Fantasy sports are online sport management games. They have become incredibly popular in the USA and Canada recently, and are successfully continuing their expansion into the West, CIS and Asian countries.

Article summary

  1. Review of the fantasy sports market in figures

Currently the most popular type of fantasy sports is DFS – Daily FantasySports, or the so called daily leagues. In contrast to season long leagues, they are exciting, fast, and engaging.

This kind of an Internet game arrived in the markets of Europe, CIS and Asia comparatively not so long ago, a year or so, but it is rapidly gaining pace. The developmental pattern of the European market resembles the American market, which has been experiencing an unprecedented boom for several years now. Experts believe that in the nearest future Europe will face the same situation.

Today major poker and betting platforms in Europe and CIS countries are taking an active interest in fantasy segment. Some of them have already changed their business focus, having assessed the huge potential of this market in the short run, aiming to take over the leadership. The point is that the majority of their players is already playing daily fantasy sports or comprises its potential target audience, whose transition to the new segment is just a matter of time.

Why do people leave poker and traditional betting and choose fantasy?

A large segment of gamblers, who are also shifting to fantasy sports today, are people who have preferred traditional sports betting for a long time. DFS open up new prospects for them, providing possibilities to compete with real people, rather than betting shops’ algorithms, whose odds don’t allow winning steadily in the long run.

Review of the fantasy sports market in figures

The example of the American and Canadian markets, which have been thoroughly researched, clearly shows how the new industry gains pace and what huge profits it brings to Internet platforms. Experts agree that the developmental pattern of the European market will follow the American and Canadian pattern in the next year or two. 

Let’s view the dynamics in absolute figures.

According to data presented by the FSTA (Fantasy Sports Trade Association), players in this segment have the following demographic characteristics:

Average age of players

38-39 years old

Secondary and higher education

66% players

Income in the amount of $75000 and more

Over 51% players

Full-time employment

67% players

Average annual expenditures on fantasysports per one player aged 18+

$556

Favourite fantasy game

football

Share of deposits made in support of the favourite league players

70% of all deposits

According to the research of Ipsos Public Affairs, conducted at the request of the FSTA, in 2015 the audience of fantasy sports players comprised 57.4 million people.

One in seven Americans was an online fantasy sports player in 2015.

The US fantasy sports market size was equal to $3-4 billion in 2015.

Percentage of fantasy sports players from the whole population of the USA and Canada aged 12+

 

The USA

Canada

The whole population

20%

17%

Adults

18%

16%

Teenagers

32%

33%

According to data from the FSTA.

The graph shows the annual increase in the number of fantasy sports players in the USA and Canada, which has reached almost 60 000 000 people.

According to data from the FSTA.

Experts forecast that the market of European and CIS countries has the same potential. Currently, in the UK alone around 6 million people are keen on fantasy sports.

Several interesting surveys that illustrate success of fantasy sports:

  • In 2014, 21% of all surveyed players said that they preferred to combine seasonal and daily fantasy leagues, and 17% said that they played only DFS;
  • In 2015 this proportion changed, shifting towards DFS: 17% of all surveyed players  combined seasonal and daily fantasy sports, and 19%preferred only DFS;
  • 82% of players prefer traditional fantasy sports;
  • Percentage of those players who sometimes play certain kinds of daily fantasy sports comprised 31% in 2012, and 64% in 2015;
  • Over 60% of players noted that they began reading about sports and watching match broadcasts more often thanks to fantasy sports;
  •  61% of respondents from 18 states stated that they fully support the law that legalizesreal money fantasy sports;
  • Over 50% of surveyed players stated that they would have refused from paid subscriptions to sports channels, if it were not for fantasy sports.

How expenditures of players (aged 18 +) on fantasy sports in the US and Canadian markets are spread year by year:

 

2016

2015

2012

Daily FantasySports

$ 318

$ 257

$ 5

Traditional FantasySports

$ 184

$ 162

$ 60

Materials

$ 54

$ 46

$ 15

According to data from the FSTA.

According to various sources, Europeans spend an average of €500-600 annually on sports gambling. It means that European players spend more than Americans and Canadians.

High profitability of fantasy sports business is illustrated by financial performance of the major US and Canadian operators.

According to data fromthe Globe and Mail

According to Forbes, in 2013 these companies invested in the development of industry: DraftKings – $41 million, FanDuel – $75 million. 

In 2014 FanDuel website alone paid its players more than $564 million. And the combined investments of these major players in television advertising were estimated at more than $100 million in autumn of 2015.

Review of large platforms on the territory of Europe and CIS countries

Fantasy sports have recently arrived in Europe and CIS countries, and are growing in popularity.

Russian fantasy sports community of sport.ru website exists since 2009, and it recorded 60 thousand participants in 2015.

In the majority of European countries fantasy sports are legal and regulated. Among these countries are Denmark, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. But the market is growing rapidly, and authorities of the EU member states are beginning to adapt to new realities on legislative level.

Currently, fantasy sports are licensed in Denmark and UK, meaning that it is totally legal to play there. In other European and CIS countries real money fantasy sports are not officially acknowledged as games of chance, and are classified as games of skill – the same as in the USA and Canada.

