Boston-based DraftKings was founded in 2012 and quickly grew to prominence as the leading fantasy site alongside chief competitor FanDuel. It did not take long for DraftKings.com to become a major player in the industry thanks to the hard work of its founders and massive amounts of funding from outside investors.
DraftKings has a well-deserved reputation for high quality games and massive payouts. No other daily fantasy sports site has created more millionaires than DraftKings.com.
- Trusted company headquartered in the USA
- Unique prizes such as VIP sports trip packages
- Useful stats tools make it easier to draft a strong lineup
- High paying guaranteed prize pool contests
- Largest contests are very hard to win
- Dark interface may turn off some players
DraftKings has been particularly effective in securing funding, aggressively advertising its wares and pivoting to take advantage of new opportunities. To date, DraftKings has secured nearly $700 million in funding to power its operations according to Crunchbase and now operates in all but a handful of states.
Today, DraftKings controls a large portion of the daily fantasy market with FanDuel.com providing its only real competition. The DraftKings.com website and its mobile apps host daily fantasy contests across 10 major sports for customers in the US, Canada, UK, Malta, Germany, Ireland and Austria.
Our DraftKings review will go into great detail explaining what it offers and how it all works, but some of the highlights include:
- Daily fantasy contests for the NFL, college football, MLB, NBA, college basketball, NHL, golf, tennis, NASCAR, soccer, MMA, CFL, League of Legends, AFL and EuroLeague
- “Millionaire Maker” contests every weekend with first-place payouts of $1 million
- Beginners only contests, heads-up contests, double-up contests, satellites to live events and variations of each
Is DraftKings Legal?
DraftKings.com is legal in the US aside from the handful of states listed below. Anti-gambling legislation passed in 2006 (the UIGEA) granted a carve-out to fantasy sports at the federal level and the vast majority of states have no issue with daily fantasy.
A small number of states do have laws in place that treat daily fantasy as a form of unlawful gambling, and DraftKings does not accept customers from those states. If you live in any of the following states, DraftKings will not allow you to participate in paid contests.
Restricted states: Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington
Restricted provinces in Canada: Quebec
Draft Kings offers daily fantasy sports betting for ten sports leagues. These include the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, college football, college basketball, the PGA, certain esports and more. In all sports, your goal is to assemble a team of the best players possible while remaining under your salary cap. As your picks earn points in the real world, your team earns points in the fantasy realm.
The difference between what DraftKings has to offer and the fantasy leagues you may have played with friends from work is DraftKings.com leagues last for just a single day or week. Instead of being stuck with one team for the entire season, you are free to make new selections every single day.
Contests are hosted at a variety of stakes ranging from $0.25 to $5,300. If you win, you get a real money payout based on the size and buyin of the contest. Heads-up matches are played in winner-take-all format while the largest tournaments produce hundreds of winners. Some of the biggest fantasy tournaments at DraftKings award six or seven-figure prizes to the winners.
DraftKings Sportsbook and Casino
In addition to daily fantasy sports, DraftKings also offers online sports betting and casino games in states where those activities are legal.
DraftKings Sportsbook commenced operations in New Jersey in 2018 and has spread outward from there to offer sports betting in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and beyond. We fully expect to see DraftKings offer sports betting and casino games in additional states as favorable legislation is passed across the country.
This DraftKings review focuses exclusively on the company’s daily fantasy operations, but we also have reviews for the sportsbook and casino for more information on those products. You can read more about each at the links below:
Free Entry + 20% up to $500 Welcome Bonus
DraftKings offers all new customers a free ticket entry into a $3 contest plus a 20% first deposit match bonus worth up to $500. You can claim this offer by signing up for an account and making a first deposit of at least $5. No promo code is necessary to receive your bonus.
Claim Your Bonus Today at:
The deposit match bonus is set at 20% the size of your first deposit. For example, a $100 deposit will get you an extra $20 while a $500 deposit will get you can extra $100. If you deposit $2,500 or more, you’ll max out the bonus to get an extra $500 in bonus funds.
Important things to know about the bonus are that it is issued as site credit and is released in increments as you participate in real money contests. This means the bonus cannot be withdrawn, but it can be used to win money that can be withdrawn. Every $25 you spend on entry fees unlocks $1 of bonus money until the full bonus has been released.
How DraftKings Works
The DraftKings website and mobile apps (available for iOS and Android) are fairly intuitive. If you have any prior experience with daily fantasy sports, you’ll see what’s going on here immediately. After logging in and making a deposit, the main lobby is where you’ll spend the majority of your time. This is where you browse open contests, manage your account and find the games you’d like to try.
