The NFL season has come and gone. And perhaps, like Tom Brady, you enjoyed the spoils of victory by winning a daily fantasy sports (DFS) championship this year.
As football enters the off-season, DFS players are left wondering what the next six months will have in store. But if you take a look at what StatHero, an innovative DFS company, is working on, the future might be kind of interesting.
Why? Because StatHero recently announced the launch of Rivals, a DFS sportsbook.
What is a DFS sportsbook?
So let’s get this out of the way — no, Rivals is not a physical sportsbook where you can sit down, grab drinks, and play fantasy sports.
Rivals is a 1-on-1 DFS format that allows users to play directly against StatHearo (the House). Traditional DFS contests, like seen with DraftKings and FanDuel, require users to play against a large pool of players, kind of like an online royal rumble.
The structure with StatHero will “mimic” a sportsbook.
“The player selection salary is dynamic,” Jason Jaramillo, StatHero CEO, said in an interview with PlayUSA. “So you could be motivated to put your roster in early, similar to a sportsbook line. Or, you could wait to factor in injuries and such, but salary cost may or may not change.”
Users build a DFS lineup with the use of a salary cap and set their buy-in. According to Jaramillo, players can wager anywhere from $10 to $1,000 per contest. Then, users will put their created team against the lineup constructed by StatHero in a winner-take-all format.
The $1,000 cap might sway traditional sharks who enjoy making million-dollar gambles, but Jaramillo says users could place multiple thousand dollar plays should they choose.
Currently, Rivals allows contests for fantasy basketball and hockey, with PGA contest launching soon. Jaramillo also confirmed users would have access to fantasy baseball on opening day and fantasy football for the 2021 NFL and college football seasons.
A new daily fantasy sports format
Rivals is different from other DFS games by giving users the ability to do the following:
- Play 1-on-1 against StatHero
- Look at the lineup before games
- Creating own buy-in
StatHero is available on iOS and desktop browsers with an Android app expected to debut by the end of February.
“A lot of fantasy operators are looking for areas where they can resemble the instant gratification, the adrenaline feeling of betting on sports,” Jaramillo said. “There are obviously a lot of states that haven’t implemented (sports betting) yet. With fantasy sports, the population keeps growing and growing.”
StatHero, and Rivals, is currently available in 32 states, including New York, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and California. Jaramillo said he expects that number to increase to 40 within the next six months.
“We plan to be in Pennsylvania very soon, but (the state) requires a $50,000 application fee – but we are currently applying. We are also about to be approved in New Jersey,” he said.
Is the future of DFS sports betting?
Although DFS continues to be a prominent fixture in states without legal sports betting, there is no doubt that wagering on sports is the future.
In a perfect world, Jaramillo said he might open a sports betting product in a couple of states. But, for now, the Rivals format will be the cornerstone of StatHero.
“Maybe we dabble in the sports betting space a little later,” Jaramillo said. “Sure, I think nowadays everyone that has a fantasy company or a data company I think they would all take sports betting. At this point, it’s not that easy.”
Recently, the third-largest DFS operator, Monkey Knife Fight, was acquired by Bally’s Corporation in a stock deal worth upwards of $90 million. The acquisition made Bally’s just the third sports betting company with a DFS arm. The two other companies are DraftKings and FanDuel.
“I think a lot of the bigger operators are starting to gobble up some of the smaller companies. So whether it be Barstool Sports, DraftKings, FanDuel, Ballys, or William Hill, I think eventually it will just be the top companies battling against each other,” he said.
Legal sports betting is available in 21 states plus Washington, DC, with several others pending launch. Of those 21, online sports betting is available in 17 states.
As the number of states with sports betting increases, DFS companies must find ways to separate themselves from traditional DFS companies.
“We are always innovating. It’s not fun playing DFS if you’re not winning or if you don’t have a legitimate shot at winning. Every single DFS product out there is just building off what DraftKings and FanDuel did. There is a slight change here or there, but there has never been a company that said, we will be “the house,” and we will take all your plays. No matter your skill level, you can play us and have it feel like a sportsbook,” Jaramillo said.