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Analyst says online fantasy sports betting lucrative for experts at expense of amateurs

Posted at 9:42 PM, Oct 24, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- People put a lot of money on the line to play online fantasy sports games, and sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are spending a lot of money on advertising in order to get you to play.

FanDuel and DraftKings are two of the major players in the business, spending at least $100 million on ads in September, according to industry analysts.

“There’s now a huge bunch of capital behind both these sites, so that’s why they can afford to spend what you’re seeing on the commercials,” said Dustin Gouker, a reporter for legalsportsreport.com.

Gouker reports on daily fantasy sports for legalsportsreport.com, and he said he’s watched the industry grow, with FanDuel and DraftKings netting hundreds of millions in investments to recruit new players.

The target demographic for fantasy sports is mostly male, Gouker said, and the types of games run the gamut from prize pools, to leagues, to head-to-head match ups. The goal is simple: win big.

“There’s people who are professionals at [daily fantasy sports],” Gouker said. “This is what they do for a living, and they’re going to win money over the long-term.”

A casual player might find it tough to win Gouker said, though it is possible. He said in some ways fantasy sports betting is shaping up like poker: Professional sharks are out there, cutting in on chances for the little guy to cash in.

“It’s definitely a losing proposition for a casual player right now,” Gouker said.

Professional sharks rely on statistics and predictive models to beat the odds, and they are also counting on amateur minnows to bring their cash to the online playing field.

“I make well over six figures a year doing this,” Bryce Mauro said.

Mauro, a senior at DePauw University, is studying economics and putting his problem solving mind to use.

“I probably put in 40 hours a week across all sports,” he said. “You get to play against players who aren't researching it and who aren't doing as much as I am with it.”

Gouker spoke about the balance of skill and luck.

“There’s absolutely skill involved, but it’s also gambling,” he said. “That skill edge that the pros have, it gives them an edge.”

Jerry Long is executive director of the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling, and he’s been in impressed by the meteoric rise of fantasy sports betting.

“The advertising is certainly amazing,” he said.

But, he says with the uptick in popularity comes an increase in those who get in too deep.

“Certainly some folks will let this lead to a problem,” he said. “These folks do it for the excitement and for their ego.”

Daily fantasy sports aren't without scandal, as it was recently revealed that a DraftKings’ employee published roster data inadvertently and then won $350,000 on FanDuel.

DraftKings said an investigation showed that employee did not win through an unfair advantage.