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Fantasy Sports “for Dummies”: What Beginners Need to Know

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One can assume that most people who visit Fantasy Six Pack are already fantasy sports aficionados. However, if you’re reading this, then perhaps you’re a curious newbie who is trying to figure out what this fantasy sports hoopla is all about (or how it works). Or maybe you just want to expand your existing knowledge of this exploding phenomenon. In any case, this article will serve as a beginner’s guide to the fantasy sports universe.

Fantasy Sports is simple to understand, conceptually. Fantasy leagues cover a wide array of sporting activities, and the NFL is by far, the most popular (last year, industry researchers IBISWorld reported that the NFL, MLB, NBA and auto racing were responsible for 36%, 19%, 10%, and 12% of fantasy sports revenues, respectively). In your sport of choice, you assemble an imaginary team of players who you acquire via an online draft process. Once you’ve selected players to start on your team, you then enter into a fierce competition against other fantasy teams where points are earned based on the statistical performance of your players in real-life matchups. In other words, the better your players perform on game day, the more points your team will accumulate. Participants receive monetary payouts at the end of the season depending on the success of their fantasy teams.

Some people prefer to compete in exclusive fantasy sports leagues that only include friends and acquaintances. Other players use websites or mobile apps that allow them to join public leagues whereby they can compete against complete strangers across the country. One should note that in addition to “seasonal” fantasy sports competitions, a small percentage of customers participate in “daily” fantasy sports (DFS), which award cash prizes based on your selected team’s statistics on a particular day or (in the case of American football) in a given week.

It comes as no surprise that fantasy sports have grown in popularity over the years. Audiences have always been obsessed with spectator sports, and adding a monetary incentive can only heighten one’s interest in watching a sporting event. Even for those who tend to be lukewarm towards sports, the financial allure of “managing” a fantasy team could induce them to significantly increase their viewership. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (the FSTA), a total of almost 57 million people played fantasy sports in the United States and Canada in 2016. That same year, fantasy sports transactions equaled approximately $26 billion in the aggregate compared to the approximate $18 billion that fans spent on fantasy sports in 2015.

Now, let’s address the proverbial “elephant in the room”: Is fantasy sports betting legal? Your first intuition might be that wagering on sporting events seems like gaming activity that has been prescribed in many jurisdictions. However, Congress passed a relevant statute in 2006 (the UIGEA) that was enacted to prohibit fund transfers to companies engaged in illegal internet wagers. Specifically, the UIGEA states that participating in fantasy sports is not considered a “bet” or a “wager” under its law because fantasy sports activities represent games of skill rather than games of chance. However, the UIGEA does not affect whether fantasy sports are either permitted or enjoined under separate federal or state gaming laws. For example, as of July 2017, the state laws of five jurisdictions — Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington — had banned fantasy sports altogether (although the FSTA has since been aggressively lobbying to have those state prohibitions lifted). Notwithstanding the foregoing, there’s currently no government authority that oversees fantasy sports the way that regulators oversee sports betting in Nevada, for example.

Note that the legal status of DFS under state law varies widely and in many jurisdictions, remains in legal limbo. Fortunately, ESPN periodically updates its DFS state-by-state tracker with the latest information regarding permitted jurisdictions. Note, further, that the controversy over DFS might be a bit overblown; in a 2016 interview, sports attorney and CEO of Horrow Sports Ventures Rick Horrow asserted that DFS competitions only comprise about 5% of the entire industry while the rest is based on seasonal wagers.

Many companies have developed mobile apps and launched websites for users to engage in fantasy sports (for example, StarsDraft.com). These companies regularly reward players with bonuses and loyalty points for repeated patronage. So, now that we’ve piqued your curiosity with this fantasy sports “tutorial,” you can now form your first fantasy team right away!

About Joe Bond

Not just another "Average Joe" when it comes to Fantasy Sports, he is the fantasy brain trust behind the up-and-coming FantasySixPack.net website. He has been spreading his love and addiction of fantasy sports there and many other sites including SoCalledFantasyExperts.com, FantasyPros.com, and FanDuel.com. Joe has finished as the No. 5 Fantasy Football Draft Ranker on Fantasy Pros in 2014, while being the No. 1 QB ranker for in-season during 2016. He has also finished in the top-15 twice for Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings. You can find him on Twitter, @fantasysixpack, where he is waiting by the keyboard for your question.

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