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US Military Veteran Hopes to Take ReverseFantasyFootball, DraftDawgs to Next Level

Written by:
Tyrone Black
Published on:
Feb/06/2015
US Military Veteran Hopes to Take ReverseFantasyFootball, DraftDawgs to Next Lev

EAST WINDSOR, NJ – With the conclusion of the 2014 NFL season the fantasy sports market has without a question of a doubt enjoyed its largest season.  The unprecedented popularity of weekly fantasy leagues offering cash prizes without season long commitments has been extraordinary - with many new sites joining the fray at the start of this past football season. 

The day before the 49th Super Bowl, Gambling 911 had the pleasure to talk with Dan Motola, the CEO of the only daily fantasy sports site to offer leagues in both regular fantasy sports and reverse fantasy sports.  DraftDawgs and Reverse Fantasy Football are both held privately by Local Game Design, LLC (located in Mercer County NJ).  Their website went live this past September, and according to Motola the company is already strategizing ways to further grow its base of players and methods build brand-loyalty.    

Dan Motola is a veteran with the U.S. Army having served 3 years in active duty and 9 years in the National Guard.   He has as an extensive executive level experience in sales and marketing companies and content management companies.   He has enjoyed participating in fantasy football since the late-to-mid 1990s.  His passion and interest in forming his sites stem from the intellectual and analytical requirements on fantasy football as an avid patron of season long fantasy sport leagues for over two decades.  

Gambling 911:  Your Company operates two fantasy leagues – one classical and one that is unique.   Can you tell us a little about Reverse Fantasy Football? How is Reverse Fantasy Football different from the many other fantasy leagues out there?

Dan Motola:  Reverse Fantasy Football in theory has been known as the Race-to-the-bottom league, where the lowest score wins.  Traditionally it was only played in ad-hoc leagues, which were never formally organized.  We came up with a brand new scoring structure which awards points for such game-time occurrences as poor performance, low points scored, fumbles, interceptions, etc…  We are the first professional platform in a daily fashion which allows a player to play this way.  Reverse Fantasy allows a serious daily fantasy player to somewhat hedge his (or her) financial position where (for example ) if he has a Star QB in his regular daily league, he can cover his position a little by hedging the performance statistics of said Star QB  will in the reverse or will be less than stellar.

Also, for the segment of dire-heart sports fans that have never played fantasy leagues because they do not care to root for players other those on their own team, this is an outlet.  With Reverse Fantasy they can pick players on the opposing team and potentially be successful with their wager. 

Gambling 911:  We noticed that both fantasy leagues are on the same website.  In the future will there be two separate and individual websites or will Reverse Fantasy Football continue be the site to access to link onto DraftDawgs?  

Dan Motola:  This past September was our beta-launch of our site.  We really did not do any marketing since we just wanted to prove the concept was viable, and to fine tune the game and its scoring structure.  We knew fans were in search of reverse fantasy league to participate in, so decided to call our product Reverse Fantasy Football.com because of the organic search value.  However now with the conclusion of this football season, we intend to create a separate site and domain for our traditional fantasy league DraftDawgs which offers daily leagues for basketball and hockey.

Gambling 911:  What percentage of your customer base consists of female patrons? Are there any significant differences in the way female customers play fantasy as compared to male players, as far as strategy, tactics and expectations are concerned?

Dan Motola: It looks like about 15% of all of our users were women.  We have not noticed anything abnormal between the way men or women strategize or play in the leagues. 

Gambling 911:  The state of New Jersey is on the cusp of allowing statewide internet wagering on sports. Is this why you chose NJ as the base of operation for your company? 

Dan Motola:  No, NJ is actually where all of the partners are from.  It is where we all were born and raised. 

Gambling 911: Where you do legally operate, how do you stop players who are not in those locations from joining the site? Is there an age limit to join the site, and how does the site verify that? 

Dan Motola: Our programmers have code in place to meter out the proper security measures to determine those who are not in state that are legal or an age that is not legal.

Gambling 911:  We presume you only operate your sites with the FSTA permitted states. Do you operate within any foreign countries?

Dan Motola:  We also operate in Canada.

Gambling 911:  Would it make sense for a fantasy company like yours (in the future) to team up with an online sportsbook partner, such as Bookmaker.eu or Sportsbook.ag out 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 patrons, who may be looking for other avenues of expertise to put their talents instead of flat wagering.

Dan Motola:  Sure - we would have to look into the perimeters involved with such a partnership because it is only legal in Las Vegas.  If the legality surrounding the deal made sense and it was in-line with what is correct, such a partnership would be amazing.

Gambling 911:  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? 

Dan Motola:  Sure, we definitely are seeking funding for an extensive marketing campaign. We believe we can (and will) compete with new and exciting ways to play the sport we love.  We are from a fantasy sport and sporting background and we (my partners and I) have played so many games we created and developed that are not currently available in the market.  We believe enough people will enjoy the have games we will design to sustain a healthy business that will grow month to month. 

