[toc]The challenging environment for smaller daily fantasy sports operators became more apparent with today’s announcement that iTEAM Network was closing down.
The news comes soon after at least two operators — Draft and Oulala — recently received new funding.
iTEAM closing down, all customers to be paid
The network of DFS sites had hoped to be one of the operators that could eventually compete for meaningful marketshare behind the market’s “big two” of DraftKings and FanDuel. But that was not to be, as a company representative confirmed to Legal Sports Report that iTEAM was “ceasing cash operations.”
“Most importantly, everyone is going to get paid out,” the representative. “All funds are available, we’re actually cashing people out right now.”
The iTEAM representative did not rule out a return to the DFS space at a later date.
“We would love to return to this space in an environment more conducive to fundraising,” the representative said.
Poker professional Phil Ivey got involved with iTEAM a little less than a year ago.
The environment for small DFS ops
Some small DFS operators have ceased operations in the past two years, and some appeared to have comingled operational funds and player deposits. The iTEAM Network actually bailed out one of those operators — FantasyUp — earlier this year.
The market continues to be difficult for most sites not named DraftKings and FanDuel, from a handle and revenue perspective. Recent moves in the space include the aforementioned funding; Fantasy Aces recently acquired the user database of fellow DFS operator Fantasy Feud, which is now defunct.
Small sites also have to deal with the increasing demands and costs of regulation in a variety of US jurisdictions.
Room for a new No. 2?
The remaining US DFS operators — such as Yahoo, Fantasy Aces, FantasyDraft and Draft, to name a few — hope they can rise up and capture a major slice of the DFS market.
For that to happen, a planned merger of DraftKings and FanDuel likely would have to go through. Before that occurs, however, the path to significant revenue for another DFS operator would appear to be bleak in the current environment.