While many consider the legality of Canada’s online poker and gambling market a ‘grey area’, the reality is that Canadian’s have access to almost every major operator. Online poker, in particular, has thrived in Canada over the years, and it came as no surprise to see many US players move to the country to pursue their poker careers after Black Friday in 2011.
Gambling has never been illegal in Canada. However, you won’t find many Canadian-run gambling sites, as many regulations are domestically inclusive. So although Amaya – the Canadian company who purchased PokerStars and recently converted to ‘The Stars Group’ – has their headquarters in Canada, the PokerStars headquarters is based overseas in the Isle of Man, allowing them to continue offering their services in Canada and overseas.
Ultimately, Canadians are in no way committing a crime by playing online poker. However, as certain areas of Canada have relaxed regulations, we recommend you are selective in terms of the sites you choose to play on. You’ll find our recommendations below.
|Poker Site||Traffic||Software||Bonus||Bonus Offer|
|888 Poker||B||B+||A+||100% up to $800|
|PokerStars||A||A-||B||100% up to $600|
|Party Poker||B||B||B-||100% up to $500|
In terms of sign-up benefits, 888Poker is arguably the best poker site for Canadians. New registrants can receive a 100% bonus on deposits up to $400, as well as an additional $88 bonus. 888.com is the second largest poker site in the world behind PokerStars, but as it claims to be dedicated to recreational players, it may be the best launching point for online poker newcomers.
Of course, PokerStars is the biggest online poker room in the world, and because of this, it offers the biggest fields, the biggest prize pools, and the broadest selection of game types. New registrations can receive a 100% deposit bonus of up to $600, plus entry into an exclusive $2,500 guaranteed free roll reserved strictly for first-time depositors.
And finally, the third of the big three poker operators, PartyPoker. Currently expanding its live poker operations (and therefore offering satellites for these events online, including those held in Canada), PartyPoker also offers a 100% deposit bonus up to $500, plus $10 for free and a tournament ticket worth $10.
While the simplest option would seem to be using your Canadian credit card, there are some complications that can arise from this. It really all comes down to which credit card company you are with; some are reluctant to process online poker deposits due to the risks involved in funds being charged back to them. As this is seen as an online gambling deposit, there is obviously a risk of this happening.
It’s for this reason that online payment systems are the best route for depositing. Alas, Canadians are unable to use the more commonplace systems (PayPal and Neteller) for online gambling deposits, but Skrill has emerged as a reliable and safe method that also benefits users with low transaction fees.
Alternatively, Canadians can transfer money directly to and from their bank accounts. Most poker sites will also allow you to process cashouts in both Canadian dollars and US dollars.
One of the main draws for Canadian online poker is that winnings from it (and other forms of gambling) are not considered to be income. Therefore, poker and gambling winnings are tax-free. This is partly thanks to the Canadian lottery, which does not tax its winners.
However, if you are a professional poker player or gambler, your winnings would then become a business income, so you would have to declare this to abide by the tax laws.
Essentially though, for newcomers and recreational players, you’ll be able to keep the entirety of your winnings.
The Playground Poker Club in Kahnawake (just outside Montreal) has arguably become the most popular poker room in the country, with different online poker sites choosing this location as the venue for their live events.
PokerStars has held its Canada Cup ($3,300 Main Event, $2 million guaranteed) at Playground, while Partypoker is holding its Canadian Poker Championships throughout August and September 2017. This means that online players in Canada can satellite into live events online for a fraction of the buy-in.
The nearby Casino Montreal might be the best choice for newcomers and amateur players, due to the lower overall skill level of the common player. However, because of this the rake fees are slightly higher than those in dedicated poker rooms.
In Ontario, players can visit the OLG Casino Brantford which offers 14 Texas Hold’em tables. Cash games always run, but they also offer a varied tournament schedule including ladies events, bounty events, and deep stack tournaments.
The River Rock Casino in Richmond, British Columbia, is open 24 hours a day, offering around-the-clock cash games. Other recommendations include Casino Nova Scotia, Caesars Windsor, Northlands Park in Alberta, Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, Medicine Hat Lodge Resort in Alberta, Casino de Mont-Tremblant, and Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino (also in Alberta).