The lobby uses a simple menu system to organize the different types of contests. Just select any menu item along the left side of the screen to switch between guaranteed tournaments, qualifiers, head-to-head matchups and so on. There’s also an option to filter the contests by sport. The advanced filters feature allows you to narrow down the list of upcoming competitions by time, entry fee and number of players.
Choose any detailed contest to view that contest’s details. The detail screen shows you all the relevant information such as number of registered players, how the prize money is awarded, which games this contest will cover and more. If you like what you see, you can begin drafting your team.
Standard contests at DraftKings.com comes with a virtual salary cap of $50,000. Each player comes with an associated cost related to that player’s overall perceived strength. The stars of the league can cost upwards of $9,000 while cheaper players can be picked up for a couple thousand dollars. Your goal here is to draft the best possible team while staying within your salary cap.
While drafting your team, you can click on an individual player’s name to see that player’s details. Doing so will bring up a min-bio for that player plus his recent stats and any relevant news from around the league. For example, here’s what I saw recently when I selected Patrick Mahomes:
The various types of contests at DraftKings all use the same basic format of picking teams and racking up points. Where they differ is in how prizes are awarded and the number of contestants in each match. All contests cover either a single day or weekend of games.
Guarantees are contests in which DraftKings.com promises a certain prize even if not enough players join to fill the event. These are popular because you always know you’re going to compete for at least a certain amount of money. Guarantees range in size from a minimum of $2,000 to more than a million dollars.
Qualifiers, also known as satellites, award entry to bigger tournaments in lieu of cash. For example, let’s say you’d like to compete in Sunday’s $400,000 guarantee but don’t want to risk $200. You could instead play in a $10 qualifier to compete for a free seat in the Sunday $400K.
A head-to-head matchup pits you against one other person. You and your opponent pay the entry fee, pick your teams and the winner takes all. These contests are a lot of fun because you don’t have to compete against a whole field of opponents for a chance to win money. You either take first place and win the whole pot or you take second place and lose your buyin.
Entry fees for head-to-head contests range from $1 to $5300.
A 50/50 contest doubles your entry fee if you end up with enough fantasy points to put you in the top half of finishers. It doesn’t matter how well you score as long as you don’t end up in the bottom half. These contests can host anywhere from 4 to 600 entrants.
Leagues are just basic tournaments that can accommodate as few as three contestants going on up to thousands of contestants. Smaller leagues offer payouts to the top 1 or 2 people while bigger leagues can pay out hundreds of the top finishers.
Multipliers are sort of like 50/50s except they return 3x or 10x your original entry fee. A 3x multiplier pays out 3x the buyin fee to the top third of the field. A 10x multiplier pays 10x the buyin fee to the top 10% of the field.
Step tournaments are structured as small, 6-10 player tournaments that award entry to the next level up. For example, Step 1 tournaments cost $2 and awards entry to step 2 tournaments. If you make it all the way to step 4 and win, you get $200.
The cool thing about step tournaments is you have the option to buy in at any level. You can start at the bottom for $2 or buy in direct to step 4 for $88. If you start at the bottom, you don’t necessarily have to take first place every time. There are consolation prizes on the way up that award tickets to try again at that level or move down a level. However, it is possible to be knocked all the way out if you have a poor finish at any level.
Tier contests do away with the salary cap altogether and instead place all available athletes into tiers based on their perceived value. You build your lineup by selecting one athlete from each tier and your lineup must contain players from at least two different teams.
If you don’t like the stress of trying to build an effective lineup under salary limitations, DraftKings Tiers just might be the answer. Picking from pools of players is a simpler but still strategic experience.
Showdown contests are run as salary cap games with a unique lineup format: you pick one team captain and fill five flex spots that can be filled by athletes from any position. The team captain earns 1.5x as many DFS points but also costs 1.5x as much salary. With the flex spots, you do not have to fill specific positions; you can fill each spot with anyone you want.
NFL Flash Draft Contests
Flash draft contests are the daily fantasy equivalent of in-play betting. That means contests start after the game and you can draft new lineups every few minutes throughout the game. Each draft consists of five rounds and in each round, you have 15 seconds to pick one player from three presented options with no salary cap considerations.
Your lineup scores points for that quarter of the game only and the more points you score, the higher you move up the leaderboard for a cash prize.
DraftKings beginners only contests are open exclusively to players who have participated in 50 or fewer contests in that specific sport. If you have played 25 NFL contests, for example, you can enter beginners only NFL contests even if you have played in 100 MBL contests.
