PokerStars Leaving Canada?

Will the recent acquisition of PS by Amaya Gaming result in PokerStars Leaving Canada? Only time will tell but for those of you who haven’t heard the news Amaya gaming group a Canadian based company is taking over PokerStars and its brands for a few billion dollars. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. With all the trouble that PokerStars has experienced getting licensing in the US, new ownership might pave the way to entering the US market. It is hard to imagine this isn’t part of the reason that PokerStars was able to fetch such a high price. Judging by the stock market reaction (Amaya is up around 100% in the past week), Amaya may have gotten a pretty good deal for PokerStars. This will definitely prove to be the case if they are able to enter major US markets like California and New York. The other interesting side effect of this merger is the possible affect on their Canadian gaming business….

Why and When Will PokerStars Exit The Canadian Market?

Technically to operate within the Canadian market online casinos need to have the appropriate provincial licenses. However, many of the online gaming operators who are located overseas but operate in Canada do not have these. Operating outside of a jurisdiction is very different than being within one. With PokerStars now being owned by a Canadian company it is hard to imagine them not keeping their backyard very tidy. This means Poker Stars will be exiting the Canadian market. Skrill a large payment processor already pulled out of the Canadian market along with Neteller. Interestingly enough Skrill did this after being acquired as well…. . It seems that once gaming companies go public they have less appetite for risk and uncertain regulatory environments. This isn’t especially surprising but it is bad news for poker players in Canada who love PokerStars. More bad news for players on PokerStars is that recent rules passed by the Harper government in regards to money laundering has made Canada a  less friendly place for online casinos to operate. It is hard for me to imagine that PokerStars will last another year in the Canadian market in light of recent developments. I doubt that the corporate brass at Amaya wants to risk prosecution from Canadian authorities. Also, with the US market potentially opening up for PokerStars in the near future it would be foolish to cling to what appears to be a dying Canadian market.

PokerStars Players Relocating

How will players react to PokerStars leaving Canada? I would think that many will be planning to relocate overseas. This is probably a reasonable thing to start planning now if you rely on PokerStars for your income. Moves take time and I would start laying the ground work ahead of time. Where you decide to move will largely be a personal decision and may be in part decided by how much money you are making. If you are a high stakes professional then moving somewhere in Europe might make sense with EPT events readily available along with major cash games. However, for those of you who make a bit less places like Mexico, Panama, Thailand or any other third world country may be a more attractive option for you. Blackrain79 wrote a great blog about poker in Thailand not long ago.

As a Canadian player it is really frustrating to see yet another major company that is likely to soon bail on the Canadian market. Playnow.com has thus far been very poorly ran and is not a great alternative for Canadian poker players. There are very few decent games that run above a $100 buy-in and during off peak hours it is a ghost town at 50NL and higher. Sometimes just a couple of games running. PokerStars upcoming departure from the Canadian market may serve as a red flag for other gaming operators to exit as well. Obviously, at this point all of this is just speculation so let’s hope that not everyone will pull out of the Canadian market.

Best of luck at the tables!

Written by Paul Ratchford (ThePokerCapitalist)

Be sure to check out my recently published poker strategy book Exploitive No Limit Holdem 🙂

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