Online gambling has always been a grey area in Canadian law. The country as a whole was traditionally against gambling until the 1960s, when the government decided to give its provinces the power to allow gambling or poker. And from then on, lotteries and casinos were constructed.
Keep reading and learn about some of Canada's policies when it comes to gambling, including online gambling.
Canadian Gambling Legislation
Canada has a unique approach when it comes to regulating gambling activities. Their provincial and territorial governments control the gambling market within their territory. For instance, ticket lotteries, horse racing, and charitable games are legal in all provinces, while casino-themed games are not allowed in Prince Edward Island, Labrador, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick.
What's The Legal Status Of Online Gambling In Canada?
To say that the laws governing online gambling in Canada are in a "grey area" is an understatement. To give you an idea, it's illegal for companies to operate online casinos and poker rooms from Canada, but the majority of offshore gaming servers are actually located just outside of Montreal, on the Kahnawake native reserve.
And since regulation and licensing has not been clear for a while now, Canadians simply gamble at online casinos hosted in other countries, since the law doesn't say anything about betting at any other online casino.
Important Facts About Gambling In Canada
- Criminal Code. The Criminal Code of Canada does not make gambling online illegal except if it falls under identified areas of the code. This is the simplest interpretation (actual wording is, again, complicated).
- Taxes. Tax laws on online gambling in Canada are similar to that of Ireland and the UK. In essence, winnings earned from gambling are not taxable unless otherwise gained through a business-oriented transaction. For example, taxes may apply to professional poker players but not to people who play for fun.
- Canadian law vs. US law. One main difference between Canadian gambling law and US gambling law is that the US doesn’t give each state the right to run online gambling sites. Canadian provinces have the right to allow and license online casinos whenever they want.
- No Charges. To give you peace of mind, no person has ever been charged for playing at online casinos in Canada.
- Sports Betting. Canadian law allows online betting for sporting events. Parlay bets are allowed on three or more matches only, but an effort to remove the restriction from the Criminal Code is being made.
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Established in 1996, the commission has been licensing and regulating online gambling since 1999 (longer than most jurisdiction in the world). For an online casino to be granted license to operate, it must be located on the secure servers of Kahnawake Island. Questions regarding the legality of the commission have been raised, but no action has ever been taken.
- Online Casinos In Canada. British Columbia was the first to open an online casino in 2010, offering pai gow poker and other casino games, followed by Quebec the same year.
Regulators And Gaming Authorities In Canada
Each province in Canada regulates its own gambling sites. The main responsibility of these regulating bodies is to ensure that casinos operate in a fair manner. They're basically the "guardians" of the sites and handle any problems. And if one of the sites breaks any of the rules set by the regulators, the casino's license can be pulled and it will no longer be allowed to operate.
So Can Get In Trouble For Playing Online?
From a player's standpoint, it's not illegal to play at online casinos. It’s only illegal to operate betting house from Canada. We've already established that offshore sites are either not hosted within Canada or based on a native reserve.
Some online casinos even accept Canadian dollars, so you don't really have anything to worry about.
Now that everything is clear, there's really nothing stopping you from trying online gambling. So sign up to one of our top-rated online casinos and start betting!