When fantasy sports is life: ‘Dueling with Kings’ author Daniel Barbarisi

November 29, 2020 | Full interview with ‘Dueling with Kings’ author Daniel Barbarisi

WASHINGTON — The world of daily fantasy sports has experienced numerous highs and lows over the past few years, from legal issues to participation and public perception.

Flashback to around August 2015 and you could not turn on the TV without seeing an ad for DraftKings or FanDuel, the two biggest players in the daily fantasy sports space. On TV, numerous commercials ran with testimonials of regular guys who won some big contest. There were countless promotions, matching you dollar-for-dollar when you deposited a certain amount of cash. You couldn’t walk down the street and see a city bus without a giant DraftKings ad slapped on the side.

Author Daniel Barbarisi was intrigued by the rise of DFS, so he quit his job as a New York Yankees beat reporter for The Wall Street Journal to live and breathe the world of daily fantasy sports. He spoke with WTOP about the future of this industry, why you don’t necessarily have to be a sports wiz to win a lot of money and what it takes to truly win some serious cash on DraftKings or FanDuel (or whatever the new site will be called when the two merge later this year).

These companies thought they were going to take over the world and change the way the consumer played fantasy sports, according to Barbarisi. Every Monday or Tuesday, they expected sports fans to be standing around the office water cooler, talking about how well or poor their lineups performed.

The reality came close to that, but in the end, the takeover didn’t go as planned. Numerous legal battles in different states shut down the sites’ ability to operate, and a lot of the money previously dedicated to that endless advertising stream ended up going to lawyers instead. Stories were reported that the industry was dominated by “sharks,” DFS players who studied contests and athletes for a living, who preyed on taking new money. People were fed up with seeing the commercials every time their favorite program went to break.

Barbarisi explores the rise and stall of the industry. He wrote “Dueling with Kings: High Stakes, Killer Sharks, and the Get-Rich Promise of Daily Fantasy Sports.”

Listen to the full interview above.

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