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As many DFS players know, the legality of fantasy sports in Canada is a grey area. It’s legal in the majority of the US, and there is no current legislation that specifically prohibits daily fantasy sports in Canada. So why is it not legal, then?
It’s A Debatable Situation
The legality of daily fantasy sports is debatable. Who’s Who Legal reported that: “In Canada, no legislation specifically exempts fantasy sports from gambling and betting laws, and no criminal law cases involving persons offering fantasy sports to players located in Canada have been reported by the national courts.” This basically implies that there is no specific law against DFS but there is one against gambling. Therefore as an individual you are unlikely to be prosecuted for playing it.
Canadian DFS players are accepted by FanDuel and DraftKings as of September 2014. It is up to the host of the site to decide whether or not to accept players. Even though an individual may not be prosecuted for playing DFS, a company can be.
Star Fantasy Leagues is a smaller DFS site and it exempts Residents of Prince Edward Island and the province of Quebec from participating. This is due to the fear that they will be prosecuted. Not long ago, FanDuel restricted players from Quebec. Now all restrictions have been levied, and residents are eligible to play.
It’s Legal in the US
In the US daily fantasy sports is now legal through the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2006). The Act “specifically exempts fantasy sports, which dodged the bullet because most experts consider it a game of skill.” DFS has not been exempted in Canadian laws, leaving an open ended article in the CC.
Fantasy Sports Require Skill
The legality of daily fantasy sports in Canada relies on Part VII of the Canadian Criminal Code. In particular the definitions of “game” and “bet”. The Criminal Code defines a game as “chance or mixed chance and skill”. A bet is defined as an event that is “placed on any contingency or event that is to take place in or out of Canada”.
DraftKings isn’t illegal in Canada. This is because the terms and conditions state that: “contests offered on the website are contests of skill.” Emphasising “game of skill” the DFS site dodges a legal bullet in Canada, for now.
Is DFS a Game of Chance?
When DFS was made illegal in New York, the Canadian Gaming Association proclaimed that it should be illegal in Canada, too. Commissioned attorney Don Bourgeois decided to investigate the matter, “I looked at it. Is it a game of skill? No, not for purposes of the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code of Canada says if a game is a game of mixed skill and chance then it is considered a game of chance. That’s gambling.”
According to CBC News Canada, Michael Lipton, a lawyer at Dickinson Wright law firm in Toronto, highlighted that the Canadian authorities don’t see daily fantasy sports as an immediate threat. He stated that “Authorities are more focused on anti-terrorism, and drugs, and biker gangs and the like, and they should be.”
Daily Fantasy Sports Made Legal
In October 2015, the owner of the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment signed a deal with DraftKings. According to Sports Net, “the company was confident that DraftKings doesn’t meet the legal definition of gambling”.
Sports Net also reported that an expert on Canada’s gambling law, lawyer Chad Finkelstein, stated that: “those who sign up for DraftKings or other paid daily fantasy sites won’t face any negative consequences, but those who offer fantasy sports need to prove their products aren’t the games of chance that fall under strict regulation in the criminal code.” This is reassuring news for any DFS player in Canada.
The water is murky in the pool of daily fantasy sports! As DFS isn’t strictly defined as illegal in Canada, millions of Canadians partake in the game without consequence. With so many enthusiastic DFS gamers, we’re sure to hear an uproar if the legislation is amended.
NB: Take into consideration that the law can change, and that this article is an overview of the general situation of the time of writing it.
Now that you know DFS is legal in Canada, find the best online betting sites for fantasy sport!