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DFS vs. Regular Sports Betting

When it comes to turning your sports knowledge into a profit, you have two major options: Daily Fantasy Sports or regular sports betting. The two often get lumped together, but this kind of thinking ignores some key differences.

Let’s take a closer look:

Skill

Calculator alongside accountancy graphs and a pen

Arguments separating DFS from gambling often point out that it is a game of skill, rather than luck. Indeed, the process of creating a fantasy team involves a lot of in-depth research, and some players even use software to create algorithms that form successful line-ups. It’s no coincidence that many of the top DFS players have backgrounds in finance and analytics.

Anyone can play, but to consistently do well one needs skills that are developed over time. Players track numerous factors that affect games, such as weather and injuries. They may even follow athletes during their college careers and later attempt to cash in on a rookie’s early triumphs before they become full-blown sports stars. As you can see, maths, computing and analytical skills sure do come in handy!

When it comes to regular sports betting, you still need to follow games closely and make good judgement calls to do well. However, it’s gambling at the end of the day, so it is largely up to chance. Especially with single bets, the process doesn’t tend to involve as much preparation and thought. There will always be those who take it very seriously and religiously study odds and trends. But for those who place match day bets with their friends, for example, it’s often a case of working on impulse or simply backing their favourite teams.

Cost

A pile of £10 and £5 notes spread out

DFS and sports betting both involve parting with your cash and accepting that you may lose. Spending money on anything slightly risky requires careful consideration, and you should never fork out more than you can afford. Both allow you to spend as much or as little as you want—though with DFS you often need to spend big to win big (that is, if you’re aiming for millions!).

Regular sports betting offers single bets that are very straightforward to place. This simplicity can be dangerous because it means you are able to spend your money quickly, without much thought. New odds are even offered mid-game, by which point you may have had a drink or three! When you’re caught up in the excitement of a match it can be tempting to simply click a button and spend more money.

With DFS it usually takes longer to spend your money because you need to put a team together—which demands a more considered process. This gives you the opportunity to think carefully about how much money you want to spend. Then again, whether you decide to utilise the time in this way is up to you! Obviously we must remain aware that DFS is a business. As a result, it is similar to regular sports betting in that there will be further tournaments on offer and higher stakes and prizes advertised to tempt you into spending more money.

Legal Issues

Open law book with hammer resting on it

In the USA, DFS is legal in many states because it is not considered to be gambling. However, law makers across the country are looking to change this, with New York being one of the latest to ban it. On the other hand, states like Pennsylvania and Florida are drawing up bills to protect or at least legalise DFS. This is in contrast to sports betting, which is banned across most of the USA due to the damaging potential of gambling. The fact that they remain largely separate in the eyes of the law is further proof that they should be considered different pursuits in general.

That said, the two are obviously closely linked. The reason many think DFS is not as popular in the UK as it is in the USA is because sports betting has been legal in the UK for a very long time. DFS provides a fun alternative to sports gambling for American players. In the UK, however, DFS has to compete with incredibly successful gambling companies that are able to flood the market with advertisements and offers.

Variety

Variety of sports balls and a tennis racket

A major pro of sports betting in comparison to DFS is that it is a lot more flexible and offers more variety in terms of style of bet and the sports involved. You can basically set up bets on any kind of sport and even non-sporting events—as long as someone can come up with odds, it’s fair game! The most common options are single, accumulator and system bets. You can find out what each one involves in our guide to betting.

DFS cannot be as flexible because it’s usually based on a pre-arranged structure. Tournaments are set up to accommodate multiple players, each with line-ups selected from lists of players with set prices. The disparity in choice is something DFS companies are aware of and they are branching out to include other sports. For example, why not check out our guides to DFS Nascar or Tennis?

In the UK, there are lots of betting companies offering different sports and odds. In contrast, the top ranks of the DFS industry are not at all crowded, with DraftKings reigning supreme. If they don’t offer what you’re looking for, you might have to search far and wide for a satisfying alternative.

Risk vs. Payoff

View from below of person walking tightrope

Both DFS and regular sports betting involve an element of risk. This is what contributes to the thrill, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Then again, it depends how likely you are to profit from your efforts. If you’re constantly losing money that thrill can turn to despair very quickly!

An important difference lies in the fact that with fantasy sport you’re playing against other DFS-ers like you (kind of), whereas regular sports betting pits you against bookmakers. These people are experts on betting and odds, which makes them formidable opponents. Indeed, their very livelihoods rest on the expectation that most gamblers will lose. Then again, the presence of so-called ‘sharks‘ in DFS almost replicates this unfair odds system.

In order to win significant money with sports betting you also have to take higher risks. Betting on favourites yields little compensation unless you are throwing down major cash.

When it comes to DFS, your wins may feel even sweeter because you have invested more—all that time spent forming and nurturing your line-up. The obvious presence of your competitors on leader boards and tournament pages is also a reminder that lots of people are trying to beat you, so you may be more careful with your cash.

A consistent stream of modest wins is probably what you should be aiming for if you’re not a DFS pro. The big DFS success stories, though incredible, are fairly rare.

DFS vs. Regular Sports Betting

NFL teams in a scrimmage

Well, there you have it! Next time you’re torn between playing DFS or simply putting a bet on, remember:

  • DFS takes more skill as it requires strategy and planning.
  • Both involve spending money and taking risks, but only regular sports betting is strictly considered gambling.
  • Regular sports betting provides more options in terms of style of play and choice of sport.
  • DFS offers a more even playing field because you are competing against other DFS-ers, rather than a bookmaker.

Alternatively, if you’re flush with cash—you can always do both!

For the best tips and tricks of the trade, keep checking in with DailyFantasyUK!

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