FanDuel turns fantasy sports betting into a social game

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The people that brought you HubDub, the prediction site that effectively turns news content into a game, have had a new idea. FanDuel is a premium, paid-for game focused on fantasy sports. Running in private beta for the last month, the game opens up today. The site is totally focused on U.S. sports (baseball, NFL).

Although the competitive space for daily fantasy sports is fairly new, there’s clearly an opportunity there – some 20m people play fantasy games, making it a $2bn industry. Currently big players such as Yahoo, CBS and ESPN dominate the market.

But if you play Mafia Wars and other social games on Facebook, going back to playing traditional fantasy sports on CBS feels like going back to when dinosaurs walked the earth. There’s clearly a gap waiting for something better and more social.

The trouble is most fantasy sports require a lot of time commitment as you have to play for the whole season, meaning a long time to get anything out of it.

FanDuel addresses this problem by letting users play and win in a day instead of the whole season. Players can draft a new team at any point, face-off with another player, but for real money (there is a $25 limit to stakes). The player whose team has the most fantasy points at the end of the day’s games wins the cash prize, so no season long commitment. The game is integrated with Twitter and Facebook, allowing you to brag about your wins. Right now it only covers Baseball but the fantasy football game will launch when the football season starts.

The site books revenues from taking a 10% commission on each of the match-ups, although when you sign up they give you $10 or you can play for free.

But hold on just a second – how is this all legal in the U.S.?

It’s real simple. Because of the fantasy sports carve out of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Act, FanDuel.com is completely legal to play in the U.S. How? It uses exactly same rules as any other season long fantasy sports game, the only difference is that the games last only a day (for baseball) or a week (for football).

Meanwhile Hubdub – actually based in Scotland although all its products are aimed at the US – won a series A round from from PenTech Ventures in January 2009 and now has a quarter of a million users and partnerships with Huffington Post and Reuters. It came up with the fan duel idea after the most recent SxSW where they met with HubDub users.

  • firstor

    First! :X

  • http://www.newscred.com Shafqat

    Pretty awesome idea and nicely implemented. There’s a surprisingly large casual fantasy sports market so the idea of quick games could be big. Are there any similar services offering 1 day or 1 week games (none that I am aware of).

    Anyway, I’m a huge fantasy football fan, so looking forward to the NFL version. Pretty impressed that they were able to get this up and running in such a short time.

  • http://youtalk411.com/?p=11344 YouTalk 411 » Blog Archive » FanDuel Turns Premium Fantasy Sports Social — And It’s Legal (TechCrunch)

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  • http://mycodetree.com/2009/07/fanduel-turns-fantasy-sports-betting-into-a-social-game/ Fan­Duel turns fan­tasy sports bet­ting into a social game | CodeTree

    […] story at http://uk.techcrunch.com @import ‘http://heyzap.com/elightbox/lightbox.external.css’; var heyzap_link = new […]

  • http://pricechirp.com sevatt

    Can I pick the entire Houston Texan’s team, play against a “House” team consisting entirely of the Dallas Cowboy’s team, and have “fantasy” points derived solely from game scores. Maybe 60 points for TD, 30 for a field goals, 10 for pt after try. etc… On the weekend that Houston plays Dallas. If so, they should be open for a lot of traffic this year. :)

  • http://www.digitalmediabuzz.com/2009/07/fanduel-turns-fantasy-sports-betting-into-a-social-game/ Digital Media Buzz - FanDuel turns fantasy sports betting into a social game | Digital Media Buzz

    […] By: uk.techcrunch.com The people that brought you HubDub, the prediction site that effectively turns news content into a game, have had a new idea. FanDuel is a premium, paid-for game focused on fantasy sports. Running in private beta for the last month, the game opens up today. The site is totally focused on U.S. sports (baseball, NFL). Although the competitive space for daily fantasy sports is fairly new, there’s clearly an opportunity there – some 20m people play fantasy games, making it a $2bn industry. Currently big players such as Yahoo, CBS and ESPN dominate the market……….[read entire story] […]

  • http://www.midasoracle.org/2009/07/21/hubdub-launches-fanduel-exclusively-thru-tech-crunch-uk-which-is-of-course-upbeat-on-its-future-heres-a-more-critical-take/ HubDub launches FanDuel exclusively thru Tech Crunch UK, which is, of course, upbeat on its future. Here’s a more critical take. | Midas Oracle .ORG

    […] HubDub has no business model, other than trying to get bought up by some bigger fish. Which is why Nigel Eccles and his smart team have devised a social fantasy sport game, FanDuel. Its business model (allowed under the Unlawful Internet […]

  • ju

    I have a feeling social games are gonna be big!

    —————–
    http://www.geekpolice.net

  • john

    nothing new in here, there are much more innovative games out there, such as
    http://www.oneseason.com & http://www.playSPEX.com

    • http://sportsblognet.com Joe M

      You might be right. But in order to do well in those games you have to learn new systems and that takes time.

