When it comes to poker, including online poker, Canada has a deep history. From live games and tournaments to significant numbers of online players, the country has been a welcome haven for poker action.
That includes some of the biggest names in the game. Famous Canadian poker players include Daniel Negreanu, Kristen Bicknell, Mike Watson, Mike McDonald, Jaime Staples and numerous others.
A Canadian has even won the biggest event in poker. Longtime online poker player Jonathan Duhamel, of Quebec, took down the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2010 for $8.9 million.
The Canadian government has mostly taken a hands-off approach to online poker. However, in 2022 the province of Ontario began regulating its own market with several operators like GGPoker (as WSOP.ca), BetMGM, PokerStars, partypoker, and others expected to enter the market.
That province reverted to a fenced-in market, meaning players would only compete against others in Ontario. That’s a significant change to the market and mimics the approach seen in the US.
In April, the first of those, BetMGM, officially opened for business. The platform is officially a branch of the partypoker US Network, which also includes the Borgata Poker skin in the US as well.
The company also operates the BetMGM skin in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Shortly after MGM’s launch, 888poker went live in Ontario with own online poker product as well as sports betting and online casino action.
This review offers everything a player might want to know about playing online poker for real money in Canada — from the best sites and bonuses to laws and the live poker scene. Here’s everything you need to get in on the action.
Canada (including Ontario) online poker overview
Most global online poker sites are available to players in Canada, a prime reason many American poker pros moved north after Black Friday or still spend quite a bit of time in the country.
Online poker has flourished north of the border since its early days in the 1990s.
In Canada, gambling is regulated on a provincial basis. As the CBC notes, the internet “doesn’t pay attention to provincial boundaries.” Many lawyers argue that there is nothing against playing poker online in Canada’s criminal code.
As the Ontario changes exemplify, the country seems to be moving toward a more regulated approach as seen in numerous other countries.
Best Real Money Online Poker Sites in Canada
|Rank||Poker Site||Reasons to Play|
|1||partypoker (Ontario)||• Nice mobile app play
• Excellent support 24/7
• Large player pool
|2||BetMGM (Ontario)||• Great software
• Nice mobile product
• Seamless integration
|3||PokerStars (Ontario)||• Highest traffic of any site in world
• Millions in tournament guarantees weekly
• Excellent software
Canada online poker laws
When in Canada, players can play from any of the country’s 10 provinces. The government has made no efforts to make it officially illegal.
Any operator looking to be based in the country, however, will have to officially seek licensing. Ontario worked to shore up its own regulatory environment in 2022. The province still offers a nice market size with more than 14.6 million people.
So far, BetMGM, partypoker, and 888poker have launched in the regulated Ontario market. GGPoker also announced in March 2022 that it would be partnering with the World Series of Poker to offer the WSOP.ca platform for players in Ontario.
“As a proud Ontario native, I’m thrilled that poker’s two greatest brands have come together to launch WSOP.CA and offer the Ontario poker community the perfect place to play online,” Daniel Negreanu said in announcing the new site. “You’ll be seeing exclusive WSOP rewards and tournaments, running on GGPoker’s amazing app – what’s not to love about that?”
BetMGM also became one of the first operators offering online poker in the new Ontario regulated environment in April 2022. The company is owned by Roar Digital, a US-based partnership between MGM Resorts and the online gaming company Entain (which owns the international partypoker platform).
For much of the American market, BetMGM and Borgata Poker are considered skins (or brands) of the Partypoker US Network.
The international partypoker platform (not the US versio) also launched an Ontario product. The site is also integrated with Party Casino, offering a seamless gaming experience.
Where can I play poker online in Canada?
There are numerous options for Canadians to play cards online or even Americans looking to head north to get in on the action. Here’s a look at some of the best sites:
- This is a longtime operator in the US using the partypoker software.
- In the American market, the platform is open to players in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan .
- BetMGM is also now available in Ontario, Canada.
The platform uses the partypoker software but is separate from the international brand however. In the US (and Ontario), partypoker is a partnership between MGM Resorts and the international partypoker parent company, Entain.
In the US, the brand operates under three separate skins:
- partypoker US Network
- Borgata Poker
So far, the company is only using the BetMGM name in Ontario. However, the site shares player pools with the partypoker/bwin skins (more on those brands below).
BetMGM has created some synergy with the MGM-owned Borgata property in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in recent years. The site regularly offers online qualifiers for live events at the casino. That expanded to cross-promotional efforts with Aria in Las Vegas in 2022.
In the US, the network’s three markets are “ringed-in” markets, meaning players only compete against others within those states. In 2022, the brand began offering more unique monthly series and continued seeing some growth.
