Vaccinated Americans can now travel to Canada to play online poker

Jon Sofen
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Published: August 8, 2021 7:08 PM EDT

At long last, nearly 15 months after the border closed to leisure travelers, Canada is now permitting travel from the U.S. for vaccinated Americans. And that means poker players from the United States can finally head back up north to play online poker.

Since March 2020, travel between Canada and the U.S. was limited to those who were considered essential visitors, such as doctors and other medical professionals, due to the pandemic. The rules still apply to travel from Canada to the U.S.. But those headed in the opposite direction can now enter Canada for any reason, so long as they are vaccinated starting Monday, August 9.

Canada has more to offer online poker players

It’s no secret around the poker community, especially those who live in the United States, that countries such as Canada have better options for online poker than the U.S. The largest global poker sites — PokerStars, GGPoker, and partypoker — are all available in Canada, but not in the U.S.

For that reason, American poker players often make the road trip up north to play online. At present, only five states have legal online poker sites in operation (Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania). But the global poker sites still aren’t available in any of those states. So, there are fewer players competing on the American sites.

Due to the spread of COVID-19, both countries have agreed to keep the border closed for well over a year now. With more than half of American adults now fully vaccinated, Canadian politicians and health experts have determined that it’s safe to allow the vaccinated U.S. population back into the country. U.S. President Joe Biden, however, has yet to fully lift a ban on non-essential international travel, which includes Canadian visitors.

Poker players from the U.S. who aren’t fully vaccinated cannot make the trip to Canada yet, and likely won’t be permitted to do so for quite some time. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stuck to his guns, enforcing strict pandemic restrictions over the past 17 months, much like his Democratic counterpart in the U.S., President Biden.

No help for the 2021 World Series of Poker

American poker players getting the green light to cross the Canadian border will be welcomed by the online poker community. But the approval does nothing to fix one major issue surrounding the upcoming World Series of Poker — international travel concerns.

The 2021 WSOP is set to begin September 30 at the Rio in Las Vegas with 88 gold bracelet events scheduled. After last year’s cancellation, poker players from all around the world are stoked to get back inside the Rio to compete for bracelets. But if the series were to begin today, that would be a difficult, if not impossible, task for most international players.

President Biden still hasn’t lifted an international travel ban on Canada and Europe, where most of the non-Americans who compete in the WSOP reside. With that said, players from Canada and European nations can still make it to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker. But it will be a royal pain in the backside to do so. The current pandemic guidelines require all foreign travel from those areas to first visit a non-restricted nation such as Mexico to quarantine for 14 days before entering the United States. That isn’t too appealing to most, especially recreational players.

Featured image source: Flickr