Online Poker, DFS Will Be Hurt By Ontario Online Gambling Ring-Fencing

Ontario Poker Sites Not The Only Victims Of Ring-Fencing As FanDuel Pulls DFS Product

On Friday, FanDuel is shutting down its daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests in Ontario. Next Monday, FanDuel Canada is slated to launch FanDuel Casino and FanDuel Sportsbook in the province’s newly expanded iGaming market.

That DFS shutdown is happening because on April 4, Ontario online gambling sites will be ring-fenced. This means they can only be accessed by Ontarians, and can’t network with related sites in other jurisdictions. For players-versus-player games like DFS and online poker, that will present a problem. DFS contests and poker tournaments both rely on having a large number of entries in order to offer big prizes.

For FanDuel, primarily owned by Dublin-based Flutter Entertainment, ring-fencing DFS presented enough of an issue to the operator to preemptively shut the product down. Players can continue to use the app until then and will get their money back, as well.

Will DFS and poker sites team up to fight ring-fencing?

It’s too early to tell whether operators now denied larger player pools for products like DFS and online poker will choose to fight ring-fencing or not. Poker players themselves, however, are already calling for Ontario to reconsider.

Ontario treating DFS the same as other forms of online gambling is a different situation from what’s happening in the US. American federal law has a carveout for fantasy sports, of which DFS is a part. Those products therefore enjoy global player pools.

Another challenge that may arise in Ontario is some operators, like Boston-based DraftKings, are planning to use their DFS customer databases to market their new online casino and sports betting offerings.

If online gambling operators shut down DFS products, it’s unclear whether they can market new products those customer databases. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) marketing and advertising guidelines require “direct marketing and advertising” to involve “active player consent.”

DraftKings, FanDuel and iGaming Ontario (iGO) didn’t immediately return Online Poker Report‘s request for comment today.

Raymond Kahnert, a member of the AGCO Communications Team, told OPR on March 31 that operators can’t use databases from DFS or other shuttered products to market new products:

“To clarify, for the marketing and advertising of bonuses, credits or inducements, the operator must obtain active player consent for the site offering the bonus, credit or inducement.

“This means consent cannot be implied based on consent provided on a different or third-party site, or prior to the opening of the market.”

Ontario ring-fencing products

Another Flutter brand, PokerStars, will join Ontario online poker operators on April 4 in mourning the loss of shared traffic.

Responding to an email from OPR in January regarding online poker, an iGO representative wrote:

‘Sharing traffic’ is not allowed as pooled liquidity is not permitted in the Ontario regulated market.

That rule weighed into FanDuel’s decision to pull its DFS product out of Ontario.

According to the FanDuel site:

“Due to a change in government regulations, FanDuel will not be able to offer paid or free daily fantasy contests in the province of Ontario starting on April 1st.

“Ontario residents can participate in daily fantasy contests while physically located in other provinces and within US states where daily fantasy is permitted. Additionally, Ontario residents will be able to utilize the FanDuel Sportsbook and Casino products launching in Ontario beginning April 4th.”

FanDuel Casino and FanDuel Sportsbook products are already listed as approved by AGCO for the April 4 iGaming launch. As of today, DraftKings isn’t yet one of the 16 operators on the AGCO list. However, about 30 operators are expected to eventually launch in the expanded market.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
Privacy Policy