It’s business as usual for our players as our site will remain open, deposits continue to be safe, & players can still enjoy playing the events they love the most including our upcoming Spring Championship of Online Poker [SCOOP]. The newly regulated Ontario online gambling market opened earlier this month under a ring-fenced setup as the provincial regulators require operators to separate their player pools from the rest of the world.
While a few Ontario online poker apps did go live with the games restricted to players within the province, on the other hand, PokerStars Ontario has yet to launch and the operator has continued to serve the market via its offshore license.
The operator is not breaking any rules as this is actually sanctioned by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and iGaming Ontario (iGO) who are allowing operators that have begun the licensing process to continue to serve in the grey market while their applications are pending, so as to avoid a blackout period.
Indeed, a PokerStars representative recently told pokerfuse, “[we] are continuing to work with the AGCO and iGO on our new licensed entity and are getting closer to sharing that offering with our communities across Ontario.”
This means that Ontario players can still play on PokerStars with the rest of the world and can even play the operator’s upcoming prestigious series, the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP).
“In the meantime, it’s business as usual for our players as our site will remain open, deposits continue to be safe, and players can still enjoy playing the events they love the most including our upcoming Spring Championship of Online Poker [SCOOP],” Rebecca McAdam Willetts, Associate Director of Consumer Engagement and Public Relations for PokerStars further added.
This year’s SCOOP starts on Sunday, May 8, and runs through to June 1. While the operator has been hit by exits from a couple of big markets, the series still comes in with an ambitious $75 million in guaranteed prize money over 106 events.
As is quite typical with PokerStars’ COOP series, each of the 106 events is split into three tiers — Low, Medium, and High — meaning a total of 318 tournaments are on offer. Buy-ins start at $2.20 and top out at $25,000 for a Super High Roller event.
The series reaches its peak point on the final Sunday hosting three No-Limit Hold’em Main Events with combined guarantees of $11.5 million. The $109 buy-in guarantees $2.5 million, $1050 guarantees $4 million, and the $10,300 High Roller edition promises $5 million.
Other key highlights include the $55 buy-in Sunday Million on May 22 guaranteeing the same $1 million but at half the usual buy-in. Three special Phase events will also run with buy-ins of $2.20, $11, and $55 boasting over $1.5 million in combined guarantees.
To build hype, the operator will be giving away $1 million in prize money through various routes including a first SCOOP Pick-A-Box Game in which $250,000 worth of tickets will be given away each week throughout the series.
Possibly Last SCOOP with Global Access for Ontario Players?
Players in Canada’s largest province will be able to participate in this year’s series, but this could very well be the last time Ontario players get to enjoy PokerStars’ SCOOP series on the global player pool.
No doubt, PokerStars will be hosting SCOOP and other Ontario-exclusive signature series once it officially goes live as it does in every other ring-fenced market in which it operates. But, since the player pool will be smaller as it’s confined to just players from the province only, prizes will also decrease accordingly and could go as low as $1 or $2 million in total guarantees.
That could change as well. There is a possibility that Ontario regulators may consider joining the international player pool or even an inter-jurisdictional gaming compact with other provinces. When asked, the agency revealed, “this has been considered, but iGO cannot comment on the potential outcome at this time.”
For the time being, Ontario players will continue to play on PokerStars with the rest of the world. It is likely PokerStars may officially launch PokerStarsON.CA in June and join the BetMGM Ontario Network and 888poker Ontario in the segregated regulated market.
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