DraftKings’ Ontario licence approved six weeks after market opens

| By Daniel O'Boyle
DraftKings’ licence application in Ontario has been approved, six weeks after the Canadian province opened its sports betting and igaming markets.
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The US-based operator has been registered as an operator by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, a final step before it actually receives the licence.

DraftKings’ application is the 37th to be approved in Ontario, though this includes multiple applications from operators such as Entain and SkillOnNet that intend to offer their services using more than one website.

However, DraftKings is only the 12th operator to be approved for a two-year licence, with all others except the provincial lottery being approved for only one year.

DraftKings was among the most notable absentees when the Ontario market launched on 4 April, and was still not registered as an operator when further applications were approved in the following weeks. Meanwhile, operators such as Unibet, theScore, BetRivers, 888, PointsBet, LeoVegas, Bwin, Bet365, FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars all secured licences before launch day.

However during the business’ 6 May Q1 earnings call, chief executive Jason Robins said the operator was planning to launch in Ontario “in the near future”.

The opening of the Ontario market followed almost three years of efforts to replace the provincial monopoly with a licensing system. 

The government first revealed plans to end the lottery’s online gambling monopoly in April 2019. Final standards for online betting and gaming were then published in September 2021. The online gaming standards included limits related to game design, such as a ban on autoplay, while the sports betting rules limited marketing and required operators to join an integrity body such as IBIA.

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