Online Gambling Legislation in Canada

Canadians are fond of gambling, and it has become one of the favorite leisure activities in the country of the past few years. Whether it is slots, table games, or sportsbooks, Canadians have a penchant for casino games. For these leisure activities, Canada and its territories have formed strong legislation to prevent any kind of hindrance and provide stress-free gambling fun to their citizens.

These laws have been formed such that there is unanimity between Canadian gamblers and lawmakers. Gambling is generally legal in the country. However, the government bans online casinos operating within Canada except for the state-run platforms. So, here come offshore online casinos to save the day and accept Canadian players.

Best Canadian Online Casinos to Try

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1
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2
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Gambling in Canada: History to the Present Day

Online Gambling Legislation in CanadaCanadian first gambling practices date back to 1497 when an explorer named John Cabot entered the land. During the voyage, it was discovered that people were engaged in games of chance, not for money but to improve mental conditions spiritually as well as mentally. Gradually, Europeans brought different games of chance, such as dice and card games in Canada.

In 1892, the Canadian Criminal Code banned all types of gambling activities. But, people continued practising gambling activities illegally. Gradually with time, laws, and thoughts of Canadians changed. Thus, bingo and raffles were made legal in 1900. Later, a list of legal gambling activities kept on adding such as horse racing in 1910 and lotteries in 1967.

Further, in 1985, the federal government relegated all gambling-related decisions to provinces. So, the gambling regulations vary from one province to another.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Royal Canadian Mounted Police look after all gambling activities and casinos in Canada.

Gambling in Canada: Is It Legal?

Gambling is legal in Canada. Operating online casinos with no license from the Canadian government is illegal. Yet, the government doesn’t issue licenses unless it is an online casino owned by the provincial government. So, no native operator can hold the reins of an online casino in Canada. But what makes online gambling accessible to its citizens? Well, it has not been made clear whether offshore online gambling is legal within the region or not. Various online casinos are managed and licensed by gaming authorities of the UK, Malta, Kahnawake, and others.

In the present scenario, Canadians play on offshore casino websites since the law doesn’t address casino websites outside the country.

Canadian Criminal Code

A piece of legislation that defines legal and illegal gaming within Canadian borders is called the Canadian Criminal Code. Other than this, provinces deal in power for granting, revoking, along with regulating gambling licenses within their region for online as well as offline gambling.

This makes it more complex that a provincial government can organize and manage the game of chances as well as lotteries that are operated online. These online gambling platforms/websites are operated by the provincial government only.

Kahnawake Gaming Commission

Even though online gaming offices are situated offshore, servers of most of the top online casinos are based in Canada. In 1996, Kahnawake Mohawk Nation laid the foundation of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission’s objective to provide gambling licenses to online casinos that are qualified. Since online gaming was not legal at that time, Mohawk Nation hash over that they are a sovereign nation and have complete right to run online casinos.

The body is not restricted to Canadian provinces but to offshore as well. It is responsible for providing licenses to gaming providers, online casinos operators, sportsbook as well as online poker providers. There are certain criteria to be qualified under this authority. These have been created in order to avoid any fraud or scam during gambling practices.

Kahnawake Gaming Authority in Canada
Kahnawake Gaming Authority in Canada (taken from the official site)

Regulators & Gaming Authorities

The provinces and territories of Canada are sub-national divisions within the geographical areas of Canada under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Constitution.

In modern Canadian constitutional theory, the provinces are considered sovereign within certain areas based on the divisions of responsibility between the provincial and federal government within the Constitution Act 1867, and each province thus has its own representative of the Canadian “Crown”, the lieutenant governor. The territories are not sovereign, but instead their authorities and responsibilities come directly from the federal level, and as a result, have a commissioner instead of a lieutenant governor.

Wikipedia

Since the power of controlling gambling activities has been handed over to the provincial government, almost all provinces have their own regulatory body along with their own set of gambling as well as sports betting rules. All 10 provinces of Canada are listed below with their gambling regulatory bodies:

Ontario

The regulatory body of the province is the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Its major gambling laws are the Gaming Control Act 1992 and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act 1999. Among the legal practices are land-based casinos with slot machines, sports betting, horse racing, lottery, and other charitable games, among which are bingo and raffle. In terms of online casinos, there is only one local operator, PlayOLG, and hundreds of offshore online casinos.

Quebec

Espacejeux.com website has been launched by Loto Quebec that offers legal online gambling. Other than Canadian Gaming Corporation, Regie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (Régie) and Société des lotteries du Québec (Loto-Québec) are its regulatory bodies. Offshore online gaming, land-based horse racing, lottery, sports betting, VLTs, along with the bingo are some of its legal games of chance.

Nova Scotia

The regulatory authority is the Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel, Tobacco Division of Service Nova Scotia. You can enjoy gaming practices in physical casinos or access the Pro-Line website for gambling. Among activities to stake on are horse racing, sports betting, lottery, bingo, and various other games.

New Brunswick

Its regulatory body is the New Brunswick Gaming Control Branch of Department of Public Safety that looks after all gambling activities in the province. You can enjoy online gambling on offshore sites and visit one physical casino in the province.

Manitoba

In the province, the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba controls all gambling activities. Here, sports betting is possible on the Sport Select website. Also, various online casinos located offshore cater to Canadian players.

British Columbia

BCLC and GPEB manage all gaming activities. Playnow.com is the only legal website in BC. Fraser Downs is the only active track, and it includes more than 15 legal casinos. Two sports are required to be staked in BC. Players are also able to play at offshore gambling platforms.

Prince Edward Island

Since 1996, the Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission has controlled all gaming activities in the province. In land-based casinos, you can legally play sports betting with parlay bets, lotteries under ALC, VLTs. If you look to play online slots, the only option is offshore casino websites.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Physical casinos are not permitted in this region, and therefore, several offshore online gaming websites accept players from Newfoundland & Labrador. Pro-Line sports betting services offer legal gambling on lotteries, horse racing, slots.

Saskatchewan

Gaming activities in the province are regulated by SLGA, IGR, SIGA. Offshore online casinos and sportsbooks offer their services in the region. Besides, six casinos, three horse racing tracks, lottery, sports betting, and other charitable games are available legally in the province.

Alberta

All gambling activities in the area are conducted by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. 6,000 VLTs, more than three horse-racing tracks, over 20 casinos, sports betting in various sports, offshore online casinos, lottery, bingo, and various other games of chance could be played in this region.

With gradual liberation in Canadian gambling laws, it could be expected that all states might permit and legalize gambling completely. However, with distinction in provincial gambling laws, it is difficult to state whether current laws will get modified in the near future.

Presently, the government has not shown any response to offshore gaming. Neither, it has outlawed it, nor it has been declared legal. Unlike the US white gambling market, Canada falls in the grey zone to some extent. As some provinces have limited gambling options, Canadian players willingly join international offshore casino platforms to widen the gaming choices and diversify their experience.

Wrap Up

Even though it is difficult to find a provincial online casino in Canada, it is not at all hard to find a licensed offshore online casino. You would get tons of reliable choices regulated and audited for fairness by licensing bodies. Liberal and flexible provincial gambling laws give you secure as well as a fun-filled gaming experience. Whether you opt for government-operated or international casinos, both will be available at your disposal.

Different forms of gambling or betting are legal throughout Canada, which are either owned by the government or private operators. Also, charitable gaming provides aid to non-profit organizations. Moreover, sports betting is also available that uses parlay bets, and players are required to stake two or more games.

Most of the games are permitted in Canada. However, they are bound under a set of rules which are meant to keep these gambling activities as a regulated hobby and entertainment for Canadian citizens.