Canada’s online gambling industry can best be described as a work in progress. Lately, that progress has been swift. Though various Canadian provinces have offered online gaming and betting in different forms over the years, the market is just now busting open to allow many more forms of online gambling.
Sports betting is a prime example. Single event wagering is now legal federally in Canada, and individual provinces can begin to regulate and launch full-fledged sports betting where previously they could only offer parlays via provincial lottery programs.
Online poker, however, is still lagging slightly behind. A few provinces offer it to players through lottery corporation online casino sites. While there’s a limited selection, for now, Canadian online poker enthusiasts can expect some progress in the coming years. As sports betting proves a viable business, it’s increasingly likely that Canadian provinces will seek out new online gambling products to offer to players legally.
Online Poker Bonuses In Canada
Canada has two primary online poker sites available to players. British Columbia and Manitoba players can use PlayNow, operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Loto-Québec offers Espace Jeux for players in the Quebec province. Each site offers a rotating slate of bonuses.
At PlayNow in British Columbia, you’ll find various bonus types. For the most part, they are small promos that boost your account a bit. For example, the site is currently offering a $10 hourly freeroll, which gives the top five players at specific times $2.
Online Casino Bonuses
While poker-specific promos are relatively rare or small, Canada players can still enjoy some great bonuses via online casino sites. Not every online casino bonus can be used for poker, but some can, depending on the game you enjoy most.
The most common online casino bonus in Canada is a no deposit bonus. It’s simple: once you sign up and make a deposit, the online casino will give you a token for use on various online casino games.
PlayNow is offering a similar bonus for its live casino portfolio, which includes Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, a perfect fit for poker enthusiasts.
You may also find deposit match bonuses at Canada’s online casinos, which give you credit based on your first few deposits at the site. These almost always come with a wagering requirement before you can get the full value of the bonus, however, so carefully check the terms and conditions.
Legal Online Poker Sites In Canada
There are only two formal player-vs.-player online poker sites in Canada, and they’re available in specific provinces. However, there are other ways to enjoy legal online poker elsewhere in Canada, and we’ll cover those options below.
Offered by Loto-Québec, Espace Jeux is the official online casino and online poker site for Quebec players. At Espace Jeux, you can enjoy a wide variety of casino games in addition to the site’s online poker offering.
In British Columbia, online poker enthusiasts can enjoy various games via PlayNow. The site offers various special tournaments, promos, and jackpots to choose from as well. Should you need a refresher, PlayNow also offers a handy “How To Play Poker” page to get you familiar before you start to play for real.
Other Online Poker Options In Canada
Above, I’ve described Canada’s primary online poker options. Espace Jeux and PlayNow are the only two sites that offer a strictly online, player-vs.-player poker experience.
However, there are other legal options in Canada if you wish to give poker a try. For example, various online casino sites will offer video poker titles. OLG.ca offers these games. While you won’t be playing against other players in real-time, you can still enjoy poker in some fashion.
The other option, which is becoming increasingly available across Canada, is live dealer. Available in British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta, live dealer games feature a real-life dealer streaming straight to your device. Online casinos in Canada offer various types of live dealer games. Most will include Ultimate Texas Hold’Em as an option, giving you the opportunity to enjoy poker with a real dealer against real players online.
What Other Online Poker Sites Will Come To Canada?
It’s hard to say exactly which sites may come to Canada to offer online poker. It’s equally difficult to say when that might be. The reason for this is Canada’s provincial regulatory structure. Each province can choose to legalize and regulate online casinos and poker on its own timeline. And from there, operators must undergo a strict vetting and approval process before they’re cleared to launch.
Essentially, it’s a waiting game. But in the future, major operators of online poker could join the Canadian market. Borgata, 888, World Series of Poker, PokerStars, and others could be likely contenders.
What’s The Biggest Online Poker Site In Canada?
Given that there are only two major online poker sites in Canada—Espace Jeux and PlayNow—it’s fairly easy to determine the leading sites in the country. Espace Jeux is available in Quebec, making it the biggest poker site in that province. Meanwhile, PlayNow is available in British Columbia and Manitoba. Therefore, it’s the biggest online poker site in those provinces.
If and when other Canadian provinces legalize online poker from commercial operators, expect competition to be tight. New sites will pop up, offering lucrative player bonuses and various tournaments. If the market ever reaches that point, the race to be the biggest online poker site in Canada will be a lot closer.
Can You Play Online Poker Against Players In Other Provinces?
As of now, you can only play online poker in Canada with players using the same site. This means if you use PlayNow, you’ll only be playing with other British Columbia users. At Espace Jeux, you’ll only be playing against other players in Quebec.
In the future, it’s likely that Canada’s various provinces could work out deals that allow players to compete against each other across provincial borders. Certain US states have pacts in place that allow this type of structure, which increases player pools and makes for an overall better online poker community. We’ll keep tabs on any progress on this front and update this page accordingly.
Do Canada Online Poker Sites Have Mobile Apps?
For many online poker players, the convenience and ease of a mobile app are hard to beat. Canada’s online poker sites vary in terms of what they offer on their mobile apps.
As of this writing, I couldn’t find any evidence of a mobile app for Loto-Québec’s Espace Jeux online casino or poker site. Players can easily access the platform via desktop web browser, however.
LotoQuébec does offer a mobile app, but it is strictly lottery-based and doesn’t offer online casino options.
PlayNow does offer a mobile app. You can download the app for Android by visiting PlayNow’s website on your mobile browser, then following the prompts on this page to download it. iOS players can download the PlayNow app directly from Apple’s App Store marketplace.
Canada Online Poker FAQ
18 to 19. Canada regulates gambling on a provincial basis, so the legal gambling age varies from one region to the next. Most allow you to play online poker at 18 or 19.
No. Currently, only two lottery-run platforms offer online poker in Canada: PlayNow and Espace Jeux for British Columbia and Quebec, respectively.
If online poker becomes more widely legal in Canada, it’s safe to expect DraftKings to move into the market, pending licensing and regulatory approvals.
No. PokerStars is not live in Canada. It may not be for some time. First, Canada’s provinces must decide on an individual basis whether to legalize online poker. From there, once commercial operators are allowed to enter the market, you might expect PokerStars and similar operators to make a play to launch in Canada.
Deposit methods vary by platform. Typically you’ll find credit/debit, ACH transfer, online banking, and possibly e-wallet services such as PayPal. Of them, PayPal is our most recommended because transactions are rarely declined and it is easy to set up.
Online banking. Withdrawal options are limited at Canada’s online poker sites, so you’ll most likely need to connect your bank account to collect any winnings. The plus side of this is that the sites usually accept deposits via online banking as well, so if you’d like, you can use your account for payouts and deposits.