- Established: 2014
- Website: www.starsdraft.com
- Mobile Compatible: Yes
- Cashout Time: 72 hours via PayPal, 5-7 business days via check
StarsDraft is an Austin, TX-based daily fantasy site that obeys all relevant state regulations. Membership is restricted to people from certain US states only. More on this below.
- First Time Deposit Bonus
- Bankroll Builder
- Refer-A-Friend Bonus
- + More
- Fantasy NFL Football
- Fantasy MLB Baseball
- Fantasy NBA Basketball
- Fantasy NHL Hockey
- Fantasy PGA Golf
StarsDraft launched in September of 2014. The site was acquired by Amaya, the parent company of PokerStars, and re-launched in September of 2015 in time for the NFL. Sure, StarsDraft is a babe in the woods, but even the longest-lived daily fantasy sports betting sites are less than a decade old.
I spent a few days becoming familiar with StarsDraft. I was able to open an account, thanks to my having a physical location in Maryland. I've learned the ins and outs of their financial and customer service policies. In this review, I'll examine what's good and what's bad about StarsDraft's daily fantasy sports betting services. We'll start with a discussion of the legality of the site and then I'll give you my general impression. We'll close with a look at the specific DFS contests the site hosts, notes on their customer service policies, and an FAQ with useful answers to common questions I hear from prospective DFS customers.
Questions about the legality of daily fantasy sports contests are getting a lot of attention in the news media and from state and federal governments. Traditionally, daily fantasy sports has operated under the assumption that it was a contest of skill, rather than a luck-based contest, and therefore not covered by state or federal gambling laws. Now that the state of Nevada has officially outlawed DFS betting (and the FBI is investigating at least one of StarsDraft's main competitors), the site has decided to restrict access to only customers who live in states with exceptions in their law books that make fantasy sports betting legal.
If you don't live in one of the following states, you can't open an account or place real money bets at the site:
- New Jersey
At the moment, you can't even open an account to play in DFS contests for free, either.
Here's what the site says about this decision: "Following a review of recent daily fantasy sports developments within a number of jurisdictions, we regret to inform you that StarsDraft is now limiting its operations to specific states."
Why are people from these states still allowed to play at StarsDraft?
The story is different for each state.
In Kansas, for example, state legislators recently passed a law granting real-money fantasy sports betting an exception from state laws against sports betting and private gambling. A similar law was passed in Maryland in 2012, modeled on existing UIGEA regulations, allowing for the playing of fantasy sports for money.
The state of New Jersey is exempted because of sweeping changes to sports gambling laws in that state, which were mostly shut down by the United States Attorney General's office. An exemption allowing for real-money fantasy gambling is one of the few bits of the law that went untouched by the federal government. In Massachusetts, all it took was a brief statement by the AG's office, asserting that daily fantasy sports bets are fully legal under the Massachusetts Code of Laws.
Though other DFS sites restrict customers from certain states, these are mostly short lists. In the wake of the site's October 2015 decision to restrict access to 46 US states, StarsDraft is now the most restrictive of the major DFS sites. StarsDraft's partial ownership by Amaya probably has something to do with this decision. Thanks to what happened with online poker, Amaya has experience in tightening US gambling markets. I think this was a too-radical move on the part of StarsDraft, but it's a decision we have to live with for now.
Do you live in one of the four states listed above?
Do you want to win cash money on fantasy sports contests?
If your answers are "Yes", I recommend that you poke around on the site, read some reviews by existing or former customers, and play a couple of free contests. The more you kick the tires, the more you'll know if the site is right for you.
Here are the things I really like about StarsDraft.
StarsDraft's website is easy to use.
The layout is intuitive. If you have any experience at other DFS sites, you already know how to get around the site and perform all the standard functions. I suppose the website is good-looking, too, though the design is nothing to write home about aesthetically.
StarsDraft hosts contests in a number of different markets.
