Over the past decade or so, there has been a huge influx of online bookmakers, and national laws have not yet been able to catch up and amend their laws in accordance to modern times.
When it comes to online gambling in Canada, there are a lot of grey areas. When it comes to online poker however, it is quite simple.
Canadian Law on Online Poker
Online Gambling Canada explains that Canadian citizens are not at any legal risk when they opt to gamble online, no matter which bookmaker they turn to.
Online gambling operators that Canada accepts to be legal can be domestically based, based abroad, government owned or – due to a lack of legal action against the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation – based in Canada but not government owned.
Online gambling covers all of the online betting games, including online poker. So, from a legal stand point (bar a few standard restrictions), as a Canadian resident, you are safe to play online poker as much as you want.
The restrictions to online gambling, and online poker, are that which are standard to any form of gambling service. The player must be of legal age to gamble (dependant on province/territory laws), not committing identity theft or fraudulent use of a stolen credit card.
What to Be Aware Of
As you’ll be playing with your own funds you’ll need to know, prior to depositing any money into the site, that you can withdraw your funds in their full amount, and safely. Preferably this would be done through the use of a third party, like PayPal.
It’s very important to make sure of this because you could be forced into paying more money to withdraw your winnings, then having to make more money to be able to afford the withdrawal, then possibly losing your money. Only go with online gambling websites that have a standardised and trusted method of withdrawal, along with zero fees to do so.
In accordance with IT Business Canada, the Canadian Criminal Code explicitly makes the offering of gambling services by unlicensed private individuals, or companies, a crime.
So, if you gamble with one of these unlicensed online firms, and come into a dispute with them, then you may not have any legal recourse, due to the sites being illegal, leading to you potentially losing money.
Types of Online Poker
Now that we know the legalities of online poker for Canadian residents – which basically read as “go for it!” – let’s go into some of the specific games that you can participate in.
There are three main types of games that you can play.
The first are simply Free to Play games. Players may enter into these lobbies to brush up on the rules of the game and their own skills.
Secondly there are cash games, here you use your real money to defeat your opponents at the table to win the pot, or a final split of the pot (depending on the rules).
Finally, are satellite games. Satellites are qualifying events for poker tournaments – with the prize often being the entry-fee to a bigger tournament, sometimes with a little extra money too.
There are many different types of tournaments and game types that you can participate in, here are some of the more common or popular modes.
Sit and Go
S&G or SNG are tournaments without a pre-assigned start time. Once a designated number of seats are filled at a table, the game begins.
Knockouts: In the Knockout tournaments, the basic initiative is that every time you knock a player out of the game, you win a cash prize. The winner then also gets the added prize of their own bounty.
These are basically 1-on-1 tournaments. The events are set up in brackets, so every time you defeat someone you move on and play the winner of the correlating bracket until it boils down to just two players remaining, they then bout to find a final victor.
After the buy-in everyone starts with an equal number of chips. Players are eliminated when they lose all of their chips. When enough players have been eliminated the tables get knocked off, moving the still active players into full tables. Eventually the tournament boils down to a winners table.
Top bookmakers for online poker
OGC finds that 888 Poker is Canada’s favourite for online poker.
Their bonus of $888 is, initially, inferior to the likes of Iron Poker – who offer $2000 bonus – but 888’s site and usability is superior to that of its competitors. With the actual game of Online Poker not really differing much from site to site, it mostly comes down to personal preference.
Another site that often appears in the top rankings is Full Tilt, despite it being heavily dependant on U.S. players prior to Black Friday in 2011 – but recovered by becoming a subsidiary of former rival PokerStars. They currently offer a 100% first deposit bonus (up to $600) as a welcome bonus along with an excellent loyalty programme.
As mentioned before, the only restrictions for Canadian citizens when it comes to online poker are: legal age, identity theft, or fraudulent use of a credit card.
So here’s a breakdown of the legal age of gambling in each Canadian province or territory.
|Province / Territory||Legal Age of Gambling|
|Alberta||18 years old+|
|Nunavut||19 years old+|
|British Columbia||19 years old+|
|Manitoba||18 years old+|
|Yukon Territory||19 years old+|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||19 years old+|
|New Brunswick||19 years old+|
|North West Territories||19 years old+|
|Nova Scotia||19 years old+|
|Ontario||19 years old+|
|Quebec||19 years old+|
|Saskatchwan||19 years old+|
Warning, the laws concerning online sports betting are constantly changing, with Canada’s legal authorities working towards brining their laws up to date with the possibilities of gambling online. Any advice given during the content of this article is an overview of the general situation at the time of writing, and is in no way a form of legal advice.
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