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Ontario Online Poker Players Unhappy with New Provincial Market

Despite its plenty of positives, Ontario’s new iGaming market still has managed to frustrate one gambling group in the province. Most recently, many online poker players have spoken against the market, as the privatization of the sector has limited them to only playing against only on provincially-regulated websites or platforms with other locally-based players.

Ontario’s iGaming and mobile sports betting marker kicked off on April 4, 2022, and its introduction has essentially eliminated grey market operations. It is a way of preventing locals from pouring millions into offshore betting sites, and thus keeping some of the revenue in the province, and reinvesting it as proceeds from other regulated gambling activities.

Lack of Variety and Players

Ministry of the Attorney General informed that currently the country’s Criminal Code limits Ontario online poker enthusiasts to play only with each other on provincially-licenses websites. This has led to many players from the province complaining about the lack of variety in games, as well as the fact that they cannot play against residents of other provinces due to the new iGaming regime.

In an email from Wednesday, the spokesperson for the ministry, Brian Gray, said that many players were not realizing that they were playing on unregulated platforms, before the introduction of the new iGaming market. In his words, the new online market is intended to protect consumers, promote responsible gaming, and provide opportunities for businesses in the industry.

In addition to that, Mr. Gray said that operators and suppliers in the new gaming model must abide by rigorous standards of gaming and operator integrity, fairness, player protections, and social responsibility. He believes that the measures will protect players, prevent underage access, and make sure that there is compliance with applicable laws, such as anti-money laundering rules.

However, recently, there has been a boom of social media complaints from poker players. A consumer has even pointed out that there were less than 100 people playing on one poker platform on July 1, 2022. Others players have even shared their plans to move to Calgary, Alberta, where there are no online restrictions, and the city hosts the best live events in the country.

Plenty of Online Options

Besides poker, the new provincial online gaming and sports betting market offers plenty of other options. According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, so far more than 20 operators and websites have been licensed to operate in the market. One of the debuting brands is the sports betting giant DraftKings, which made its entry into the market in May 2022.

However, despite the many benefits of the market, the province reported a major concern with the new model. Early in July, the AGCO, reported some users have taken advantage of a loophole in the market’s self-exclusion program, which allows bettors to void their losing bets. Due to the many operators, the self-exclusion option is not connected between them, thus allowing players to take advantage of it.

Source: Artuso, Antonella “Ontario online poker players corralled in new igaming market Toronto Sun, July 13, 2022