Massachusetts will always have an indelible connection to daily fantasy sports. One of the overwhelming leaders of the industry, DraftKings, was founded in Boston and continues to house its headquarters in a pair of Back Bay buildings on Boylston and Berkeley. Even if DFS wasn’t legal in the Bay State, it would be an important place for fans of the contests.
Now that DraftKings Sportsbook has expanded its offerings dramatically in the past few years, it’s easy to forget that it and arch rival FanDuel are still very much active as the duopoly of DFS. Both companies, along with several others, are available for people in Massachusetts who want to play short-term fantasy sports contests on their mobile devices or computers.
Below is a guide to DFS in Massachusetts.
Best Daily Fantasy Sports Sites in Massachusetts
Are DFS Contests Legal in Massachusetts?
DFS first became legal in Massachusetts in 2016. Gov. Charlie Baker signed off on temporary legislation that set the minimum age to play at 21 and, among other things, limited players to a $1,000 cap on monthly losses. Players could remove the cap only if they could demonstrate their financial ability to withstand greater losses.
The law came with a time limit until it sunsetted and rendered DFS illegal in the state once again. Lawmakers had until the end of July 2018 to make the industry a permanent fixture. They certainly played chicken with the deadline, but, ultimately, they allowed DFS players to continue their escapades with the passage of a permanent bill.
Thus, there is no reason that players above the age of 21 must worry about stopping their DFS play in Massachusetts.
Where Can I Play DFS in Massachusetts?
The permanent legislation in 2018 did not bear any mention of taxes or fees, so Massachusetts does not have many barriers to entry for any enterprising DFS providers in the state. Every major DFS site is active in the state at this time.
Obviously, the two biggest names in the industry are DraftKings DFS and FanDuel DFS, which enjoy a combined market share exceeding 90% of all DFS play.
However, there are other sites that are active in Massachusetts. Notable alternatives to the two big fish include Monkey Knife Fight, Yahoo Daily Fantasy, Jock MKT, and Fantasy Draft. These companies are all legitimate and have dedicated, if smaller, followings.
So, while few DFS players seem to waver from DraftKings or FanDuel, there are some other options in the Bay State if fantasy sports fans want a different look.
How to Get Started With DFS in Massachusetts
No matter what company you decide to use for DFS in Massachusetts, the procedure for beginning to play is going to feature the same steps.
For one thing, most of these steps are common sense. For another, each company wants to make it as easy as possible for you to switch over from the competition. For the most part, here’s how to get started with daily fantasy sports in Massachusetts:
- Download and install
Download and Install
For the purposes of this section, we’re assuming that you’re using a mobile device. If you’re using a computer, click on one of the links above for the DFS site you want.
On a mobile device, though, you should look at the links above and pick the DFS bonus offer that appeals to you the most. Once you press the offer, you’ll find yourself on a page to pick the format of your device. From there, you’ll download the DFS app as you would any other type of app.
The next thing to do is create your account. Open the DFS app and look for a sign-up or login button at the top of the main page. Press the button, then choose the option for someone without an existing account.
You should find yourself on a registration page. You’ll need to provide your name, date of birth, email address, phone number, mailing address, and Social Security number as part of your account creation. You’ll also need to input a username and password. If you see a box for promo codes, check this page for any DFS promo codes that you might need.
Once you’ve filled out your information, hit the button at the bottom of the page to submit.
After creating your account, the next step is to fund it. After you log in, look for another prominent button in roughly the same location as the registration button. It should be brightly marked and easy to see. Press it to access the cashier.
Inside the cashier, you’ll have more than one option for sending money to fund your account. Common deposit options include credit/debit cards, PayPal or Skrill, and prepaid gift cards. There might also be options for online banking deposits, wire transfers, or even Venmo. Choose the option that works best for you, make a deposit and head back to the lobby. Some deposit functions may have spaces for DFS bonus codes, too, so make sure to fill those out wherever appropriate.
Once you’ve funded your account, you can start playing.
How DFS Works
DFS contests operate in a similar fashion to regular fantasy sports contests. The main difference is the length of the DFS contests — they resolve in a day what regular fantasy play can take months to finalize.
DFS players pick out contests from the site’s main lobby. Each contest will relate to a game or games in a single league. DFS contestants pay the flat entry fee associated with their chosen contest, then draft real-life players who will compete in the upcoming game or set of games. Like regular fantasy sports, the players will accrue points for their contestants according to their performances in the games.
Each contestant’s team is ranked on a leaderboard with all the entrants to the contest. The top finisher(s) receive the money in the prize pool according to predetermined percentages.