StarsDraft boasts a market lineup that's one sport longer than FanDuel, one of their main competitors. Since Amaya is now the majority owner of the company, I expect they'll start adding new markets in the coming years. It'd be nice to see coverage for MLS and even international league soccer, since that sport's popularity is on the rise both globally and domestically.
StarsDraft is fully-legal and available in (some parts of) the United States.
In the four states where StarsDraft operates, it's the only legal sports gambling available. In the aftermath of the UIGEA bill, most Americans lost access to online gambling. Bets on fantasy sports contests are often exempted from US state restrictions on gambling.
StarsDraft's financial methods are convenient.
StarsDraft offers a number of deposit methods. The ability to deposit via bitcoin and a full range of popular credit and debit cards is a big plus. The site's withdrawal times are at or better than average for the industry.
Now for some downsides
StarsDraft recently shut down access to all but 8% of the US population.
This is a bad thing unless you live in one of the four states that StarsDraft is still open to. You can't even open an account to poke around the site, play free contests, and access customer service. If you don't live in Maryland, New Jersey, Kansas, or Massachusetts, you can't place wagers or even join.
StarsDraft doesn't offer a dedicated mobile app.
If you want to wager on DFS contests on your smartphone or tablet as a StarsDraft customer, you'll have to depend on a mobile-capable website rather than an app. A dedicated app would be better. Apps are generally more feature-heavy, offering a superior product. Mobile-capable websites are not only subject to more visual glitches, they just don't look or perform as well.
StarsDraft's bonuses are low compared to the competition.
The deposit bonus maxes out at $250, or less than half of what's available at other DFS sites. The site's referral bonus doesn't pay cash, it pays free entry into low-value contests. Amaya has the funds to do better than this. After all, they own PokerStars, the largest online poker site in the world. If you're looking to take advantage of big bonuses, you'll probably be happier at one of StarsDraft's competitors.
Their two biggest competitors are DraftKings and FanDuel. You can read reviews on these two sites on the following pages.
Below are some additional details on the bonuses and promotions available at DraftDay.
- First Time Deposit Bonus – When you make your first deposit to StarsDraft.com, you're eligible for a 100% deposit match bonus of up to $250. That's lower than the big boys in the industry. The bonus amount is earned in small chunks. StarsDraft clears your bonus at a rate of 2% of your contest buy-ins. You earn bonus cash in $0.10 increments, after clearing it at that 2% rate. Also, you only have 180 days from the date of your deposit to earn that balance, or it disappears. The 2% match rate is half what you'd get at StarsDraft's biggest competitors.
- Bankroll Builder – Every new customer earns free entry into five Bankroll Builder contests. These are DFS contests played against a computer opponent in any of the site's available sports markets. These tickets are valued at $3 each, so this is the equivalent of a $15 free play bonus. Every time you beat the Bankroll Builder robot opponent, you earn a free entry into one of the site's $1 Rake-Free 10-man contests.
- Refer-a-Friend – Earn up to 20 free plays against the Bankroll Builder for every friend you refer. Most DFS sites offer a cash reward for referring friends, based on the amount that they deposit. At StarsDraft, all your friend has to do is join, deposit at least $20, and play in one real-money contest. Your friend will earn Bankroll Builder tickets when you claim your prize.
As I've already mentioned, the bonuses here don't compare particularly favorably with other DFS sites. They still provide some added value though, so my complaint is a minor one.
StarsDraft processes deposits using methods and procedures that are standard for the industry. The site wants customers to make deposits at one of their three established deposit levels:
Of course, you can deposit any amount you want, as long as the amount is between $20 and $3,000.
StarsDraft accepts deposits via:
I don't know of any other major DFS site accepting payments via bitcoin. Come to think of it, Discover card payments aren't common, either. It's nice to see a site going the extra mile to provide a service that you won't find at their competitors. None of these payment methods require any additional fees beyond any you incur by using that method. You might be used to paying extra fees for certain deposit methods at other gambling-based sites, but that doesn't happen here.
