Fantasy sports sites allow Average Joes like you and I to put on our manager caps and run our own teams. If you work in an office (or really anywhere with other people), the odds are you’ve heard people talking about their fantasy teams.
The basic idea with daily fantasy sports leagues is to pick your own team of players for the season. Then, you earn points as your players amass stats in real life. If you have LeBron James on your fantasy basketball team, for example, and he has a 35 point game, you get a bunch of points for your fantasy league.
You win a fantasy league when your team racks up the most points. Every fantasy league calculates points a little differently, but generally you earn points as your players earn stats in real life. The person with the most points at the end of the season wins the fantasy league and usually some money.
That’s how traditional fantasy sports works. But, things have changed. Now, there are numerous websites that offer daily fantasy sports betting. The best part of all is that you can play for real money online… and it’s all legal.
Daily Fantasy Sports For Real Money
Daily fantasy sports betting is a twist on those traditional fantasy leagues that you might have joined in the past. The biggest difference is that daily fantasy sports only last for a day (or a week in some cases). This allows you to place a bet, see how it all plays out and get paid that same day.
You can give it a try by visiting a website like FanDuel.com to see what types of competitions are available today. So if it’s NFL season, you’ll see a lot of open NFL fantasy bets. After you join the competition, you can select the players for your team. The only restriction is that you must stay within the salary cap.
Once you have your team, you’re all set. Just wait for the next games to play out and see how all the players on your fantasy team perform. You’ll rack up points as your players rack up stats in real life. You will win the bet if your team earns more points than everyone else.
Competitions can be set up in a variety of formats. You can go head-to-head against just one other person or you can join a tournament-style competition with up to 2,000 other people. Payouts will vary based on how the competition is set up. It might be winner-take-all in the case of head-to-head matchups or there might be prizes for the top performers in a bigger tournament-style event.
In any case, the goal is to get as many points as possible. You’ll have to pick your team carefully because you’re required to stay within the fantasy salary cap. That means you can’t just pick all the all-stars and cruise to an easy win. You’ll need to make the most of your salary to get a well-rounded team capable of racking up stats.
Update: We have a full guide to getting started with fantasy sports. This explains exactly how online fantasy sports betting works and how to get started with your first real money contest. Check it out here:
Are Fantasy Sports Sites Legal?
Yes. Fantasy sports betting is legal in the United States. The biggest real money fantasy sites are US-based companies that operate in open view of the law. You don’t have to play at shady offshore sportsbooks to participate; everything here is US-based and US-legal.
Traditional sports betting is a different story. The Wire Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act both make it illegal to own or operate a real money online sportsbook in the United States. That’s why all the US-friendly sports betting sites are located overseas.
Some Americans still bet on sports over the internet, but we do not recommend going that route. The problem with online sports betting is that it all takes place overseas. If anything happens to your money, there is nothing you can do. And unfortunately, A LOT of customers have been stiffed by online sportsbooks.
Fantasy sports betting is different because it received a special exemption from the UIGEA. The people who wrote the UIGEA specifically mentioned fantasy sports betting and gave it an exemption from the law. Daily fantasy sports bets are the closest thing to traditional sports betting. In some ways, it’s even more exciting because you get to pick and choose your own teams.
Fantasy Sports Sites We Reccomend
After the UIGEA was passed, we saw multiple fantasy betting sites pop up in the United States. Two of those sites became the biggest and those are the sites that we recommend first. Here’s a little about each site:
Fan Duel – FanDuel.com opened for business in 2009 and quickly grew to become one of the biggest players in the fantasy betting market. FanDuel.com is based in New York City and has a solid reputation for processing payments and running fair events.
At FanDuel, you have two options for participating in events. You can either join competitions that other people have started or you can create your own with your own rules. The buyins for these events range from $1 to $200 and even higher from time to time. Payouts for winning bets vary based on the rules of the event and the number of people registered.
DraftKings – DraftKings.com is a Boston-based company that that hosts daily fantasy matchups every day of the week in a variety of sports. The main focus at DraftKings is on the NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA basketball and NCAA football. One thing you’ll like about DraftKings is that the website is super easy to use. You don’t even need to log in to see all open competitions and or to practice drafting your own team.
Deposits and withdrawals are processed via credit cards, debit cards (including prepaid gift cards) and PayPal. When you withdraw your earnings, DraftKings.com sends the money back to whatever you used to deposit in the first place.
DraftKings also hosts several major promo events every season for each sport. During the last baseball season, for example, they hosted a $200 tournament with a guaranteed first place prize of $125,000. That is some serious money for fantasy sports.
Draft Day – DraftDay.com is the other big fantasy site that we recommend. The basic idea is the same, but DraftDay does do a few things differently. For example, DraftDay hosts modified salary cap events that give you more or less money to work with than a standard competition. So if you are short on time and can’t spend all day researching stats, you can go with a low-cap game and play a smaller team against other people who also have smaller teams.
The other thing people seem to like about DraftDay is that the website hosts a few large jackpots that can result in significant earnings for members of the site. DraftDay also hosts multi-person tournaments that range from 3 to 100+ entrants. Every once in a while, DraftDay will hold special tournaments with guaranteed prizes worth upwards of $150,000.
Which states allow daily fantasy sports?