were on a break. As the 1980s came to an end, a lot more enthusiasts were driven to this new type of fun.

As the Internet began developing in the 1990s, people from all around the world, interested in virtual sports, were able to talk and connect. Additionally, the data became much more accessible. In the 2000s, this type of gambling reached prominence and even inspired a popular TV series, The League.

How to Play

Fantasy sports rules: basic strategy

Here is a basic strategy for fantasy entertainment:


A certain number of gamblers form a league

Creating a squad

Before the beginning of the season, participants divide players into teams

Learning and analysing data

Gamers consistently keep an eye on the statistics to see which athletes have more benefits

Drawing conclusions

The winner receives a certain reward which was determined previously

Each type of sport has a:

  • distinct scoring framework;
  • rules of drafting;
  • standards of participation.

Gamblers operate players by keeping, dismissing or exchanging them. Toward the official season's end, the squad that has scored the most points wins. Usually, the team is drafted from scratch each season. However, some rules warrant having the same participants on the squad every year.

The classic football rules foresee:

  • each position contains a fixed number of players (for instance, quarterbacks, receivers, etc.);
  • every group selects a single athlete for every round (after each pick, the order of choices is inverted).
  • groups can exchange players with one another and take competitors that are not drafted yet.

The selection part can be restricted to a certain spending plan, to make it more realistic in the same way as a manager can only afford a particular number of players on a budget. This practice is implemented in Italy, where customers get a limited amount of fictional money and use them to get competitors for the team. Points are given to players depending on how the squad performs. Gamers receive bonuses for every action that results in a goal.

The competition has an enormous big stake, which is offered through both weekly prizes and a reward at the end of the season — often a luxurious auto. €244,929 was the overall jackpot in 2020–2021. Personal leagues, which are unofficial competitions, can also be run according to the data provided by the tournament’s official newspaper.

Some fantasy sports events can be played for shorter times, such as a few days. In this variable, those who take part have to pay a fee, which is divided between the service supplier and the pot.

This format generated some controversy in the US. Many participants felt like they were wagering on one game, which provided them less control over the events and limited the usage of skills. Still, a lot of such contests are won by talented analysts.

Fantasy competitions are not just limited to football and baseball. Players also enjoy:

  • hockey;
  • cricket;
  • basketball;
  • racing;
  • golf, etc.

Fantasy vs Virtual Competitions

These niches are not the same as the two have some fundamental differences. For example, in virtual games, luck determines the result through the use of RNG. It is more reminiscent of the experience of playing slots.

Have a look at some key points of both spheres:

Virtual sports

Fantasy leagues



Statistics of players in real life


Prototypes of real athletes

Imaginary teams made of real sports stars

Betting strategy

No (depending on odds)



RNG games

Games of skills




Virtual tournaments are not relying on real events and usually are an alternative to traditional betting. Besides, they are a method for getting customers into other games such as roulette or slots.

The unpredictability of such entertainment is what makes it less interesting to conventional wagering fans: any analysis of the game and prior knowledge does not make any difference.

Comparison with Traditional Wagering

Fantasy sports versus betting: comparison

For quite a long time, fantasy sports were viewed as a method for wagering in the USA while betting was still illegal. Even if the bids were not made directly on the result, punters still had an exciting time attempting to use knowledge and skills while having a chance to win some cash.

Even though the USA is still the largest jurisdiction for this activity, many states doubt its legitimacy due to the closeness to betting on sports. The authorities of Texas explicitly emphasise everyday fantasy competitions and consider them illegal. However, the tournaments that go on for the entire season are permitted.

In other countries, it often depends on the ambiguity of the laws. Some of them do not directly mention fantasy sports, while others use complicated wording, which leaves the ground for vulnerabilities.

Let us review several examples in different states:

  1. Estonia considers fantasy sports equal to wagering in case there are bids or an award for being a participant.
  2. Ukraine has made many types of gaming legitimate, yet fantasy competitions are not specifically mentioned.
  3. Japan has a lot of restrictions, yet omits this type of activity in its laws.
  4. In a few Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Brazil, fantasy sports are not under any regulations generally. Thus, smaller authorities determine whether operators can offer them or not.
  5. India has different laws on this activity in a variety of states — in some, it is allowed, while in others, it is prohibited.

The Main Things about Fantasy Sports

The segment is a part of the amusement industry that has increasing potential and a lot of admirers all around the world. In numerous nations, this type of entertainment is unheard of. However, with innovative ideas on how to present fantasy competitions to a wider audience, the concept has a chance to grow and become prevalent everywhere.

Smart Money presents excellent fantasy sports content. With some breakthrough offerings, you will quickly establish your influence on the market and impress lots of clients.

We also provide a variety of products and services, such as:

Contact our managers and start fruitful cooperation.

Hans Adrian

Hans Adrian

B2b Gambling Business Advisor & Strategist

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