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Ontario Seeks Clarification On Adding International Online Poker

Ruling Could Open Up Poker Market

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The Canadian province of Ontario became one of North America’s biggest online gaming success stories after launching in April 2022. But creating a provincial regulated market also meant Ontario online poker players were moved into a ringed-in environment rather than being allowed to play in the wider international market.

Ontario gaming regulators may now be considering changing that and have appealed to the province’s Court of Appeal to determine if Ontario gaming operators can legally offer international iGaming options. That would mean shared liquidity for online poker with other countries, greatly enhancing the Ontario online poker experience.

Legal Clarification

The province is seeking to see if shared liquidity with other markets violates the country’s criminal code.
Seeing a positive ruling could mean larger player and prize pools as Ontario players once again enter the international online poker market. The Canadian Supreme Court would also need to sign off on the ruling.

Ontario currently has several online poker options. Those affected by a ruling in the province were given until April 8 to submit their arguments with a Court of Appeal hearing then planned for November.

Along with poker, the move would also allow Ontario bettors to compete in daily fantasy sports and other gaming options. Expanded shared liquidity may also require agreements among the province and other gaming jurisdictions, however.

“Under this model, players in Ontario will be able to participate in peer-to-peer games, including games of chance and mixed chance and skill played for money, and sports betting, involving players outside of Canada,” Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey noted in court documents. “Players located outside of Ontario but within Canada would not be permitted to participate in games or betting in the absence of an agreement between Ontario and the province or territory in which those players are located.”

It seems unlikely that the province could join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) that is available because that compact is only open to U.S. states. Other countries could be possible, however.

Alberta is also considering online gaming and the Ontario move could allow for the pooling of players with other provinces as well. The industry is also hoping to see Quebec legalize at some point as well.

Currently, the Canada Poker Network (CPN) offers regulated online poker among three provinces via the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s (BCLC) PlayNow online gaming platform. The platform’s online poker is available in BC, Manitoba, and Québec. WHether those provinces could be included in some form of agreement with Ontario remains to be seen.