Canadians who reside in Ontario will soon be able to legally play online poker courtesy of their provincial gaming and lottery authority, and they will have certain advantages over the traditional online poker sites.
In 2010, Ontario’s Provincial Government gave its Lottery and Gaming Corporation a mandate to go beyond its customary lottery function and offer customers certain gaming features that would allow them to remain competitive in an era of Internet and smartphone gaming. The idea behind this mandate was to ensure that Canadian funds being spent on online gaming overseas would stay in the country. To this end, the profits earned by Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) would remain in the province to support charitable and social endeavors.
As expected the OLG was a bit slow to implement the mandate; however, major advancements were achieved in 2014. As of December 2014, the PlayOLG website was almost ready to start accepting players; in fact, select users were invited to test the site and two important money management features:
– The ability to fund their accounts using a Visa, MasterCard, or their own Canadian bank accounts.
– The ability to deposit up to $9,999 per week and link their bank accounts for instant transfers.
The two features above have come under some criticism by activists who are concerned that the OLG will encourage Canadians who suffer from gambling addictions. OLG officials, for their part, have defended their actions by stating that their approach to online gaming emphasizes responsible gambling insofar as setting spending limits, forcing players to take breaks, and establishing playing time limits.
OLG officials also mentioned that they are operating in a very competitive sector, and thus they are obligated to offer unique features that will make them more attractive to Canadian gamblers. The OLG expects to be fully operational right after the 2014 holidays, and they plan to offer blackjack, slots and even roulette in addition to online poker.