Online Poker

Canadian players have made their mark at poker tables across the country, internationally and particularly at online gambling sites. For millions of players poker is the perfect winter cure, and once they face the arctic chill, online poker sites enjoy a spike in player activity.

Despite poker’s mass appeal, there are several unanswered questions when it comes to online poker legality in Canada, especially since its neighboring Americans have serious debates on their side of the border.

Two beliefs separate poker enthusiasts, while some believe it is entirely permissible others are content with the fact that online poker exists in a legal gray area and either way several online poker sites are eager to welcome players residing in Canada.

Some provinces offer sites run by the government as well as global sites based within the Canadian borders.

You are able to play at an online poker site if you live in Canada, however the laws stipulates that any company that is based in Canada must hold a full gambling license to be able to legally offer any type of gambling game or gambling service to citizens and residents of Canada.

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Should you wish to join the hundreds of thousands of poker players who log on to play poker every day of the week, then there are several aspects to doing so that you need to be fully aware of, and as such we invite you to have a read through of this Canadian poker playing guide as it will enlighten you on where to play, what poker games you can play online and which licensing jurisdictions offer you the best player protection.

Not all online poker sites are run and operated to the same high standards, and with most forms of gambling which are internet based you must ensure above all else that any poker site you choose to sign up to and play at is run and operated to the very highest standards to ensure you never experience any kind of problems.

Legal poker games are provided to residents by provincial gambling agencies in BC, Manitoba, and Quebec, while players in Ontario can play video poker via OLG although community card poker games are not legal. Basically, the gambling laws in Canada vary by venue, game type, legal age, and province. For the past eighteen years, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission of Quebec has regulated, and licensed gambling sites and numerous international sites welcome all players from Canada that are of legal age to their sites, even though the legality of this action is still under debate.

Shared Canadian Law Powers

Since the 1867 Canadian Confederation, the provinces and the federal government have shared responsibilities and powers. Several areas remained under the strict domain of the federal government and included banking, foreign affairs, citizenship, and trade. Provincial responsibilities include public works, education, and the granting of business licenses within their borders. Shared domains include justice, agriculture and immigration and the federal criminal code previously banned all forms of gambling although in 1969 lotteries were legalized. By 1985 provinces received the authority to regulate all forms of gaming as well as poker.

Canadian Differences At Provincial Level

By traveling across Canada, each of the provinces has its own opinion when it comes to gambling, and most surprisingly that includes the legal age. Travelers won’t find poker rooms or casinos in every part of the country although in some provinces online casinos are now catering for residents. Online sites fully licensed by the provincial government are legal, and most of them offer online poker as part of their entertainment collection. Provincially operated poker rooms are hugely popular in Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario. The provincial poker rooms are exclusively available to residents based in the specific province, and despite these sites legality, several have been criticized for lack of gaming variety, competing for promotional wise with offshore sites and smaller player
pools.

Online Poker Advertising In Canada

Anyone watching sports via television in Canada has seen advertising for online poker rooms and even while these promise members enticing prizes and an everlasting selection of entertainment, several residents are still unsure of the legal aspects. Most of these online sites currently operate from locations outside of the Canadian borders although they are overly pleased to welcome Canadian players and this is where the legal online poker gray area is entered.

Online gambling falls under the jurisdiction of each province although it is a bit more complicated for players residing in Canada, especially when certain games are hosted from other countries. It’s a hard question to answer if a Canadian player takes a virtual seat at a poker table hosted in the UK and his fellow players are from Scotland and France, where is the actual game taking place? In reality, it is a computer dealing the cards, and just as much as the government could not prevent Canadians from visiting Las Vegas to enjoy a poker tournament, they also could not prevent citizens from logging into international gambling sites. Currently, no records exist of any Canadian players ever being prosecuted for playing online poker so many players are not concerned about the legal aspects and continue to enjoy online poker.

Poker, Game Of Skill, Difference

Poker, classified as a game of skill and unlike roulette, scratch cards, and slots, participants’ success is partially in their own hands. Winning relies on player’s abilities to outwit their opponents. In the eyes of the court, this is a huge distinction, since many regulations at provincial level strictly apply to games of chance like raffles and lotteries. One of the main differences is that poker room interests are more towards the games it provides instead of the outcome of each game. In blackjack, the dealer is the players opponent and only when the player loses the casino wins. The online poker rooms operated on an entirely dissimilar business model in the eyes of the law since they make the magic happen by supplying virtual tables, software, and payment methods, and take a small rake from each player. Even when poker is viewed as gambling, players are not wagering against the house, and this is a significant legal difference.

Canadian Poker

Canada is the runner-up worldwide for the country home to the most WSOP winners and for players dreaming of becoming the next Jonathan Duhamel or Daniel Negreanu, it might be the most suited country to realize this potential. Several legal options are available, making it easier to understand why thousands of Americans flocked to provincial poker rooms in 2011 after the stateside clampdown.

No matter your choice, playing offshore or at provincial legal sites, it is always important to play at poker rooms that are regulated and licensed by reputable jurisdictions. The Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is Canada’s own jurisdiction, granting gambling licenses to several offshore gambling and poker sites. A Dickinson Wright law expert claims that a player is not committing a criminal offense by engaging in offshore poker play.

