The ever-growing influence of daily fantasy sports very well could be the first step toward online sports betting being legalized, with the potential for revenue from the latter likely to dwarf the already-impressive $3.6 billion that fuels the daily fantasy industry. That’s because the estimate of what’s wagered on sports is $164 billion each year. Of that massive total, over 97 percent of that money is being bet with currently illegal sources like bookmakers.
Daily Fantasy Play Surging
Fantasy sports have thrived for the past few decades, but only within the past few years has the daily concept taken strong hold. That’s because it has not only piqued the interest of regular players, but those less inclined to invest time in keeping track of players on a season-long basis.
Professional Leagues More Amenable
One of the main reasons for the projections made is the fact that the previously-impenetrable walls that separated the leagues and the online sports betting industry are being chipped away.
A major player in daily fantasy, DraftKings, has a business relationship with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Meanwhile, their iconic quarterback, Tom Brady, has a sponsorship deal with another fantasy entity, Daily MVP. Within a few months, the Denver Broncos also signed an agreement with DraftKings. In between those two deals, the Washington Redskins signed with a daily fantasy rival, FanDuel. The NFL itself, which had had its own brushes with gambling scandals, now has a sponsorship deal with both DraftKings and FanDuel, as do the other major professional sports leagues.
Manfred’s comments came just a few months after the NBA’s Adam Silver wrote that the current laws related to sports betting should be changed. He indicated that Congress should make every effort to establish such an environment, although with strict regulations. Coming from a league with a much more recent (2007) betting scandal involving one of their referees, Silver’s comments give a clear indication of where the debate is heading.
Major League Baseball, which endured the Black Sox scandal, has a new commissioner with a decidedly different viewpoint than his predecessor when it comes to sports betting. “Gambling in terms of our society has changed its presence on legalization,” said Rob Manfred. “I think it’s important for there to be a conversation between me and the owners about what our institutional position will be.” Eight MLB teams already have sponsorship deals with DraftKings, with more sponsorships expected in the near future.
A Continuing Evolution
It has been pointed out that many of the daily fantasy websites already appear designed as if they were an online sports book. Couple that with the rabid interest that’s already been indicated and the evolution to something that equates with online sports betting picks up speed. Throw in the fact that one recent poll found that a majority of Americans support regulated online sports betting, and the picture becomes that much more clear.
One area that may likely remain off limits is college football and basketball, since the NCAA is likely to decry the potential for disaster. The problem with that attitude is that there have already been a number of scandals involving basketball and a few related to football.
The Bottom Line
Thus, given the above options from leaders the course seems set on sports online betting being legalized in the near future. In short, the operative word seems now to have changed from if to when.