What is the history of daily fantasy sports? – DFS History and Legality

Daily Fantasy Sports History

For decades now, fantasy sports have been a popular pastime for sports enthusiasts, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that a new type of fantasy sports arose – daily fantasy sports (DFS). DFS has grown in popularity in recent years, with millions of people now regularly participating. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of daily fantasy sports, from its humble beginnings to its current multibillion-dollar status, and the obstacles it had to overcome to reach legality.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The very beginning:

Depending on who you ask, the history of fantasy sports has undergone various changes over the years. If you ask a football fantasy sports fan about the history of fantasy sports, they will tell you a different story than a baseball fantasy sports fan. Indeed, both of the tales related by these two groups of sports fans are real.

But we need the whole story, don’t we? Preferrably in chronological order. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it, year by year. 

It all started in 1962 when Wilfred “Bill” Winkenbach and a few of his Oakland Raiders Organization colleagues got together in the Milford Plaza Hotel in New York City and laid out the basic guidelines for what would later become fantasy football. 

Next buzz related to fantasy sports came around the very next year in 1963 when the first-ever fantasy football league draft came into existence. Its official name was the GOPPPL, or Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League. George Blanda, a hall-of-famer and former Oakland Raiders quarterback, was chosen in the first-ever fantasy football draft  Fantasy sports, as we know them today, do still exist at this period, albeit very loosely. Despite this, there is still a long way to go because there aren’t any public leagues or fantasy contests for many other sports.

Finally, in 1969, the first public fantasy league was created by Andy Mousalimas, the GOPPPL’s original founder, marking one of the industry’s most major advances. Anybody who frequently visited Oakland’s Kings X Sports Pub was welcome to join this fantasy football league.

What most people know?

For most people out there, especially baseball fans, 1980 is when fantasy sports truly began. Daniel Okrent, generally considered as the father of fantasy sports, founded Rotisserie League Baseball, later known as roto, in which journalists built teams of baseball players. He gave the league the name of the restaurant where the league’s founders met to discuss the game’s specifics. 

In the Rotisserie system, participants—known as owners—would select a team from a list of all Major League Baseball players who were currently on the active roster, track their statistics over the course of the current season, and then determine their teams’ scores based on the performances of their players. As a result, the game became more realistic as players were forced to make choices that were comparable to those faced by managers of actual baseball teams. 

It’s ironic for Okrent that he’s considered the father of fantasy sports, and yet he never won his own league.

The roto grew substantially in 1981 as Major League Baseball was on strike that year, which left many sports journalists with little to write about. What did they choose to write about then? You guessed it—Fantasy Baseball, a game they had grown to love and enjoy with their journalist friends. Naturally, word of this new game spread, and lots of baseball fans began to play it and challenge their friends. All of this was taking place despite the fact that reliable baseball statistics and news were not always easy to find at the time. 

By 1989, over 1 million people were playing fantasy football alone! Imagine the number for fantasy sports combined!

When the internet arrived?

The rise of the internet was pervasive and had a significant impact on almost every industry. Fantasy sports was no exception, and the game’s popularity soared as a result of the internet’s increased accessibility to data. In 1997, the game’s admiration grew as statistics collection methods became more advanced. More people visited RotoNews.com, now known as RotoWire, than the NBA’s official website. 

During the early 2000s, Yahoo! took note of the fantasy sports market’s potential and entered it, which is still there to this day. Around the same time, FSTA, now known as FSGA (Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association) was founded.

The birth of Daily Fantasy Sports

In the beginning, fantasy sports was mainly focused on season-long competitions. This changed in the 2000s when a company by the name of Hubdub introduced a free-to-play prediction game that let players bet virtual currency on the results of news events, including sports matches. Due to this, a brand-new category of fantasy sports game was developed, called Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), which enabled players to pick a brand-new team each day and compete for real money based on the performance of their players. Instant Fantasy Sports (IFS), which NBC Universal eventually acquired and rebranded as SnapDraft, was the first DFS contest of the internet era. It quietly shut down in 2013 after the introduction of much bigger and more enjoyable DFS platforms.

In 2006, fantasy sports faced a legal challenge – the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in the US, which made it illegal for financial institutions to process transactions related to online gambling. Due to this, Fantasy sports had to be reviewed because it was unclear if it fell under the bill’s scope. However, the UIGEA included a specific exemption for “fantasy sports” which led DFS providers to announce that their games should be allowed because it’s a game of skill, not a game of chance. If UIGEA hadn’t legalized fantasy sports, its popularity wouldn’t have accelerated as much as it has in recent years.
Today, DFS is legal in most US states. You can check which ones here.

The rise of Daily Fantasy Sports

The Daily fantasy Sports world was forever altered in 2009 when FanDuel was founded, which even today is considered one of the most prominent and leading DFS platforms in the world. Not soon after, in 2011, DraftKings was introduced and FanDuels had its first big competitor. By 2015, the two companies had a combined user base of over 10 million players and were valued at over $1 billion each.

With such huge platforms bringing in more interesting aspects into the DFS universe, sports fans were now thrilled. By 2013, 21 million people worldwide played DFS and considered it one of their favorite pastimes.

With the introduction of mobile apps, fantasy sports became even easier, and smaller and more quirky DFS companies began to enter the market. The US and Canadian market were already tapped into but many European and Asian countries also started founding their own local DFS sites. Many DFS players were making so much money from their hobby that they turned it into their primary careers. Using one’s sports knowledge and skills to earn money was now considered a respectable career choice!

What’s new in DFS today?

One major downside of Daily Fantasy Sports that fans began to notice is that they can only select individual athletes rather than entire teams. This means that your success in a DFS contest is heavily reliant on the individual performances of the athletes you’ve selected, rather than the aggregate performance of a team. 

To overcome this drawback of DFS, DreamPick was introduced. 

Founded in 2020 by Alden Do Rosario, Ramesh Sethuraman And Vikas Kansagara, DreamPick is a simple and engaging Daily Fantasy Sports game that allows sports fans to compete for cash rewards based on their knowledge of their favorite teams – without getting bogged down in intricate player stats like DraftKings or FanDuel. 

The ability to choose an entire team in DreamPick makes it one of its kind in Daily Fantasy Sports. It also provides a lot of other benefits, like having multiple sports, having no salary caps or complicated drafts, getting to set your own bonus points, and being more strategic and interesting than traditional DFS.

In the convoluted world of DFS, DreamPick is the most convenient and fastest way to play daily fantasy sports for real money. Because the teams are already built and you are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, you can make an informed decision to choose in seconds. 

Even the most experienced DFS player faces unexpected setbacks, but teams are more consistent and strategic to play with. Combining the best features of DFS and season-long fantasy leagues, with DreamPick, you win big by getting the best of both worlds.


In conclusion, daily fantasy sports have developed significantly since they were first introduced. What started out as a small hobby for sports lovers in a dingy sports cafe has grown into a $1 billion industry on the internet with millions of players taking part in these contests every day. Despite its legal challenges, the DFS industry has only thrived since it came into the radar. It will be intriguing to witness how daily fantasy sports companies adjust to changing laws and consumer preferences as the market continues to evolve. One thing is for sure, DFS is here to stay and will continue to be a popular form of entertainment for sports fans for years to come.

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