Types of DFS Contests
Playing in a DFS contest is, like many games, a question of risk vs. reward. As the number of entrants in a contest increases, so does the risk of losing for each competitor. On the other hand, each new player also adds to the prize pool and increases the take for the eventual winners.
The different types of DFS contests largely revolve around the number of players that each contestant will have to defeat.
The other thing to recognize is that DFS players are able to draw much more heavily on their experience and research to achieve success than in other gambling games. Top DFS players can easily play professionally and outwit the average Joe. For that reason, many of the top DFS sites endeavor to separate the amateurs from the experts so as not to run off all the fish.
So, with those concepts in mind, here are the various types of DFS contests that you’ll most often encounter:
- Beginner — Generally, these are for players with no wins who have played fewer than 50 contests. The format is the standard DFS game most of the time.
- Casual — There’s nothing magical that guarantees a win, no matter how many contests a player enters. So, for players who are still working on their games after 50 contests and haven’t collected a win, the casual DFS contest awaits.
- Head-to-head — Two players pay to play. One leaves with the winnings.
- Designated number of players — In fact, contestants can pick exactly how many players they’d like to include in their contests. In theory, they can choose the number of entrants that best suits their own abilities to win.
- In-game showdowns — The draft occurs after the first half of play and focuses only on the later-game performances of the athletes.
- Beat the score — All players whose teams eclipse a predetermined score receive equal payouts.
- 50/50 — All players in the top half of the leaderboard receive a payout.
- Best ball — Players live draft their rosters, and the contest lasts the entire season.
- Tournament — Pay a little to win a lot. These events have bigger prize pools, but bigger player pools and increased risk of loss are also part of the game.
DFS Contest Styles
Every contest comes in one of a handful of formats. These formats usually govern the number of players that each contestant can draft, the quality of the players to be drafted, and in some cases, the length of the contest. DFS competitions typically fall into one of these categories:
- Classic — Classic DFS is the style of game described above, where contestants draft eight or nine players to their roster within the confines of a “salary cap” that assigns value to each player. Players can come from multiple games in the same evening or season.
- Showdown/single-game — Contestants pick fewer players and must select from a single game and with a reduced salary cap.
- Tiers — Instead of a salary cap, contestants can pick one player from a preset tier system that ranks the players’ skills and expected value to the fantasy contestant.
- Snake — Contestants take turns to draft their teams, and the order in which they draft reverses from one round to the next.
It’s possible that you will encounter other styles of game from time to time, but these four categories encompass the majority of DFS contests.
Massachusetts DFS History
No discussion of DFS history can omit Massachusetts. One of the top two companies in the industry, DraftKings, began as a business concept in Paul Liberman’s Watertown apartment in Boston.
Boston remains the home base for DraftKings, which has expanded into a full-service online gambling company in the past few years. So, as it turns out, the Bay State’s history with DFS predates its own laws on the subject. Here’s a brief history of the DFS timeline in Massachusetts:
DraftKings launches its online platform in Boston. It is not the first DFS provider, but it quickly grows to become one of the market leaders due to its shrewd marketing and recognizable branding. The new company’s reach quickly expands to more than 40 states. As it turns out, the expansion gives DraftKings a valuable foot in the door for sports betting when it becomes a possible legal activity for every state in 2018.
After several years of DFS companies operating in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey opines that there are no laws against DFS in the state. However, Healey takes things a step further and reviews the practice in-depth, eventually producing a proposed set of regulations for the industry. One significant aspect of her proposal pertained to consumer protections, which affected the language of the subsequent legislation.
Massachusetts legalizes daily fantasy sports in the state. The law does not include the imposition of any fees or taxes upon DFS providers, but it comes with some industry firsts in terms of other mandates. For one thing, it explicitly prohibits college and amateur sports as subjects of the contests. For another thing, only people in Massachusetts over the age of 21 can play. The new law sets limits on the number of monthly deposits and entries a player may submit. Interestingly, the new law is only a temporary measure and will expire in July 2018.
Days before DFS becomes an unregulated activity in the Bay State, lawmakers finally pass an update to the 2016 law and make DFS permanently legal in Massachusetts. During the lead-up to the authorization, lawmakers debate imposing a substantial fee and tax structure upon DFS sites as a benefit to the state. However, they are unable to attach the cutouts for the state government during the session, and DFS remains an untaxed business activity in Massachusetts to this day.
Buoyed by its dominance in the DFS market and explosive expansion into other areas of gambling, DraftKings becomes the first DFS company to go public. It begins trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol DKNG. The debut occurs without an IPO or direct listing due to DraftKings’ merger with SBTech and Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., the latter of which is already publicly traded. The Beantown company now has a market capitalization exceeding $11 billion and counts more than 2,600 employees under its roof.