We’ve all heard of the phrase fantasy sports, but those of us not actively involved in the industry may not know how big the industry has gotten, especially in the recent years. Don’t worry, here is a breakdown of just what has been going on.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), the numbers are overwhelming . While the number of players in the United States and Canada has increased steadily over the past 12 years (from 15.2 million in 2003 to 56.8 million in 2010, more than tripling), the financial side of the game only developed in the last few years, when online websites were a legal way to participate in the process.

In 2012, the average user of Fantasy Sports (of which there were approximately 36 million) spent $ 80 a year, including $ 60 (80 percent) for the season entry fee. In 2015, the spending of the average Fantasy Sports user increased to $ 465, and more than 55 percent of that amount was for single-day participation fees rather than the entire season.

Extrapolated, these numbers mean that Online Fantasy Sports has grown from a $ 2.9 billion industry (2012) to a $ 26.4 billion business (2015) in three years . This makes Online Fantasy Sports in the United States and Canada a larger industry than the concert and event promotions industry, which analyst IBISWorld estimates at $ 25 billion.

This shift in the industry towards the more frequent participation of players and the spread of sports with online competitions has prompted the industry to use the term “Daily Fantasy Sports” (DFS) to describe the development.

Even though critics have claimed that Fantasy Sports games are nothing more than virtual casino sports betting, FSTA statistics show the average user as an educated, working man. The average age of a fantasy sports player is 37, and 66 percent are men. It was the sport of football that really drove the fantasy sports industry forward, so it comes as no surprise that 73 percent of players claim it to be the sport they love to follow and participate in.

Fantasy football makes up the bulk of online DFS, but other major sports – including soccer – are becoming increasingly popular. In the traditional model, which still exists, a player pays a season entry fee, joins a league with other players, and tries to put together the best team in a pre-season draw. During the season in this sport, points are awarded for the performance of the athletes. Finally, the fantasy player who has consistently achieved the best results receives a large percentage of the entry fees.

In the current DFS landscape, tables for the entire season are not required to determine a winner. A player can instead register for competitions that last a week or a day. The payout also takes place in many ways, depending on the league and the respective competition. For example, there are competitions with staggered payouts, comparable to poker tournaments. In double-up competitions, players who end up with a total score that makes them one of the top 50 percent of all participants will win a prize that is twice the entry fee.

The data indicate that most players have the brains and the means to participate in a variety of competitions. The FSTA has found that approximately 57 percent of players have a college degree, 66 percent have a full-time job, and 47 percent have a household income of more than $ 75,000.

Isn’t it crazy how all this seem to have slipped past us unnoticed? If you’re interested in finding out more about fantasy sports, you could check out our other articles, or look out for more statements released by FSTA.

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