Online poker players in Canada have access to a number of international poker sites offering the best cash games and tournaments around the clock. With the exception of Ontario, players from Canada can freely join international poker rooms and play against players from all over the world.
At the moment, Canadian players can access offshore sites licensed by international authorities, like the MGA. While these sites are not regulated on a local level, many of them are powered by highly reputable companies with decades of experience, offering high levels of safety.
So far, Ontario is the only province in Canada to pass an online poker law, which effectively turned the province into a segregated market, only allowing sites with local licenses to continue offering their services and catering exclusively to players physically present in Ontario.
For everybody else, you can have your pick from many international poker operators without any legal concerns. That said, it is still important to stick to safe and trustworthy sites that provide the best services and offer the kind of experience the players rightfully expect.
Legal Online Poker in Canada
Online poker is legal in all of Canada. Players in the country have access to international (offshore) poker operators, including big names like PokerStars, GGPoker, and 888poker. These operators are licensed by international authorities like the MGA and provide a completely safe and legal environment.
In Canada, online poker is regulated on the provincial level, and so far, Ontario is the only province that decided to exercise its right, passing a legal framework for poker operators. The regulator requires all rooms to obtain local licenses and create segregated platforms that only accept players from Ontario. Thus, for the time being, the player pool in the province is cut off from the rest of Canada and the world.
Other Canadian poker players are in a more favorable situation. They can play on international sites that continue to operate in the rest of the country without any legal issues. Until other provinces decide to follow in Ontario’s footsteps, this will likely remain the case.
Since there is no regulation on the state level, Canadian poker sites do not have to obtain any special licenses outside of Ontario and can continue offering their services under international licenses.
Bonuses and Promotions at Canada Poker Sites
Canadian poker players have access to all the best and most valuable poker bonuses out there. This includes a variety of welcome offers that include deposit matches, tournament tickets, and sometimes, there is even a no deposit portion of the bonus that lets you test the waters and check out the site without any financial risk.
Deposit bonuses are usually added to the players’ balances and released in increments. Every time a player reaches a certain number of points or accumulates a certain amount in rake paid (which are basically different ways of calculating the same thing), a percentage of the bonus is released into the player’s real money balance without further restrictions.
Tournament tickets can be used to enter tournaments with corresponding buy-ins. If you make it into the money, you receive a prize corresponding to your finishing position, just like everyone else in the tournament. MTT winnings are usually released straight into the real balance without any further restrictions or conditions.
When it comes to no deposit bonuses for Canadian players, they come in the form of free cash, tournament tickets, or the combination of both. When issued as cash, they usually have certain wagering requirements attached to them, requiring players to pay a certain amount of rake before they can cash out.
Beyond these offers, poker players in Canada are welcome to enjoy a range of other promotions offered by the sites, such as:
- Reload bonuses given to loyal players or on special occasions
- Tournament leaderboards
- Various races
- All sorts of special promos that operators come up with
How to Recognize a Safe Online Poker Site in Canada
Given that all sites outside of Ontario are internationally-licensed operators, it may be a bit of a challenge for players to pick out the safest and most reliable options. Yet, it remains perhaps the most important thing to pay attention to when choosing where to play. We are bringing you a list of things to check before signing up to help you figure this out.
- Reputable brand. All of the biggest brands operate in Canada, and, as the rule of thumb, you will always be best served by signing up with one of these brands. Major poker sites have built their reputations over many years, and you can pretty much rest assured they will offer a safe, fair, and player-friendly gaming environment.
- Trustworthy international license. You can always find licensing info on the home page of a poker operator. If the licensing information is not clearly listed, this is an immediate warning sign. Beyond this, look for sites licensed by the most reputable organizations, such as the Malta Gaming Authority.
- Play in CAD: Reputable Canadian poker sites will feature all transactions and all play in the local currency, i.e. Canadian dollar. This makes it much easier to keep track of your bankroll and allows you to save some money as you get to avoid any conversion fees.
- Canada-friendly banking options. Tying in to the previous point, leading poker brands in Canada also offer a fair few options specific to the market. You will have the ability to deposit and withdraw using options such as Instadebit, iDebit, and local bank transfers.
- Localized customer support. Safe Canada sites make sure to provide quality customer care. This often includes a local phone number that you can call. While not all operators will have this feature, it is certainly a good indicator of a safe and trustworthy site.
Why Choose a Reputable Canadian Online Poker Site
The importance of finding safe and reputable poker sites catering to Canadian players cannot be overstated. There are many risks connected to playing at shady operators, despite their big promises. We are bringing you some of the most important reasons why you should always stick to tried and tested sites.
- High degree of accountability: Reputable poker sites have a brand to protect and are responsible to their licensing authorities and their players alike. A major operator cannot easily get away with shady business practices, as the word will spread and cause damage their reputation.
- Local currency & payment options: A big advantage of the best Canada-facing poker sites is that they offer play in CAD and support local payment options. This means you will never have problems with deposits or withdrawals, and there will be no conversion fees to worry about. It helps save you money and gives you better control over your expenses.
- Responsible gaming & player protection: Safe poker sites offer a full range of responsible gaming tools. This ensures players can enjoy their gaming sessions in a safe and responsible manner.
Risks of Playing at Questionable Online Poker Sites
Players in Canada have been playing at offshore poker sites for many years. There are always certain risks connected to playing online, but these risks increase significantly if you are not careful and decide to play with an operator that has a questionable reputation.
- Funds safety: The first and the most obvious risk connected with playing at these sites is the safety of your funds. If you are not able to withdraw your money for any reason, you will have very few options to get help.
- Your personal info is at risk: Offshore sites that are not monitored by reliable licensing authorities will sometimes give out their players personal information to outside parties. This can create a lot of problems, from minor inconveniences to serious legal issues in the most extreme cases.
- Lack of RG tools: Shady offshore operators are not overly concerned with responsible gaming practices, so they usually do the bare minimum in this department, if that.
Where in Canada can I play legal online poker?
Online poker is legal in all of Canada. At the moment, Ontario is only province that regulates poker sites on a local level. Everywhere else, you can play online poker on international sites, including industry leaders like PokerStars.
Who licenses online poker sites in Canada?
In Canada, iGaming licenses, including online poker ones, are issued by provinces and their respective licensing bodies. In Ontario, for example, this is done by a subdivision of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
For the moment, Ontario is the only province licensing poker operators. Everywhere else in the country, poker sites continue to offer their services under international licenses, and there is nothing illegal about this practice.
How can I know a Canadian online poker site is safe?
You should always check for the licensing information to make sure the site is properly licensed by either a reputable international body or one of the local authorities. Additionally, sticking to major brands will further increase your safety when playing poker online in Canada.