Considered one of the most lucrative regulated poker markets in the world, Ontario Canada online poker players have a plethora of options when it comes to where to grind on the virtual felts. Operators have flocked to serve the 15 million+ people that live in Ontario when it was announced that April 4th, 2022, would be the go-live date for the country’s first fenced-in poker market and we review the sites that are currently offering games.
How We Review Ontario Poker Rooms Online
Similar to other articles we have published about online poker rooms, there are several factors that are considered when we review Ontario poker rooms:
- Bonuses – Operators have been quick to offer both new and players that were converted from the global sites huge incentives to join and deposit. Many sites have 100% poker bonus offers, welcome bonus, tournament tickets, and big rakeback deals.
- Player traffic – Since the market is now fenced in, player traffic at peak times is going to matter even more to determine which sites are the best ones to check out.
- Payment methods – Operators will have similar options available to them to move player funds in and out; the better sites will incorporate as many of these options to make it more convenient for players.
- Game selection – Player traffic will play a big role in what games a site is willing to offer that will run, so the better sites should have a better selection of cash tables available.
- Tournaments – The best sites will have the best selection of tournaments for players, as well as series with bigger guarantees.
- Registration process – All sites will require a similar list of information from users, but the question will be how easy and long does it take to process. Better sites will have this streamlined for the players.
Top Poker Sites Available in Ontario
At the time of writing of this article, the Ontario online poker site market is only 6 months old, and so far, most of the big players globally have set-up shop. 888 Poker was the first to go live on April 4th, 2022, with BetMGM / partypoker following very soon after. Below is a chart showing the operators currently offering real money poker to Ontario.
Is PokerStars Allowed in Ontario?
PokerStars is allowed in Ontario after they received their license from the AGCO and went live with PokerStars Ontario on June 28th, 2022. The world’s biggest online poker operator has roots in Canada and offices in the greater Toronto area, so it came as no surprise that they launched, although it came almost 3 months after the provincial launch date. However, not all the offerings from the global site are available, most notably are the Sunday Million and the popular Kick-Off games.
Is 888poker Allowed in Ontario?
Yes, 888poker was the first operator to go live in Ontario on April 4th, 2022, under the new law and poker players began playing on the site right away. Established in 2002, the site is one of the most well-known and trusted brands, having previously sponsored the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in the mid-2010’s. Most of the games on the global site will be found here in the fenced-in Ontario room but some of the higher buy-in games won’t be offered initially.
Is partypoker Allowed in Ontario?
Yes, Entain’s most well-known poker brand is operational in Ontario. partypoker joined bwin and BetMGM on a three-skin network that went live on day 2 of legal poker in Ontario on April 5th, 2022 and began offering real money cash games and tournament poker. Some of the high roller offerings will also not be in the client but could be added over time if traffic warrants.
Is WSOP.CA Allowed in Ontario?
Yes, Ontario poker players can play real money poker on WSOP.ca, powered by GGPoker. This marks the first time that the WSOP has partnered with a different operator to offer real money poker and opportunities to win circuit rings, as well as the first time the WSOP brand has been available outside of the US. However, the site is currently the last to launch, going live on Sept. 30th, 2022. The most notable change will be the absence of the Flip N Go tournaments offered on the global site, will not be available on WSOP.ca right now.
How to Start Playing Poker Online in Ontario
The registration process for playing real money poker is similar to those in other markets around the world with a couple of key distinctions.
- Poker players will first need to be physically located in Ontario to access the poker room of their choosing.
- Players will download the client onto their desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, noting that some sites will require downloading a separate geo-location program.
- Next, you will have to choose a unique screen name, and provide your full legal address in the registration process.
- Sites will require identification to be uploaded for verification, generally in the form of a driver’s license photo or passport.
- Once set-up, players will have to acknowledge that they are able and fit to play, a requirement of the province to ask you every single time you log on.
- Finally, all that’s left is to use one of the site’s methods of payment and make your deposit before hitting the felt.
Available Payment Methods at Ontario Poker Sites
As the market is still relatively new, operators will continue to look to add more withdrawal and deposit options for players but there are a couple of big distinctions to note. First, since this is a regulated market, Ontario poker rooms will not have options for decentralized payment methods like crypto. However, players will have plenty of options to move money on and off the poker rooms like:
- Direct Bank Transfers
- Credit Cards if the payment processor permits transactions for gambling websites
- Interac Transfers
- MuchBetter Pay Cards
- Wire Transfers
Current Legal Status of Ontario Online Poker Laws
Online poker is 100% legal and safe, made more so by the decision of the Ontario government to regulate the iGaming industry. The government established the AGCO – the Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario to oversee both the request for proposal process for interested operators to apply to offer poker, as well as to regulate and police the operators to ensure they work within the bounds set out.
Online poker became fully legal on April 4th, 2022, when operators could begin to convert to a fenced in, regulated market offering their products to residents. Provided that the operators were working towards finalizing their license, poker rooms did not have to convert to an Ontario only room right away. However, by the end of October, the government expects that every operator has converted and will begin to pursue unlicensed operators although it remains to be seen exactly how they intend to do this.
Taxation of Poker Winnings in Ontario
The rules for poker winnings are similar to those for gambling and lottery wins in Canada and Ontario in that they are not subject to tax, as per Section 3 of Canada’s Income Tax Act. The exception would be pros that playing poker is their primary source of income, and they act like a business on a day-to-day basis. This won’t apply to recreational players, even if they have a big win on the virtual felts.
Is online poker legal in Ontario?
Yes, online poker is not only legal in Ontario, but poker rooms are now regulated and licensed by the province which should increase the trust players have in the poker rooms.
How do I play online poker in Ontario?
Assuming that you are physically in the province of Ontario, players will need to download the poker client of their choosing, create an account, sign-in, acknowledge that they are fit to play, and take a seat at the tables.
What online poker sites are available in Ontario?
In the province of Ontario there are currently 6 poker sites operating: 888 Poker Ontario, bwin Ontario, BetMGM Ontario, PartyPoker Ontario, PokerStars Ontario, and WSOP.ca. The only major room that has no plans currently to offer poker is Unibet.
What’s the legal age to play poker online in Ontario?
Similar to other gambling games, lotteries, and casinos, the province of Ontario requires players to be 18 years old or older to play online poker.
Can you win real money playing online poker in Ontario?
Yes, online poker is fully legal in Ontario, and you can win real money by playing on any of the regulated poker sites that are available. Players can use a number of ways to move money on and off poker rooms.
Can I play on GGPoker in Ontario?
GGPoker has re-branded in Ontario under the WSOP.ca brand, so Ontario poker players will be able to play on GGPoker software, using the WSOP branding.
Can I play on unregulated sites?
Online poker sites that are not licensed by the AGCO may continue to try to access the Ontario market, but it remains to be seen what that access will look like. The AGCO has given notice that operators have until October 31st, 2022, but it’s not known what this will look like for poker operators.
What currency is being used in the Ontario online poker market?
Online poker rooms in Ontario are using CAD for all cash games and tournaments which means poker players depositing will no longer be subject to exchange rates and buried fees that came before regulation when deposits were converted to USD.
Will I be able to play against other Canadian poker players?
At the current time no, Ontario online poker players will only be able to play against players physically located within the province. However, there is hope that the province will work with other regulated sites within Canada to join player pools together to expand traffic and potentially add more games and higher stakes.