While Canadians may have a vast array of poker sites online from which to choose, their payment processing methods tend to be limited in some ways. Major credit card companies issued from Canadian banks tend to be hesitant to allow online gambling transactions of any kind. This even includes poker, and some Visa and Mastercard deposits are sometimes denied out of a fear of ambiguous laws. However, other banks have stepped in to fill the void. Interac is one of those available only to Canadians that transfers money directly from any bank account in Canada to an online poker site. Instadebit is another strictly Canadian deposit option for many players.
Legal Happenings in 2018
The Canadian government has largely stayed out of the online gambling debate, and lawmakers seem to have little concern about online poker. Provincial governments reserve the right to formally legalize and regulate the games if they choose, but few have expressed any interest in doing so. Most have legalized various forms of land-based gambling and lotteries, though.
British Columbia does specifically allow online poker, as do Manitoba and Quebec. The gray area is in the fact that most provinces prohibit sites based in there from soliciting online bets from Canadians, while offshore sites are not prohibited. And no matter the specifics of each provincial criminal codes, players are never to be prosecuted for playing online poker.
Many people put Canada in the same category with uncertain markets due to the lack of specific online poker laws, but the world’s top poker operators, which are also public companies, continue to cater to Canadian players, something they would not do if it would risk their status with investors. Experts say it may take a legal case that sets a precedent, and most governments hesitate to deal with the issue until then.
In Atlantic Canada alone, which includes New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia, residents spent approximately $90 million on offshore gambling sites in 2017. And that number is expected to rise to $162 million by 2022. Some make the case that launching sites of their own and collecting revenue is the only way to handle the situation going forward, but there seems to be a lack of consensus on the matter.
Until then, the whole of Canada will remain one of the most lucrative markets for the online poker industry. Players will continue to flock to the poker tables online, and sites like 888poker and PartyPoker will be there for them.
Important Aspects of Canadian Poker Websites
Our readers ask us for online poker site recommendations based on a variety of factors, but there are some that seem to be the most important to the majority of our audience. These are also simply vital issues to consider when choosing a virtual home for online poker.
How to Choose an Online Poker Site Open to Canadians
Since the laws of Canada are vague at this point in time, most online poker sites do offer services to Canadians. However, there are some ways to find out about your favorite site right away.
- Visit the site and try to create an account. If there are no error messages, the site is safe.
- The home page of the site should show a deposit bonus in Canadian dollars.
- Look at the deposit methods and see if they list special options for Canada.
- Search the help or FAQ section for information about Canada.
- Call, email, or live chat with a customer service representative.
- Check our reviews here to see which sites are recommended for Canadians.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How do I know if a poker site accepts Canadian players?
Answer: When you log on to an online poker site in Canada, the site will likely detect your location. If it is not currently accepting Canadians, you will see a message about this and will not be allowed to sign up for a new account.
Question: What if a site in Canada suddenly stops accepting Canadians?
Answer: Any site that decides to leave a particular market will send messages to all of its players before the site stops you from playing. They will likely give you a choice of transferring your money to a legal Canadian poker site or allow a reasonable amount of time for you to withdraw your account balance.
Question: Do I Need to Pay Taxes On My Winnings?
Answer: This is a double edge question. You do not have to pay any income tax on winnings IF you are a casual player as per 40(2)(f) of the Income Tax Act. Paragraph 40(2)(f ) states that “a taxpayer’s gain or loss from the disposition of a chance to win a prize or bet, or a right to receive an amount as a prize or as winnings on a bet, in connection with a lottery scheme or a pool system of betting referred to in section 205 of the criminal code is nil“. If on the other hand you are playing online poker and it has become a source of income, then yes — you do need to claim it on your taxes as per subsection 9(1). Subsection 9(1) of the Act which states that “…a taxpayer’s income for a taxation year from a business or property is the taxpayer’s profit from that business or property for the year.”
Question: Is online poker in Canada regulated by the country or separate provinces?
Answer: Some provinces in Canada have considered regulating online poker within their provincial borders, but none have yet succeeded in developing a framework that seems reasonable. At this point in time, there are no specific laws outlawing online poker by country or province, so players remain safe to play on sites that cater to Canadians.
Question: Do sites have to be registered with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Canada?
Answer: No. Many sites are registered and licensed through Kahnawake in Quebec, but it is not a requirement for sites offering poker online to Canadians. The KGC is not affiliated with the Canadian government for licensing purposes.
Question: Do Canadian sites accept Visa and Mastercard?
Answer: Many poker sites operating in Canada list Visa and Mastercard as acceptable forms of depositing and withdrawing funds, but the ultimate transactions depend upon the banks themselves. Some banks allow deposits, while others do not. This is why services like Interac are beneficial, as it allows transactions through every bank in Canada to online gambling sites.
Question: Do customer service agents speak English and French?
Answer: All online poker websites offering service to Canadian players do provide customer service assistance in French and English. Most sites also allow players to change the language on the site to operate in French or English.