New Fantasy Sports Site is Looking to Get Noticed

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
New Fantasy Sports Site is Looking to Get Noticed

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- This tony Southern California beach town just outside Los Angeles has always been known for great waves and great surfing, not to mention seeing an occasional celebrity or two.

But as the base for an Internet fantasy sports league?

That's something that's more likely to come out of Northern California, where tech-obsessed Silicon Valley is located.

So right off the bat, new-kid-on-the-block fantasy site Draftster ( is breaking the mold.

To find out what else fledgling firm Draftster is up to as 2015 arrives on the scene, Gambling 911 last week hit the beach and visited Draftster headquarters in California to speak with Michael Santore, whose title at Draftster is product manager.

Here is a transcript of that interview:

Gambling 911: How does your fantasy operation work and how is it different from the many other fantasy leagues out there? What states and countries are you legal in and how do you stop players who are not in those locations from joining? And what is the age limit to join and how do you verify that?

Michael Santore: Draftster is the easiest place to play fantasy sports for cash. The gameplay is similar to many sites out there, but what sets us apart is our user-interface. When you build a lineup on Draftster, you can easily import or copy it to other contests and make last-minute lineup changes to all your entries with ease. In addition to ease of use, Draftster also has what I believe to be the best technology in the space. Before contests go live, daily fantasy sites see a surge of entries, so we did everything in our power to ensure that our platform is stable and scaleable. You must be a resident of the United States and at least 18 years of age to play on Draftster. Residents of Alabama must be at least 19 years of age. Residents of Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Washington and Quebec, Canada are prohibited from playing due to state or provincial laws. A combination of automated technology and internal reviews ensures that each user's participation in our contests is compliant with Federal and state laws.  

G9: How much does it cost to join and what do you get for your money?

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MS: Draftster offers daily freeroll contests where you can enter for free and compete to win real cash prizes. Our most popular contests pay out the top 40 to 50 per cent and have entry fees ranging from $1 to $1,000.

G9: Why is your operation legal and why isn't it considered gambling?

Is there really any difference between guessing which team will have a good day and win a game, which is gambling, and guessing which players will have good days, which is legal fantasy play?

MS: Our in-house counsel has thoroughly reviewed Federal and state-specific legislation to confirm that the contests offered by Draftster are a game of skill and compliant with U.S. law. The players that consistently win spend significant time researching and projecting their fantasy teams' performance and use best practices to mitigate risk across contests.

G9: How are you preparing to compete against the commercially successful DraftKings and FanDuel?  Both companies have attracted significant investment monies recently, so are you preparing to do the same?

MS: We plan on making our presence known by differentiating our product and by focusing our customer acquisition on educating new users on how to play and win. Our team has a deep understanding of aggressive, data-driven, customer acquisition strategies and we have the capital to bring our brand to the market.

G9: Can you compete with the likes of ESPN and Yahoo should they enter daily fantasy sports, as is rumored?

MS: Yes, we can, and we plan on it. Our product roadmap includes features that touch motivations beyond financial gain, which is the driving force behind daily fantasy sports play today. Traditional fantasy sports are motivated by social camaraderie and bragging rights against close friends. Sure, financial risk is a portion of the rub, but a seven-figure prize hasn’t been required to grow the hobby to where it is today. While the core of Draftster will always be focused on contests for money, you can look forward to features that touch on the other motivations in 2015.

G9: Would it make sense for a fantasy company like yours to team up with an online sportsbook partner, such as or of Costa Rica or one of the European books such as Paddy Power of Ireland or William Hill of the U.K.?  Such a partnership would give you a ready-made customer base of sports-betting fanatics, so have any such companies approached you or vice-versa?

MS: We are open to all partnerships and opportunities to bring our product to interested users. Many of the customers that enjoy our site previously played online poker and have interest in sports wagering.

G9: Where are you based and why have you chosen that location? And are you considering branching out into other locations?

MS: We are based in Santa Monica, California, and I shouldn’t have to explain the reasons! The beaches and weather are great, but the area also offers unparalleled tech talent.  The community has a lot to offer and we look forward to integrating Draftster with the local sports fans and companies.

G9: Finally, where do you expect fantasy in general and your company in particular to be a year from now? And do you expect legal sports wagering to become more widespread in the U.S. in the coming years? If you do, how would that affect fantasy?

MS: Our goal is to quadruple our contest payouts and offer the most innovative fantasy sports platform on the market. I’m not concerned with the traditional sports wagering because it won't impact the fantasy sports industry.


Tom Somach Staff Writer

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