Online Poker Regulation in Canada


Canada has generally taken a hands-off approach to gamble legislation and left the decisions to provincial lawmakers. In April of this year, Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, followed in the footsteps of many US states making a landmark decision to regulate online casino and sports betting practices including online poker.

Most provinces and territories enjoy regulated gaming through government-affiliated sites but Ontario became the first to open up the market to private operators. 13 brands initially were signed up to the new developments and will be monitored by Ontario iGaming, a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

Prior to April 2022, there was nothing stopping Canadian citizens from using international online poker sites to game (and from a consumer standpoint not a lot has changed) but the new laws paved the way for companies to set up shop on Ontarian soil including American, Canadian, and international providers.

The change in the law allows the Canadian government to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue each year that would previously have gone abroad. Money can now be reinvested into Canadian projects including supporting the welfare of gamblers.

Speculators suggest gambling figures may experience a big spike following the announcement due in part to the novelty factor but these numbers may level out as the pastime becomes more familiar.

The last time Ontario witnessed such a monumental change in its gambling laws was ten years ago when the government pushed to modernize how online gaming was conducted. Plans were laid out to build resorts including a megacasino in Toronto, which still hasn’t materialized, due in part to pushback from local residents.

It’s also clear that trends are moving away from brick-and-mortar casinos – Hong Kong, New York, and Rome have all rejected similar proposals, and large resorts in Macau and Atlantic City are famously losing money – while their online counterparts continue to flourish.

Twitter page Vancouver Not Vegas successfully campaigned against a similar proposal in Vancouver BC and got behind the push for a similar outcome in Toronto, citing “bad economics” as the primary factor.

Some suggest a megacasino would be detrimental to Woodbine Racetrack which relies heavily on its slot machines to reinforce its revenue stream. Twenty years before the 2013 changes, casinos were effectively illegal in the country.

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