Ever heard of fantasy football? Well, lately it’s been taking the nation by storm.
Fantasy sports have been on the rise in popularity since the Internet boomed in the mid-90s. New technology, courtesy of Bill Gates and other tech whizz kids, allowed easy, instant access to fantasy sports. Stats could quickly be compiled online, plus communications, news and information became readily available. Inevitably, this led to a huge spike in online gambling over the odds and results.
Just remember that pay-to-play fantasy games are formally considered a form of gambling and competitors must be over 18 to register. Aside from third-party companies, casual bets between friends who share this hobby are also common, even encouraged, in the fantasy football community.
These bets aren’t entirely money-based either; one player on fantasyleague.co.uk reminisces how “many many years ago – a player loan deal return between two managers in return for setting up a date with a girl he was interested in.” Even your love life is at stake in some of these deals/bets!
The most popular fantasy sport in the UK is by far soccer, with the various bets over players and matches reaching intense sums of money. There are now between 5.5 – 7.5 million fantasy sports players in the UK, 4 million of which participate in Fantasy Football according to Fantasy League. These players are among the most engaged online audiences (alongside betting) with an average of 3-6 visits per week!
Playing fantasy football can at first appear pretty complicated to the untrained eye, but in reality is quite simple. A fantasy football league can consist of any number of teams, from worldwide leagues of over 3 million to intimate 2 person competitions between friends. Before the season starts, competitors must pick their own team, selecting real life football players to fill their fantasy squad.
There are numerous competition formats to entertain those afflicted with this growing obsession, with season-long duels for outright points supremacy, knockout cup competitions and weekly contests which match two teams against each other.
To score points, the players from your team need to perform well on the real life football field. Points can be given for any number of things from scoring/assisting a goal, to saving a penalty, to keeping a clean sheet with defense. In other words, the better your players do in real life, the better you will do in fantasy football, moving up the make-believe league table.
By joining head-to-head competitions and cup tournaments, fantasy football enthusiasts can scoop up some big money in prizes. For instance, The Mirror features a share of their £50,000 cash prize pot as well as an additional £2,500 in actual prizes. Free and Pro users are both eligible for these monthly prizes. Not to mention, the most popular fantasy premier league site is currently offering a first prize of an incredible £25,000 to their winning footy fan.
However, fantasy sports are an extremely small niche within the bigger gambling industry. While everyone has heard of casinos and slot machines, very few people have heard of – let alone play or bet on – fantasy football. One testimonial claims “everyone who takes part loves it but nobody in the outside world really knows about it.”
With fewer entrants then other forms of gambling, Fantasy Football sees less money come in to the bookmakers and it can be hard to find a site that offers you betting opportunities. SkyBet, totelfootball and 666bet are a few examples of such sought after websites.