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Fantasy football and gambling

Fantasy football leagues can require a pool betting operating licence because the prize values are determined by the number of paying entrants. The exception to this is if it is run otherwise than in the course of a business.

The term, ‘in the course of a business’, is not specifically defined but is determined on a case by case basis and is generally a term used HMRC.

Any person or business that offers facilities for gambling from Great Britain, or to consumers within Great Britain, must hold an operating licence from us.

When considering if a fantasy football league, or any fantasy football competition involving other sports, needs a pool betting licence, organisers must consider:

  • Does it look and feel like commercial gambling?
  • Is it run for profit?
  • Is there any deduction for running costs?
  • Is the source of participants beyond a genuine circle of friends and relations?
  • Is advertising used to obtain participants?
  • Is the size of the league beyond what is normal for a private league?
  • Can any member of the public view or join the league?
  • What is the level of activity required in running the league?
  • Are there any wider revenue sources?

Any cash fantasy football leagues that are run in the course of a business require an operating licence from the Commission to operate lawfully; without it organisers are at risk of prosecution.

Other fantasy competitions could include fantasy rugby on competitions such as the Six Nations and ‘Select a Stable’ competitions on key horseracing festivals such as Royal Ascot.

Promoting your fantasy football league

Advertising for gambling purposes includes doing anything which encourages someone to gamble with their business, or providing information about gambling facilities with the intention that that will increase the use.

This includes tweets or Facebook posts, whether public or private or within groups.

Promoting a fantasy football league in this way could mean it is being operated in the course of business and need an operating licence.