iGaming Ontario Amends International Pool Participation Poker Rules

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Poker Rules. Image Credit: Shutterstock

From 4 April 2022, iGaming Ontario will be updating the rules governing online poker in the province by formally banning international pool participation.

iGaming Ontario, the newly established body that oversees all iGaming operations in the province, announced changes to its online poker offering. The subsidiary of the alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario noted that it would officially ban local poker players from participating in international pools from 4 April 2022.

The regulator noted that the decision was far from spontaneous as the notion was first discussed in 2019. This was when the provincial government presented its long-term budget plan. The change affects not only Ontarians but also the international poker industry.

Changes to be Implemented 4 April

According to the new rules issued by iGaming Ontario, only residents of Canada can play in the local pool, with all international gambling companies being suspended. Initially, the measures were lighter, but the province ultimately opted to make them more restrictive.

Gambling operators, such as the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, expressed their concern with the change. According to a company study, the move would be detrimental to the federal budget. Some experts even predicted that punters would likely migrate to operator platforms that function via offshore companies without regulation and taxation.

Flutter Entertainment noted that it plans to apply for an Ontario operating license and move its FanDuel fantasy sports division to the province. Subsequently, this might trigger the legalisation of its PokerStars.com platform in these jurisdictions. The market’s closure is also expected to reduce traffic in each room, although it’s not estimated by how much.

According to early estimates, the change would primarily impact Ontario residents, with the pool being significantly reduced by between 10 and 20 times. Hence, prizes from the games will also be decreased. Additionally, the number of rooms would shrink drastically, and non-licensed companies would have to stop offering their products online. The province would also blacklist companies that violate these regulations.