Russia and CIS countries began getting acquainted with fantasy sports just a couple of years ago. Articles, forums, blogs started to appear. Advertising began, several draft rooms were launched, and Russian language websites sprang up.

What is needed to start playing for real money on these platforms:

  1. Go through simple registration process;
  2. Learn simple rules and scoring system;
  3. Pay the entry fee (the so called buy-in) and gather your team.

Real money games are available on:

DraftGaming

Russian language website

Sports: football (EPL, RFPL,  MLS, UEFA) basketball (NBA), American football (NFL )

Fanaments

Sports: football (EPL, LaLiga,  Serie A, Champions League), golf, basketball (NBA),  mixed martial arts (UFC)

FanTeam

Russian language website

Sports: football (EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga,  Championship, Norwegian Tippeligaen, Swedish Allsvenskan, Turkish Super League, Scottish Premier League, Finnish championship,  RFPL), poker (WSOP, EPT), hockey (KHL,  World Championship)

Zweeler

Russian language website

Sports: American football, biathlon, rally, golf, basketball, football, tennis, etc.

FantasyBet

Sports : football (EPL, Championship, La Liga,  Norwegian League)

PremierPunt

Sports: football (EPL,  Champions League)

 

DraftOn

Russian language website

Sports: EPL, La Liga,  Bundesliga, Champions League, RFPL, League One,  Serie A, Europa League,  European Championship 2016)

 

Realmoney games are not available on:

MondoGoal

Sports: football (EPL)

 

DraftJam

Sports: hockey (KHL, NHL,  IIHF)

 

According to data from dailyfantasysports.ru.

All these platforms have loyal players, who are consistently making good bargains during tournaments. The number of new players is constantly growing, especially in guaranteed tournaments.

Fanaments offers excellent basketball tournaments in NBA and football tournaments in EPL. The website provides daily guaranteed tournaments and a variety of buy-ins.

FantasyBet specializes in football only, and focuses mainly on the English Premier League, offering impressive guarantees for this specific championship.

Zweeler has been working in the fantasy sports market for more than five years, has a loyal customer base, offers tournaments in almost all popular sports, a great number of jackpots, and organizes the best Pick'Em tournaments in Europe.

FanTeam deals with the majority of European football leagues,KHL competitions, and is planning to launch fantasy poker leagues in the future.

Websites that do not accept players from CIS countries are presented below. Freerolls (playing for fun) are available for everyone, though. One can find major American DFS platforms among them. To register and play at DraftKings and FanDuel, a player from Russia will have to apply some tricks, as these websites automatically determine location and block players from restricted countries.

DraftKings

Sports: Americanfootball

 (NFL&CFB), basketball (NBA & NCAA), hockey (NHL), baseball (MLB), football (EPL, MLS), golf, ММА (UFC)

FanDuel

Sports: Americanfootball (NFL & CFB), basketball (NBA & NCAA), hockey (NHL), baseball(MLB)

 

Yahoo! Fantasy Sports

Sports: hockey (NHL), baseball(MLB), basketball (NBA), American football (NFL)

 

StarsDraft

Sports: Americanfootball (NFL), basketball (NBA), hockey (NHL), baseball (MLB), golf

FantasyDraft

Sports: Americanfootball (NFL), basketball (NBA), hockey (NHL), baseball (MLB), golf (PGA)

DraftPot

Sports: Americanfootball (NFL, NCAA), basketball (NBA, NCAA), hockey (NHL), baseball (MLB), golf (PGA), car racing (NASCAR), DFeS (LoL)

According to data from dailyfantasysports.ru.

As to the European market:

In late 2015 – early 2016 two American giants DraftKings and FanDuel launched their services in the UK. These companies also have licenses in Denmark. Operators have already signed partnership agreements with several large English clubs, including Arsenal, Liverpool, and Watford. Before the arrival of DraftKings and FanDuel, the largest European platforms were FanTeam and Fantasybet.

Italian gambling websites Sisal and Lottomatica have also recently launched a platform for daily fantasy sports games. Mondogoal became its supplier. It is one of the first fantasy sports services in Italy, which is rapidly gaining popularity in the rest of the Old World.

Industry trends

In the last three years fantasy sports market has increased tenfold. And that is in the USA and Canada alone. In light of current expansion of fantasy sports into European and Asian countries, we can safely forecast the further sustainable growth of the industry.

Fantasy sports is getting especially popular in the countries, where ordinary bets are prohibited by the law or restricted in usage to special gambling zones. Those are mainly countries of the Near and Middle East, China, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, etc.

What is interesting about the fantasy sports model? The point is that it excites additional interest, providing an opportunity to test specific ideas manually and develop a fully functional interface for them. Examples are known when fantasy sport is played with a team formed from politicians and magnates. It allows extending boundaries of the game beyond the sport.

All experts and leading players agree that the current growth pattern of global fantasy sports highly resembles how online poker was developing in the mid-2000s. As far as poker has lots of legal restrictions in many countries today, being its decent alternative, fantasy sportshave attracted a great number of poker players.
Another segment of gamblers that is actively shifting to fantasy represents people who have been enjoying traditional sports betting for quite a long time.

