- DFS firm StatHero is best known for fantasy survivor pools.
- They’ve launched a new platform featuring games that pit the player one on one against the house.
- Players draft a lineup under the salary cap trying to beat the ‘house’ lineup.
At some point, the ‘competitive dynamics’ of the state by state sportsbook regulation in the US will improve the situation at a meta level. What this means is that states with a lousy sports betting ecosystem–say, Oregon or Tennessee–will see how much better players have it in states that get it right like Colorado or New Jersey. It will also have the effect of forcing states to get off their hands and get into the sports betting game, if for no other reason than keeping the masses happy.
Until then, daily fantasy sports has played a more important role in states that have yet to implement sports betting. There’s a couple of reasons for this, not the least of which that two of the top sports betting providers in the US started life as DFS-only platforms (FanDuel and DraftKings). It allows DFS companies (and in a growing number of cases their sportsbook financial partners) to plan for the future by aggregating a client/marketing list they can ‘cross sell’ to with an eventual sports betting product. Finally, they’re coming up with ways to offer a more ‘sports betting-like’ experience within the parameters of DFS.
DFS firm StatHero is best known for fantasy survivor pools but they’ve ‘seen the writing on the wall’ and have launched a new game format called ‘Rivals’. The platform seeks to replicate the sportsbook experience by simplifying and streamlining the DFS process and altering the competitive dynamics so the player is no longer competing against other players, but directly against the house. For some reason, daily fantasy sports is considered a ‘game of skill’ in many states but sports betting is not. That’s news to me–I’ve been around sports betting for my entire adult life and the sharpest, hardest working players are the most successful players. That being said, it’s smart of StatHero to leverage this loophole.
Here’s how StatHero described the platform in a press release announcing its launch:
The Rivals structure, said the firm, mimics a true sportsbook with no edits, time stamps, and dynamic odds. Players just set their buy-in and create the best line-up under the salary cap to beat StatHero’s line-up.
Rivals currently has live games for the NBA, PGA, NHL and the NFL playoffs, and is operational in the 32 states where StatHero is available. This national launch, said the company, provides users in states where sports betting is not legal, like California, Florida and Texas, a sportsbook experience while playing a game of skill.
Rivals distinguishes itself by giving users the ability to play one-on-one against the House rather than thousands of other users. If a user’s line-up beats StatHero’s, they win. The prize goes directly to the winner and is not split amongst a group.
Players can also examine lineups before the game in their entirety. This feature is cited by the company as advantageous for users in that it helps them gain better insight into creating the strongest line-up possible. Additionally, the user sets the stakes. The object of the game is winner take-all, line-up versus line-up, the player versus the house.
This type of player vs. house arrangement should do strong business for StatHero. In the sports betting world, players have sought out more granular betting markets such as player props, statistical matchups and live betting opportunities based on in-game performance metrics. It’s a smart move for StatHero to offer this type of wagering opportunity to their broader market of DFS fans in the 32 states where they operate.
StatHero CEO Jason Jaramillo focuses on the benefits to the player of the ‘one on one game against the house’:
“For years, DFS players have yearned for an opportunity to control their own fate. A game focused on the individual, rather than beating thousands. A one-on-one game versus the house creates an experience that operates just like a sportsbook, giving users in states where betting isn’t legal the experience that they’ve been clamoring for.
“We at StatHero are excited to provide our users with the most innovative DFS platform on the market that provides greater value, more opportunities to win, and an enhanced experience that will reshape the future of DFS.”
The sports betting and DFS ecosystems are continually evolving as providers find new ways to engage customers and customers demand new ways to play the games. This is one of the many reasons why an ossified regulatory environment hurts players, sportsbooks and the industry at a macro level. Players demand innovation, companies want to offer it but in many states the regulatory oversight and politicians who benefit from it financially and/or politically won’t let it happen.