Canadian Online Gambling Laws

Different countries around the world have different approaches to the legality of gambling in general, and very often, different laws for online gambling in particular. In Canada, online gambling is often considered to be somewhat of a legal gray area.

While many forms of offline gambling are perfectly legal in Canada, the online gambling laws are at times a little bit unclear. This is because gambling falls under provincial jurisdiction, however, the Internet pays no regard to provincial boundaries. However, for your peace of mind, we have laid out a clear guide to Canadian online gambling laws, so you need not worry that your next spin of your favorite online slot machine is going to be against the law.

Let’s be clear – Canadian Law doesn’t Criminalize Online Gambling

Canada is home to a massive gambling industry despite the fact that the laws are vague and online gambling is unregulated. What may not be widely known is that Canada’s gambling industry generates income for a wide range of charities and public welfare programs. The Gambling Industry employs more than 135 000 workers and as a whole the industry comprises casinos, lotteries, racetracks, horse betting, and charity gaming. Some of Canada’s provinces also run licensed and well-regulated online gambling sites.

The great news – a wide range of highly reputed operators accept Canadian players (including all of Online Casino Canada’s recommended online casinos for Canadian players), and there isn’t a single law in Canada that prohibits Canadian players from signing up and playing for real money.

Legal Online Casinos

Canadian online casino players will not run into trouble with the law at all if they sign up at any of the online casinos recommended by our panel of independent online casino experts. The sites we recommend for you not only accept Canadian residents, most of them will also permit you to play in Canadian dollars (thereby eliminating the need to play in a foreign currency and thus avoiding expensive and unnecessary foreign currency exchange fees). Players can deposit their funds into our recommended online casinos using a wide range of Canada friendly payment options and withdraw their winnings safely, securely, and swiftly.

We have double checked to make sure that the casinos we recommend are licensed at reputed gambling jurisdictions both here in Canada and abroad. Many of them are licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which is a regulatory body in its own right, independent of the government of Canada. Many of our recommended online casinos are also licensed abroad by some of the world’s strongest and toughest legislative authorities such as the Gibraltar Gaming Commission, the United Kingdom Gaming Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, the Curacao E-Gaming Authority and eCOGRA, who monitor casinos’ random number generators as well as their payout percentages (payout percentages are usually updated and published monthly on each casino’s website), to ensure transparency and fair play.

When assessing our recommended online casinos’, we also take into consideration factors such as ownership, bonus packages, VIP programs, payment options, customer care, game selection and variety before recommending these casinos to our Canadian players.

From the Player’s Point-of-View its legal to play at an Online Casino – but how did we get here?

From the Online Gambler’s Point-of-View its legal to play at an Online Casino – but how did we get here?

Let’s Summaries the current status of online casino gambling in Canada;

  • It is perfectly legal to Canadian online gamblers to play at an online casino.
  • It is illegal to operate a web-based casino from Canadian territory.
  • Canadians can play at online casinos that are based or licensed off-shore or within the territory of Kahnawake in Canada.

Legal Gambling in Canada – FAQ’s

What is the History of Legal Gambling in Canada?

Gambling began in Canada as far back as 6000 years ago, with documented proof discovered by archaeologists of First Nations’ peoples using sticks for betting and dice games. After John Cabot’s voyage to Canadian shores as far back as 1497, playing cards were first introduced to North America, which brought about early versions of games like faro, that later developed into early versions of poker and blackjack. Dice and games like barbette also became favorites of Canadians through the early years and the evolution of gaming on our fair shores.

Though always legal and permitted, gambling finally came under some level of government scrutiny in the late 19th century, however, only to somewhat limit and regulate. As Canadians continued to express their desire to freely play casino games, laws progressed and adapted also.

By 1970, the government decided to leave law-making to the individual provinces, and that has allowed most Canadian Provinces to build, run, own and operate land-based casinos as they see fit. In today’s internet-age, decisions about online gambling are mostly left to the players themselves, with provinces stepping in for the occasional regulatory oversight and participation in the industry.

What were the first gambling laws enacted in Canada?

In 1892, the Canadian Criminal Code was enacted and it included statutes regarding gambling, which was tolerated under certain conditions but nonetheless permitted. In 1910, that section of the Criminal Code was amended to allow betting for horse racing, and other games of chance were legalized for charitable and religious purposes. Those laws were loose and difficult to govern. As a result, as the 1900s moved on, gambling became widely accepted among Canadian citizens.

What laws apply to present-day gambling in Canada?

In 1970, the Criminal Code was changed again, that time to give oversight of gambling to the provinces. Canada’s first casino was built in 1989 in Winnipeg, and many others followed in Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia. Well beforehand, many racetracks were built and continued to grow over the mid-20th century to become one of the most popular forms of betting in Canada.

Additionally, most provinces approved the installation of video lottery terminals, which generate enormous revenue for the provincial governments. Lotteries have long now been a social institution throughout Canada, and gaming is widely positively seen as a revenue generator for religious groups and charities, in addition to governments.

Illegal gambling is not perceived by lawmakers as a real threat to Canadians. For the most part, it’s widely regarded as a victimless crime. In most regards, gambling is an accepted pastime and it is left to citizens to use responsibly for their own entertainment purposes. The current crop of provincial laws have only been enacted to mostly control revenue and to give space for the government-sponsored online gambling industry to contribute to the gambling industry as a whole.

