Daily fantasy sports games rise in popularity

sports bettingABC News – When lawmakers carved out an exemption for fantasy sports in a 2006 law targeting online poker, no one predicted that it would spawn an online gambling operation that may someday rival the millions wagered daily in Las Vegas sports books.

But huge money changes hands every day in daily fantasy sports games and, unlike a bet on your favorite team to win a game, it’s legal in all but five states. The exploding popularity of the games has attracted investments from traditional media heavyweights Sports Illustrated and USA Today, both of which recently started their own pay-to-play sites.

The key has been the development of weekly and daily fantasy games with paid entry fees and cash payouts. Traditional fantasy sports competitions — those that the 2006 exemption was trying to protect — involve season-long competitions. The online competitions that have been around for more than a decade sometimes offered cash prizes to a handful of victors in a large field, almost like a sweepstakes.

Those kinds of competitions aren’t attractive for gamblers trying to make fast money. But, for some gamblers, the daily and weekly games are even more attractive than betting on who will win the game.

The gamblers can play from anywhere — unlike sports gambling, which is legal only in Nevada and Delaware. The legal age to play online fantasy games is 18, unlike 21 for gambling. And, most important, the winners in fantasy games don’t have to beat the casino. They simply have to beat most other players.

If online experts have a system or statistical analysis that most players don’t, that’s enough of an advantage to lead to consistent wins.

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