Everything mentioned above suggests the following main industry trends of fantasy sports:

  • They are not prohibited by the law in the majority of countries, as they are not classified as games of chance;
  • They will appeal to everyone who is keen on sports, allowing people to develop their knowledge and apply it in wider spheres;
  • They excite interest among fans of computer, Internet and video games, allowing them to make money from their hobby;
  • Mathematics, probability calculation, knowledge of betting markets, psychology, bankroll management – all these skills can be applied in practice;
  • A comparatively young industry with huge growth potential.

Many players and ordinary residents of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other post-Soviet countries are keen on sports today. And the state policy, aimed at its further promotion, boosts the general interest. Therefore, expansion of short-term fantasy tournaments and leagues in CIS countries will lead to a big boom.

Growth performance

We can talk about growth performance basing on more developed markets of the USA and Canada. Due to the fact that the market is gathering pace in European and other countries, large scale researches have not been performed there yet. Experts usually factor the potential of this huge market into their forecasts, and the leading American operators, as it was mentioned earlier, began a drastic expansion into the countries of the Old World. 

According to the forecast from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, published in the beginning of 2015, the sum of buy-ins made by daily fantasy sports players can reach around $18 billion by 2020.

According to data from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming

This forecast was revised in February 2016 due to definite legislative restrictions that came into effect in some states of the USA. The first and the worst forecast says that the sum of buy-ins will reach $3 billion; the second, basic, forecast suggests $8 billion; and the third, the most optimistic one – $14 billion.

According to data from the FSTA, over 57 million people in the USA and Canada play fantasy sports today, spending an average of $556 a year on their hobby. The size of fantasy sports market was evaluated at $3-4 billion in 2015. There are lots of fantasy sports operators in North America, but around 95% of the market is controlled by two industry leaders – FanDuel and DraftKings. The third place is claimed by companies Fantasy Aces, Fantasy Feud, DraftDay, Yahoo, and Victiv. The latter was acquired by PokerStars’ owner Amaya and renamed into Draft Stars.

Analytics by regions

Fantasy sports are little known about in Russia and Europe, where the first draft rooms were opened in 2014. But the situation there is more favourable for growth: many European countries have already legalized daily fantasy sports and issue DFS licenses to operators. Denmark and Britain were the first European countries to legalize real money fantasy leagues. In Poland and German the DFS is considered to be a kind of entertainment rather than a game of chance, and does not require licensing. In Russia and other post-European countries the status of Daily Fantasy Sports is not defined.

Sports betting is prohibited in the majority of the USA states and this fact explains the enormous popularity of DFS websites. In Europe, where gambling laws substantially differ from the American laws, not so many people are acquainted with the DFS. But Europeans love gambling. In Great Britain and Ireland sports betting has been a part of national culture for many years.

According to data from RARIB (rarib.ru), experts claim that 5-6 million of British people are keen on seasonal fantasy sports. From 3% to 5% out of them play DFS. In contrast to the USA, where the main fantasy games are basketball, baseball, and American football, in Europe football is the leader. The audience of football fans is huge. The number of players registered in the Fantasy Premier League for the season 2015/2016 exceeds 3.6 million people.

Revenue generated by fantasy sports

While in Russia and post-Soviet countries people play for T-shirts, in the USA guaranteed tournaments promise $1 000 000 for the first place.

Just a few figures: back in 2014 the prize pool of one-week fantasy league on FanDuel website comprised $2.5 million. A winner received $500 thousand, and a buy-in comprised only $25. On DraftKings website a player could win $1 million. These figures illustrate the boom that daily fantasy sports are experiencing, and their huge turnover. DraftKings alone paid out more than $300 million in 2014, and FanDuel – over $564 million.

As experts and experienced players rightly note, smart bankroll management can turn fantasy sports into the main source of income.

Target audience of fantasy sports consists of not only students and pupils, but permanently employed people with higher education as well. And the latter category plays twice more often than all the rest.

Experience shows that they readily pay for:

  • data analysis software,
  • additional statistics,
  • participation in totalizer leagues with guaranteed cash prizes.

All these things bring high revenues to operators, allowing American platforms to sponsor several real sports clubs, as well as heavily invest in new markets.

According to data from the FSTA, users aged 18+ spend an average of $46 a year on additional materials. These expenditures are spread as follows:

Kind of materials

Expenditures

Premium account on a fantasy sports website

$14

Magazines aboutfantasy sports

$9

Draft boards with label sets

$7

Cheatsheets/Draftkits

$6

Draftboardsoftware

$5

Applications for tablets and smartphones

$4

Anyone can experience the thrill of gambling, which can take various forms, depending on available opportunities. Nowadays betting companies occupy leading positions in the Internet gambling market, leaving online casinos, poker and other forms of online gambling behind. Every sign indicates that in the nearest future fantasy sports will come in their place.

Slotegrator is a software distributor for gambling market. In several years it managed to gain a reputation of reliable partner and professional consultant in the process of launching new gambling projects.