The Short of It… As of June 28, 2022, PokerStars has secured a license to operate in Ontario . Hence we would recommend their licensed offering whenever and wherever possible.  When proceeding outside Ontario, we suggest that players familiarize themselves with their previous operations in Canada to make an informed decision considering risk and opportunites. And we also recommend that prospective players excercise caution, not just with Pokerstars but with any other gaming brand in general.

Prefer the long version, complete with facts, figures, dates, quotes, and reasonable recommendations? Please continue reading.

Update June 2022: PokerStars Awarded License in Ontario

As you may already know, PokerStars has been working to obtain a license to operate in Ontario’s burgeoning iGaming market.  In February, the company said in a statement, “It will be a historical moment for us to be licensed in our home province…where PokerStars was born over 20 years ago.”

On June 28, 2022, PokerStars got its wish. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) bestowed PokerStars with the authorization it has so longed for. PokerStars is now fully and legally operational in Ontario. It can supply its online casino, poker and sports betting platform in the province under government regulatory observance.

PokerStars Managing Marketing Director, Tom Warren, clarifies:

“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.”

PokerStars in Canada: The Road to Authoritative Redemption

In February 2022, PokerStars began its bid to obtain a licence in Ontario, Canada. This marked the first time in 2+ decades that PokerStars made any effort to work with local authorities. The operator has been accepting players from all over Canada since the early 2000s.

It’s worth noting that PokerStars was not a member of the ample list of license-worthy operators that went live in Ontario on April 4. PokerStars – as many predicted – spent quite a few months in the queue before receiving its licence as the AGCO and iGaming Ontario (iGO) put its operations under the microscope. Oddly enough, during that time, PokerStars was still accepting players from all over Canada, including their “home province”, citing eligibility via its multi-jurisdictional license in Malta.

Is PokerStars a Good Choice – Yes, No, Maybe?

If you’re in Ontario, you now have a choice. You can enjoy a growing number of trusted, locally-regulated, beneficially competitive poker sites, casinos and sportsbooks. PokerStars is certainly an option, but it is just one of more than two-dozen options. See our page on iGO Authorized Gambling Sites for a complete list.

Do we recommend PokerStars? In Ontario, absolutely. As for the situation outside Ontario, that’s a bit more complicated.

The Situation Outside Ontario …

Canadian law prohibits the operation of gambling (including online gambling) within its borders by any entity that is not authorized and regulated by the province or territory in which it is located. What that means for online gambling sites is this:

  • Any operator that is located (has a physical presence) in Canada, needs government/provincial approval (a license) to accept players from that location.
  • An operator that is located outside of Canada (offshore gambling sites with no physical presence in the country) is not within the jurisdiction. Therefore, it is under no obligation to obtain a license to accept Canadian players.

It is these very stipulations of the law that determine Canada’s label as a “grey market” for iGaming.

Where Does PokerStars Fit Into All this?

What makes it difficult to determine where PokerStars stands is that it does not fit into either of these categories. It does, indeed, have a physical presence in Canada. Its parent company, The Stars Group, hosts its head office in Toronto. It does not, however, have the authorization to operate in any province or territory outside of Ontario. And yet, their services are still available to most Canadians, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

This is precisely why so many Canadians choose to avoid PokerStars. The situation is simply too difficult to comprehend.

The best explanation I can come up with is that PokerStars hasn’t stopped accepting Canadians (outside Ontario) because they haven’t had to. No federal or provincial authority has ever told them to stop. Why should the company give up such a massive revenue stream if you don’t have to?

Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that PokerStars is operating Canada-wide. Many of you surely remember when PokerStars was operating USA-wide, prior to the ominous ‘Black Friday of Online Poker‘. Food for thought…

Honestly, the best advice we can offer is to proceed with caution.

Real Reviews of Real Canadian Poker Sites

In conclusion, I offer you genuine, honest reviews of highly reputable poker sites that take appropriate measures to accept Canadian players; both the domestic and international variety. Our reviews are extremely thorough and 100% unbiased. We don’t just dig deep to research their qualities. We actually play the games ourselves.

Furthermore, please understand that there is no such thing as “one perfect poker site” for everyone. 888Poker may be great for some of you, whereas PartyPoker might fit the bill for others. Your preferences will play a key role in what operator suits you best. Your desktop platform or mobile OS, your viable banking options, your favorite cash games, tournaments, personal skillsets, etc. It is not our goal to lead you to a specific Canadian poker site, but rather to give you the tools necessary to find your perfect poker site.

With that said, please have a look at our Poker Reviews section. Thanks for listening, and best of luck on the virtual felt!