|Alongside the steep rise in sports betting online, there is also a growth in other online sports related pursuits. Commentators in the US have been remarking upon the changing habits of American sports fans as they turn more and more to the internet. Fans will use the internet to stay updated on results, chat to other fans about issues that bother them and, where permissible, gamble on outcomes.|
There is another virtual activity that has seen a huge increase in support- the fantasy sports world. Online fans can enter tournaments with their own hand picked team in whatever discipline they are interested in. The main factor in the increase of popularity with these games is of course the growing availability of the internet. A survey commissioned by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association found that 15.2 million adult Americans play in fantasy sports leagues- four time more than were doing so ten years ago.
Fantasy sports are now a billion dollar industry. Currently in the US there is a fantasy baseball tournament being run on the web, which features Meatloaf as the leader of one team, where entry cost participants US$1250, and the grand prize stands at US$100,000. Rather than a straightforward online gambling pursuit, this kind of activity is considered to be skill-based, as people taking part in the league mimicking the way sports teams are managed in reality, managing their teams and their fortunes in the league by buying and selling players. Despite this differentiation with gambling, the popularity of these online competitions, and the rewards to be gained, have grown alongside the increased popularity of online sports betting, and offers to fans a similar incentive- a sense of having a stake in the outcome in their teams- a sense of involvement.
Greg Ambrosius, the president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association who published the recent survey, has made the following comments in an attempt to explain the growth of this online industry: 'Sports has changed significantly in the last 20 years…Free agency has changed the way we perceive our players, and they used to be our players. But now they play until their contracts are done and then they sell themselves to the highest bidder, and loyalty goes out the window. Fantasy sports allow you to manage your team the exact same way. It has mirrored the way professional sports has gone, but don't consider this a negative. People now follow more teams and more leagues because of fantasy sports. It has actually expanded our awareness of sports…Everyone believes they can run a team better than the coach on the field, the general manager in the press box or the damn owner up in the luxury suite. This gives you a chance to put your money where your mouth is.'