While many Ontarians are betting with a plethora of new legal sportsbooks this NFL season, daily fantasy sports players across the province are still mourning the loss of fantasy sports competitions.
The Regulation of Single Event Sports Betting in Ontario effectively stopped most DFS operations in the province, as major operators like FanDuel and DraftKings have launched their respective sportsbook and iCasino products.
Regulations put in place by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission do not ban DFS in the province, but they have made it more difficult for licensed operators. The reason for this is that they do not allow Ontario players to have shared cash with other jurisdictions, so contests must be circumscribed to Ontario, which severely limits potential player pools and prize money.
FanDuel has decided to shut down its free and paid DFS contests in the province on April 1 before joining the regulated sports betting/iCasino market on April 4. DraftKings followed suit by shutting down its DFS operations when it later joined the market in mid-May.
While the FSGA welcomes the regulation of single-event sports betting in Ontario, the regulations have unfortunately made it impossible to run paid-for sports competitions in the province for almost all operators.
Read the press release: https://t.co/fSWc7c3YGI
— FSGA (@FSGAtweets) March 28, 2022
DFS is not completely dead in Ontario
So what should SFN players in Ontario do now? Well, there is at least one other option – OwnersBox – to use.
OwnersBox is an Ontario-based sports tech company with a fantasy sports platform hoping to attract users through community and competition. Founded in 2019, OwnersBox operates in 36 states and across Canada, including Ontario. There are around 40,000 users on the platform, which is available for download on Android or iOS, or users can play on ownersbox.com. Nearly 10,000 of those users signed up in the last month leading up to the NFL season.
“Our goal is to reach over 50,000 users by the end of the year. I think we can definitely achieve that,” said OwnersBox co-founder, vice president of content, Sandy Plashkes. Sports handle.
(Image courtesy of OwnersBox)
According to Plashkes, OwnersBox is now the only DFS option in Ontario besides Drafters, a Toronto-based fantasy sports company.
“We have worked with the regulators, we continue to operate. Rules may change, but our team is constantly working with regulators to ensure we are fully compliant. We’re in their good books right now,” he said.
“I honestly think DFS will come back fully [to Ontario], but I can’t tell you when it will be. Currently, we are able to operate in Ontario. We operate in this gray area, we do not operate sportsbooks. We have had good feedback from [regulators]. Obviously, things are changing so fast.
Ontario regulators have proposed an October 31 deadline for Ontario’s unregulated online gambling operators to fully transition to the regulated market. It’s unclear how, or if, this amendment to the regulator’s iGaming standards might affect the remaining businesses in the DFS space, once formalized. But, for now, it’s business as usual.
“We have to do a good job of educating the players. The rules may change. We are here, but we are fully compliant and will listen to regulators as this process matures a bit,” Plashkes added.
Not just football, but DFS players love football
While OwnersBox has seen a surge of new signups ahead of the NFL season, the platform also offers DFS games for the NHL, MLB, and NBA.
The operator offers weekly fantasy sports games as well as DFS SuperFlex and Lightning Lineups games. Plashkes says Lightning Lineups is like a “fantasy slot machine” that lets users randomize lineups without doing a ton of research.
With a smaller user base, the prize pools are only a fraction of what DFS players would see on DraftKings or FanDuel.
“Our prize pools are probably 10-15% of what a DraftKings or FanDuel would offer. At this point, we’re a small company, but these are the biggest prize pools we’ve made. It’s exciting for us,” Plashkes said.
Congratulations to “Shake_N_Bake” for winning the Week 1 $100k Sunday Smash contest 🤑
— OwnersBox (@OwnersBox) September 12, 2022
OwnersBox also offers a significant amount of engaging content for users. Staff members frequently stream on Twitch to discuss picks and games, and the site offers a comprehensive blog with sports betting and DFS information.
“We differ from DraftKings because we cannot spend more than $300 million per quarter on marketing. We have to be brave, we have to do everything to build our brand,” Plashkes said. “I know there are a lot of [DFS] disgruntled people, especially Ontario users. We’re not as well known as a DraftKings or FanDuel yet, but people are really excited that there’s an operator here so they can at least play contests for this NFL season.
The QB Connection
Former NFL quarterback Drew Brees is an investor and promotional ambassador for OwnersBox.
Plashkes – who was born in Toronto but grew up in San Diego, Calif. – lived down the street from his idol Brees while residing in the United States and shared some coaching contacts with the NFL star. He decided to cold-email Brees’ agent in 2020 to see if he would be interested in endorsing his DFS product, and it was an immediate choice for both parties.
“He was very attentive and was a great person to be involved with the brand. He really believed in the vision and the team that we have here, and it was great to work with him,” said Plashkes, who played quarterback in high school in the San Diego area and then at Bates College in Maine.
Brees is also an ambassador for PointsBet, which has operated in Ontario since the regulated market launched on April 4.
I am extremely pleased to announce that OwnersBox has signed record NFL quarterback Drew Brees as an investor.
— Sandy Plashkes (@SandyPlashkes) September 3, 2020