Trade and industry
Partypoker is live in Ontario, Canada, a week after the newly regulated market opened to licensed local operators.
Twelve of Ontario’s 28 licensed poker and gaming sites launched last week and now Partypoker has joined the festivities.
An April 12 press release confirmed that, following approval by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), on.partypoker.ca was open to locals.
Same Partypoker, new market dynamics
In addition to tournaments and cash games, Partypoker Ontario will offer FastForward (fast folding tables) and lottery-style SNGs known as SPINS. Players can also make deposits, bets and withdrawals in Canadian dollars.
The new platform’s product list is complemented by a selection of casino games, secure banking options and promotions, including Partypoker’s loyalty program. So in almost every way, Partypoker Ontario will match what the company offers elsewhere in the world.
What won’t be the same, however, is the player pool. Anyone already registered on Partypoker will have their account transferred to the Ontario platform. The same goes for new players. As a result, Ontarians who previously played on Partypoker’s global network now have to adjust to a siled system.
According to Ontario’s online poker regulations, all online gambling activities must be conducted within the province. In turn, player groups must be kept separate from other online poker networks in Canada and the rest of the world. Ontario has a population of 14.5 million, making it a slightly larger market than the shared liquidity triumvirate of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada.
In this sense, Ontarians enjoy an online poker experience similar to that of American players. However, with other states, including Michigan, poised to connect the proverbial dots, the closed game is slowly fading in the United States. In Canada, we may only see the beginning of things to come.
Ontario poses challenges for Partypoker, et al
Ontario is the first province to adopt its own online gambling regulations and, in turn, to separate itself from the rest of Canada. For cash-sharing pacts to become viable, other provinces would need to follow suit.
So while Partypoker Chief Brands Officer Vic Walia is “excited” about the move to Ontario, there will be challenges ahead. Moreover, Partypoker is not alone in Ontario. The market opened on April 4, with 888Poker being the first platform to launch. It was soon joined by other names in the online gambling world including Bet365, Unibet, FanDuel and Caesars. The good news for Partypoker is that these operators are better known as sportsbook and casino brands.
Therefore, in terms of poker, it is currently the biggest name in the province. But that could change when WSOP.com and GGPoker launch their joint venture, WSOP.ca. Beyond these professional rivalries, Ontario is a hive of online activity right now and Partypoker is adding to the festivities.