Thanks mainly to the lottery’s main selling point, winnings from poker are not considered as income and are tax-free. Should a Canadian citizen make a living from gambling, and it is his/her primary income, it is seen as a business and funds need to be declared according to the tax law. Enjoying poker as a form of entertainment means winnings are yours tax-free and Canadians are indeed fortunate as this isn’t the case in many other countries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canada based poker players who are thinking of moving some or even all of their land based real money poker playing action online are likely to have lots of questions that they are looking for the answers to and as such below are the most often asked questions by poker players thinking of playing poker online, along with the respective answers to those questions.

  • Are there any age restrictions in place?

    There are 10 provinces and three territories in Canada and each of them have their own laws in place regarding the legal minimum age at which citizens and residents are allowed to gamble. Be aware when playing at an online gambling site you will need to be the minimum legal age to gamble in your province or territory. When gambling online age checks will be carried out and you will often be required to supply any gambling site with copies of your Driving License and/or Passport.

  • How can I be assured I am accessing fair games?

    Only those poker sites that have had their games independently tested and certified as being fair and random and sites that hold a gambling licensed form a recognised gaming platform are going to offer you games which you can be completely confident play and pay as they should, and as such it is important that you only every play at licensed poker sites as by playing at an unlicensed site you may run the risk of playing all manner of different poker game that are not fair and random.

  • What methods can I use to deposit?

    You should only play at online poker sites if you live in Canada that will allow you to deposit using Canadian Dollars, and in regards to how you will be able to transfer funds into any legal and licensed poker site you will be able to use Web Wallets, Bank Transfer or use your debit and credits cards quite easily with not many restrictions in place.

  • How quickly do poker sites payout?

    Poker sites can take any amount of time to pay you your winnings, and as such always take a look over any poker sites banking pages on their websites for by doing so you will find the time scales that site uses to pay their winning player based on the method those players have chosen to be paid out by. Some sites payout in hours but some can take days to end you all of your winnings, and some sites also have maximum cash out limits per day or week.

  • Can I play in free poker tournaments online?

    Playing poker tournaments that will not cost you anything to enter are always popular with poker players and as such you will certainly find no shortages of freeroll poker tournaments offered at most if not all poker sites.

  • When is the best time to log in and play online poker?

    You may be wondering if you log onto an online poker site in the early hours of the day for example that there may not be many players also logged in and playing. However, as most online poker sites have players from all over the world playing at their respective sites then due to the time one differences in many different parts of the world you are never really going to find that there are quieter times of the day or night or busy times of the day or night.

    However, what you will find is that when an online poker site has a large paying poker tournament up and running there will usually be a huge number of player slogged into those sites as high paying poker tournaments are of course always popular with players.

  • Will I be playing against professional poker players?

    Many professional and experienced poker players will regularly log into an online poker site to play, and as such you are never going to know who you are playing against. Most sites will simply display a players user name but more and more poker sites online will now allow players to play completely anonymously and his enables those players to play with confidence and will not allow other players to track you and make notes on how you play.

  • What Poker taxes do I have to pay?

    In Canada you will not have to pay any taxes on gambling winnings, this includes winnings from any game of chance. There are however gambling taxes in Canada but these are only charged and levied on gambling companies located within Canada and not imposed on gamblers themselves. You are therefore going to be able to pay, bet and gamble online without ever having to declare those winnings to the taxman. Canada residents will be able to claim back some or all of the tax when they have visited a US land based casino and have hit a jackpot over a certain amount.

  • What poker games can I play online?

    All of the more common and also all of the more rarer types of poker games are going to be able to be played online, whilst there are some poker sites that only have the standard games such as Texas Hold Em and Omaha Poker available, you will find lots of sites that offer a wider selection of poker game variants, so always be prepared to hunt around to find those more unique games, but do make sure you know how to play those variants perfectly before giving them any amount of play time online.

  • What type of software do I have to download?

    The beauty of playing poker online is that you are not necessarily required to actually have to download any software onto your computer, some poker sites do of course have a fully downloadable gaming platform, and when playing at such as site you will find the gaming platforms are all fully configurable.

    However, if you just what to get stuck into playing poker online without having to spend any amount of time downloading the software many poker sites online have a web browser based gaming platform and as such you can instantly play any type of poker game from within your webs browser and by doing so will never need to use up any of the storage space on your computer by downloading a gaming platform on to it.

Legal Commonwealth Licensing Jurisdictions

  • UK Gambling Commission – You will be hard pressed to find an online gaming license issuer that is as experienced and regulates all of their license holders as strictly as the UK Gambling Commission.
  • Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner – Gibraltar is where dozens of different online gambling sites are based and regulated, and if you demand the very best poker sites at which to play at all those licensed in Gibraltar are high recommended and will never let you down.
  • Alderney Gambling Control Commission – You should find every single online poker site that holds an Alderney gambling license are run to the highest standards and will offer you a safe and enjoyable online poker playing experience.
  • Isle of Man Casino Control Commission – The Isle of Man is where a lot of casino software and online casino and poker game designers are based, and this small island has a very robust and experienced Gambling Commission who oversee and regulate lots of online casino sites.

Other Gambling Jurisdictions

We have just informed you of four of the very best online gambling licensing commissions, now let us tell you about two online gambling license issuing entities that you should avoid one is the Government of Curacao and the other is the Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gambling, whilst they both offer online poker site licenses you will never be able to seek assistance from either of them should you run into any problems playing at any poker site licensed by them.