Does Fantasy Football count as gambling?

is fantasy football gambling

Fantasy football has taken the world by storm, with millions of players participating each year. This online game, which involves creating a virtual football team and earning points based on real-life player performances, has sparked a heated debate: Is fantasy football considered gambling?

Disclaimer: The following article provides an overview of the debate surrounding fantasy football and its classification as gambling. It is important to note that the content presented is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or professional advice. Participation in any form of fantasy football, whether free or involving real money, should be approached responsibly and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The potential risks associated with gambling, such as addiction and negative impacts on health and relationships, should be carefully considered. The responsibility for any actions taken based on the information provided in this article lies solely with the readers.

Some fantasy football competitions are free, other might involve money

Fantasy football is an online game where participants act as team managers, creating a virtual football team from real-life players. The performance of these players in real-life games determines the points earned in the fantasy game. Managers compete against each other, with the team earning the most points declared the winner. You can find more about the game in our article: History of Fantasy Football.

While fantasy football can be played for fun (for example: FPL, UCL Fantasy) , there are platforms (for example Fan Team) that  also offer the option to play for real money. Participants can enter leagues with entry fees and compete for cash prizes. This involvement of real money is one of the main factors that has led to the debate over whether fantasy football is a form of gambling.

The Debate: Is Fantasy Football Gambling?

The question of whether fantasy football constitutes gambling is a contentious one. Those who argue that it is gambling point to the involvement of real money and the element of chance.

Well, if money is involved…

So, if you play Fantasy Football on platforms where you need to pay to participate, this could be considered as a form of gambling. All those platforms that offer to play fantasy football for money have disclaimers in their footer (only for 18+, gambling may be addictive, play responsibly, when fun stop, stop, etc…) which speak for itself.

Just like in traditional gambling, fantasy football players risk money on an uncertain outcome, with the possibility of winning or losing money based on factors outside their control.

So, if you play fantasy football for money, it is very similar to sports betting which is not legal in all states around the world.

Read more: Fantasy football vs Sports Betting

Portfolio (fantasy team) management = systemized approach

However, others argue that fantasy football is not gambling because it involves a significant element of skill. Participants must use their knowledge of football to select their team, taking into account player form, team tactics, and upcoming fixtures. This strategic element, they argue, distinguishes fantasy football from games of pure chance like roulette or slot machines according to them.

And to be fair, there are fantasy football managers that do well each season, that can repetitively finish among the top 1 % of players.

They have a set of rules, principles that allow them to manage their team in a way it will maximize the possible outcome. It is like in financial markets. Are people who invest in stocks (or trade) gamblers?

Well, most of them could be, because they do not have risk management strategies in place and buy or sell stocks (CFDs, commodities, Forex pairs etc) randomly even when they have an excuse on why to do it that sounds logical to them…

But what about successful portfolio managers such as Warren Buffet or Ray Dalio? They risk their money (and the money of their clients) every day and still can get around 20% return on their investments every year.

What distinguishes them from people who are losing money on financial markets every day? (According to disclaimers in FX trading websites, more than 79% of retail traders are losing money.)

They have proven and tested systems in place. Systems and principles that allowed them to turn probabilities in their favor. Systems and principles on when to buy and when to sell, system and principles that support (and many times replaces) their decisions. They know that if they use their systems, the probability of another successful year is higher. The emotions do not stand in their way…

And top Fantasy Football managers are similar. They know what to do in order to have a high probability of another top 1% finish next season.

You might be interested in our article: Managing risks in the FPL

The Impact of Fantasy Football on Society

Fantasy football involves risk, reward, and the thrill of the game, which can be addictive for some people. This could lead to health difficulties, relationship problems, and other negative impacts associated with problem gambling.

We all know how negative impact can have one bad gameweek on your weekend mood…

However, fantasy football can also be seen as a positive social activity. It allows fans to engage more deeply with the sport they love, provides an opportunity for friendly competition, and can even be used as a learning tool to understand football better. Furthermore, the skill element in fantasy football can be seen as promoting strategic thinking and decision-making skills.


The debate over whether fantasy football is considered gambling is complex, involving legal definitions, societal attitudes, and individual perspectives. While there are valid arguments on both sides, the classification of fantasy football as gambling or not has significant implications for players, the industry, and society as a whole.

As the popularity of fantasy football continues to grow, this debate is likely to continue…

Matej Šuľan

Fantasy Football enthusiast with two top 1k finishes in FPL. Best FPL overall rank: 119th in 2019/20 season. Five top 500 finishes in UCL Fantasy, best overall rank: 23rd in 2018/19 season. Founder of Fantasy Football Reports.

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