This is a hotly debated question at this moment in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) history, sparking much debate. The answer comes down to your definition of gambling.
Merriam-Webster defines gambling as:
to risk losing (something valuable or important) in order to do or achieve something
To this definition DFS, even as a game of skill, can be considered a gamble. We risk money in order to compete against others with a chance to win more money and/or prizes. By the textbook definition, DFS is gambling in the same way that buying stock options is gambling. (We’ve heard from multiple sources that marriage is also most definitely a gamble, but we’re just not going to go there.)
Despite many framing the debate in this way, the "is it gambling" question is the wrong question to be asking. There are numerous examples of activities that fit the textbook definition of gambling above that are accepted and legal in the United State of America. Daily Fantasy Sports is one of them.
The question that should be asked: Is Daily Fantasy Sports legal? (Hint: Yes.)
The term “gambling” is a highly stigmatized word and comes with much baggage attached to it. But regardless of your definition, it is clear DFS is legal federally under current US law written specifically for fantasy sports.
The way I like to think about the question is, can a skilled player expect to turn a profit over time? Or to put it another way, can it be a good investment?
In rigged games like craps, slot machines, the lottery etc, the player is certain to go broke given a long enough time frame. Strategy can sometimes be optimized, but no winning strategy exists. The house always wins. End of story.
But, in games of skill like DFS that put player against player, skilled players can and do become long-term winners. If a head-to-head DFS player has the skill to win 56% or more of his matchups against other players, he can expect to have a positive ROI over time. In this scenario, DFS can be a good bet, and can be viewed as a positive investment.
Of course, many players can and do lose money. As always, please play responsibly and never deposit more than you can afford to lose. But, one of our primary directives here at 4for4 Fantasy Football is to give you projections, tools and content to empower you to become a better and more profitable fantasy football player.