Drew Dinkmeyer spent seven years as a senior investment analyst
in Tampa, Fla, before deciding to pursue fantasy sports
Dinkmeyer, who's 31 and got married last year, said he earns
about as much from competing in daily fantasy sports leagues as he
did when he was researching international equities and domestic
small- and mid-cap stocks at CapTrust Financial Advisers.
A former tennis player at Dartmouth College, Dinkmeyer is part of
the fastest-growing segment in fantasy sports, which in 2012 had
participants spend $3.38 billion on products, services and entry
fees, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Daily-play
continues to grow while traditional season-long leagues have ended
with the start of the National Football League playoffs.
"It's exploded in the last couple of years," association
President Paul Charchian said in a telephone interview from
Minneapolis. "It's growing so fast by the time we get the research
back, it's already out of date. It's gotten more investment in the
past two years than in the history of fantasy sports combined."
DraftKings Inc., the Boston-based organizer of daily fantasy play
in baseball, football, basketball and hockey, in November completed
an additional $24 million round of funding led by Redpoint Ventures
to help it expand. Comcast Ventures, the venture capital affiliate
of NBC network parent company Comcast Corp., early in 2013 was part
of a group that invested $11 million in FanDuel Inc., which is now
averaging more than $6 million in weekly payouts.
The last few weeks of the NFL's regular season, with the majority
of season-long fantasy participants out of contention unless they
reached their league's playoffs or championship round, further
boosted the popularity of daily-play websites for cash. They remain
popular in the postseason and as the National Basketball Association
approaches the midway point of its regular season, offering head-to-
head competition, leagues ranging in size from three to 20-or-more
participants or tournaments with thousands of entries.
Fantasy sports, in which participants draft teams of players
whose success is determined by the statistics they generate, dates
to the 1980s. More than 33.5 million people now play fantasy sports
in the U.S., according to the trade association, with leagues based
on the NFL far outpacing Major League Baseball as the most popular.
Fantasy sports are gaining popularity outside the U.S. also, with
leagues for soccer and cricket.
DraftKings' revenue increased 10-fold in the past year, Chief
Executive Officer Jason Robins said. Two weeks ago, the company
awarded a $1 million prize in its fantasy football grand final.
Participants could gain entry by winning a qualifying tournament
with an entry fee as low as $2.
Three weeks ago, FanDuel held its premier fantasy football event
in Las Vegas, where Travis Spieth, a sales manager for a CBS and Fox
television affiliate in Sioux City, Iowa, won $1 million from an
initial first-time investment of $10. Spieth won the top prize
thanks to a touchdown run by Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball
and field goal by Nick Novak of the San Diego Chargers that vaulted
him from eighth place.
"It was a surreal experience," said Spieth, 37, adding that he's
played in season-long fantasy sports leagues with friends for about
15 years. "I like the regular fantasy leagues, but if your team has
an injury, it might cost you your season. …