SDSU Students Find Legal Betting Options Through DFS Apps

Written By Adam Hensley on May 2, 2024
San Diego State banner, where a student newspaper reports student see DFS apps as legal sports betting

A story from the San Diego State University paper, The Daily Aztec, finds that SDSU students see Daily Fantasy Sports apps as a legal form of sports betting.

DFS games are viewed as a gray area within the state. While sports betting is illegal, there is no California law making DFS illegal, but they also aren’t regulated.

SDSU Students Use DFS Apps To Make Games ‘More Interesting’

The Daily Aztec wrote that as March Madness tipped off last month, students “discovered legal avenues to engage” with the NCAA tournament.

“Games that would typically not interest me before now become much more interesting because of the betting aspect,” one student said.

Another student interviewed shared that his go-to app was Underdog Fantasy. He said he’s made a profit of about $300 on DFS games this semester.

Right now, California DFS games are customers’ only option when it comes to placing anything close to a sports bet in California since that industry has yet to be legalized in the state. So it’s probably no coincidence that California is the largest single-state market for DFS. Experts believe the Golden State represents as much as 10% of the country’s total DFS entries.

Unlike sports betting, which typically caters to age-21+ markets, many DFS games allow customers 18 years old and older to play. That’s the case in California with the aforementioned Underdog Fantasy, where players can compete as long as they’re at least 18.

DFS Products Drifting Closer to Sports Betting

DFS games can provide a similar feel to sports betting. And that’s one reason some states have tried to outlaw them.

The big difference between DFS and sports betting is when you’re participating in DFS, you’re competing against other players. There is no house, as there is in traditional sports betting.

Where DFS games have drifted into hot water is in their similarity to prop-style betting. Some DFS operators will allow players to take “more” or “less” on certain player statistical categories. That’s where gambling operators, as well as legislators in various states, think DFS creeps into their territory. In these prop-style DFS contests, players do not compete against one another. They compete against the house.

Students Already Equate DFS With Sports Betting

As the Daily Aztec’s report indicates, students already see DFS sites as “a legal avenue for sports betting.”

The fact that students see DFS apps as sportsbook alternatives underscores the argument that prop-style DFS apps have moved beyond fantasy sports. The grey area they inhabit is all the more treacherous as DFS apps only require players to be 18+.

There are problem gambling risks associated with sports betting, and it’s no different with DFS. At the end of the day, it’s still gambling, and it can be hard for some players to stop.

The Daily Aztec noted that at SDSU, there is a Collegiate Recovery Program for students needing assistance.

Anyone seeking help can call the California Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER (426-2537). Additionally, the state has a self-exclusion list.

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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network.

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