Yahoo, Amaya Latest to Offer Fantasy Sports

It seems you can’t go very far without hearing about the Daily Fantasy Sports craze sweeping North America. Two massive internet companies; Yahoo and Amaya Inc., which owns PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, have decided to start up their own DFS services.

One could easily argue the biggest thing to hit the sports world over the past few years is Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Sites such as Draft Kings and FanDuel have experienced a fair deal of success in this multi-billion dollar industry, by offering people the chance to turn a small sum of money into something much larger.

As the sites continue to grow, one major question surrounds whether or not fantasy sports constitute gambling. Gaming heavyweights Joe Asher, CEO of sports book operator William Hill U.S. and Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International emphatically say fantasy sports constitute gambling. DraftKings and FanDuel, however, insist it is purely a game of skill.

“Any suggestion that fantasy sports is not gambling is the biggest bunch of baloney I’ve ever seen,” Asher said. Murren echoed his sentiments and said, “Clearly this cannot be ignored, and it is gambling. We have not engaged in it as a commercial enterprise because we haven’t gotten comfort by our regulators that we should.”

Due to fantasy sports not being regulated, Murren has not taken the plunge with his company jumping into the market. However, that has not stopped two major companies from diving right in; Yahoo and Canadian-based Amaya Inc., which owns PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

There is no denying the massive impact daily fantasy sports has had in the world of sports wagering. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, 56.8 million people from the United States and Canada play in the leagues, and spend an average of $257 a year on DFS, and $162 a year on season-long contests.

One interesting twist comes from the Walt Disney Co., owners of ESPN, who had intended to invest $250 million in DraftKings but pulled out of those plans last month. DraftKings does however still have exclusive advertising rights on Disney’s ESPN.