In fantasy football, for example, points will generally be awarded for playing in a football match (or part of a match), scoring a goal, making an assist (i.e. directly contributing to a goal through a pass), keeping a clean sheet (i.e. not conceding a goal - for goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders only), saving a penalty (for goalkeepers) and goalkeepers saving 3 shots or more in a match.
Points are also awarded if your team wins. Points will be deducted for conceding a goal in a match (goalkeepers and defenders only), receiving a yellow or red card in a match, missing a penalty kick, scoring an own goal, being substituted, and being on the losing side in the match. People can transfer and substitute players as well, just like with real sports.
Fantasy sports have been popular since before the internet days; for over half a century, in fact. There were fantasy golf games being devised in the late 1950s. Soon afterwards, in the early 1960s, the first fantasy American football leagues were founded. They were modest in popularity at first, but they got more and more popular throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. Before the availability of the internet, there would be special publications and newspaper columns dedicated to the statistics which were pivotal to fantasy sports.
With the growth of the internet in the mid-1990s, online fantasy sports exploded in popularity. This is because statistics were much easier to obtain, and so fantasy sports became easier to play. Also, it was easier to organise national fantasy sports leagues. Although there was a slight blip in the early 2000s, when many of the early internet companies went bust, fantasy sports have generally continued to grow in popularity in line with the rise of the internet.
It is big business in the USA, with an estimated 19% of adult men playing fantasy sports, and around 10% of the actual population. Accordingly, all of the big American sports have fantasy sports leagues – baseball, American football, ice hockey and basketball. It isn’t just in the USA though; fantasy football (soccer to our American friends) is also very popular in Europe. In the UK, it accounts for around 80% of all fantasy sports players.
The FA Premier League in England has its own official fantasy league, where people can pick players from different teams. They are allowed no more than 3 players from one team. Fantasy cricket is also immensely popular in the UK, the Indian sub-continent and Australia. In Australia, people play Fantasy Aussie Rules Football too. Fantasy F1, Fantasy golf and Fantasy wrestling are other popular fantasy sports games internationally.
Most fantasy sports take place over a whole season. For a football season, this will be from around August to May time. You draft your team at the beginning of the season, and it won’t be until the end of the season that you will know if your team is the winner (based on the performance of your players). However, there are also daily fantasy sports.
This is where people enter into a competition at the beginning of the day, and that day’s games will determine the winners. This appeals to people who want quick gratification and don’t want to wait all season to find out the result. The daily fantasy sports market in particular has seen very big growth in recent years, and this is where fantasy sports winnings are most frequent and likely.
Betting serious money on fantasy sports online is a fairly new phenomenon. Most fantasy sports competitions involve some sort of buy-in, and in the traditional office pools the winner would take the pot. Now with online betting and gambling so prevalent, some online fantasy sports sites have set themselves up as specialists and people are winning money. In Europe, online fantasy sports sites are regulated in the same way as sportsbook, but the actual set-up is quite different, and fantasy sports winnings from the official leagues are in prizes as well as cash.
It seems that there is no doubt that fantasy sports will continue to grow in the future. The financial stats make some healthy reading. It is a $7 billion-plus industry, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. Indeed, it is projected to grow to a $14 billion industry by 2020. It certainly looks like it’s here for the long haul!