With an estimated 57 million people participating in fantasy sports this year, fantasy sports leagues and now daily fantasy sports have taken sports betting into the stratosphere, and Yahoo Fantasy Sports is quickly gaining on the leaders of the industry.
Ask almost any serious sports fan about fantasy sports and get comfortable because you will undoubtedly be besieged with information about their most recent fantasy picks and leagues. I speak from experience when I say Yahoo Fantasy Sports is inundated with fantasy football junkies especially, this time of year. Genius is the only word that can and should be used to describe the individual who first conceptualized micro betting on individual player performance and daily games. Approximately forty-five states now have fantasy sports companies, and every year real people enter real money competitions and draft virtual sports teams online that last only a few hours, turning fantasy sports betting into a multi-billion dollar business.
Although private companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, lead the industry in market shares, the recent announcement by Yahoo that it will add to its league format by offering real money betting on daily and weekly sports games should have the two companies concerned. Although currently Yahoo daily fantasy games are limited to the U.S., the tech company’s web portal search engine is used globally and expects to attract billions. The move by Yahoo who has been hosting fantasy sports for over 16 years , and whose fantasy user base is the largest and has grown exponentially since its 6.235 strong in 2013, is poised for success.
Yahoo’s advantage is the personalization of its content, relative ease of use and its already established relationship with major sports organizations that include the big four, the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. Yahoo already has a huge user base and unlike DraftKings and FanDuel, don’t have to spend as much recruiting players. The majority of the two sites users’ probably already play Yahoo fantasy sports and could now include real money betting to their established fantasy profiles on Yahoo. After all, what could be better than having an all-encompassing fantasy site united into a single app? According to current president and CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, 30 billion is already being spent every year by users on fantasy sports, and 1.3 million have tested daily fantasy.
With fantasy sports as a whole estimated at approximately $3.6 billion, DraftKings and FanDuel have legitimate shares at recent estimates of $1.2 billion and $1 billion, respectively. The two private company’s main advantage over Yahoo is their ability to pursue grey markets. For now a hitch in the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 exempts fantasy sports, but who knows how long it will take before the argument over skill and luck sways the pendulum towards the latter, so private companies like DraftKings and FanDuel have that advantage.