Facebook is launching a series of free-to-play sports prediction games as part of its recently launched Facebook Fantasy Games features. The new game series is, in many ways, similar to the long-standing, and very popular, Yahoo Fantasy Sports. But is Facebook harboring bigger plans, such as starting its own sportsbook?
At its heart, Facebook Fantasy Games is a standard fantasy sports site with options to play daily fantasy sports (DFS), pick ’ems, and other games. Because all the games are free-to-play, the site also includes games based on reality TV shows such as Survivor. (Most American states bar wagering on events that have already taken place, like awards and reality shows). That said, DFS games such as MLB Home Run Picks, and football pick ’ems are the meat and potatoes of the operation.
In a statement reported on by iGaming Business, a spokesperson for Facebook described the new DFS features saying, “These games bring the social fun of traditional fantasy sports to simpler formats that are easy to play for people new to prediction games, while still engaging enough for more seasoned players.
“In addition to public leaderboards, players can create their own fantasy league and compete against friends and other fans. Leagues, which can be public or private, will allow members to compare scores to others in the league and provide a place for members to share picks, reactions and comments.”
The question that Facebook’s foray into DFS brings up is whether or not the social media giant has plans to enter the real money side of the sports prediction game? Industry watchers will certainly recall the early days of DraftKings and Fan Duel, when both companies claimed to have no interest in becoming sportsbooks, which both of them are today. Should Facebook decide to step into the regulated sports betting market, they could really shake up the industry. For now, however, Facebook’s plans are rooted in the free-to-play space.