According to a report posted on a popular Internet based poker website, several prominent American poker players are relocating to Canada from the United States including Olivier Busquet, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Galfond and Daniel Cates following the U.S. indictment of 11 people associated with PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker in April.
Apparently, Canada is viewed as a more secure location for online gambling. The report also indicated that one of the players, Daniel Cates, was previously denied entry to Canada. He apparently tweeted before arriving at the U.S.- Canada border that he intended to immigrate here without taking any of the legal steps required in advance to apply for a work permit, or as an investor to Canada.
For those of you contemplating a similar move to Canada to pursue an online gambling career, here are some tips for doing it right:
- Hire a lawyer located in the city in which you wish to relocate - consider engaging a lawyer who understands the online nature your work because ultimately that lawyer will have to prepare your submission to Citizenship and Immgration Canada and they should understand the business (e.g. where the funds originate, how you get paid, etc.);
- With your lawyer, explore the immgration category that best applies to your special set of poker playing skills. The likely categories will be business class and provincial nominee program;
- If your partner or spouse is likely to be a stronger immigrant applicant, have your partner be the primary applicant for immigration purposes;
- Visit Canada as a business visitor a few times to meet with your lawyer and familiarize yourself with the culture and your future working environment. If you are setting up a business, it's a good time to come here and look into incorporation and tax options to maximize those structures at the incorporation phase;
- A criminal record will have to be dealt with long before you immigrate to Canada - if it involves a DUI, get it resolved in conjunction with your immigration process;
- Do not misrepresent any facts on your immigration application or at any time while entering Canada to visit;
- Do not publicly comment about your intended immigration to Canada at any time;
- Do not negatively comment about U.S. and Canadian laws that criminalize the online poker sites that offer their services to American or Canadian residents. Immigration officials will conduct an online search of you and any indication that you do not respect the rule of law will not be well received;
- Make sure you understand tax advice you receive for your prospective activities in Canada. Generally speaking, gambling wins in Canada are tax-free unless the wins are professional income. The distinction appears to be whether you are a casual player or whether you play as your primary occupation; and
- Do not tweet that you are immigrating to Canada and without applying in advance, show up at the border expecting to receive a green light to enter. Unless you qualify as a refugee, you must apply to enter Canada in advance if you wish to work, relocate or immigrate here.