The company also made some headlines by signing four-time World Poker Tour champion Darren Elias as a brand ambassador.
- This is one of the largest poker sites in the world. Founded in 2001, the site has plenty of experience and works to please its players.
- Players in Ontario can also take advantage of an online poker site built specifically for that province.
- In Ontario, the company also features the bwin skins. Both skins share a player pool with BetMGM as well.
- Party has its own partnership with the World Poker Tour, which makes for plenty of nice live and online events coordinated between two of the biggest names in the game.
- Party attracts plenty of big-name pros with big bankrolls, but also works to cater to recreational players.
- The company has worked to greatly improve its mobile offering over the last couple of years, and that definitely shows with a cutting-edge experience.
This is one of the most recognizable brands in the game, and many poker fans may remember it as an early sponsor of the WPT. In fact, longtime tour commentator Mike Sexton was one of the company’s founders and served as its chairman for many years.
partypoker has become one of the hottest sites in poker in recent years. Part of that has to do with its online offerings and considerable improvement. This brand should not be confused with the partypoker US Network/BetMGM platform as outlined above in Ontario.
Partypoker is a separate entity from the US-based platform and is open to players in the international online poker market. The company also now operates a “ringed-in” version just for Ontario players.
The site has earned significant credibility in the industry through its popular partypoker MILLIONS live events. The series features massive events at international hotspots with numerous ways to qualify online.
At the online tables, players will find numerous daily events and big weekend majors with large guarantees. The site offers nice daily multi-table tournaments, sit and go’s, and other events for every bankroll.
The site’s popular SPINS tournaments are quick-play events with only three players, perfect for mobile play. Players can win a random jackpot, which can reach as high as $1 million.
The partnership with the WPT expanded during the coronavirus pandemic. With live poker shut down, the tour partnered with partypoker for the World Online Championships.
For the first time ever, players could win a WPT championship playing online as well as earn complete travel packages to the Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas. That included allowing Canadian players in on the action.
- This site, founded in 2001, is the largest online poker site in the world and regularly ranks as the top site in traffic by a wide margin.
- Players have come to love the software experience, which includes numerous bells and whistles.
- PokerStars is constantly innovating with new games and events. You will also find numerous game varieties on this platform.
- The company is also expected to launch in the Ontario market as well. However, as of May 2022 that had yet to happen.
When PokerStars was founded, the platform was built with poker players in mind and that spirit remains for the most part. As the leader in the industry, the site offers plenty of action no matter what time of day.
Cash game players will always find some action and there are numerous formats of poker offered including traditional Texas Hold ’em, numerous forms of Omaha, seven card stud and even more exotic games like Badugi.
Mixed games are also part of the cash game mix, with regular offerings like HORSE and 8-Game Mix. Cash players will find games ranging from micro to nosebleed stakes.
Tournament players are also in luck with huge daily multi-table events, Sit & Go tournaments and Spin & Go tournaments. The $215 PokerStars Sunday Million celebrated its 14th anniversary in 2020. The event remains the biggest weekly tournament in the world and features a $1 million guarantee.
There are numerous other daily events and weekly events. Tournament players will also find plenty of huge guarantees in classic PokerStars series like the Bounty Builder Series and World Championship of Online Poker — including spring and turbo versions. The Micro Millions series even offers some nice guarantees for low rollers.
Beyond the traditional poker client, players will also find a great experience making use of the PokerStars app on a phone or tablet. The company also hosts qualifiers for its regular live series, and that has included major events like the popular PokerStars Players Championship in the Bahamas in 2019.
In the United States, PokerStars also runs “fenced-in” platforms in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
- Founded in 2002, this company offers plenty of action and regularly ranks among the top 10 in traffic.
- It offers numerous regular tournament series with a keen eye toward pleasing players of lower bankrolls.
- 888 offers international players a chance to qualify for the annual World Series of Poker events in Las Vegas.
- 888poker was also one of the first operators to launch a product for Ontario players and was one of only three in the market as of May 2022.
While it may offer less traffic than some other sites mentioned here, 888poker goes out of its way to offer some creative events for players.
Series like the 888 Millions Superstorm offer players a chance to play for big guarantees each summer. Even larger tournaments regularly include lower versions with nice guarantees, and the site takes pride in offering qualifiers that start at just pennies.
How big is the real money online poker market in Canada?
Luckily for players in Canada, all major online platforms operate in the country. Those in the country have no trouble getting online to play some poker.
The country’s history as a legal casino and gambling destination make it a nice market for the industry. Canada has a population of almost 38 million people. That’s just a bit under the state of California in the US, offering a nice number of players.
