With over 57 million players in 2017, fantasy sports has rapidly grown and become a vital part of the electronic gaming market. Fantasy drafts across all sports continue to grow in popularity, especially with sites like FanDuel and DraftKings drawing in huge pots of cash. Whereas we once settled for filling out brackets for March Madness and placing cash bets on games, the new landscape of fantasy sports has players drafting and trading the virtual counterparts of their favorite players and building teams across every major sport to compete with other players for cash prizes.

But with all its success, it is no stranger to accusations and the courtroom. The online world of fantasy sports has faced a number of challenges over the years, ranging from legal battles, ineffective marketing budgets, and complex interfaces, to little to no external competition. And if we’ve learned anything from these companies, it’s that the industry needs to change, and fast.

What Is Online Fantasy?

For those new to the world of fantasy, the idea is that individuals are able to run and manage their own sports teams, starting with a real-time draft, maintain the team throughout an entire season, and earn points based on their players’ statistics as well as the fantasy platform’s in-game rules.

With companies coming out of the woodwork claiming to provide fun and fair platforms, fans still have yet to be provided with an answer to industry-wide accusations of manipulation and insider gaming. It’s not about the competition, it’s about redefining the industry to allow for a better understanding state-wide as to the legality and functionality of online fantasy.

Check The Scoreboard: Challenges Facing The Industry

1. Uncertainty As To Its Legal Status

If we were to check the scoreboard on how this industry is perceived, the line still hasn’t been drawn very clearly as to the regulations. Fantasy sports is not just online betting, as many consider it to be gambling as well. While the legality varies from place to place, creating laws and ensuring they are followed is still a grey area.

Over the years, the two major pioneers in the industry, FanDuel and DraftKings, have faced litigation over accusations of “insider gaming” and fund manipulation. While the law moves quickly, fantasy sports faces legal issues on the regular. The majority of issues surround unfamiliarity with the industry at large in conjunction with the lack of transparency in the gaming process. What many people deem a game of skill, others claim is a game of manipulation and scandal.

Introducing this world to the blockchain could help alleviate these issues, ensuring total security and defined terms as to how the platforms operate and function. Time will tell what the future of fantasy holds in each state.

2. Understanding The Rulebook

With the expansion of the gaming industry, people are finding new ways in which to play games, via their smartphones, tablets, and other devices. There is no doubt a steep learning curve to the game, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the world of online fantasy.

3. Player Verification

As a result of strict regulations and anti-money laundering initiatives, many gaming platforms require users/players to go through complicated verification procedures each time they want to deposit and withdraw funds. This requires providing proof of a government-issued identification card, SSN, and/or proof of residency. Adding to that, the amount of time it takes for funds to be deposited and withdrawn is less than timely. Why? Banks are cautious when it comes to dishing out funds for an area that seems a lot like gambling.

4. Lack of Transparency

Many platforms are protected by the creators/owners, rather than place the control with third parties. Ultimately, this presents many questions as to fairness of play, usage of player statistics, and other in-game rules.

“Even among the largest companies in the industry, we don’t know how the software operates because they are closed, proprietary systems that we’re not allowed to investigate,” said Viktor Mangazeev, CEO at MyDFS, a company building a blockchain-based fantasy sports platform. Mangazeev told The Merkle that it’s easy for rumors to occur about insider gaming, bot-assisted play, or even the manipulation of game statistics which can cast doubt on the entire operation. Platforms like MyDFS that use blockchain technology can make the changes mentioned above, which would help improve the experience for online players. “It opens up avenues for new ways to play,” explained Mangazeev.

The Blockchain Referee: Overcoming These Challenges

Utilizing blockchains and smart contracts allows for fair play and more transparency as it relates to in-game data and transactions among parties. The risk of “insider-gaming” would be significantly reduced, as the contracts and transactions are essentially automated and encrypted, based on terms agreed upon prior to the season.

It’s time to streamline the user experience online. It starts with playing by the rules. The way to do this? Blockchain technology.

Ensuring Fair Calls Through A Decentralized, Transparent Gaming Process

By utilizing smart contract technology, users and regulators would be able to check the system’s game data and transactions at any point in time. Storing in-game statistics and important data relevant to every game on a blockchain ensures fairness across the platform.

Blockchain technology should incentivize major players like FanDuel and DraftKings to prove to the industry and state legislatures that they are serious about ensuring fair, secure, and legal sports betting. Otherwise, they will continue to face allegations as they have over the years.

This system can come in handy for events like the World Cup. With its global reach, having a system with a centralized token could represent the same worth, regardless of a player’s location.

Streamlining Financial Transactions

Due to the decentralized nature of blockchains, users/players can access an anonymous transaction history, and investors can monitor their players’ performance. Everyone benefits from transactions that occur almost instantly, rather than waiting days for them to process.

MyDFS, a blockchain-based daily fantasy sports solution, offers such a platform which aims to connect sports fans around the world with a transparent, easy-to-use, and fair platform. MyDFS’s CEO told The Merkle that when it comes to streamlining, the exclusion of fiat is the solution because it removes the middleman and other intermediaries that make it more difficult to deposit and withdraw funds. This ensures security and accessibility for the community. “Excluding fiat makes online fantasy sports a safe and easier process,” said Mangazeev.

I am a criminal defense/internet attorney, writer and law professor in Dayton, Ohio. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas. As a millennial, I’m able to provide a unique perspective on social media crimes that occur on social media platforms, as well as advocating for the growth of new technologies and digital monies, while balancing the privacy risks associated with buying into such areas, as it affects its users, specifically young children, millennials, adults and businesses. I studied on Semester At Sea in 2011, traveling to 12 countries, including Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, India, Vietnam, China and Taiwan, studying how technology affects children and young teens in these countries in comparison to the U.S. I also work as a consultant for ABC, FOX and NBC across Dallas and Ohio on the latest news in the technology law realm. For more information, follow my #CYBERBYTE series.