July 2023

Is Playing Fantasy Sports Gambling or Skill?

Place Your Bets
Play now
Play to Win Big
Play now

image: All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In fantasy sports, there's a debate (by haters) of whether it's a game of skill or gambling continues to stir discussions among enthusiasts and critics alike.

Yes, an uninformed participant can definitely be hustled out of their participation fee, but this isn't unlike most things we encounter in life. Of course it requires avoiding injuries and a little "luck" but at the same time, just picking anyone without a strategy or forgetting to set a lineup will guarantee losing just as much as doing the opposite increases the chances for success.

related: Why Do We Love Gambling?

Just think about what you need to consider for the top running backs in this year's draft.


The rankings will show all of these guys as great choices, but some research should have you weighing Christian McCaffrey's injury prone history, Derrick Henry's workload catching up to him, and Jonathan Taylor's contract situation.

related: NFL Running Backs Are Asking, "How Come He Don't Want Me Man?"

It becomes evident that fantasy sports requires skill and knowledge with those who have insights into individual player situations, roster depth, touches, and playing style hold the upper hand, setting it apart from games of chance.

Unlike traditional forms of gambling, where luck largely determines outcomes, fantasy sports requires participants to dive deep into the intricacies of the game. Successful fantasy players don't just leave things to chance; they analyze player statistics, team dynamics, injuries, and numerous other factors to construct their dream teams strategically.

related: How are fantasy sports making so much money?

The outcome isn't up to chance nor is it mathematical, it's strategic and based upon performance with historical performance and projections being good but not great indicators of actual results, like the stock market.

One key element that underscores the skill aspect of fantasy sports is the art of predicting player performance. It's not the stars whose performance is going to carry you over the top, it's the player who comes out of nowhere, and is a later round draft pick having a career year who creates the advantage by essentially giving you an extra high performing first round draft.

Injuries also play a critical role in the fantasy world. A seasoned fantasy manager knows the impact of a star player being sidelined and how it can affect their team's success. By staying up-to-date on injury reports and monitoring player status, managers can make informed decisions that give them a competitive edge. But this doesn't do anything for the mid season injuries that inevitably happen.

Picking high quality backup players who are likely to be thrust into a starting role, or being active on the waiver wire are both strategies that create active advantages for participants. So is not giving up on a player and cutting him too early, especially wide-receivers playing with new quarterbacks who are building chemistry.

Furthermore, the quarterback-receiver pairing is another strategic consideration that distinguishes the skilled from the casual players. Understanding the chemistry between a quarterback and his favorite target can lead to a powerful combination on the virtual field. Expert fantasy players know how to leverage this knowledge to optimize their team's performance. A receiver is only as good as the person throwing them the ball.

The allocation of touches for running backs is another pivotal aspect that requires careful analysis. Fantasy managers who are aware of running backs splitting touches or rookies sharing the workload can make shrewd decisions that reflect their understanding of the sport, giving them a distinct advantage over those who rely solely on chance or the prior year's results.

Experience also plays a crucial role in fantasy success. Knowing a player's age and contract status can provide valuable insights into their motivation and potential performance. Recognizing a career year that is likely an anomaly and not easily replicable is a skill that seasoned fantasy players can acquire an advantage in anticipating through time and experience.

Ultimately, the strategic element of fantasy sports highlights its skill-based nature. As participants become more immersed in the game, they refine their expertise, develop their strategies, and make well-informed choices that consistently outperform those of chance-based participants.

So, next time you're in a fantasy sports league, remember that it's more than a game of chance; it's a game of wits, strategy, and skill that rewards those who have done their homework and embraced the thrill of the ultimate strategic challenge.

Issa Hall, Esq

Issa has founded multiple ventures, is an author, and founding partner of Hall & Dixon law firm, with over a decade of experience in tech and law.

Thank you! Your submission has been received! You can view your comment by refreshing the page.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.