In terms of online poker in Ontario, this has been quite a year.
In contrast to a year ago, when there was no regulated market at all, this July marked the beginning of what has become the biggest regulated market for online poker in North America.
Without a doubt, Ontario’s large offshore market didn’t appear overnight. Instead, a number of events during the year 2022 laid the groundwork for the province’s future prosperity.
Here are six changes that occurred in 2022 that affected online poker in Ontario.
First, The Authority Has Set a Start Date
In late January, the provincial authorities got things going. On January 28, iGaming Ontario, the lottery division of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, said that private operators who had signed an operating agreement with iGO and been approved by the AGCO would be able to begin offering online poker by April 4.
iGO reported at the time that 30 operators had submitted applications to the AGCO.
It’s safe to assume that the decision to launch Ontario’s regulated industry as a segmented market was disappointing to poker operators and fans.
However, iGO executives said the agency had studied shared liquidity and the idea of developing an inter-jurisdictional gaming compact with other provinces or territories in Canada, so there was cause for hope on that front.
Second, both 888 and WSOP were able to get their gambling licenses ahead of schedule by quickly responding to the requirements set out by the relevant authorities. They both made the news that they had been granted an iGaming license in Ontario at the beginning of March.
It became apparent that the structure of online poker partnerships in Ontario wouldn’t be the same as in the United States.
As an example, WSOP has decided to use GGPoker software, rather than its long-term partner in the United States, 888, to run its poker platform in Ontario.
Third, a New Poker Network Is Formed by Three Players
When the regulated market for online poker in Ontario launched, 888poker and BetMGM Poker were the first two providers to launch their services. On April 4, 888 went live, and on April 5, BetMGM Poker Ontario opened for business in Ontario.
After Entain’s bwin and partypoker brands debuted in the province a week later, online poker was legalized across the territory. BetMGM Poker Ontario, a partnership between Entain and MGM Resorts International, launched shortly after, thereby creating a three-skin online poker network.
While many predicted the arrival of partypoker, few predicted the arrival of bwin Poker Ontario.
4: A Contentious Interval of Change
It was expected that authorities in Ontario, Canada will allow gray market operators like GGPoker and PokerStars to continue their business until the official start of the real money Ontario online poker market on April 4.
At first, specifics on the nature of such a lull in action were hard to come by. number: 217335-ontario-regulator-igaming-operator-compliance: On March 11th, the AGCO issued a directive requiring operators and any third-party firms they interact with to cease all activities in the gray market prior to entering the regulated market.
However, provincial officials also let gray market operations to continue temporarily for those operators who had begun the licensing procedure with AGCO but had not yet finalized their operating agreements with iGO.
The authorities’ approach has been criticized for allegedly resulting in a two-tiered structure in the online poker industry, which is bad for players and advantageous to offshore operators.
5: The World Series of Poker and PokerStars Go Live
PokerStars and the WSOP have been promising to enter Ontario’s regulated market for months. Online poker players in Ontario have been using PokerStars and GGPoker for years despite the sites’ status as unregulated “gray market” operators.
By virtue of their already established reputations, PokerStars and WSOP were able to begin the licensing procedure with provincial authorities without immediately launching in the province.
On June 28, PokerStars left the underground scene and entered the regulated market in Ontario. On September 30th, GGPoker’s WSOP followed suit, making it the sixth and last online poker room in the province.
Before the AGCO’s October 31 deadline for operators to discontinue their unregulated operations in the province, both PokerStars Ontario and WSOP Ontario started.
Sixth Suggestion: iPoker May Join the Scene
Playtech’s iPoker is the most talked about potential newcomer to Ontario’s regulated online poker sector.
Playtech said in June that it will introduce iPoker to the Ontario market by the end of 2022, but these plans have since seemed to be on hold. However, only NorthStar Bets, a startup, has accepted Playtech’s invitation to join the platform as a partner operator.
However, European companies like bet365, Betsafe, and Coolbet are now part of iPoker networks in other regions. All three businesses have been granted permits by Ontario authorities.