Cost and profit​: Inside the wallet of

the sport 

The economics of fantasy sports has created a billion-dollar market​

Players can spend thousands of dollars investing in their league.

Photo by Peter Brand

Participating in fantasy sports is an increasingly popular way to spend and make money without breaking a sweat. Players go online and use real sports statistics to win money and other prizes in their own online leagues.


(All dollar amounts below listed in united states currency)


General player costs

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) players used to spend on average $5 a day in 2012 on fantasy sports. That’s increased to $318 in 2016 on daily fantasy sports. As well, and another $556 per player on fantasy league related costs.


Some of these costs include:

  • Magazines (both fantasy and regular sports)

  • Draft boards and labels

  • Software

  • Phone apps

  • Cheat sheets and reference guides

  • Draft kits


An estimated $1 billion is spent on other things such as pizza, draft parties, sports memorabilia and alcoholic beverages. Around 57 per cent spend money on/at league-wide events such as hosting events at bars, rent areas to play sports and take trips.


Even though it costs to play, some players win big.


Investing in your league

There are many ways to win, but a more common goal is to break even in what you spend on some leagues. Participants love winning but more than often they don't make back what they put in. And it can be hard for those playing for cash to do it without monetary gain.


“Once you throw money into it, it’s kind of hard to go back to [free leagues],” says Cody Woodman, a fantasy sports player and former athlete.


According to another fantasy sports player, Jordan Johnston, there are people are in it just for the money, rather than a passion for following sports, “A lot of people just like to gamble.”


It is different than betting on sports teams because you pick specific players and utilize their stats to your advantage in order to win.


Johnston says he would play fantasy sports if there wasn’t money involved but he wouldn't care as much because money “is an incentive.”


Industry Profit


On average, fantasy sports giants such as FanDual and Draftkings dish out over $4 billion combined to players winning in their leagues. They make their own profit by taking a percentage. FanDual , for example, takes 10 per cent of cost to play.


The industry itself generates  around $7.22 billion dollars, with $335 million generated strictly on daily fantasy sports (A type of fantasy sports that follow a daily league and not a seasonal league).


There are many leagues for sports with different requirements, but one of the larger and more profitable sports to begin in is fantasy football, due to the big success of the National Football League (NFL) in the United States.


The NFL is a $14 billion entertainment industry with millions of viewers each year. A good portion of these viewers play or involved in some form of fantasy sports. Some commentators often talk about their fantasy football league.


Prizes for losers


Not all the money spent on fantasy sports is directly related to website host giants or purchasing materials to play.


Participants can spend generously on "loser prizes" for those unlucky in the draft, such as buying a toilet bowl trophy or funding a tattoo. Such loser prizes give participants something to look forward to, and the best might cost nothing at all, such as requiring the loser of their draft to stand naked on the street.

Photo by Peter Brand

Many people tune into podcasts such as The Fantasy Footballers.

Photo Screenshot by Peter Brand

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