Canadian Poker Sites – List of poker sites that are available to players from Canada
If you ask the average Canadian, they won’t actually know whether they are legally permitted to play poker online in their own country. The reason for it is not some unduly shady gambling laws in the country but confusing a confusing legal system in general.
Fortunately, by diving to the bottom of this mess, the ever-confusing Canadian online poker world can be cleared up in a matter of minutes.
Best Canadian Poker Sites for September 2023
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The Big Question: Can I Play Online Poker in Canada?
Unlike its neighbour to the south, Canadian criminal law is enacted federally, and not at a regional level. This makes things all the easier when it comes to deciphering whether it is legal to play poker in Canada. Most people acknowledge that they aren’t sure whether they can gamble at poker sites in Canada legally. Many consider it a grey area – and that is because it is.
Officially, Canada doesn’t have a set of laws that legalises anything. However, they do have laws which prohibit something and make it illegal. Whilst there is no law which actively says that gambling and playing poker is legal, there isn’t one which makes playing poker online illegal. It is this loophole which many Canadian poker sites use to offer their services to players.
In theory, Canadian poker sites need only obtain a license which says that what they are offering is not illegal. A Canadian gambling license, in effect, doesn’t make their activities legal or approved, but it confirms that they aren’t illegal, and that, at the end of the day, is all that matters.
Canadian Poker Laws, Rules and Regulations
You should try and avoid looking at poker sites in Canada as a legal or illegal activity. Instead, it is far easier to define Canadian poker sites (and online gambling in Canada) as accepted, and there is a very good reason for that. Canada does have anti-gambling laws in place, but they pertain only to in-house activities.
It is illegal to offer gambling games in a venue, and any player visiting a venue must explain in a very clear and concise legal sense what they were doing at said venues. However, online poker rooms aren’t offering a brick and mortar venue for players. They can’t, therefore, be subject to the same law.
Canadian criminal law defines illegal gambling as:
- A betting or gaming house
- One which offers gambling facilities to its visitors
- One which offers games, with games being defined as games of skill or games of chance
- Bookmaking and pool selling operations (such as bookies)
At no point in Canadian criminal law are poker or online games listed as crimes, therefore they aren’t expressly illegal. In theory, then, if you frequent an online casino, you are not breaking any Canadian criminal laws, and are therefore not doing anything wrong.
Canadian Poker Licence Authorities
Those Canadian operators which do offer online poker rooms and sites to national players are usually licensed out of Kahnawake. This is an Indian territory inside Canada, and like many Indian territories in the USA, they have their own set of laws (to a certain degree).
Hang on a minute, though? Don’t the Canadian criminal laws quite clearly state the if you operate a book, or offer services related to “games” and betting, that you’re breaking the law? Well, in a manner, yes and no. Online poker sites licensed out of Kahnawake are technically breaking the law regarding books (although not really, because as we’ve said, Kahnawake considers itself independent of those laws), but also no because they don’t offer an establishment for gamblers to frequent.
More importantly, none of that is your concern. If poker rooms running which Kahnawake licensed were suddenly to become the target of a criminal investigation by Canadian authorities (which is very unlikely to happen due to the tension it would cause) none of that concerns you. You are not offering gambling services, and you’re not visiting an establishment, so you’re not breaking any laws. You are, in a sense, scot-free.
Tax Policy in Canada
Canadian authorities may not have determined the precise wording regarding the legal aspects of online gambling, but they do have specific taxation policies. The fact that Canada is divided into regions enables each player to adhere to their region’s provisions.
Technically speaking, Canadian players are subject to taxes while playing online poker. Nevertheless, there are certain conditions. Namely, the taxation only applies to the players’ winnings, without taking into account their losses. Plus, the general condition which can subject players to these policies is that they have to earn enough money from this game so that it can be considered as their “job”. Overall, imposing taxes on online poker players in Canada is a rare sight, and those who go through it have normally won enough money to keep them from bothering about taxes.
Popular Poker Games in Canada
Canada is one of the more open countries when it comes to online poker. You can expect to be able to find live dealer poker games, mobile poker games, and almost all your favourite hold’em, stud and draw poker titles. Of course, being the United States neighbour to the North means that Canadian poker players have a love of that old US favourite, Texas Hold ‘em, and many regularly sit down to play a few hands of this.
Other popular poker games in Canada include Omaha, and Caribbean Stud Poker, as well as Three Card Poker. Several smaller-scale poker variants can also be played in Kahnawake casinos, since they often carry Microgaming table games. This world-famous developer has produced many one-of-a-kind poker variants in its time.
