Editor’s note: DraftKings Ontario went live on May 19.
Now that we are nearly a month into a new era of online sports betting in Ontario, the question is only getting louder.
When will DraftKings enter Ontario?
As the days fly by, about a dozen Ontario sports betting operators are live in Canada. But the US market juggernaut is notable for its absence from the market so far.
Canadians are also very familiar with DK from years of daily fantasy sports advertising and play. However, DFS is on the verge of going away in Ontario after the sports betting launch. Well, DraftKings and rival FanDuel are cutting DFS anyways.
RELATED: Check out our live updates on Ontario’s online gambling launch
Presumably, DK sports betting is coming soon to replace the product. But, when? PlayCanada has the most up-to-date answers.
DraftKings Sportsbook will launch in Ontario … sometime
Make no mistake about it: DraftKings Sportsbook has indicated plans to enter Ontario for sports betting and online casinos before and will certainly be there in time.
The question is, when?
It’s unusual for such a market leader to not be at the starting line for Ontario online sports betting in Ontario, a key market for the industry. Could it be a sign of things to come in other jurisdictions, such as Ohio and Maryland?
PlayCanada has reached out to DraftKings with this question and several others throughout the pre-launch process. Like many operators prior to receiving their license from AGCO, DraftKings has been publicly quiet about its plans.
Earlier this month, DraftKings did provide this statement to PlayCanada:
“DraftKings is working closely with provincial regulators to bring our top-rated mobile sportsbook and casino products to Ontario as soon as possible.”
Then, finally, last week we found out DraftKings received its registration from AGCO. That means the last hurdle to DK entering Ontario is an agreement with iGO.
So, we expect DK to launch in Ontario very soon. Certainly in the coming weeks. Perhaps before the end of May.
DraftKings a major player in US market
Boston-based DraftKings was founded in 2012 as a daily fantasy company. The brand gained a lot of prominence in that market over the next few years.
Following the May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 and opening the way for increased legal sports wagering in states outside Nevada, DraftKings launched their first online sportsbook in New Jersey in August 2018.
They’ve since expanded their sportsbook operation to 16 other states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
DFS operations shuttering in Ontario because of sports betting launch
DraftKings did have a daily fantasy operation in Canada. Like FanDuel’s that shut down in Ontario after April 1 due to changing regulations there that would mandate Ontario-only contests, but it’s expected to continue in other provinces.
However, DraftKings hasn’t yet joined that list of AGCO-registered operators.
That’s somewhat unexpected considering the size of DraftKings’ U.S. presence. A Motley Fool analysis this week estimated DraftKings has 36% of the online sports betting market across the U.S., which is up from a 30% estimate last September.
DraftKings is widely believed to handle the second-largest amount of U.S. online sports betting, behind only FanDuel (and those two companies have a significantly larger share than anyone else).
So it’s a little surprising that FanDuel has registered with the AGCO and is live in Ontario, DraftKings is still on the bench.
DraftKings playing the long game in Ontario while others will spend early
Of course, there are potential reasons for DraftKings not to rush headlong into Ontario.
One is that analysts’ key concern with the company at the moment is expenses; DraftKings earned $1.3 billion in revenue last year, a 111% year-over-year rise, but that was with $2.8 billion in operating expenses.
And they’re not projected to hit profitability soon. That has contributed to their stock being quite low (around $20 Thursday versus over $60 early last September). So they may be considering what markets they’re focusing on entering carefully.
There are also a couple of complicating factors with the Ontario market in particular.
Ontario is a new challenge, opportunity for US-based sportsbooks
For one, it’s an international market with different rules, and DraftKings has only conducted limited international expansion to date.
For another, many of the companies preparing to launch in Ontario are doing deals with specific Canadian teams and figures.
- The >Ottawa Redblacks and the Trailer Park Boys signing with PointsBet Canada
- Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky angling with BetMGM
- Sports broadcaster Dan O’Toole hosting spots for BetRivers
Several companies are also hiring big names to lead their Canadian efforts, as with FanDuel bringing in former Rogers exec Dale Hooper. So standing out in Ontario could get expensive.
We certainly expect DraftKings to bring their sportsbook and online casino to Ontario soon. Plus, DK should be in other Canadian provinces down the line.
But in contrast to the US spending spree, DraftKings might be trying a different approach north of the border.
Other sportsbooks you can download while you wait for DraftKings
Check out these operators already live in Ontario: