The UK daily fantasy sports market is contracting again.
This morning, Yahoo DFS players in Europe woke up to an unwanted e-mail. Effective May 14, the company is ceasing its UK operations, shutting down paid-entry contests indefinitely.
Yahoo’s exit comes barely a year after its initial entry into the market. When it departs, it’ll leave just a few notable operators remaining in the space, DraftKings UK, Sportito, and PlayON.
Yahoo DFS will exit UK
In a statement to Legal Sports Report, a spokesperson for Yahoo Sports confirmed the news.
As of May 14th Yahoo Daily Fantasy will no longer be accepting new paid users in the UK and existing users will no longer be able to enter paid contests. We have contacted all users who can login and withdraw their account balance. We encourage our UK users to continue playing free contests and our season-long offerings on the global Yahoo Sport Fantasy app alongside other sports fans around the world.
Free contests will be the only contests available on the UK platform going forward. Player balances will subsequently be available for withdrawal, but there’s no compensation for accrued loyalty points.
The timing of the exit coincides with the end of the English Premier League season.
UK market a different beast
The DFS market Yahoo is leaving behind is small and complicated and heavily reliant on European football (soccer).
Paid-entry contests land in an uncomfortable middle ground for UK sports fans. Players looking for free options gravitate toward fantasy football managers, which are wildly popular. They’re the equivalent of the major season-long fantasy platforms in the US.
On the other hand, those looking to speculate with money have mobile sports betting widely available to them. And sports betting will always be a more profitable industry than fantasy sports.
Likely worried about a similar issue in the US (should PASPA be overturned), DraftKings is already pursuing a New Jersey sports betting product. It has no intentions of giving up its DFS position abroad, though. In fact, there’s some indication it may even expand into other markets in the future.
FanDuel courted the UK briefly in 2016 before withdrawing a year later. Stop us if you’ve heard this before. At the time, it wanted to allocate more resources to the US market, which it cited at 53 million players. Compare that to maybe ten million in the UK, most of who are interested in European football.
It seems likely Yahoo is taking a similar approach. After stagnating for some time in the US, it’s recently been making updates to its platform, perhaps a sign of more to come.