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Saturday, October 1st
It's not uncommon to see even casual sports fans taking part in fantasy football, baseball or other types of leagues. Although you can win cash prizes, you don't necessarily need to spend money to participate in a daily, season or dynasty fantasy games. Let's take a look at the various ways that you can participate in a fantasy league without the need to wager hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Start a Private League With Your Friends or Colleagues
A private league allows you to engage in a friendly competition with your friends, family members or colleagues. As a general rule, you'll draft a team that you will manage during the course of a league's regular season. However, private dynasty leagues are available that allow you to manage a team over the course of several seasons. If that isn't your thing, you can get a group of people to play in a free daily contest.
Join a Public League
Most companies that offer fantasy sports games will give you the option of joining a public league that is open to anyone who wants to play. Public drafts typically happen around the clock for several weeks prior to the beginning of a given league's season. For example, if you wanted to play fantasy football, you would likely be able to participate in a public draft during the months of July and August.
In some cases, you will draft a team and then wait until it is matched up against a random opponent. This is often done when you choose to participate in a daily fantasy contest, and typically, your team will be matched against one that is created by an opponent who has a similar rating to yours.
You Might Still Win Cash or Other Prizes
It's worth noting that you can still win cash or other prizes even if you don't join a money game. For example, if you join a private league with your friends, that league might still hand out a trophy, championship belt or some other object recognizing the winner of the league.
Public leagues may also award cash payments to those who meet certain criteria by the end of the event. In lieu of cash, you may be given credits that can be used to enter future paid contests without having to risk any actual money.
How Do You Join a Public or Private League?
To join either type of league, you will need to create an account with your preferred fantasy sports broker. The vast majority of game providers will allow you to create an account for free, and if you aren't playing for money, you won't need to provide a lot of information to complete this process. In most cases, you will simply create a username, verify your date of birth and start searching for a contest to enter.
The reason why you need to verify your date of birth is because you need to be at least 18 to play fantasy sports. However, most gaming platforms will allow those who are at least 13 years of age to play if they have a parent or guardian's permission.
It's worth noting that most private leagues will have their own identification number and password, and you will need to enter this information to join one. Registration information for public groups will generally be displayed on a site's homepage or in another prominent location.
You Will Typically Be Limited to One Entry Per Contest
Typically, most games that are free to participate in only allow you to submit a single lineup. This allows a greater number of people to take part in an event, and it also increases the odds that participants will have a good time playing even if they have limited experience with fantasy games.
Generally speaking, an entry limit dissuades professional gamers from taking part in free events. This means that novice and casual gamers have a greater chance of finishing high enough in the standings to win a prize. If you do decide to migrate to paid contests, you will often see players submit multiple lineups to increase their odds of generating a profit.
It's important to note that entering a contest more than once is not illegal or frowned upon if the contest rules allow it. However, it is worth noting that coordinating your lineups with others in an effort to manipulate the final results is generally against the letter and spirit of any contest's rules.
Why Do Companies Allow You to Play Fantasy Sports for Free?
The key reason why most fantasy leagues are free to play is that it allows the companies that run them to attract a larger pool of users. Ideally, these users will eventually be funneled to paid contests where they will generate more revenue for these platforms. Alternatively, a platform is simply hoping to generate buzz that it can use to raise investment capital, charge more for advertising on its website or for other marketing purposes.
Of course, you can always use a dummy email address when signing up for a fantasy sports account. You are also under no obligation to provide your primary phone number or provide other sensitive information that might reveal your true identity. If you are not playing for money, there is also no need to provide bank, PayPal or other financial information to a fantasy game provider.
Does a Promotion Sound Too Good to Be True?
You may see advertisements for various fantasy platforms saying that you can win $50 if either team scores a touchdown in a given game. If this seems like the house has made it a little too easy to win, you're not wrong. However, these offers aren't scams or otherwise efforts to dupe you.
Instead, they are simply another way to create incentives for people to create accounts and interact with the products that these companies have to offer. If you read the fine print, you'll notice that payouts are in the form of account credits that are only good for use on the platform that you have signed up to use.
Always Play Responsibly
Legally, fantasy sports are considered to be a game of skill, which means that participating in a fantasy sporting event is not seen as gambling. Therefore, you're likely not breaking the law if you do decide to spend money to play a fantasy sports game.
However, if you have had issues with gambling in the past, it might be in your best interest to avoid playing any game that requires a certain amount of luck to be successful. This is because it may trigger that part of your brain that wants to take unnecessary risks.
Although you may start out with free games, there is a chance that you'll eventually fall back into making cash wagers, which may not be in your best interest. Most platforms that offer free fantasy sports contests have resources available to help those who need assistance with a gambling issue.
Playing fantasy sports can be a great way to have fun with friends without having to spend any money. For many people, it can also be a great way to learn more about the teams and players that their friends, family members or others follow on a regular basis. Ultimately, it can help you form stronger bonds with those in your community, which may be especially important if you are in a new city or are otherwise looking to branch out socially. Leagues and contests take place throughout much of the calendar year, so there is no better time than now to start playing.
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