Who regulates the Canadian gaming industry?

The Canadian Gaming Commission oversees the industry as a whole in Canada, offering information to gamblers and responding to any serious issues that can and might arise for online players. The Gaming Commission communicates with the public, the government, government agencies, and the media ensuring that the gambling industry and laws pertaining to casinos, online gaming, sports betting, and other related activities are acted upon and enforced by the individual provincial governments.

How will the new sports betting laws in the US affect us in Canada?

Far from being detrimental to the Canadian sports betting industry, it has been determined that the increase of competition from legalized Sports Betting in the USA (after the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of legalizing sports betting across all 50 states in May 2018) will offer Canadians a greater choice and that local operators will step up to the plate in offering better services for their clients and a wider range of quality sports betting products.

How many Canadians gamble on a regular basis?

Recent surveys show that between 75% and 85% of people in Canada gamble in some form, whether it be lotteries, horse-racing, charitable gambling, online casino play, or any number of other available options. Participation in gambling in some provinces, like Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, is considerably higher than in other areas.

Are Canadians allowed to play in international and offshore-registered online casinos?

Yes, absolutely. There are no laws specifically prohibiting Canadian online gaming players from using international online casino sites to compete in games like online poker, baccarat, slots, craps, video poker, roulette, blackjack, live dealer casinos and other casino games.

Can I legally deposit and withdraw money to online casinos?

Yes. With most of the Canadian provincial governments offering an open approach to online gaming, the options for deposits and withdrawals to online casinos are many and varied from credit cards, debit cards and web wallets. In addition to many online casinos beginning to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and most banks in Canada allow for direct transfers of funds to/from online casinos.

Do I need to pay tax in Canada on my online casino winnings?

The amount of taxes that Canadians must pay usually depends on whether or not players declare Canada as their primary place of residence and whether or not they play online casino games professionally or recreationally.

Players should check with their local tax attorney or specialist in each province, as individual provinces also have specific tax codes that must be applied on a case-by-case basis.

Do online casinos offer play in CAD $ for Canadian players?

Many online casinos offer deposit and withdrawal options in CAD $, meaning Canadian online gamblers need not worry about exchange fees or rates withdrawing from their bank and/or depositing their winnings.

Risk Management for Canadian Online Casino Players – FAQs

Currently, there is no Canadian nationwide legislation to regulate online gambling for its citizens. Each province is free to develop its own regulations in regards to online gambling.

Subsequently, you would think that the ability of international online casinos to be based offshore but cater to Canadian players would lend itself to a certain number of inherent security risks.

However, the opposite is usually true as most international online casinos are subject to much more stringent regulatory bodies (the Malta Gaming Authority, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the Gibraltar Gambling Commission and the Curacao E-Gaming Authority) than Canadian online casinos.

Other companies like eCOGRA are integral in the regulation of international online gambling operations. They regularly audit online casinos and their entire casino game catalogues to ensure that they are operating in a fair and legal manner.

How do Canadians know that their funds are safe?

Canadian online casino players should look at the online casino sites on which they play for the relevant licensing commission, thus providing a pointer to the legitimacy of the online casino. In addition, organizations like eCOGRA also provide banners for the sites that they deem responsible and trustworthy. Through regular audits and other types of oversight, the companies must prove they have earned the approval of eCOGRA, which gives players peace of mind when gambling on those sites.

Perhaps the very best tip we can give you is to go on your chosen online casino and click on the icon of eCOGRA, the Malta Gaming Authority, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the Gibraltar Gambling Commission, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission or the Curacao E-Gaming Authority.

If the link is live and redirects to the correct relevant site, you can be assured the site is safe. If the link is broken or doesn’t work, its best not to use that particular online casino.

On the other hand, you could simply use only the best online casinos that we recommend for Canadians,

Is play fair at the online casinos?

At online casinos that are properly licensed and use various types of encryption software and random number generators to ensure customer safety – absolutely yes, fair play is ensured.

Play is fair on those sites, and players can be sure that their personal account information is safe from hackers and other types of theft.

Player safety and financial security is of utmost importance to modern online casinos. Online Casinos use either 128-bit or 256-bit SSL digital encryption (just like major banks worldwide and the large commercial sites like Amazon, Airbnb, Uber and E-Bay) for the peace of mind of players, and to ensure that all player data is kept safe and secure.

The best Online Casinos make every possible effort to ensure that you are playing in a safe and secure environment, so you can fully enjoy the best in gaming entertainment without your security being compromised.

These protections must be in place in order for the sites to secure and then consequently, maintain their licenses.

Does an online player have legal recourse if they suspect unfair activity?

Absolutely, a strong ‘Yes’. In addition to contacting the Canadian Gaming Association and their local governments, players can contact eCOGRA or the specific licensing legislative for any online casino site at which they suspect unfair gambling activities.

This is the standard protocol of recourse for online players.

The online casino sites themselves must demonstrate that they are not engaging in any illegal or unauthorized activities in order to keep their licenses and stay in good standing with the international online casino industry.