Sports betting has been gradually spreading across America on a state-by-state basis. It took the Supreme Court to even make this possible, but once it was decided that gambling was no longer banned on a federal level, state governments gained the right to decide the issue for themselves. So far, several have either legalized betting or taken steps in that direction – and if one simply looks at the trajectory, it certainly looks as if the U.S. is on its way to near-universal legalization within 5 or 10 years.
That doesn’t necessarily mean on its own that betting will become a mainstream activity. Certainly there will be plenty of people who already engage in betting (sometimes illegally) who are ready and waiting to start placing wagers when their respective states make it possible to do so. When it comes to the broader public though, there will need to be incentives, advertisements, and most of all trusted platforms if sports betting is to become a regular activity.
That last point is what makes daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites so interesting as part of this conversation. These platforms – most notably FanDuel and DraftKings – have already taken steps to provide sports betting on top of their fantasy games, and figure to establish significant influence due to the following points:
- People already trust these sites.
Billions are spent each year on DFS games, indicating millions of regular players. Millions more are probably at least vaguely aware of these sites through friends or family, even if they don’t play themselves. All of this makes these platforms more familiar and more trustworthy than, say, overseas sportsbooks, to most Americans.
- American leagues are embracing them.
Recent MLB betting headlines indicate that the baseball organization has announced both DraftKings and FanDuel as authorized gambling operators; the NBA announced a partnership with FanDuel in December of last year; and the NFL has made DraftKings an official partner – though only for DFS so far.
- Many bet illegally.
This is a point we touched on above, but to put things in clearer relief, one recent report put the number at $150 billion each year wagered illegally. People making these bets may actually be comfortable with other sportsbooks if and when they become legal. But they may also flock to trusted, legitimate companies like FanDuel and DraftKings as a means of escaping less legitimate sportsbooks.
All of these factors bode well for well-known DFS sites. That doesn’t mean there won’t be other sportsbooks that thrive also. Some of the non-American entities will probably thrive in the long run, a few new companies figure to emerge, and some leagues may even offer bookmaking services directly. But perhaps more than all of these alternatives, FanDuel and DraftKings are set up to gain the trust of new American bettors.