Benjamin Carlotti is a Co-Founder and Managing Director at DFS operator Oulala but he’s also the President of the recently formed International Fantasy Sports Association (INFSA).
Team SBC spoke with him about why such a body is needed and the primary aim of providing a help hand to operators, the growth of the DFS scene in Europe and the potential of fantasy markets outside of football.
SBC: What’s the purpose of the International Fantasy Sports Association and why is it needed?
Benjamin: The Daily Fantasy Sports sector has been limited mainly to the American market for some time now. The globalization of DFS, in addition to the announcement of its development across Europe, among other locations, has presented itself as a novel opportunity. On the other hand, this also brings about a number of new issues that must be addressed properly in order to find a satisfactory solution to them. The market has begun to develop itself at a quicker rate than stakeholders can keep up with and adapt to in light of this new reality, much like it transpires on the internet.
SBC: What’s the current status of INFSA and what are the short term goals?
Benjamin: INFSA is an association that is registered in Malta. Our aim is to help international DFS operators find the most ideal solutions to the challenges that they encounter. Theses include the need for legislators to tailor their financial and legal frameworks in line with our new offer and we regard it is vital that banks and payment platforms recognize the specific nature of our activity: we should be acknowledged as a skill game (7994) as opposed to iGaming (7995).
In order for our sector to develop and institutionalize itself, it is crucial that the media provides constant coverage. The volume of information at present is inadequate and, as of yet, there is no trustworthy source that covers the DFS market at an international level.
Finally, another big problem is that each DFS operator is currently working on an individual level. Such a lack of collaborative incentive spawns a severe shortcoming and debilitates the sector’s future.
SBC: You state that you only accept real skill games as members. How do DFS operators go about proving that to you; what’s the criteria?
Benjamin: The first element is the depth of their scoring system. Football is a complex game, therefore in order for it to be a real skill game, the scoring system must allow the game to be as close to reality as possible. If a DFS game only has around 5, 10 or 15 statistics in its scoring system, then even someone who possesses the most basic knowledge about football can deduce that it is far from being enough.
The second element is directly linked to the track record of the game. We need to ensure that the result of the scoring system is efficient. For instance: who were the best players in the game last season? Do you have customers who win more often than others? Answers to those questions give us direct information about the quality of the scoring system.
SBC: Whilst Oulala focuses on football, what do you think about the potential of other DFS markets such as cricket and esports in Europe?
Benjamin: DFS is growing everywhere in the world and cricket in India is a great example of a very promising market. This is more evidence that while DFS was invented in the States, it is not only a domestic game for American fans. Local sports promoters are also highly stimulated by the opportunity of using DFS as a case study.
We are often contacted by people who wish to launch a DFS platform on, for instance, gaelic football, grass hockey and Australian football, among others. They are able to grasp that DFS is a very efficient way of promoting their sports and evangelizing new fans.
SBC: The INFSA statement calls for DFS to be recognised legally as a game of skill and not iGaming yet Oulala and others such as Mondogoal and DraftKings all have a UKGC licence. Why is this distinction so important in territories where gambling is legal? Will it remain an issue should sports betting be legalised in the States?
Benjamin: By default, we had no other option but to apply for an iGaming licence, since it was critical to be authorized. However, the market always develops at a quicker rate than laws and it is now the European legislators’ responsibility to understand that without proper legislation, they will be preventing the ability of the sector to flourish in Europe.
The difference between skill and luck is crucial because we make one promise to our customers: “prove to your friends that you know sports better than they do”. Therefore, the result needs to be as close to reality as possible. If this were not the case then the game would simply be one of luck and this means that we would not be delivering the promise we make to our customers. Some operators may be tempted to maintain a facade of being a skill game when in reality they are in fact a game based on luck. It is imperative that those companies are not granted a Skill game licence or customers may begin to believe that DFS is nothing more than a fraud.
We find ourselves in an intriguing period of time where we can build and structure our sector. We must not forget that the future of our sector is in our hands. It is a great responsibility to bear.