Gambling 911:  Are you familiar with the terminology white-label?  Do you and your partners have any interest in white-labeling your software in the future?

Dan Motola:  Yes sir, I am familiar with that term.  As of now no, however who know where this journey will take us.  We are open-minded and we are willing to explore any opportunity that makes sense.

Gambling 911:  The Fantasy Sports Trade Association just held its Winter Conference in Las Vegas. Did you or any of your partners attend the conference?

Dan Motola: No, I did not – neither did any of my partners. 

Gambling 911:  Has the media coverage fantasy this season translated into a boost for your own business? And how many players do you have right now in your RFF league?

Dan Motola:  Yes the media coverage has translated into boost in our business.  The number of customers depends as it is a skewed number since we did not do any marketing and we have only really only been open for business for really 2 or 3 months.  In the beginning we would have approximately 50 – 60 players in our reverse free-roll and now we have a couple of hundred, which far exceeded our expectations. We only expected (maybe) 20-30 players throughout the season because we were not marketing….yet many more people more found us.  The most of our traffic came from organic searches, which was a pleasant surprise. 

Gambling 911:  The 2014 numbers for Vegas Casinos came in 1.1% lower in comparison to 2013 – with sport betting being the only growth area (up 7.7% from a year ago)  Do you see fantasy sports taking a stab at the current sport betting growth cycle of Vegas?

Dan Motola: I don’t think so, I think it may be complementary or there may be some cross-over. 

Gambling 911:  What has been the growth rate of your business?

Dan Motola:  It tremendous exceeded expectations. All we used was social media to solely get the name out there.  During the process we were still refining the game.  Once we launched in November we started to put the name out there via Twitter, and we started see even more users.  We saw an overwhelming response that was positive.  People really got into the reverse concept.  People who were losing in their regular fantasy league ended up winning in our reverse league.  

Gambling 911:  How has the success of the weekly leagues been compared to the season long leagues?  Do you see the whole fantasy football industry moving from to week by week leagues, and the season long leagues staying in the classical baseball and other sport arenas?

Dan Motola: That is a good question.  I think season long fantasy leagues will take somewhat of a hit, because a big deterrent for a lot of people to play season long leagues is the time, energy and consistent effort it takes to win and to be good at the games.  As you know it as an on-demand world…a fast paced world, and a lot people don’t have the time to set down to do their roosters every week and to manage their line-ups every week.   However some grizzled old vets of the game will continue to play the season long fantasy league with the same guys they have played with forever.  The season long leagues encourage old friends to get together and to communicate more often…things like the draft increase the comradery behind the longer leagues.  

Gambling 911:  What is an average fantasy player worth?  How much will he or she spend on daily fantasy games in a given year? 

Dan Motola:  We don’t have too many big leagues were clients can wager a lot of money, however there are a handful of upper echelon players who do spend a lot of money.  The bulk of our players are mixed between 10 cent leagues and $500 league.  During the fantasy football season the average player spends $100-200.

Gambling 911:  How do you see mobile technology being a factor in the continued growth of your each business cycle?

Dan Motola: I think it is definitely imperative.  Most people who play daily fantasy sports like to check their scores during the game, and there are not too many people out there who will have a laptop with them, so they are going to have to check their scores on their phone.  Having a mobile platform to keep customers engaged during the game (in our opinion) is imperative for the success of the product and the growth of the industry.

Gambling 911:  Since it is free to register with Draft Dawgs and RFF and to join any of their leagues, how does your site generate income?  Is it from customer volume or is it from advertising revenue?

Dan Motola: We are not doing any advertising revenue (right now).  It is free to register and we have had free-entry leagues that offer cash prizes (for the football season).  Customers are not wagering against us.  If you join a $1 ten-person league, a service fee of 10 cents is charged to you. 

Gambling 911:  Can you compete with the likes of ESPN and Yahoo should they enter daily fantasy sports, as it is rumored?

Dan Motola:  Sure, it is all about providing something that others don’t have.  I don’t think the huge companies will get into the niche market. While we are going to aggressively pursue the existing fantasy customer that likes to the play sport as we know it, we will also continue to put out new games and new ways to play to challenge a player’s skills.  This is how we plan to compete with the likes of a huge competitor like an ESPN or Yahoo.  We come from an extensive background of knowing these games and being creative with these games for our whole lives.

Gambling 911:  Is there anything else you'd like to add that you haven't been asked about?​

Dan Motola: Yes, feedback to our site is always welcome.  Being fantasy sports fans ourselves we understand and we value everybody’s feedback.  Please don’t be shy…please continue to send us messages.  We will continue to enhance our product so to make the best service and platform for our users.  Also, we have a registration BONUS CODE (CASH10) which when entered into the PROMO CODE box instantly puts $10 into the account of new players. And we have a deposit BONUS (X20) which gives new players a 20% bonus on their initial deposit.   You can learn more here

Tyrone Black, Gambling 911.com Staff Writer

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