With an increasing general acceptance of wagering across North America, it’s worth taking a look at the online poker market in Canada. Online poker is big business, and plenty of people across the country and in the world enjoy the activity, whether it’s just to entertain themselves on occasion or if they’re dedicated to the industry in an effort to make big money.
You can find a number of brick-and-mortar poker rooms across the country, but the convenience of being able to play poker online makes it an appealing activity. We spend so much of everyday life on mobile devices, online poker is just another way of entertainment through technology.
On this page, we will look at the legalities of playing online poker in Canada, go over some of the best sites to use, answer some of the most top questions about online poker betting in Canada and more.
Is online poker legal in Canada?
That remains a bit of a gray area. Canada’s criminal code does not expressly prohibit wagering on online poker, so it is unlikely anybody would face legal consequences for trying online poker sites. While potentially possible, it would seem unlikely for the country to all of a sudden crack down on the industry, especially when it is continuing to explore the possibility of further legalizing gambling through single-game wagering on sports.
Where people might find themselves in hot water would be if they were operating an online poker site from inside Canada’s borders. To do that, they would need to receive licensing to continue to operate in the country.
How do I choose a good poker site?
One of the most important items to consider if you or someone you know decides to start playing online poker is where the best sites are to take your action. Starting out, this could be a much bigger decision than what your poker strategy is. Because many of the online poker sites are located offshore, it can be tricky and dangerous as you may not know which you can trust.
Many offshore operations do not have any legal obligation to play by the rules because it is an unregulated market. Some dangers include a delay in payouts, a higher likelihood of gambling addiction with sites that have no betting limits or worse. In more extreme examples, an offshore site could shut down without any warning or explanation, and you would lose out on any funds in your account. Because these sites can be unregulated, there is not a whole lot a poker player would be able to do in a situation like that.
To find the right online poker site for you, it can be as simple as checking around the internet for which operations are most trustworthy.
Best poker sites for Canadians
It is important for the poker player to do their own research on this matter, but we’ll take a look at some of the best online poker sites available for Canadians like 888poker, GGPoker, PokerStars and PartyPoker, with some information on each site. Below you can find a few options that are licensed and regulated in different countries, and many Canadians utilize these sites.
888poker boasts more than 10 million registered members across the world and a growing online poker room. It is operated by 888holdings and describes itself as a forerunner in the online gambling industry and pioneer of safe and responsible gambling since 1997. It is incorporated in Gibraltar.
888poker offers the traditional poker games, along with a few distinct ways to play unique to 888poker. A promotions page has plenty of ways to increase your gambling funds. For a welcome bonus, new players get $20 free on sign up, plus 100% up to $888 on deposit using promo code NEW888.
GGPoker operates under the Good Game Network, which was founded in 2014. It is a relatively new but popular site and recently partnered with the World Series of Poker, which should help the site grow to even new levels moving forward. The poker site lists an address on the Isle of Man.
GGPoker offers a significant number of poker contests with a few specific games just for its users. Among a high number of promotions available to users is a welcome bonus for all new players. You’ll need to deposit at least $20 and get to choose between getting up to $50 in cash and free tickets or a 100% matched bonus to a maximum of $600.
PokerStars has been in business since 2001. It saw a rise in users during the mid-2000s after Chris Moneymaker’s run in the World Series of Poker as he previously played in PokerStars tournaments to gain entry into the WSOP. After beginning operations in Costa Rica, PokerStars moved its business to the Isle of Man.
PokerStars has a variety of online poker games available, including the basics like Texas Hold’em. For a promotional offer, the site offers a 100% deposit bonus up to $600 for new users.
Partypoker launched in 2001 through PartyGaming and remains among the most popular online poker sites in the world. It is currently being operated in Gibraltar.
Partypoker does not offer a ton of different games, but it has the main options. For new users to its platform, the site offers six days of free tickets up to $30.
How online poker bonuses work
For new and existing customers, poker sites will offer bonuses to attract and retain users. Essentially, the companies will offer benefits for users to play with, and in exchange, they are hoping that folks will stick around.
Promotions can come in a variety of forms. A popular promotion can include a welcome bonus of a free bet or matching the first deposit up to a certain dollar amount. These types of promotions can also be for existing users. It’s important to check the promotions page often with whatever site you choose. Be sure to read the rules and regulations for each poker bonus and reach out to the site’s support team with any questions.
Real money poker apps in Canada
Plenty of poker sites offer mobile options. The apps are generally convenient, letting you play on your phone from wherever you want. Canadian bettors will find a few options for online poker apps, including ones from the four sites mentioned above. All the top poker sites are going the app route to keep pace technology-wise and provide the best user experience for people using their platforms.
How to deposit and withdraw on Canadian poker sites
You’ll find a variety of ways to deposit and withdraw money from poker sites in Canada. Some of the most popular payment methods typically will include debit and credit cards like Visa and Mastercard. Other ways to deposit include e-wallets and bank transfers.
In order to sign up and make a first deposit, you may need to provide some basic information to create an account, including your name, address and phone number, in addition to an email address, username and password. As mentioned earlier, be sure to do your homework on each of the individual online poker rooms to make sure you’re making the safest choice possible. The online poker rooms listed above are relatively safe as they are regulated even though they operate outside the border.
Notable Canadian poker pros
It is not uncommon for people to move to Canada in order to pursue a poker career, and the country has produced some of the top professional players. Here are five noteworthy Canadian poker professionals:
- Daniel Negreanu: Daniel Negreanu was born in Toronto, has won six World Series of Poker bracelets and is known as one of the best poker players in the world.
- Jonathan Duhamel: A resident of Boucherville, Quebec, Jonathan Duhamel won three World Series of Poker bracelets in his career and was a big winner in the 2010 event.
- Sorel Mizzi: Born in Toronto, Sorel Mizzi does not have any World Series of Poker bracelets, but he has still made millions of dollars playing poker.
- Michael Watson: A resident of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Michael Watson has won the World Poker Tour and also has a European Poker Tour title in his career.
- Gavin Smith: Born in Guelph, Ontario, Gavin Smith won the World Series of Poker and claimed a World Poker Tour title, as well. He died unexpectedly at age 50 in 2019.
Canadian online poker FAQs
Below are some of the top questions regarding online poker in Canada.
How popular is online poker in Canada?
Online poker is fairly popular among Canadians for a few reasons. Canada does not exactly have clear-cut laws on online poker, and many of the major companies in the online poker industry offer their services to Canadian players. The ease of access to online poker helps increase the online poker market in the country.
Are poker winnings taxed in Canada?
Like much of gambling in Canada, there is a bit of a gray area on whether your poker winnings are taxable. If you participate in online poker as a recreational player, you probably do not need to pay taxes on your winnings, assuming it is not a source of income. However, professional players who play online poker to earn a living will more than likely need to pay taxes.
Is it safe to use a credit card on a poker site?
It should be safe provided you do your research on the site you are using, and it is reputable. If a site has a good reputation, it is likely safe to use, but if it isn’t, you should be able to find that information in online reviews, as players will police which sites are safe. If there is any sense of shadiness or public distrust, it’s likely best to just choose another site.
What is the age limit to play online poker in Canada?
Depending on the individual province, the legal gambling age in Canada is either 18 or 19. For provinces such as Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, people can start playing online poker at the age of 18. For the rest, including British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan, 19 is the legal age for gambling.