PokerStars Looks to Enter Ontario’s Emerging Legal Market
On April 4, ring-fenced legal online poker & iGaming is set to go live in Canada's biggest province. PokerStars eyes opening shop in the closed Ontario Market.
Poker in Canada’s biggest province is set to change radically at the beginning of April when new regulations go into effect and the province opens its new legal online gaming market. While the new regulations have implications across the Ontario online gaming landscape, poker players and operators alike will be affected by the new regime. Even with the closed market and new regulatory processes, it seems that iGaming operators as a whole are eager to get their licenses. Among them is PokerStars, who appears to be eyeing a launch in the new Ontario regulated market.
As of April 4, all legal, regulated poker clients in Ontario will need to be licensed by iGaming Ontario (iGO) and one of the requirements will be a ring-fenced player pool of Ontario residents only. While it seems likely that players will still be able to access many existing grey-market alternatives, operators who want a piece of the regulated pie in Ontario will need to play by the rules.
PokerStars has a huge presence in Canada already and it seems to be signaling its intentions to get into the game in Ontario. Details are still sparse, but pokerfuse reports that the global poker giant is working with Ontario regulators to find an “attractive offering” for players.
This indicates that PokerStars is willing to work within the forthcoming ring-fenced regulated market. The fact that the new market will be restricted to the provincial borders is actually not as bad as it might sound. With almost 16 million people, Ontario is actually larger than any of the three closed systems in which PokerStars currently operates in the US.
There are many changes coming for Ontarians who gamble online, and Ontario online poker players are no exception. While a ring-fenced solution may not be ideal from the players’ perspective, at least they can rest a little easier knowing that the regulators have their backs and that one of the most popular clients in Canada is working to find a way to keep PokerStars Ontario on its virtual felt.
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