  • EJ

    This seems far from legal:
    `(ix) participation in any fantasy or simulation sports game or educational game or contest in which (if the game or contest involves a team or teams) no fantasy or simulation sports team is based on the current membership of an actual team that is a member of an amateur or professional sports organization (as those terms are defined in section 3701 of title 28) and that meets the following conditions:
    `(I) All prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the game or contest and their value is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by those participants.
    `(II) All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes in the case of sports events) in multiple real-world sporting or other events.
    `(III) No winning outcome is based–

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c109:4:./temp/~c109PY4PsM:e1962:

  • http://www.wordpress-for-beginners.com/ Scott

    I don’t know how you can compare something like Mafia Wars with a season-long Fantasy Football game. Mafia wars doesn’t come close to building the same level of anticipation, and it doesn’t correlate with real life the way a Fantasy league does.

  • David Hersh

    I wonder about the legality of this as well. One of the things that takes fantasy sports out of the realm of games of chance is the fact that it is spread out over the course of a pro season. This allows the participant’s skill (i.e. drafting, trades, lineup selection, etc.) to outweigh chance (i.e. your QB breaks his leg in week 3). A contest based on a single day may not pass the skill vs. chance test.

    Its been six years since I was in the biz though, so maybe the thinking on this has changed.

  • Ben Standefer

    Citizen Sports has the best fantasy sports games on Facebook, hands down.

    http://citizensports.com/

    There is Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Football, Fantasy Soccer, and simpler Salary Cap styles for a lot of sports. They also had the best NCAA bracket app this year which integrated with Sportacular and Facebook connect on the iPhone. Citizen’s apps kick ass. This space is gonna grow a bunch, and Citizen is the leader right now.

    -Ben

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike_Kerns/571148335 Mike Kerns

    thanks for comment ben. we just launched our Fantasy Premier League product on facebook this week and will be launching our Fantasy NFL iphone app next week.

    Best,

    Mike

  • John

    How is this any different than Draft Mix? http://www.draftmix.com/

  • Elliot Ness

    I may be a bit behind the times, but somebody will have to reconcile the following two statements:

    1. The law says the game is not legal unless the prize “value is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by those participants”.

    2. The game site says, “The player whose team accumulates the most fantasy points wins $9 (in the $5 entry game) or $18 (in the $10 entry game) or $45 (in the $25 entry game).”

    WTF?

  • http://bub.blicio.us/fanduel-gives-fantasy-sports-fans-quick-fix-chance-to-make-some-cash/ FanDuel Gives Fantasy Sports Fans Quick Fix, Chance to Make Some Cash

    […] today’s launch of FanDuel, a new fantasy sports wagering site by the folks over at HubDub, on TechCrunch definitely caught my attention. FanDuel’s approach to the fantasy sports is combining the quick […]

  • http://www.fanduel.com Nigel Eccles

    Thanks everyone for the comments.

    Regarding the ‘How is this different from X’ questions:
    OneSeason – We are big fans of OneSeason and the team behind it. I think it is a pretty revolutionary idea however it is completely different from Fanduel. OneSeason is a stock exchange for sports stars. Fanduel is daily draft fantasy sports game.

    Citizen Sports – Again some great products (particularly ProTrade) but as far as I am aware all of them are free ad supported products. Our own experience is that it is very hard to offer significant prizes to users when your only revenue stream is advertising.

    DraftMix – DraftMix is similar in that it is a daily draft game. The key difference is that DraftMix required all players to be online at the same time to complete a live synchronous draft. FanDuel is asynchronous (like most successful social Facebook games) so users can draft at any time they want.

    On the legal side, FanDuel is structured the same as any other premium online fantasy sports game (for example CBS who offer $500 to enter games). We have taken significant legal advice and are comfortable that it is legal in the 44 States where we offer paid for games. And no, you can’t draft all the players from the same team… :-)

  • http://FantasyIQ.com Cyrus

    FanDuel, this is a great idea, and well executed. We at FantasyIQ.com can’t wait to play your NFL game.

    Since FantasyIQ.com will allow fantasy managers to track and share their fantasy decisions in real-time (and scout the expert’s decisions as well!), I think there are great opportunities to work together here.

    Enjoy FanDuel this season, all!

  • Hill

    It looks like http://snapdraft.com to me!

  • http://www.midasoracle.org/2009/07/22/fanduel-techcrunch-uk-comments/ Nigel Eccles addresses all the TechCrunch UK comments about FanDuel —except mine, of course. | Midas Oracle .ORG

    […] Nigel Eccles: […]

  • James

    Interesting idea, but I’m sticking with Oneseason. They have a superior product and are already well-established. http://www.oneseason.com

  • http://www.sportsagentblog.com/2009/07/24/shabbat-shalom-friday-wrap-up-71409/ Shabbat Shalom: Friday Wrap-Up (7/14/09) – SportsAgentBlog.com | Sports Agent News

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