Betting on Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS for short, has been legal in the United States for many years now, unlike other forms of internet wagering, such as online poker and casino gambling. Those types of wagering were generally outlawed by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which specifically carved out a niche for DFS. In 2013, Nevada chose to legalize and regulate online poker, while Delaware and New Jersey introduces a broader spectrum of iGaming that included poker and casino games. Interestingly enough, according to the most recent analytic data, New Jersey alone is prepped to generate twice the revenue of nation-wide DFS betting in 2014.
DFS is legal in most states, and even the roughest of estimation would assume there are hundreds of thousands of sports betting enthusiasts across the nation. Millions of users sign up for free fantasy sports leagues across all types of major sports every year. So how is it that DFS is only projected to generate around $70,000 in 2014, half that of the $140,000 New Jersey is expected to pull in from its online poker and casino market, based on the DGE’s monthly revenue reports for the year? The answer a simple one – lack of awareness.
Despite the fact that DFS has been explicitly legal since 2006, not many are actually aware that it’s legal to bet real money on Daily Fantasy Sports. Until this year, when some operators began a multi-million dollar marketing campaign on ESPN, very few had even heard of its existence. But even now, as the word gets out, there’s a palpable shadow of doubt over its legality.
In reality, DFS has a lot more advantages for the US online betting community than iGaming operations restricted to New Jersey. It is legal in over 40 states, with only a few jurisdictions specifically prohibiting DFS (Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Vermont). Most major sports are covered by DFS websites, including football, basketball, baseball, golf, hockey, soccer, even automotive racing and collegiate sports. Because DFS is not defined as ‘gambling’ due to its requirement of skill, not just on the part of the bettor, but the athletes the pick, most DFS sites offer the most preferred online payment processor in the US, PayPal, as a deposit and withdrawal option. Now there’s something you won’t find in New Jersey’s online poker or casino market.
The point I’m trying to get at is that the Garden State has been dejected for its performance in the iGaming sector. Before online wagering launched last November, every so-called industry expert, and even the governor of New Jersey himself, grossly overestimated the revenue that would come from online poker and casino gambling. As such, the media has viewed the market as an utter disappointment.
I’m well aware that DFS and New Jersey’s iGaming market are completely different entities. Online poker enthusiasts and slots lovers are a great contrast from fantasy sports buffs, but with the 1-year anniversary of iGaming in the Garden State now less than one month away, it’s a comparison that could finally give NJ regulators the credit they deserve.