CEO Joe Brennan Jr. once worked at AOL as a director of strategy between 2002 and 2004. Now, 12 years later, he has launched a startup from the company’s tech incubator, Fishbowl Labs, that challenges the way that DraftKings and FanDuel have structured their respective “skills games” empires.
The industry that Fast Fantasy has chosen, also known as daily fantasy sports or DFS, is better defined as an arena dominated by two lucratively funded tech giants. And outside of the competition, a looming legal battle on both the state and national level has emerged to regulate the still-nascent and yet obviously controversial industry—which, depending on who you ask, offers either gambling or a “skills game” for millions of paying users.
Launched on Tuesday in the App Store, Fast Fantasy is an early-stage, 8-person Dulles, Va.-based startup that has developed a daily fantasy sports app.
This app, also called Fast Fantasy, brings a unique twist to daily fantasy sports by focusing on star players, like Lebron James and Stephen Curry, and an athlete vs. athlete performance system that pits single game stats per player against one another. Rather than picking a team of different players and recording their respective performances, Fast Fantasy posits a simple question: who will do better in this specific game, player A or player B—for example, will Kobe have a better game than the Wizard’s John Wall? As with any other fantasy sports game, Fast Fantasy has its own point rubric for in game actions like fields goals, blocks, assists, catches, touchdowns, etc.
In this Fast Fantasy platform, the user bets on 4 to 10 match ups that have been custom constructed. If they get all 4 correct then they receive a 10 to 1 payout. If the user correctly predicts all 10 match ups then the payout is 500 to 1. A user is only paid out if they correctly predict all of their individual, player vs. player match ups.
But what differentiates Fast Fantasy most is its pure simplicity. The platform is intended for rapid play, without the need for hours of research, planning and purchasing, said Brennan. “It’s [our app] made for the everyday fan … not the guy who has spent years designing an algorithm to win.”
At the moment, Fast Fantasy games focus on the NBA. But the plan is to release options for MBA, NFL, the 5 top european soccer leagues and cricket, Brennan told DC Inno. The app uses game stats and an image API from SportRadar, a Switzerland-based sports analytics company heavily invested in by D.C. venture capital firm Revolution LLC.
Notably different from the competition, and its clones, Fast Fantasy ignores a draft or salary cap process to pick players and organize a fantasy sports team. And rather than being a user vs. user game, Fast Fantasy brings a user vs. the house model much like a casino.
Brennan explained that his team has carefully constructed Fast Fantasy to avoid some of the pitfalls that FanDuel and DraftKings have recently experienced. For example, because Brennan’s game does not use a salary cap and/or draft system it avoids the threat of “insider trading.”
In September, a DraftKings employ revealed he had access to a valuable, insider database that contained information related to the popularity and trending price of pickable players. This DraftKing employee, Ethan Haskell, then won $350,000 on FanDuel. The subsequent criticism that came from this story, in addition to the seemingly imminent federal oversight, further exasperated the industry’s tedious legal standing.
Brennan, an experienced consultant to regulators and legislators dealing with iGaming and other sports gaming issues, believes that his new company will be able to avoid much of the legal conflict that DraftKings and FanDuel have attracted by instead opting for a white-label, B2B platform that, in the future, will be sold to casinos, media companies, lotteries and big cable networks, among others, in already approved/regulated states (location-tracking must be enabled).
With that being said, both a B2B and B2c model is available. The B2c model can only be downloaded and activated in regulated and approved states—i.e not Texas or New York. It is now downloadable from the Apple App Store and will soon appear on Android’s Google Play store. The app is free to download, but some form of credit or debit card must be inputted to play cash games.
Brennan says he has been in discussions with several lotteries and casinos about a possible white label game to be designed by Fast Fantasy. He declined to elaborate on these interested parties, more specifically.