FanDuel Exits UK Market. What Does This Mean For British DFS?

Posted on August 14, 2017

[toc]Daily fantasy sports (DFS) operator FanDuel recently closed its United Kingdom domain after less than a year of business. The company says it wants to focus more on the US market.

FanDuel’s exit may not be permanent

FanDuel announced the decision at the end of July. Customers received an email telling them they would “not be offering contests in the United Kingdom,” but that this was a “hiatus for the 2017-18 season.”

FanDuel issued a statement about the departure:

“There are over 53 million people playing fantasy sports in the United States and we are investing all of our resources on that market. [We are] allocating all of our resources towards ramping up a United States product that consumers love and building out complementary fantasy sports products”.

Britain-based customers of FanDuel can remain hopeful of the site’s UK return though. The email continued to state that the New York City-based firm hopes to “be back in the future bringing you more of the games you love.” The company also has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

It was only in July 2016 that FanDuel attained its license from the Gambling Commission regulator. It then unveiled its UK-facing site in August 2016. FanDuel already faced stiff competition in the UK from its rival, DraftKings. Then the market became even more competitive when web-services provider Yahoo! entered the DFS arena later that year.

A statement posted on FanDuel’s UK-facing website reads:

“If you had funds in your FanDuel account, your balance has been credited to the most recent bank card we have on record for you. You should also have received an e-mail with more details.”

What does this mean for the UK DFS market?

Fantasy football (or soccer) in the UK has always been popular. British newspapers have run fantasy league competitions with cash prizes stretching entire seasons dating back to 1990. It’s the ‘season long’ players in the US who helped drastically increase the popularity of DFS across the pond too.

Despite the fact that there are in excess of 8.5 million season-long fantasy football players in the UK, FanDuel only recorded £1 million in prizes in their one year of UK operation. That sum is minuscule compared to fantasy sports prizes in the US. Moreover, 70 percent of the $1 trillion in estimated legal and illegal around the world are football/soccer bets.

Of course, this could be down to the fact that UK gamblers have unlimited access to various forms of legal gambling. Just some of the bookmakers offering single-game sports betting in every sport, from football to basketball and the NFL include:

  • William Hill
  • Betfair
  • Bet365
  • PaddyPower

FanDuel’s UK closure suggests that while there are major DFS players, there is an inability to attract sufficient volume in such a saturated market.

Christian Goode, co-founder of consulting firm Ivory Gaming, told ESPN:

“I think we’re at a crossroads in the [US], the expansion of legalised sportsbooks, if you will. Oddly enough, that momentum is probably being driven more by the rise in popularity of fantasy sports than it is by traditional sports betting.”

And while the opposite remains true in the UK, it will continue to be difficult for new DFS operators to compete.

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Jack Stanton

Jack Stanton is a freelance journalist and marketing copywriter, specialising in the world of poker and online gaming. Jack's work has appeared on VICE, The Guardian, The Drum, PokerStars Blog, PocketFives, BLUFF Europe and more. As a live poker reporter, Jack has covered events in locations as far afield as the Bahamas, Chile, South Korea, Brazil, and all across Europe.

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