Ontario Poker Reservation | Onsite (OTS) Southport News
Effective April 4, 2022, Canada’s fourth largest province, Ontario, will officially ban poker players from playing online in the international pool. The decision was not spontaneous – the first steps to divide Ontario’s basin were taken in 2019 when the provincial government presented a budget for the coming years. At that time, the privatization of iGaming Ontario, the division that oversees online gambling in the province, was written.
At first glance, the situation only applies to Canadians, but if you dig deeper, it becomes clear that the appearance of such a clause in Canada can cause serious damage to global online gambling and poker in particular. So that you don’t waste your time with Pragmatic Play and searching for information, we’ve compiled the key facts related to the Ontario government’s decision and its implications for the industry.
Why did you decide to make Ontario a game reservation?
Of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, Ontario ranks 4th in area and 1st in population. At the end of 2021, 14,223,942 people are officially registered there, but experts estimate the number of true residents at 15 million, just under 50% of all Canadian residents.
In 2021, amid a surge in interest in gambling due to the pandemic, the Canadian government gradually expanded the list of legal gambling, starting with the lifting of the ban. sports betting in the country. At the same time, due to Covid-19 restrictions and related issues in the operation of public places and a reduction in the flow of tourists, live casinos and other gambling organizations have started to close in the country, which led to a decrease in budget revenue.
At that time, in the United States, these problems were solved by online gambling – there they only exist in the form of a reservation, so that players’ money and corporate taxes do not flow not in other countries. Canada, if I may say so, was less fortunate: playing in the international pool and in halls outside the country’s jurisdiction, Canadians managed to “get rid” of some money, losing it for the benefit of opponents, casinos and bookmakers from other countries, and the budget should rely on taxes from them did not have to.
According to the laws of Canada, all legal games of chance must be “conducted and managed” by the authorities of the provinces and territories where they take place, although not all entities even have regulatory authorities for such activities. , and where these authorities exist, they must prove to the government of the country that it can be considered as “leader and ruler”. Since Ontario is the main provider of players in the country – the province of Quebec, the closest in terms of population, has only 8.5 million inhabitants – it is from there that the authorities decided to begin creating reserves similar to the American model, but with minor modifications.
For example, at first it was assumed that online gambling would only be available to Canadians, but from any province or territory, and that citizens and residents themselves would be prohibited from playing in halls and casinos with an international pool. However, in preparation, the restrictions have been revised, making them stricter: only Ontario residents and residents can play in the province’s pool, and access to international gaming companies from that – this will be closed.
The decision has sparked controversy among gambling regulators nationwide. In particular, Great Canadian Gaming, which works closely with the government in terms of organizing games and tourism, has spoken out against their introduction — according to the results of its study, it turned out that the reservation regime would do even more damage to the country’s budget. Experts believe that now players will most likely choose legal operators for gambling, which operate through offshore companies without regulation or taxation.
After receiving negative comments and protests from operators, the Government of Canada and Ontario authorities have softened their statements a bit, noting that if other subjects in the country follow the example of the largest and also become reserves, then with a high probability they will be able to gather in a common pool.
Canada already has a precedent for the creation of a legal pool of this kind, the rooms OK Poker and PlayNow Poker host games with the participation of residents:
- Quebec (8 million inhabitants);
- British Columbia (5 million people);
- Manitoba (1.3 million people).
How will such a tightening affect online poker in Ontario?
According to preliminary estimates, for residents of Ontario, the size of the pool will be reduced by about 10-20 times, which means that the guarantees and prices of the organizers of the games will become smaller. In addition, the number of playgrounds and halls available for playing will decrease sharply – from April 4, companies that do not have time to conclude an operating agreement and obtain a license to work in the province will be forced to stop serving customers. Those who don’t will be blacklisted by the province, which could prevent them from appearing on the market in the future, even if all requirements are met.
At the same time, this event will also become a source of losses for international halls. Now active and solvent, the Canadians play primarily from this province and provide action for all the major venues and networks, including:
Some companies have already started to worry about legalization in Ontario – for example, Stars owner Flutter has announced plans to move its FanDuel fantasy sports division to Ontario, which may well be followed by legalization fast in the province and in the PokerStars room.
Ontario’s “shutdown” will cause a slight reduction in attendance at each venue – but it’s hard to estimate exactly by how much. At the same time, there is an interesting nuance here. According to the laws of Canada, offshore gambling companies, including poker rooms, belong to the “grey zone” and are not recognized as illegal. This means that in the current situation, there is a high probability of an influx of Canadians there.