DFS vs Sports Betting: Which One is Right for You?

You have two options if you want to make some money — DFS and sports betting. Think they're the same? They're not. But which one is right for you? While they do have some similarities, they're vastly different animals.
How DFS Compares to Betting on Sports

Sports have always been a popular pastime for many people. It brings excitement and thrill not just to players but also to its viewers. With the emergence of fantasy sports and sports betting, sports enthusiasts can now get more involved in the games they love. Two of the most popular forms of sports engagement today are daily fantasy sports and sports betting. But which one is right for you? In this blog post, we will discuss the difference between DFS and sports betting to help you determine which one fits your interests and skill level. 

To start, we think it’s important to clear up any confusion as to what each is. What makes DFS – DFS? How about sports betting?

These two industries may seem straightforward, but there are a few nuances that make them unique.

What is DFS?

Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS as most players call it, is a game in which contestants assemble a lineup of athletes to compete against other contestants based on the individual player’s statistical performance in actual games. 

Like traditional fantasy sports, contestants draft a team of players, but only for a single day or a week of play. 

Several other contests fall into the DFS arena, such as head-to-head, 50/50s, double-ups, and guaranteed prize pools (GPPs). These variants have evolved over the years to make DFS more accessible to a wider range of players.

While football is the most popular DFS sport, DFS can be played in several sports, such as basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, racing, and golf. 

In DFS, participants have the chance to win real money based on the performance of their chosen athletes. Although, instead of betting against the house, they are competing against other players. 

DFS contests have entry fees, and the payouts vary depending on the type of contest and how many participants there are.

What is Sports Betting?

On the other hand, sports betting is simply wagering on the outcome of sports events. You’re provided odds for the outcome, and you make calculated decisions about whether you think you can win that bet — hence the name sports betting.

This can entail moneyline bets, point spread bets, over/under bets, and many others. These bets can be placed before the event or during the game.

Sportsbooks have been getting increasingly sophisticated with their markets as well over the years. There are proposition bets, which allow you to bet on specific details of a game, such as who will score first or which team will win the coin toss. There are also live betting options, giving players the opportunity to place bets while the game is in progress.

Sports betting can be done both online and offline, depending on where it’s legal in your jurisdiction. 

Armed with a solid understanding of what DFS and sports betting are, let’s talk about some of the similarities between the two.

Similarities Between DFS and Sports Betting

Despite having different regulations in all states, the two markets have more in common than you might think. Some of the similarities include—

  • Based on Real-life Sports Events: Both DFS and sports betting rely on real-world sports events. Players in DFS create fantasy teams based on actual players, while sports bettors place wagers on the outcome of these events.
  • Require Strategy and Knowledge: Success in both DFS and sports betting requires a deep understanding of the sport, player statistics, and strategy. This knowledge is used to make informed decisions, whether it’s selecting a player for a fantasy team or placing a bet on a specific outcome.
  • Risk and Reward: Both DFS and sports betting involve a degree of risk. Players in DFS risk their entry fee in the hope of winning a larger prize pool, while sports bettors risk their wager with the hope of winning money based on the odds set by the bookmaker. In either market you can take advantage of bonus codes as well.
  • Legal and Regulated: In many jurisdictions, both DFS and sports betting are legal and regulated activities. This ensures fair play, responsible gaming, and protection for the players. That’s about as far as the two go when it comes to legal similarities, as there are more differences than commonalities.
  • Influence of Player Performance: The performance of real-life players directly influences the outcomes in both DFS and sports betting. A player’s performance can affect the points scored in DFS and the outcome of a bet in sports betting.

That right there is why many think DFS and sports betting are the same thing. It’s not until you start comparing them directly with one another that the differences are apparent.

Pro Tip: Some sites that offer both DFS and sports betting allow you to use the same account login information for both sides of the house. For example, if you have a FanDuel DFS account and sports betting is legal in your state, you don’t have to create a new account.

Differences Between DFS and Sports Betting

There are some huge differences between the two, and we’re going to go over the most important ones. When it comes to DFS vs Sports Betting, here are some of the key differences.

Legal Differences

We felt this was the biggest difference, even though it was mentioned earlier. DFS is legal in the majority of states, while sports betting is only legal in a handful. Sports betting is still illegal in many states due to federal laws and state regulations.

While some states don’t specifically outlaw DFS, such as Texas, DFS sites openly operate in these states. With sports betting, though, there are usually explicit laws supporting or opposing sports betting. It is much more tightly regulated and not as widely accepted.

Skill vs. Luck

The skill vs. luck difference is the biggest argument many states make in terms of DFS or sports betting.

DFS is a game of skill, while sports betting is largely based on luck. DFS players must strategically assemble their teams and make decisions based on player statistics and performance predictions. In contrast, sports bettors rely more on chance and odds set by bookmakers.

Think of it this way. With DFS, you’re putting together a lineup against another player who has the same information available to them as you do. Whoever crafts the best team wins. In sports betting, you’re placing a bet against the house and hoping that chance is on your side. You have no control over the odds (somewhat, but that’s a discussion for another day), and the house is not making decisions based on skill or knowledge.


The payouts are also vastly different between the two forms of gaming. In DFS, winners can receive massive payouts, with some tournaments having prize pools in the millions of dollars. In contrast, sports bettors typically receive smaller payouts based on the odds set by bookmakers.

While both can be lucrative forms of gaming, DFS has the potential for larger payouts due to the skill involved in creating a winning lineup and the small amount required to get into the contest.

To win it big with sports betting, you either have to put a lot of money on the line or put together a parlay that is so unlikely it’s basically winning the lottery. 

Time Frame

Another difference between the two is the time frame of engagement. 

In DFS, the game only lasts for a single day or a week of play. Most are for the one day of play, but some sites like OwnersBox offers weekly lineups, which is like a mix between DFS and season-long fantasy leagues. 

After the games, the players’ scores are calculated, and winners and losers are determined. 

Sports betting, however, can happen even before the season starts, making it a long-term betting practice. Of course, you can bet on single games or even make a day of it and bet on several games on the same bet slip, but the nature of sports betting is that you can make a bet at any time during the season, even if it’s just for fun. DFS is a bit more restrictive in terms of time frames.

If you are looking for short-term engagement, DFS might be your thing. But if you are more interested in long-term engagement, sports betting may be the one for you.

Do you Prefer DFS or Sports Betting?

DFS and sports betting are both engaging and thrilling ways to get involved in sports. But they do have their differences that make them attractive to different types of players. 

If you are looking for a short-term and budget-friendly option that lets you exercise control over the outcome, DFS might be for you. 

But if you want to engage in a long-term and high-risk game that requires knowledge of the sports industry, then sports betting might be the one. 

Whichever you choose, both have the potential to turn into a profitable and enjoyable activity. It all comes down to personal preference and what you are looking for in your gaming experience. So, which will it be for you — DFS or sports betting? 

Matt Brown

Head of Sports Betting and DFS

Matt’s love for sports betting and daily fantasy sports, coupled with a deep understanding of football, hockey, and baseball, shapes his innovative thoughts on Hello Rookie. He has a B.S. in Aeronautical Computer Science and a M.S. in Project Management.