DraftKings Sportsbook Continues to Prepare for Ontario Launch

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DraftKings Sportsbook is going to be late to the party in Ontario’s commercial sports betting and iGaming sector. Officially launched on April 4, Canada’s most populated province has set a new standard for gaming throughout the country.

US-based operators such as FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook were able to get in on the ground floor. DraftKings may be lagging behind as May drags on. However, the Boston-based sportsbook operator still has big plans for north of the border.

To set the stage for legal mobile sports betting and iGaming in Ontario, we do know that DraftKings will be dropping its daily fantasy sports (DFS) offering. The company released the following statement earlier this month:

However, shortly before the launch of Sportsbook and Casino, users physically located in Ontario will be restricted  from playing in both free and paid daily fantasy sports contests on DraftKings. Until that time, you can continue to play daily fantasy sports on DraftKings as normal.

The company then followed up that message by stating that as of May 17, DFS customers will be limited to play in eligible Canadian provinces and US states. That official statement added:

While we know this is unfortunate news for our passionate daily fantasy sports players, we will continue to work with the provincial government to try to bring daily fantasy sports back to Ontario as soon as possible.

The silver lining in these statements implies that the launch of legal sports betting and casino games through the DraftKings’ mobile betting app is right around the corner. The highly anticipated launch is a major part of the company’s growth strategy in the entire North American legal gaming market.

Ceasing operation of its DFS site in Ontario was not unexpected. The framework for Ontario’s commercial gaming sector is unique to Canada. Gaming has always been controlled by government-owned lottery corporations at the provincial level.

The governing body in this province is the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. The new laws paved the way for expansion into both commercial sportsbooks and iGaming casino sites. However, DFS has basically fallen through the cracks for the time being.

The Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association has estimated that there are as many as two million DFS players in Ontario. However, the province’s strict rules for use have hindered operation. FanDuel stopped offering daily fantasy sports contests on April 1 ahead of going live with sports betting in Ontario.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel are focusing all of their energy on the launch of their mobile sportsbook and iGaming app in Ontario. However, they are not walking away from DFS operations entirely in that province. Each company is pushing for a change in the current regulations to make the DFS industry more profitable in that market.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US sports betting industry expert.