PokerStars Launches Legally in Ontario, Situation Unchanged for Rest of Canada

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PokerStars made its relationship with the legal Ontario online poker market official today. Until now, the online poker operator had been serving Ontarians in a gray market capacity.

The brand owned by Dublin-based Flutter Entertainment announced today that it received “full registration to operate” from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). AGCO listed PokerStars as an approved operator back on June 8.

Elsewhere in the press release, the operator said today it “officially launches” in its native province.

In a tweet, PokerStars told customers in Ontario that they’ll need to “switch” their accounts tomorrow. The operator provided a link to the migration process, which is detailed below.

Those watching the Ontario online casino and sports betting market know the online poker operator also needs an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario (iGO). Today, iGO’s site didn’t show it as a regulated operator.

However, that approval may be imminent. AGCO has said it’s trying to synchronize approvals with iGO.

Meanwhile, the announcement indicates that the online poker operator may be hoping Ontario strikes a wider traffic-sharing agreement with the rest of Canada. The online poker operator noted that its brand will stay gray in other provinces.

UPDATE: 06/28/2022

Bonus.com checked iGO’s site again at 7 p.m. ET and saw three PokerStars sites listed.

That means they have operating agreements with iGO:

  • www.on.pokerstars.ca
  • www.on.pokerstarscasino.ca 
  • www.on.pokerstarssports.ca

How to Migrate From Gray to White

When online gambling operators make it legal, they expect a different kind of commitment from players.

That commitment is a five-step process.

PokerStars has an FAQ to help players out, with the following instructions:

Step 1 – Open up your usual PokerStars account. A message will pop up stating that Ontario residents will now play at on.pokerstars.ca. Have a read of the pop up and click the “Okay, move to on.pokerstars.ca” button.

Step 2 – Once you have clicked the button to move over to on.pokerstars.ca, you’ll see a confirmation appear. This explains that you’ll use the same username and password to continue using your account.

Step 3 – Log out of PokerStars, or continue on to on.pokerstars.ca to confirm the migration. When you log back in, the software will update and be ready to use. If you’re playing poker on mobile, you’ll need to download the PokerStars Ontario platform. Next, log on to the new Ontario site.

Step 4 – Finally, read and confirm that you accept the new End User License Agreement and Privacy Policy. You can check the boxes individually or select them all using the slider.

Step 5 – [Open PokerStars and] verify your Ontario account.

PokerStars Positioning Itself as a Hometown Brand

The online poker operator got its start in Ontario, the brand repeatedly points out in today’s statement.

The announcement avoids mentioning its current European parents. Flutter acquired The Stars Group in 2020 and is based in Dublin. The latter’s headquarters remain in Toronto, however.

PokerStars Marketing Director Tom Warren added:

In many respects, Ontario is our home market, given the first-ever hand of PokerStars was played here over 20 years ago, so we are thrilled about the new regulated environment within which our players can play. A lot has changed in that time, but our commitment to offering our players the most epic and thrilling experience in the market hasn’t – and we can’t wait to get started.

The Flutter site touts on its PokerStars page:

Part of the Flutter International division, we first launched in 2001 and have since become the largest poker site in the world, with more than 225 billion hands dealt and more than 1.85 billion tournaments hosted.

In the meantime, Canadians outside Ontario will still be able to play on the international PokerStars site.

At the moment, the other provinces don’t offer private operators a way to operate legally on Canadian soil. However, Canadian law doesn’t say anything about offshore online gambling one way or another. Thus, outside of Ontario, the country remains a gray market.

That may change in the future, however. Other provinces are surely watching Ontario and may adopt similar plans if privatization works out well for it.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Fletcher's newspaper career started at Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. She covers breaking news from Philadelphia, as needed. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report.

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