Treat Or Trick?

In the six months since the introduction of the legal, regulated online gambling and sports betting market in Ontario, a number of gaming companies have gotten their licenses and started their operations. Those who have not been given a license to operate in the province must cease operations by the end of October.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) declared on Tuesday that all unregulated gaming must end by October 31. Those who continue to operate or cooperate with firms that operate without licenses risk never having the opportunity to get a license in the future.

Regulated online gambling is unquestionably advantageous for players, since it forces operators to adhere to stringent standards and protects clients. In Ontario, however, the new regulated market has a negative impact on online poker players in particular.

Fewer Individuals At The Tables

The province of Ontario prohibits online poker rooms and any other online gambling businesses from sharing player pools with jurisdictions outside of the province. In other words, Ontario poker players are isolated from the rest of the globe. Before the laws went into effect, poker players in Ontario could play on any online poker site they want, alongside players from the rest of Canada and the majority of the globe (the United States a glaring exception). Now, they are confined to playing at virtual tables with just Ontario players, since they are the only consumers the licensed sites may accept.

Consequently, it is a two-edged sword. Once upon a time, many poker players urged the government to remain out of the online poker sector and let it regulate itself. Now, though, I believe the great majority of participants see regulation favorably, since it legitimizes the sector and protects consumers. However, this comes at the expense of player traffic, game choices, and larger tournament prize pools for Ontario poker players.

The WSOP Moves North is the most recent online poker provider to create a licensed site in Ontario. This is the company’s first big move outside the United States. The WSOP employs 888poker’s technology in the United States, but GGPoker’s software in Ontario. GGPoker and the World Series of Poker are partners; the “international” edition of the WSOP Online is available on GGPoker outside the United States

Ontarians who were previously allowed to play on GGPoker will no longer be able to do so and will be required to transfer their accounts to is the latest of what would be considered “major” poker sites to launch in Ontario’s regulated market. In the first week of April, 888, BetMGM, partypoker, and bwin were all launched. PokerStars was established in June.

The iPoker Network will also debut in Ontario at some time in the future. Playtech, its parent business, declared its intention to do so this summer.

Image credit: Steve Shook via Flickr


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