Despite Ontario going it alone as its own ringed-in market, the province still has a nice size for online poker markets. The province has about 14.6 million people, enough to support a nice player pool.
This is Canada’s largest province in terms of population with major metropolitan areas like Toronto, Ottawa, Mississauga, Brampton, and Hamilton.
How to deposit and play online poker in Canada
Players in Canada can take satisfaction in being able to play on any of the major traditional real money online poker sites. The major well-established and respected sites offer plenty of cash games and tournament action for players from Vancouver to Montreal to Saskatoon.
Making a deposit on the poker sites listed here is a simple process, but you’ll want to make use of the exclusive bonus links and offers mentioned here to earn some free money for hitting the tables.
That goes for the larger international platforms as well as for the poker sites that have launched in Ontario as well. Those making a first deposit will need to provide some basic information, like:
- Phone number
You can then qualify for any no deposit bonuses and are also ready to snag some nice deposit bonus funds. After entering all that information to set up an account, players will then be able to choose the amount and method of their deposit.
Established and trusted sites like those outlined here make use of common and reliable deposit methods. You can expect those to include:
- ACH/bank transfers
- Major credit and debit like Visa, Mastercard and Discover
- Wire transfers
- Prepaid cards like PaySafeCard or Ukash
- E-wallets like PayPal, Neteller or Skrill
Not every operator will offer all of the above, but these are some of the favorites you will find at these legal, regulated online poker sites in Canada..
Have a nice night at the cash game tables or secure a big score in a tournament? These are also some of the ways real money online poker sites will pay out those winnings.
With proven sites that operate under gambling commission regulations, players can expect prompt and secure payouts.
Are online poker sites safe?
Those using the sites mentioned here can rest easy in the fact that their personal information will be secure. Unlike some offshore sites, these are all licensed and regulated by legitimate commissions. Those include:
- GGPoker — UK Gambling Commission as well as other countries’ gambling commissions
- PokerStars — Malta Lotteries and Gaming Commission and other countries
- 888poker — UK Gambling Commission and other countries
- Unibet — Gibraltar Gambling Commission and other countries
The regulations from these commissions ensure players can expect a fair game as they might find in a real casino or poker room. They also set standards and practices that make sure player funds are secure and not intermingled with business operating funds. That is real money in your account after all and keeping it safe is important.
This should be seen as a major plus for players. Not all international operators follow these standards. Slow payouts are a frequent complaint from some such sites. Other times, unregulated sites have folded, and lost player funds are never returned.
Additionally, Ontario’s regulated online poker market is regulated by iGaming Ontario (iGO), a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The group was created to oversea all aspects of online gaming, including the plans for expansion in 2022.
Where can I play live poker in Canada?
If you don’t want to play at any online Canadian poker sites, there are over 50 licensed brick-and-mortar poker rooms in Canada spread out across the country. So, finding a venue shouldn’t be much of an issue. Here’s a list of some of the most interesting locations:
- Playground Poker Club (Kahnawake)
- Casino Montreal (Montreal)
- OLG Casino Brantford (Ontario)
- Caesars Windsor (Ontario)
- Niagara Fallsview (Ontario)
- River Rock (British Columbia)
- Casino Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia)
- Northlands Park (Alberta)
What is or is not legal in Canada?
Gambling in Canada is regulated on two levels. Sections 201-206 of the federal Criminal Code render all types of gambling and betting illegal throughout the entire country. Only parimutuel horse race betting is
exempt from this general prohibition.
Section 207, which was introduced in 1985, allows all provincial and territorial governments to provide regulated gambling to Canadian citizens. This means that local authorities, such as the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission or the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, regulate local brick-and-mortar poker rooms.
The above limitations do not really apply to offshore poker operators. Neither federal nor local regulations explicitly ban sites like PokerStars or 888poker from offering their services to Canadian citizens. Experts tend to agree that such operations might be illegal and should be closed down. However, no
charges were ever brought against any foreign companies that accept Canadian gamblers. In fact, operators are free to advertise their Canadian online poker sites all over the country. The only exception is Ontario, where online-gambling advertisements have been banned since 2006.
It’s also worth noting that the Kahnawake Gambling Commission used to be a popular choice with US-facing offshore gambling operators, such as Bovada. In 2016, the Commission struck a deal with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, agreeing to force those sites to withdraw from the US market. As a result, Bovada relinquished its Kahnawake license voluntarily.
History of real money online poker in Canada
As mentioned above, Canadian players have always enjoyed unrestricted access to playing on online poker rooms for real money. Unlike United States citizens, they never had to deal with a major government crackdown. The aforementioned 2006 Ontario ban on gambling-related ads is the only case of a local government trying to interfere with online gambling.
