It seems that you can’t open up the sports pages these days without reading yet more about the inexorable rise of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) – the contests that allow sports fans to pick their “dream teams” and compete against each other over a day or a weekend.
The biggest market for DFS, by some distance, is the United States. But DFS contests are also rapidly increasing in popularity in India (thanks to the Indian Premier League) and US company DraftKings has just announced its intention to expand into Australia.
Boston-based DraftKings and its rival, New York-based FanDuel, are the two biggest DFS operators in the US, but now it looks as though they may shortly be facing competition from a European rival, with PlayOn announcing plans to expand into the US later this year.
Spearheading this move for PlayOn will be its just-announced link-up with Formula One and its program of Grand Prix races, spanning the globe from Australia to Europe and Brazil to China in a season that runs from March through November.
PlayOn launched in 2012
PlayOn may be a new name to DFS fans in the States, but the platform is already well-established in Europe and Australia. Launched in 2012 and operating from offices in the UK and Ireland, it offers daily contests on football, cricket, rugby, and tennis, among other sports. It linked with the European Tour in 2016 to offer DFS contests on golf. PlayOn is also the official DFS partner of the NBA throughout much of Europe.
To the majority of sports fans who are not “petrolheads,” F1 is not an exciting sport. Far too many races are won by the two drivers who currently dominate the sport, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and, despite the best efforts of the sport’s organizers, there is too little overtaking and excitement for the majority of uncommitted fans.
It is, however, an ideal sport for DFS, with a race weekend that offers qualifying on Saturday and the race itself on Sunday. There are opportunities to score points for positions in qualifying, final positions in the race, fastest lap, most team points, and so on.
As with all DFS contests, there will be a salary cap, so a player cannot simply pick Hamilton and Vettel, sit back and wait for his or her winnings. With a salary cap, all the players and teams are assigned a monetary value, and the aggregate value of your selections cannot exceed the salary cap. So, while you might quickly lose interest in an F1 race if Hamilton goes off into the lead and stays there, the DFS salary cap ensures that the scrap for tenth place between Force India and Toro Rosso might make all the difference between winning and losing in the contest.
PlayOn targets the US
At the same time as it announced the tie-up with F1, PlayOn also announced that it would be looking to expand into the US, offering DFS contests in those states where they are legal. PlayOn clearly expects many other states to make them legal in the near future.
PlayOn CEO Killian Jones said: “We are beginning the process of entering the US market and [we are] optimistic of the US growth prospects over the coming years.”
It is a logical move, especially given the existing link-up with the NBA, and, with the F1 contests likely to increase PlayOn’s visibility among US DFS fans, it could be that FanDuel and DraftKings will be facing some serious competition in the coming years.