Online poker players in Ontario, Canada have a nice, new option. On Tuesday, PokerStars announced that it has launched in the province after having its license approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). And it’s not just poker either; PokerStars is offering casino games and sports betting, as well.
“In many respects Ontario is our home market, given the first ever hand of PokerStars was played here over 20 years ago, so we are thrilled about the new regulated environment within which our players can play”, said Tom Warren, PokerStars’ managing director of marketing. “A lot has changed in that time, but our commitment to offering our players the most epic and thrilling experience in the market hasn’t – and we can’t wait to get started.”
In just a couple weeks, PokerStars will host a tournament series just for players on the Ontario platform. The Ontario Platinum Series will run July 10-18 and will have guaranteed prize pools worth a total of $1.5 million.
Online poker has been available in Canada for years and years, but Ontario implemented its own, new regulations this year, changes things in the province both for the worse and for the better. The biggest boon for stakeholders is that private operators can now offer betting in Ontario – the newly regulated industry went live on April 4. Though they still have to work with the iGaming Ontario because of a quirk in the law, loads of sites are now available to gamblers located in the province, particularly for sports betting, which is new to Canada.
The problem for poker players is that they are now ringfenced from other jurisdictions, whereas they could play with people from all over the world before. On the bright side, Ontario is huge – it would be the fifth largest state in the US – so games should still be decent.
And with provincial regulation comes new enforcement. In early May, AGCO fined both PointsBet Canada and BetMGM Canada for regulatory violations.
PointsBet Canada was hit with a CAD$30,000 fine for misleading marketing and failures having to do with “advertising of inducements, bonuses or credits.” Specifically, AGCO took issue with advertising posters PointsBet put in train stations and on trains tempting people to play for free. PointsBet Canada’s CEO apologized and said his company misinterpreted the regulations.
BetMGM was fined CAD$48,000 for problems related to tweets promoting bonus offers. One specifically read, “The more money you put in per bet, the higher your chance is of winning.”