Unlike in the case of United States, major online poker providers, such as PokerStars and partypoker, never had to flee the country. All in all, Canadian poker enthusiasts tend to have it even better than their European colleagues.
When it comes to locally regulated online poker sites, available options suffer from very poor traffic. This is mostly because, unlike similar poker rooms operating on fenced markets in the United States and Europe, they simply cannot rely on a lack of competition to boost their numbers.
Official regulated sites such as Loto-Quebec (Quebec) and PlayNow (British Colombia) tried overcoming this issue by combining their player pools on a peer-to-peer network. Unfortunately, the results were rather disheartening.
The just may still be out on recent regulation efforts in Ontario. The province may see more success not only because of its population, but also because many of the international operators instead favored provincial regulation and an Ontario-only product.
Many looked to get in on the lucrative sports betting and online casino gaming in the market. These companies risked being shut out of these options if they did not agree to regulated poker as well.
As of May 2022, there were three skins operating in the Ontario market. Other were expected to begin operating in the province as well, including major companies like GGPoker (in partnership with the WSOP) and PokerStars.
Canada and poker-related taxes
While gambling companies operating on the Canadian market are considered suppliers of gambling services and products to territorial governments, the country does not recognize any industry-specific taxes. Gambling companies simply must comply with federal and local income tax laws, and that’s that.
For players, the situation gets slightly more complicated. If you’re a recreational player and poker isn’t your only source of income, you don’t owe the state any income tax on your poker winnings. On the other hand, if you’re a professional player, you are required by law to pay income tax .
However, for a person to be officially considered a professional poker player, it must be provable that they expect to receive a steady income and that said income was earned by an intentional pursuit of profit.
More on poker pro tax status
However, the Canadian Revenue Agency isn’t keen on pushing for such interpretations, as they would imply that all poker-related expenses incurred by the player suddenly become tax-deductible. This would include travel and accommodation costs, buy-ins, computer software, coaching, courses,
possibly rake, and more. Consequently, very few people officially achieve a “poker businessman” status in Canada. Even in cases involving highly profitable players, the situation is almost never clear-cut.
Both the Tax Court of Canada (2011, Cohen v. The Queen) and the Federal Court (2013, Radonjic v. Canada Revenue Agency) sided with poker players, determining that they aren’t conducting a gambling business even though they were consistently turning a profit from their poker play.
The bottom line is fairly simple: if you aren’t a WSOP Circuit pro, you don’t have to worry about taxes.
And if you do happen to sit down at the poker table with the likes of Scott Blumstein from time to time, you can always deduce your expenses from your income before you pay that 33-percent tax.
Legal gambling age in Canada
The legal gambling age is 18 or 19 in Canada, depending on the province:
- Alberta – 18
- British Columbia – 19
- Manitoba – 18
- New Brunswick – 19
- Newfoundland and Labrador – 19
- Nova Scotia – 19
- Ontario – 19
- Prince Edward Island – 19
- Quebec – 18
- Saskatchewan – 19
Canadian real money online poker players don’t have to deal with geo-location requirements on Canadian poker sites. ID verification requirements vary from site to another, but in the vast majority of cases, a photocopy or scan of a Canadian passport is more than enough.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Is online poker legal in Canada?
In Canada, gambling is a provincial issue, and while laws differ, there is no law making real money online poker technically illegal. The government has generally taken a complete “hands-off” approach to online poker in Canada for real money.
That means the industry has flourished in the country. Canada has produced some of the best players in the world, and even recreational players can participate in the action at some of the best and most trusted online poker sites in the world.
Can I play online poker in Ontario?
Yes, but the province underwent major regulation in 2021-22. Ontario converted to a fenced-in environment as of 2022, with several operators entering the market. As of May 2022, that included BetMGM, partypoker, and 888poker.
Can I play on PokerStars in Canada?
Yes, players can take advantage of the international “.com” site in Canada. That includes major events like the Sunday Million as well as major series like:
- WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker)
- SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker)
- TCOOP (Turbo Championship of Online Poker)
- Micro Millions
- Summer Series
- Bounty Builder Series
Along with PokerStars, players in Canada can take advantage of some other great international operators. GGPoker offers huge action, including massive weekend events and a chance to win WSOP bracelets.
Partypoker is also a proven global brand with massive series and live events. The platform also partners with the WPT for major online and live series. 888poker and Unibet also offer great platforms, especially for recreational players looking for some tournament series with lower buy-in action.
If I’m heading to Canada, can I set up an account and make a deposit ahead of time?
Many players may be interested in playing some poker while visiting the country or even heading north to play in specific online series. Depending on the site, players outside the Canada can make a deposit and then play when they’re in Canada.