Betting on Fantasy Sports in Canada: The Low-Down

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The legality of betting on fantasy sports in America and Canada is a grey area but, as it stands, fantasy sports are legal in the majority of U.S. states, and in Canada there are no current legislations that prohibit daily fantasy sports. Let’s go through the ins and outs of the situation in Canada.


 

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2006) – which the Financial Post cites for ending the American online gaming and poker industry – exempts fantasy sports from its govern as they are considered to be a game of skill, or rather, not an act of gambling.

Whilst fantasy sports have numerous different formats, the core method is to draft a pretended team of real-life players from a sport, and then compete against others for prize pools, which often costs a fee to play. The UIGEA 2006 has no jurisdiction to those of Canadian residence. As for laws that rule out fantasy sports, there are none in Canada, nor have there been any criminal cases to take precedent from.

The legality of daily fantasy sports in Canada hinges on Part VII of the Canadian Criminal Code and its definitions of “game” and “bet” – as reported by WWL. If daily fantasy sports activities are sought to be prosecuted then the defence would be that the defendant engaged in a game and not a bet, but as there is no residing precedent, the decision in such a case is uncertain.

As of September 2014, both of the two main daily fantasy sports sites (DraftKings and FanDuel) have been accepting players in Canada. However, FanDuel does not accept players residing in Quebec, and neither do lesser DFS site Star Fantasy Leagues.

In the U.S., FanDuel and Draft Kings do not accept participants from the following states:

  • Washington
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana

Limited DFS sites are available in:

  •  Mississippi
  • Florida
  • Hawaii

Whilst daily fantasy sports are currently playable in Canada, pressure on the sites from U.S. states may soon spill over the boarder and lead to legal precedent in Canada that stops the participation in DFS.

CBC highlights fantasy sports sites emphasising that their product is a game of “chance or mixed chance and skill” which has allowed them to bypass Canadian laws that don’t specify that a game needs to be that of pure skill – as there’s an element of skill involved, DFS can be constituted as a sport. However, there is still a very large element of chance as player performance is only predictable up to a certain point – and beyond that it is effectively a gamble.

Whilst states in America have been chasing up on DFS legalities, Canadian authorities have not been pursuing.

Michael Lipton, a lawyer and gaming law expert with Dickinson Wright law firm in Toronto, claims that:

“Authorities are more focused on anti-terrorism, and drugs, and biker gangs and the like, and they should be. We’ve always had a fairly liberal attitude regarding matters of this nature.”

Apart from in the states and provinces listed earlier, daily fantasy sports are still legal to participate in. However, this situation is changing regularly in the U.S. but, as highlighted by CBCNewsthe situation in Canada looks to stay the same as authorities are focused on more concerning matters.


If this awakened the lawyer in you, check out online sports betting in Canada, what’s legal?

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