Most Canadian poker rooms do not provide satellites and tournaments which can gain you access to the WSOP (World Series of Poker) competitions. These are low-level national poker rooms, and they aren’t affiliated or associated with the WSOP. However, some offshore poker rooms (such as major UK websites) can provide you with tournaments and satellites that can directly get you into WSOP events. This is worth checking out if you are going to play online poker in Canada.
Online Poker Canada Promos and Bonuses
Whilst Canadian gaming authorities often turn a blind eye to poker enterprises operating inside their country, they are lot tougher when it comes to bonuses and promotions.
Most promotions and bonuses in Canadian poker rooms are kept fair (without excessive wagering requirements) and they are neither as numerous or as prosperous (in terms of their value) as those at offshore poker rooms.
You can certainly still claim poker promos in Canada, though, some of which include:
- Welcome bonuses
- Redeposit bonuses
- Loyalty deals and one-off monthly promos
Depositing/Withdrawing Options Available To Canadians
Canada is a bit more limited in terms of the deposit and withdrawal options which are open to poker players based in their country, but there should still be an ample selection to choose from. Major credit cards which are accepted include:
- VISA Debit and Electron
Players can also use eChecks, Instadebit, PayPal, Citadel, Paysafecard, Ukash, EntroPay, ClickandBuy, and EcoPayz to deposit at poker sites. Some poker rooms still advertise Skrill and Neteller as deposit options, although this has not been clarified, and it is believed that those e-wallets left the Canadian poker market a few years’ back. Bitcoins can be used to deposit at bitcoin poker sites, too, although understandably, this requires a bit of work and understanding on your part.
Most withdrawal options tend to be speedy (1-5 days) although understandably, wire transfers will take up to 14 days to land and often come with considerable withdrawal fees, so should be avoided if possible.
The Future of Online Poker in Canada
Many Canadian players tend to play at UK licensed poker rooms, and this is going to post a bit of the problem in the future, though not from Canada’s side. The UK is starting to crack down on UK licensed poker rooms (and casinos) who offer their services to players in countries where there isn’t a clear law permitting online gambling activities.
This means Canada, amongst others. If that was to come to fruition (and in some ways it already has) Canadians may have to jump ship to other licensed poker rooms. Of course, it is possible that the Canadian gambling authorities might just decide that with poker gaming popular in the country (and plenty of revenue to be made from the potential tax on that), they may be best-served just legalised online gambling games, particularly ‘games of skill‘ such as poker. This is often talked about, though there has been no official movement in this department as of yet.
My Final Thoughts
Canadian players might find their own set of gambling laws confusing, but there really is nothing to it. You have ample poker rooms and websites open to you, some of which are licensed on your doorstep. Canada is one of the most well-regulated and open online poker markets in the world, so any Canadian lover of online poker should take advantage of that.
FAQs On Canadian Online Poker You May Like To Know
The minimum online gambling age depends on the country’s legal regulations which need to be explicitly shown on the sites. In Canada, these age restrictions mainly depend on the regional laws. Majority of the Canadian provinces the legal age is 19, there are however three which are the exception and have 18 as the legal age these are Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta.
For starters, you’re going to want to make sure that any offshore poker room you consider playing at is licensed preferably by a respectable licensing jurisdiction. You are also going to want to make sure that they can offer you both the Canadian dollar, and a good selection of payment methods to use. Players are also going to want to be able to obtain quality customer support (in either English or French) when playing at offshore poker sites.
Not at all. Many poker rooms have downloadable software which many customers install on their computers (in theory, it loads up quicker). However, there are numerous mobile and instant play poker sites out there open to you.
These poker sites aren’t solely dedicated to the Canadian market. They are open and running 24/7 all throughout the year which regulates the player traffic and provides stable action.
No. Any Canadian poker room which is licensed out of Kahnawake will have ample poker games for you to play. These can even include live dealer casino games, so you’re spoilt for choice really. You might find a few oddities and rare variants at offshore poker sites, but it is not as though Canadian poker rooms have less to offer you.
Ordinarily, no. In Canada, winnings made by gambling are not taxable for the most part. If you are a casual poker player, and you happen to win a rather sizeable sum of money playing in either a Canadian poker room or an offshore poker site, you do not have to declare any of your winnings as taxable income.
However, if gambling is your only source of income (you can describe yourself as a professional gambler) then the situation is different. If your income comes from gambling professionally, then you must declare that income as this is from your “occupation”. Saying you’re an amateur if you really are a professional poker player who plays online poker as their full-time job is not a grey area!
This would see you breaking Canada’s laws and could land you in very hot water. Our advice, keep your online poker gameplay to a recreational level.