StarsDraft.com limits deposits to $3,000 a day or a total of $9,000 per week. The site won't accept any deposit lower than $20. In order to make a withdrawal, you must participate in at least one real-money contest of $1 or more. As a security measure, StarsDraft will withdraw your winnings to your funding amount, up to the amount of your first deposit. If you want to deposit more than those posted limits, contact the site's operators by emailing email@example.com.
At this point, there are five sports available at StarsDraft. These are as follows.
I'll provide some detail about the contests for each of these sports in just a moment. First, though, let's cover some basics.
I'm going to assume that you already know the basics of fantasy sports in general. That saves you and me both a bunch of time and wasted space. Let's jump right into how DFS works, starting with a comparison between it and traditional fantasy sports action.
Think of a traditional fantasy sports game. You sign up and compete against a dozen or more other fantasy managers, using a roster that's built from your league's annual draft. Your goal is to manage your roster so that it scores more points than your opponents, every week or every game, for an entire regular season.
That description makes fantasy sports management sound complicated – and it is. Depending on the sport, you may be making a commitment to three or four roster shuffles and analysis sessions per week. You'll need to learn how to make trades, how to juggle injured players and empty roster spots, and how to predict future performance.
The main difference between that style of play and DFS is that DFS contests don't require you to commit to a roster for more than a few days. You can choose to draft a different roster every day, or for every contest, or compete in week-long contests. Winners are determined at the end of a day or a week of real sports play, payouts are handled, and you can move on to your next contest.
Did I mention yet that DFS pays out real cash prizes?
Players can choose to participate in free contests, usually just to kill time or to learn a site before participating in real-money contests.
But for the most part, DFS requires real-money wagers and pays out cash prizes.
That's another big difference between traditional fantasy and DFS.
With all that covered, here's a guide to the rules and scoring systems for each of StarsDraft.com's available DFS markets.
Fantasy Football at StarsDraft
StarsDraft.com offers NFL fantasy football contests. Though the company has yet to offer contests based on NCAA football games, I think that this will be one of the next major markets added, thanks to the popularity of fantasy football and the new ownership.
Both managers will be given a salary cap of $50,000. They use this money to draft a roster of nine players, which must be from at least two NFL teams, in order to avoid the semblance of sports betting. Players are assigned a "salary" based on their expected performance. All active players in the NFL are eligible for draft, and each is assigned a salary.
StarsDraft fantasy football rosters must include the following.
Your players score points based on their real-world performance. Here's more detail on that.
- Non-Passing Touchdowns (TDs) = +6
- Passing Touchdowns (PTDs) = +4
- 2pt Conversion (2PT) = +2
- Reception (REC) = +0.5
- Rushing Yards (RUYDs) = +0.1 point per yard
- Receiving Yards (REYDs) = +0.1 point per yard
- Passing Yards (PYDs) = +0.04 point per yard
- Fumble Lost (FUM) = -1
- Interception (INT) = -1
- Shutout/Game Start = +12
- Points Allowed (PA) = -0.5 per point allowed
- Defensive/Special Teams Touchdown (TDs) = +6
- Safety (SAF) = +4
- Interception (INT) = +2
- Fumble Recovery (FUM) = +2
- Blocked Punt or FG (BLK) = +2
- Sack = +1
- Returned 2pt Conversion = +2
Unlike every other major DFS site, StarsDraft.com doesn't include kicking in their scoring, except to hand out points for a blocked point or field goal. For some players, this may be a let-down. After all, StarsDraft has removed an entire element that's germane to standard fantasy football play.
On the other hand, when you play DFS, you don't have to learn about kickers or pay attention to what they do on the field. That means you have less research to do when preparing for the week, which is a good thing for most DFS players I know.
Fantasy Baseball at StarsDraft
I'm a fantasy football and basketball fan. I've never had the guts to play an entire season of fantasy baseball. MLB plays too many games too frequently for me. I don't know how a fantasy owner stays sane with the frequent roster shuffles they have to do. Not to mention the sheer length of the season.
