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NFL Season Kicks Off, But Fantasy Issues Prevail in Ontario

The new NFL season is just around the corner and Ontarians have plenty of betting options to place their wagers on. However, this is not the case for fantasy options, as the province has yet to resolve its limited fantasy sports contests. Therefore, popular sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and Underdog will not offer paid fantasy sports offerings in Ontario for the new season.

Ontario is the only province in Canada to allow numerous private-sector operators to run gambling sites, which led to numerous sports betting websites emerging in the province. However, it found that the legalization of third-party iGaming has led to a decrease in fantasy sports activity due to legalized sports wagering. Hence, many fantasy operators exit the scene.

No Progress at the Time

Peter Schoenke, the president of RotoWire and the person responsible for government affairs efforts for the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association said there has been no news on the topic. In a recent interview, he explained that there is plenty of interest from consumers but he is yet to find a lot of buy-in from federal or provincial politicians.

Currently, the province considers fantasy services pay-to-play, meaning that such operators must pay licensing fees and share their revenue with the local government. In addition to that, the province states that all participants must be physically located in the province. Thus, leaving player pools relatively small and larger companies lost interest in fantasy offerings in the province.

Meanwhile, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates iGaming, said choosing to offer or not fantasy sports is an individual business decision that applies to registered operators. Last week, the regulator’s team said that free-to-play fantasy sports have been and will continue to be allowed in the province, even after the launch of its iGaming sector.

Due to the smaller pool sizes, FanDuel said that this will lead to limited future contests and significantly smaller prizes, which may not sound too good for Ontarian consumers. The company suspended DFS offerings in the province in March 2022. It explained that if regulations are changed to allow larger contests, it would be interested to renew DFS service in the province.

There is a little optimism that the DFS scene in Ontario will change, after earlier this year, the province’s Attorney General Doug Downey said fantasy sports were impacted by the launch of the jurisdiction’s iGaming market. Hence causing liquidity issues. He did not say much on the topic but insisted he is working on something to help the sector.

Committed to the Cause

Mr. Schoenke also acknowledges legal sports betting issues are catching lawmakers’ attention, hindering progress on fantasy-related reforms in the province. Despite the challenges, he and the FSGA are committed to advocating for change in Ontario, although it may take another NFL season or two before any significant changes finally come to life.

Source: Zochodne, Geoff “Ontario Set for Another NFL Season of Plentiful Sports Betting, but Limited Fantasy OptionsCovers, September 5, 2023