It’s Official: DraftKings Joins a Growing Ontario Sports Betting Market

It’s Official: DraftKings Joins a Growing Ontario Sports Betting Market
By Mark Keast

It may have taken a little bit longer than first thought, but six weeks after the launch of the regulated Ontario sports betting and iGaming markets, industry behemoth DraftKings joined the fray on Wednesday.

The Boston-based sports gaming operator made good on its promise to launch in Ontario in May, with the announcement it had sign-off from iGaming Ontario and went live with its Ontario online casino and sports betting platforms.

“DraftKings’ entry into Canada with our online sportsbook and online casino products is a significant milestone in our expansion efforts as we reach nearly 40-percent of Canada's total population," Jason Robins, DraftKings co-founder, chairman and CEO, said in a news release. "We look forward to providing the passionate fanbase in Ontario with the most entertaining and responsible gaming experience possible."

DraftKings Sportsbook Ontario was approved for an Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario license earlier this week, making them a registered internet gaming operator. Before operators can go live, however, they must have an agreement with iGaming Ontario.

There are now 23 licensed websites belonging to 15 operators live in the province, according to iGaming Ontario’s website.

 
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Earnings Call Indicated Q2 Launch

The writing was on the wall for a launch this week. In an earnings call with investors a few weeks back, Robins and CFO Jason Park indicated the company would launch in Ontario in Q2, likely May.

“Due to the presence of grey market operators, many of which have been present in Ontario for several years, we do not believe the timing of our launch will have any impact on the share we are able to achieve in that province,” Robins said during the call.

DraftKings faces stiff competition in Ontario. Among the sites to go live in early April: BetMGM, PointsBet Canada, theScore Bet, Caesars and FanDuel. BetRegal is also expected to join the market soon.

The last sportsbook operator to launch was NorthStar Bets from Ontario-based NorthStar Gaming. It went live on May 11.

 
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DraftKings DFS Shut Down

With the launch of the online sportsbook and casino, DraftKings Ontario ceased its Daily Fantasy Sports operation in the province.

On Monday, Ontario DFS users got this note from the company: 

“DraftKings is excited to launch its online sports betting and online casino products in Ontario soon. As you may have heard, users physically located in Ontario will be restricted from playing in DraftKings free and paid daily fantasy sports contests.

“As of 10 a.m. ET on May 17, 2022, you will only be able to play Daily Fantasy Sports on DraftKings while in eligible Canadian provinces and U.S. states. 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.”

Rival FanDuel Sportsbook Ontario had already shut down its fantasy sports operation because of Ontario iGaming rules, which prohibit DFS players from competing against players outside of the province. Along with online poker players, liquidity is a priority for DFS players and allows them to go against others outside of their jurisdiction.

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Contributors

Mark Keast

Mark Keast has recently covered the sports betting industry in Canada for The Parleh, and is a long-time sportswriter and editor, most notably with the Toronto Sun.