The fact that there are games somewhere in the league on every day of the baseball season doesn't affect the difficulty of daily fantasy sports, since you can choose from either a one-day or one-week contest. The way I see it, getting into fantasy baseball through StarsDraft is the easy way in. You don't have to dedicate 10% of every single day to research and roster editing. You can dip in and play a contest when you want, or join a weekly contest if you're looking for a bigger challenge.
When you play a fantasy baseball contest at StarsDraft, you're playing daily and weekly contests based on results in real Major League Baseball games. Managers start with a $50,000 salary cap, and choose nine players to fill their roster.
Every team needs the following positions from at least two MLB teams.
StarsDraft is unique in that it requires a "pinch hitter," a player whose points only count if he outscores any other batter on your roster. In other words, your total score is made up of your seven highest-scoring batters and pitching staff, leaving one player out.
Fantasy baseball at StarsDraft is scored differently for batting and pitching.
- RBI / Run Scored +1 pts.
- Base Hit / Walk / Hit By Pitch +1.25 pts.
- Double +2 pts.
- Triple +3 pts.
- Home Run +5 pts.
- Stolen Base +1 pts.
- Caught Stealing -1 pts
- Innings Pitched +2.25 pts.
- Strikeout +0.40 pts.
- Earned Runs -2 pts.
- Hit or hit equivalent (hit, walk, HBP) -0.25 pts.
- Shutout +1 pts.
- No Hitter +2 pts.
- Complete Game +2 pts.
- Perfect Game +5 pts.
Fantasy Basketball at StarsDraft
FanDuel and DraftKings both cover NCAA basketball, no doubt to capitalize on the popularity of March Madness betting. StarsDraft doesn't do that, sticking exclusively to NBA basketball.
Fantasy basketball managers have a $50,000 salary cap and must form a roster of nine players from at least two NBA teams. Here's what every NBA roster in StarsDraft contests must look like.
Like the "pinch hitter" role in MLB DFS contests, the Substitute's score is only used if he outscores any other player. Your team score is determined by the score of your eight best performers. That scoring rubric is pretty simple – one benefit of DFS basketball betting is its simplicity.
Here's how points are given out at StarsDraft.
Because rosters and scoring are so simple, it's fully possible to get an idea of how your fantasy team is doing by taking a quick look at a stat sheet or box score.
Fantasy Hockey at StarsDraft
Though fantasy hockey is not as big a deal as fantasy football, it's probably the sport that's gaining the most fantasy attention in America. StarsDraft.com is taking advantage of the sport's newfound popularity, hosting almost exactly as many different DFS contests in hockey as the big names in the industry. You'll have a salary cap of $50,000 to build a roster of nine players from at least two hockey teams.
Hockey rosters at StarsDraft.com have to be made up of the following players.
The scoring is calculated as follows.
Every player except the goaltender follows this scoring system.
- Short-Handed Goal = +4
- Goal = +3
- Assist – Short Handed = +3
- Assist = +2
- Shot on Goal = +0.4
- Shootout Goal = +0.5
Goalies follow this scoring system.
- Shutout = +2
- Saves = +0.3
- Goals Against = -1
Fantasy Golf at StarsDraft
Fantasy golf works differently thanks to the setup of professional golf tournaments. Rather than looking for results every day or every few days, golfers score based on performance over an entire four-day tournament.
StarsDraft.com offers fantasy golf contests based on the performance of men's PGA players. You'll have a salary cap of $50,000 and have to put together a team of six golfers. All players taking place in the following week's tournament are eligible for the draft.
Scoring works differently, as it's based on "points-per-hole," and has nothing to do with where a golfer finishes in a tournament.
Here's the list of points given out for various performances at StarsDraft.com.
Types of Contests
StarsDraft.com offers four different contest styles.
Guaranteed contests are the most popular type in today's DFS industry. Any contest with a guaranteed prize pool is considered a "guaranteed" contest. The site makes an entire prize pool's amount known in advance. No matter how many people enter, you know how much is at stake. Obviously, the more money that's guaranteed, the more you stand to win. Contests at the high end of the scale usually come during the NFL season. Guaranteed prize pools at this level often get up into the millions of dollars. Guarantees at StarsDraft tend to be smaller for any sport that's not football.
