DraftKings joins FanDuel in providing league play

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As more states move to regulate rather than ban daily fantasy sports (DFS) websites, the websites themselves are going traditional, sort of.

DraftKings, which is one of the two major DFS websites, will start its DraftKings Leagues feature Aug. 16, 2016. The feature will allow consumers to set up leagues among friends, like in traditional fantasy sports. However, the contests will be daily games, like DFS-operated games.

“It’s almost a private version of your DraftKings’ experience,” DraftKings co-founder Paul Liberman tells Consumers Digest. In other words, you play DFS games but only against players whom you invite to join your league instead of random individuals. Leagues don’t have to choose a single sport.

The cost to participate in a league is the same as it is for typical DraftKings games, with paid games starting at a $1 entry fee per player and going up to $10,600 per person. DraftKings takes 10 percent of the total and less if the entry fee is higher, Liberman says. Liberman also says DraftKings doesn’t charge any additional fees for league play.

Rival DFS website FanDuel announced a similar feature earlier in August 2016. Its Friends Mode feature will begin when the NFL season starts in September 2016, and FanDuel says it will be just for NFL-related games at first. Also, Friends Mode leagues can provide prizes for season-long accomplishments.

Meanwhile, New York reversed course on DFS websites. A bill that legalizes and regulates the activity was signed into law in August 2016 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo months after DraftKings and FanDuel agreed to shut down over questions of DFS legality. (The government said DFS was a game of chance and, thus, illegal gambling; the websites say DFS is a game of skill.)

However, according to reports, DFS remains unavailable to New Yorkers as of press time, because DFS websites have to be licensed to participate in New York, and none has obtained such a license.