Legal DFS in Indiana
In many states, the legal status of daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests is unclear. Indiana is a notable exception. A bill regulating and legalizing DFS sites in Indiana was signed into law in March 2016.
Daily fantasy sports contests are short-duration picks games that mimic the seasonlong contests enjoyed in offices and among friends. Pick the best team under a salary cap, and you can win real money. On this page, we cover everything you need to know about daily fantasy sports contests in Indiana.
Top DFS Sites in Indiana
What is DFS?
For those new to daily fantasy sports, here is an explanation. All players are given a salary cap to pick individual players in major sports leagues. The cap prevents you from picking all the best players, creating additional strategy constraints. After the game(s) are complete, your lineup is assessed on its performance.
Game stats for each player then determine who wins. How many winners there are and how much they win will depend on that specific contest’s rules. You can join a league covering the NHL, NFL, NBA or MLB games. There are even leagues for college games and more obscure sports as well. The most common duration is a single day or week, though longer contests are also out there. You can set up a small league with friends or colleagues or join nationwide contests with massive prize pools and thousands of participants.
Other options include head-to-head and 50/50 contests, where half of the players double their stake. You can buy in for as little as a quarter or enter the pro DFS pools with buy-ins at $1,000.
Is DFS Legal in Indiana?
You’ll find significant differences in the approach to DFS across different states. Many states ban these contests, including Arizona, Alabama, Hawaii and Washington state. Other states, e.g., Indiana, have legislation that covers these contests explicitly. Most states live in some legal limbo, allowing DFS to continue without it being explicitly legal.
For Indiana, Bill 339 was signed into law by then-Gov. Mike Pence on March 24, 2016. The Indiana Gaming Commission regulates DFS contests throughout the state. Licensing fees and taxes were introduced, along with responsible gaming rules and a requirement for a yearly third-party audit.
DFS Sites DraftKings, FanDuel and Everyone Else
DFS contests are similar to poker rooms in that bigger player pools create a positive feedback loop.
DraftKings and FanDuel have grabbed a 90%+ market share thanks to aggressive marketing and big budgets. That helps them offer bigger prizes, more contests and better promos than the competition. With these two sites owning so much of the DFS market, some new sites and apps are starting to innovate. New angles on the old contests, such as involving parlays, are beginning to appear. Below is an overview of the big two DFS sites.
This Boston-based site started in 2012 and has grown to dominate the DFS scene in the US and Canada. The number of contests covering major and college leagues is bigger than any other site.
You can deposit with credit cards or PayPal. New players who sign up at DraftKings get $20 free on their first deposit. Meanwhile, new and existing DFS players get a deposit match of up to $500. Regular promos and loyalty schemes keep your bankroll topped up. You can play at DraftKings either through its sports betting app (for both Apple and Android devices) or via its website. The website will automatically adjust the display to match your device’s screen.
The main contests are split into leagues, head-to-head and 50/50 games. There are also qualifiers, which let you win entry into bigger prize contests either directly or using a “steps” structure. Many contests have guaranteed prize pools. These pay the stated amount even if the sum of player entries doesn’t meet the target. While the major sports are the biggest draws, you can also play DFS contests for other events such as golf, soccer, motorsports, e-sports and MMA.
The FanDuel platform does not have as many minor sports options as DraftKings, but there are plenty of extras for experienced DFS players. New players that sign up for FanDuel DFS via PlayIndiana will receive $5 in bonus money instantly and an extra $5 on their first deposit.
This is the tip of the iceberg for promotions with a player’s club supplying extras. FanDuel “training camps” show you how the contests work. You can access FanDuel via its apps or the website. One feature that makes this site stand out is the guaranteed prizes for contests.
While these are competitive, the rewards are certainly there if your picks come through. You can enter head-to-head and 50/50 contests. FanDuel uses indicators to show how many experienced players have entered, which can help you tell how stiff the competition will be. Sports include all the major leagues: NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. You can also enter contests based on college sports, soccer or golf.
What Contests Can I Play at DFS Sites?
There are a lot of formats for DFS games. The mainstay is the leagues, which are multiplayer contests. You’ll find that the sports, rules and payouts vary. Head-to-head contests are individual challenges where the winner takes the prize. Here is an overview of the DFS game variations:
- GPP Games: You’ll find many leagues with guaranteed prize pools (GPP). The big advantage of these is that they pay the stated amount, even if the entries don’t meet the target. Of course, the bigger the prize, the more players it attracts. These cover all of the sports available by each DFS site.
- Leagues and Contests: Any player can create a league or one-off contest, which can be public or private (by invitation only) for friends or colleagues. The creator then determines the sport, salary cap rules, prize amounts and how the winnings will be split. Leagues can have contests that repeat after a set amount of time. For example, weekly contests for an entire season.
- Head-to-Head: This format pits your picking skills against one other person. There are thousands of opportunities to play on matchdays. FanDuel uses a matrix, where you can enter a contest and face off against several opponents in multiple head-to-head matches.
- Qualifier Contests: These take on different formats through the same objective. You enter a picks contest for a small stake and win entry into a bigger buy-in contest. DraftKings offers a “steps” model involving several tiers qualifiers.
- 50/50 Games: This is a lower variance DFS format. Half of the field wins double their entry fee, while the other half gets nothing. While it can be difficult to win the bigger contests, here, you only need to get into the top half to win a prize.
- Multipliers: These games take the 50/50 contest idea and offer 3x or bigger entry fee multipliers for those who hit the top tiers with their picks.
Daily Fantasy Sports Strategy Tips
There are plenty of amateur sports fans and recreational players at DFS sites. Some pros make their living by out-picking the competition. At the smaller stakes, you’ll have a genuine shot at making money. You’ll need to make your selections and pick the right games more seriously as you move up.
5 DFS tips for profitability
With so many sports and game variations to choose from, many suggestions for DFS players involve who to pick for your lineups. These 5 tips are general and will help you avoid common mistakes:
- Don’t Leave Salary Gaps: As a general rule of thumb, salary levels given to individual players are a good reflection of their value. If you are consistently picking lineups that leave you short of the cap for your contest, you are probably not playing optimally. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to spot situations where salary gaps can be ok. To begin with, try to keep your gaps as small as possible.
- Take Advantage of Beginner Contests: Many games are for beginners only. You’ll find opponents at the same level as you in those games – not the experienced players. Taking advantage of this goes hand in hand with taking advantage of promotions and bonus offers.
- Multiple Lineups: While a single lineup can hit it big for you, many players prefer to spread the risk. Making smaller changes to your lineups and entering multiple contests, each for part of the stake you would have bet on the single lineup, is a great method for spreading your risk. You will also find this a quicker route to finding out what works and which types of selections fall short.
- Bankroll Management: I’m sure you have already heard the adage never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. By employing bankroll management principles, you can not only avoid going broke – you can put yourself in a better position to become a profitable bettor.
- Game and Contest Selection: As a new player, you’ll want to check out all the different ways to enter contests and often a few other sports. The game selection goes further than this. You can balance the variance levels of different formats. For example, that big GPP (guaranteed prize pool) contest might be popular, but only a few players will win. Balancing this with some 3x or 50/50 contests will reduce your overall risk. This, in turn, will put you in a better position to come back for future contests and take another shot at big money.
Wrapping Up: DFS in Indiana
In 2016, Indiana legalized daily fantasy sports contests for real money. It’s important to know that DFS winnings, like all gambling winnings, are taxable.
DFS contests are a great way to bet on your favorite leagues in addition to legal sports betting. Both offer ways to bet on sports, so there’s something for every gambler.