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With the next football season around the corner, organisers of fantasy football leagues are being reminded by the Gambling Commission to ensure they are not caught out by gambling law.

The risk for those organising fantasy football leagues is that it could require a pool betting licence from the Gambling Commission, as prize values are determined by the number of paying entrants.

The exception to this is where it is not run in the course of a business1, or where it is run privately, for example with residents of the same premises or between work colleagues.

One area that organisers are being told to be particularly aware of is advertising and social media.

Advertising, when it comes to gambling, includes doing anything that encourages someone to gamble, or provides information about gambling facilities so that it will increase use. This includes Twitter 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 a business and will need an operating licence.

Ben Haden, programme director at the Gambling Commission, said: “Fantasy football is no doubt a popular pastime for many during football season and many will be thinking about setting up their own league this summer.

“We want to ensure that those organising these leagues - whether it’s between friends, work colleagues or otherwise - are aware of the legalities and do not breach gambling rules.”

Organisers of fantasy football leagues, or any fantasy competition involving other sports2, are encouraged to read the advice on our website.

Notes to editors

  1. The term, ‘in the course of a business’, is not defined but is determined on a case by case basis and is principally an HMRC term. 
  2. Examples of fantasy competitions involving other sports include fantasy rugby on competitions such as the Six Nations and ‘Select a Stable’ competitions on key horseracing festivals such as Royal Ascot. 
  3. More information about how we regulate the gambling industry.
  4. Useful statistics on the gambling industry

Journalists can contact our press office on 0121 230 6700 or email:communications@gamblingcommission.gov.uk

Posted on 17 July 2017