In yet another blow to the Canadian poker community one of the oldest sports book in the world is closing its doors to Canadians. How does Ladbrokes leaving Canada change the Canadian poker landscape? We aren’t sure yet since there is no way to know how many shoes will drop on Canadian players. In an article from a couple of months ago I spoke at length about the possibility of PokerStars leaving Canada, it now appears that when/if this happens there will be even less options available for Canadian players. Also, be sure to check out my article on the possibility of PokerStars being licensed in Canada and how unfavorable that would likely be for players.
In a statement to all players released just a few hours ago Ladbrokes said,
“This is an important announcement regarding Ladbrokes account(s) from Canada.
We regularly review our ability to offer gambling facilities in different countries throughout the world. As a result, we are sending this message to let you know that we will soon no longer be offering our products or services in Canada.
How does this affect customers from Canada?
Customers from Canada will no longer be able to register, deposit funds or bet using any of our products or services from Wednesday 1st October 2014.
Any Bonus funds and pending winnings still tied into wagering requirements in accounts from Canada will be forfeited as of Wednesday 1st October 2014.
From Wednesday 1st October 2014 customers from Canada will have 30 days to withdraw any remaining funds from their account(s).”
Ipoker Leaving Canada?
This is the question now….. Ladbrokes has always been a major prestigious skin and their departure from the Microgaming network earlier in the year led to a noticeable decline in poker volume. Ladbrokes falls into a long line of poker operators exiting the Canadian market. Payment processors have also been reticent to be involved in poker transactions. Neteller and Skrill both withdrew services to Canadian clients. The poker environment in Canada continues to deteriorate rapidly. If Ipoker is exiting the market it is the 3rd largest poker operator in the world and this could pave the way for others to follow. What is Ladbrokes seeing that others are not? Why would they exit the Canadian market unless the legal risks were significant? If there are significant legal risks to poker operators in Canada why is Stars still offering their gaming services to Canadians? Lots of questions and not a lot of great answers.
What about Canada’s Regulated Poker?
Sadly, the only real option in Canada right now is PlayNow which continues to languish with a 7day average player pool of only 140. This network has poor software and no rakeback for players. The volumes are horrendous and game selection is highly limited. Responsible gaming also places limits on daily loss numbers ($3000 at last check), which has limited the availability of higher games. In fact, games above 2/4 NLHE are extremely rare on PlayNow. It is no wonder that many Canadian players continue to play on offshore websites, but now it appears that era maybe coming to a close.
Global Decline Online Poker Volume
For those of you who aren’t from Canada and don’t see the relevance of this news consider the following. Recently, news hit the wires about a significant decline in online poker volumes. Not only are volumes declining but the declines are even worse at higher games. Microstakes games on websites like PokerStars have remained relatively stable while $100 NLHE and above have declined significantly. As more providers pull out of affluent countries like Canada volumes will continue to dry up around the globe. We are in the midst of a nuclear winter in the poker industry. The affects will not wear off in months but over years and perhaps decades. Personally I don’t have that long to wait….
Best of luck during these challenging times!