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If you’ve watched TV or listened to the radio at all recently, you’ve undoubtedly seen or heard an ad explaining how you can win thousands (or even millions) of dollars by kicking back and cheering your favorite sports teams on to victory. The scenes usually go something like: a football fan in his living room with his buddies surrounded by pizza and beers awaiting the final play of a big game, then celebrating his million dollar win with a giant check thanks to his favorite team pulling off a victory…it really is a sports fan’s dream.

Companies like Draft Kings and Fan Duel are seemingly everywhere in the media, with specialized codes being offered for new members to join and receive bonuses. There are even companies a bit outside of the sports realm such as WWE offering special codes for special deals on player deposits. The advertising wouldn’t be so widespread if there wasn’t a major interest in the topic, and there most definitely is an interest these days in making money by watching sports and being able to join in on the action. But isn’t all this just gambling? After a bit of research, the answer might surprise you.

While gambling on sports is illegal outside of a few select places in the country like Las Vegas, the surge we’re seeing is actually in the “fantasy sports” realm, not gambling exactly. For years, fantasy sports have been a popular way for fans to get even more out of their favorite sport and maybe make a buck or two. Many sports fans have taken part in assembling a team of their top players and gauging how they perform each week, then comparing them to their friends or family members choices; this seemingly involved task of course took on a new life with the Internet making everything easier and now these fantasy sports sites have given players a bigger field than ever to find competition.

So how is all of this not gambling? Fantasy sports are considered to be a game that players participate in for a prize, while sports gambling may involve putting money on a team to win a game. Fantasy sports involve the players using strategy and skill to win a prize instead of just placing money on a projected winner of a given game. Not everyone agrees as some still view sports betting for money as gambling regardless of the details.

Sports gambling sites are dominating TV and radio ad space simply because there is so much demand. Millions of sports fans rabidly waiting to take in every single game from their favorite sport every week can now immerse themselves even further in the game by taking on the role of owner and coach of their own virtual franchise.

Of course winning the dream commercial-style six to seven figure prize would require a substantial deposit on the players part as (just like gambling) the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. That’s where the problem may lie for some because lacking the knowledge and skill to perform well in the fantasy sports world may not equal much profit at all, but the thrill of taking a chance is likely a big draw for many fans. With players having to choose a player for each position on a fantasy team while staying under a salary cap is indeed a daunting task that can involve a lot of time for serious players, but maybe not so much for those who just enjoy the fun aspect of fantasy sports.

The wide open approach to fantasy sports really does offer something for any sports fan; the big money prizes for players that feel they are top of the line and can compete with other top level players while smaller competitions are available for players that may want to deposit less than $50 and try their luck.

Feel like you’ve seen more sports gambling ads than ever in the last month? That’s probably because the NFL is the biggest draw as the popularity of “fantasy football” has been huge for years and now with fantasy sites offering the ability to play on any device, technology has to be considered a huge reason the surge in fantasy sports is taking place. It’s almost ingrained in American culture that people must sit in front of the TV on Sundays and view as much football as humanly possible, but with money on the line, this idea has become more involved than ever.

Next time you hear or see an ad for sports gambling on the radio, TV, or the various mobile devices, you should have a better understanding of what it’s all about. Sports fans now have an outlet to either test their skills and maybe some can even make a living as a professional sports fan of sorts. The ads will undoubtedly continue as the interest in sports gambling continues to skyrocket. The question is, will things slow down due to organizations considering fantasy sports to be gambling?

Some colleges have already banned fantasy sports ads due to the ads being considered gambling ads, will this trend continue? Most likely, even more sports gambling sites will pop up and sports fans will have numerous opportunities to try their luck at making money using their sports knowledge. The bigger question is, what site will be the next one to enhance things even further and become the latest sports gambling phenomenon?