But even in these less-popular leagues, some guaranteed contests will reward hundreds of thousands of dollars, guaranteed.
Double-ups are contests in which the winner will literally win double the entry fee. At StarsDraft, you have to finish in the top 40 percent (or so) of all entrants in order to win.
In a Heads-Up contest, you compete against another DFS player, one-on-one, for a prize. Normally, heads-up contests at StarsDraft.com are also double-up contests, in which you win double your entry fee. In the case of heads-up contests, the site will rake both entry fees, so you'll win slightly less than double.
Satellite contests at StarsDraft are similar to qualifier tournaments. These are DFS contests with relatively-small buy-ins that reward winners with entry into a contest with a much-larger buy-in. Satellite DFS contests allow players with small bankrolls but high skill levels to compete in contests they wouldn't normally be able to afford. These contests aren't just good for players – StarsDraft uses them to fill up their larger and heavier-advertised contests.
The only method of customer support listed publicly on the sites is email. The site suggests that you check their FAQ and then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions. Their Twitter page appears to be pretty active, so you could DM StarsDraft through that social media page. Here's a link to it.
The fact that the site doesn't offer a telephone number is disappointing. But it's not uncommon in the world of DFS. It may seem strange, but none of the major DFS sites make it easy to contact them except via email or social media. No online contact form is available, and it's hard to find anything like a physical address or corporate PO Box number where you could ostensibly send a letter.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about StarsDraft.com:
Is StarsDraft legal?
StarsDraft is legal anywhere in America where daily fantasy sports betting or wagering on fantasy sports is legal. Until recently, it was thought that that meant DFS sites were legal pretty much from coast to coast. StarsDraft has since clarified, stating that they believe their contests are only legal in four US states. If you live in one of those four states, it is fully legal and easy to access. If not, you won't be able to open an account at the site.
How old do I have to be to open a StarsDraft account?
If you are 18 years old or older, and you live in one of the four states where play is allowed, you can participate in free and real-money contests at StarsDraft.
Is the competition at StarsDraft easier/harder than at the other DFS sites?
I'd hate to mislead someone by making a guess at this answer, so I'll be honest. I can't tell if there is any significant difference in the skill level of players at the major DFS sites. Look, DFS is still a young industry, and it's hard to paint a big picture without many years of statistics and experience. The level of competition among the various daily fantasy sites seems about the same, and depends more on the price of a contests' entry fee than any other factor.
What's the benefit of choosing one DFS site over another?
At this point in the life cycle of the daily fantasy sports betting industry, the advantages to choosing different sites are pretty elementary. Maybe you like the way one site looks more than another. Or maybe you don't like the mobile app available at FanDuel. Some people join multiple sites in hopes of finding better or easier to beat contests. Whatever the reason, I'm sure that after reading this review and giving the site a look for yourself, you'll know in your gut which site is right for you.
StarsDraft.com offers daily fantasy sports contests in all the popular American sports. I've enjoyed the past few days of looking around, evaluating, and playing a few low-grade fantasy contests. The downsides will be significant to some players – no access to any but four US states, a lack of customer service options, low maximums on bonuses, fewer available markets than DraftKings, and no dedicated mobile app.
Still, StarsDraft is an emerging site, promising several new markets in the next calendar year, operating within the legal boundaries of the states where it is available. By accepting more deposit methods than other DFS sites, they make their services accessible to a larger pool of potential customers.
If you're looking for a place to wager real money on fantasy sports contests in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and golf, and you live in Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, or New Jersey, you should give StarsDraft.com a chance. They may not be as well-known as the big boys in the game: DraftKings and FanDuel. They aren't endorsed by pro sports leagues and former athletes, like other major DFS providers.
But they have an attractive website, a variety of deposit and withdrawal methods to suit most American players, and legal access to a form of sports betting that's catching on across the country.