Super Bowl Squares
In a major departure from its usual fantasy offerings, DraftKings introduced Super Bowl Squares ahead of the last Super Bowl. You may have seen squares played at Super Bowl parties and the idea here is almost the same.
In DraftKings Squares, each player is given a blank 10×10 grid with one team represented by the top row and the other team represented by the left column. Each player selects one box in the grid before the Big Game begins.
After kickoff, the numbers 0-9 are randomly assigned to the top row and left column. The score at the end of each quarter is then applied to one of those boxes by taking the final digit of each team’s score and plotting it on your grid.
For example: If the score after the first quarter was Patriots 10, Rams 7, that would correspond to the coordinates 0-7 on your grid. If you happened to pick that exact box, you would win a cash prize. Winning this game is 100% luck because the numbers on your grid aren’t even shown before you select your box, but it’s completely free to play for all DraftKings members.
Here’s how your grid looks after making a pick but before the numbers are assigned:
Major DraftKings Events
Each season, Draft Kings hosts at least one major event for each sport. The NFL has its own championship event, the MLB has another one and so on. These events are massive and grow larger every year. In some cases, you can win as much as a million dollars as the first-place winner.
These events change every year as DraftKings.com grows in popularity. The major events for the NFL and MLB remain mostly the same but the prizes tend to get bigger each year. Additionally, Draft Kings adds new special events to the lineup. For this review, I’ll recap just a few of the major DraftKings contests held in recent times. This should give you a pretty good idea of what some of the biggest events are like at Draft Kings.
$10 Million NFL Millionaire Maker
The weekly NFL Millionaire Maker lives up to its name with $10 million in guaranteed prizes and a first-place prize of $2,000,000. This contest costs just $20 to enter but you’ll be squaring off against more than half a million lineups for a piece of the prize pool.
Millionaire Maker prizes are paid to the top 20% or so of entries, so even if the first place prize is a longshot, you still have a very real chance of ending the day with a bigger bankroll. Millionaire Maker satellites also run throughout the week to give players with limited bankrolls a chance to win their way in for cheap.
$10 Million Fantasy Football World Championship
Each year, DraftKings hosts the Fantasy Football World Championship to end the NFL regular season with a bang. Last year’s FFWC guaranteed $10 million for 180 players who qualified online through satellites held at DraftKings.com between Week 1 and Week 14.
Every qualifier was then flown to Miami, given four nights of accommodations at the Loews Hotel and given entry to the $10 million live championship. First place paid $2,000,000 while second paid $1,000,000 and third paid $750,000. The best part of it all was everyone who qualified earned a payout of at least $15,000 – even the poor sap who finished dead last.
$4 Million Fantasy Baseball World Championship
The annual Fantasy Baseball World Championship hosted by DraftKings reigns as the biggest baseball fantasy contest in the world with $4 million in guaranteed prizes last year. In its most recent iteration, the FBWC sent 100 qualifiers to Chicago to compete in the main event and a $500,000 first place prize but nobody left with anything less than $15,000.
Qualifiers to the FBWC are held from April through May via satellite tournaments hosted at DraftKings.com. Win a qualifier and DraftKings will fly you to a baseball destination, give you a free hotel stay and cover your entry to the main event.
Other Major Live Events
DraftKings hosts major in-person contests for just about every sport on the menu throughout the year, and sometimes multiple live events for the most popular sports. In recent years, DraftKings has hosted major contests for the football, baseball, basketball and college football among others. One year, DraftKings even held online qualifiers for customers to win their way into the World Poker Tour in Atlantic City.
Deposits and Withdrawals
You can fund your DraftKings account with a credit card, debit card or PayPal.
Credit and Debit Cards: DraftKings.com accepts VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. They also accept prepaid gift cards, but make sure you save those cards before you deposit. DraftKings.com will attempt to credit that same card when you withdraw your winnings.
PayPal: PayPal can be used to fund deposits instantly and receive withdrawals. If you choose this method, you’ll be redirected to a PayPal page where you will log in to confirm the deposit amount.
Choosing a daily fantasy site ultimately comes down to making a choice between DraftKings and FanDuel. There are other options out there, but the Big Two are the best bets for the vast majority of mainstream sports fans.
I personally have always been partial to DraftKings due to its software and larger prize pools. FanDuel has its strong points as well, but DraftKings is home to the biggest contests and the most diverse range of contests. Additionally, DraftKings covers a wider range of sports (even including esports).
You will not go wrong at either site, but my favorite out of the two is DraftKings.com.