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.
Is StarsDraft Legal?
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
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:
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
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
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.
Should You Play at StarsDraft?
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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 protected]
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
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
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
But for the most part, DFS requires real-money wagers and
pays out cash prizes.
That’s another big difference between traditional fantasy and
You could win a cash prize at the end of a traditional
fantasy sports season, but DFS lets you win cash every day, or
multiple times a day if you want.
With all that covered, here’s a guide to the rules and
scoring systems for each of StarsDraft.com’s available DFS
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
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
Running backs (2)
Wide receivers (2)
Tight ends (1)
Flex (RB/WR/TE) (2)
Team Defense (1)
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
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
Pinch Hitter (1)
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
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
2 Flex (any position)
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
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
Double eagle = 20 points
Eagle = 8 points
Bridie = 3 points
Par = 0.5 points
Bogey = -0.5 points
Double bogey = -1 point
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,
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
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 [email protected] 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.
Summary & Verdict
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
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