18+

Gambling Laws in Canada

Gambling laws in Canada

Gambling rules and regulations vary through every country in the world and Canada is no different. Gambling laws in Canada differ from those in the United States and across Europe as each and every government tries to handle the legislation to suit their country’s needs. We are now going to unravel all you need to know about gambling laws and specifically online gambling laws in Canada.

Sports betting both online and in person is extremely popular within Canada. Canada’s rules and regulations when it comes to betting, online betting, and gambling in general can be confusing. There are also certain laws that apply in different provinces and territories as well as specific regulations around Native reservations which can all add to the confusion.

Canada Laws Regarding Gambling 

As with many countries across the world, gambling was initially entirely legal, but legislation introduced in 1892 began to criminalize certain aspects of it. As the country approached the 1900s, bingo and casino raffles were allowed but only for charitable events. A decade or so later, Canada legalized betting on horse racing, while the most pivotal piece of history for Canadian betting came much later, when in 1985 gambling machines were legalized. In the years following, casinos started being erected across the country as the popularity of gambling grew throughout the country.

Canada Laws Regarding Online Casinos

Canada has strict laws prohibiting anyone to operate an online casino or gaming site from within Canada without a license. The Criminal Code of Canada stipulates the legality of casinos within the country. Part VII of the code clearly prohibits any online gaming operations, however, there are some clearly defined exceptions. One of these states that it is perfectly legal for Canadians to use online casinos and sportsbooks in countries licenced elsewhere. 

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission provides an interesting anomaly to the rules within Canada. Situated in Quebec, the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake recognized the potential of online casinos and registered the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in 1996. The area is a native Indian reservation and therefore is its own legal entity meaning that it is not restricted by Canadian laws. This allows it to license and regulate offshore online gaming sites.

When it was first founded the Kahnawake commission was extremely popular for offshore sites looking to obtain a license. It has licensed over 50 online casino operators with more than 250 gambling websites.  However, in recent years the commission ceased issuing licenses to sites that permit users from the USA with the newer and upcoming casinos tending to opt for licenses from countries such as Malta or Gibraltar.

There are many requirements a gambling site has to meet to be granted a license. 

Some of the most important gambling license requirements:

If a prospective casino does not meet all of these requirements, the commission reserves the right to decline the application or revoke an existing one if it has already been acquired.

Online Gambling in Canada

Gambling in almost all of its forms is now legal in Canada. Online gambling is the one slight exception because the rules within the country are tricky. Casinos within Canada have to be licensed; however, the Canadian government does not issue licenses to operate online casinos within the country.

There are plenty of ways around this though as players from within Canada are completely legally allowed to use offshore online casinos. The countries government expressly opposed gambling until the 1960s, when it then started to grant regions their own right to make decisions on the matter. Provinces then had decisions to make as to whether or not they legalized certain aspects of gambling, and if so, which they allowed and which they did not.

The criminal code for the country still states that hosting a gambling website or online casino within the borders of Canada is clearly defined as illegal. However, regions within the country are given the responsibility of allowing specific forms of gambling that can be “operated on or through a computer” within their jurisdiction. The one exception to this law is the aforementioned Kahnawake Mohawk Nation which remains allowed to host casinos. Many members of the government still strictly oppose the reserves right to host casinos, but no action has ever been enforced against them.

Nowadays, Canadian punters can use a huge range of foreign sites that operate within the country for their online sports betting or casino usage. It is always advised that punters stick to the websites that have been granted licenses from reputable regulatory authorities to ensure that your money and safe is secure, but with many of these around, it is not difficult for Canadian bettors to find a suitable partner.

Regional Betting Laws in Canada

As we have already mentioned, there are many different provinces within Canada that have varying different rules on what is, and what is not allowed when it comes to betting within the country. Sports betting laws are regulated by the federal government and also the individual provinces government. The ten provinces within the country are: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. Each has their own legislation around age and activities, so let’s take a quick look at how each province dictates their policies.

Alberta

Alberta’s gambling activity must all comply with the provinces Gaming and Liquor Act. There are a few options for sports betting games, however, no online betting companies operate from within Alberta. Punters are however able to use offshore gambling sites and casinos with the legal gambling age being 18.

British Columbia

Sports betting is legal in British Columbia through the website PlayNow.com where you have the option of six different sports betting games. There are strict regulations on the amount you can bet in both one stake and overall. You can enhance your range of options by using an off-shore betting site whilst the minimum age for betting in British Columbia is 19.

Manitoba

All gambling activity and lottery operations are regulated by the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba and the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation. They have full access to use PlayNow.com with the minimum legal age being 18.

New Brunswick

You can begin betting at 19 in New Brunswick and there are various options for your sports betting. These can all be accessed via ProLineStadium.com and are regulated by the New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corporation and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Lottery Licensing Regulation was founded in 2002 and oversees all sports betting in Newfoundland and Labrador. Bettors can begin playing aged 19 using either offshore betting sites or the Pro-Line websites available to them.

Nova Scotia

Legal gambling starts at age 19 in Nova Scotia and it has one of the oldest current regulations in place with it still governed by the Gaming Control Act 1995, which sees it regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Division and the Nova Scotia Provincial Lottery. Residents of Nova Scotia are able to access ProLineStadium.com legally to place their sports bets.

Ontario

Ontario set up their own Alcohol and Gaming Commission back in 1998 which was registered to regulate all sports betting within the province. Whether you are betting online or in a shop, the supervisor is the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) which offers a range of sports betting games, however, it does not allow for many different bet types that you would be able to access via offshore sites that include single game wagers. You have to be 19 to bet within the providence of Ontario.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is extremely limited with the options available to bettors there. Many residents choose to utilize the offshore sites as it offers more versatile markets as well as ease of access. You have to be 19 to bet within the region and all sports games are regulated by the Prince Edward Island Lottery Commission and the ACL.

Quebec

From the moment you turn 18 you can bet within Quebec and it offers some of the most liberal betting regulations across Canada. There are government lead lotteries and online sportsbooks that you can participate in that are all sanctioned by the Quebec Alcohol, Racing and Gaming Commission.

Saskatchewan

Sports betting options are very limited in Saskatchewan which means many bettors take their business to offshore companies. The minimum age to legally bet in the region is 19, and all activity is regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority.

As you can clearly see, the legality around betting in Canada is extremely complex with different regions offering different levels of access and markets, as well as individual regulators and commissioners for each province. The age limit also varies by region so whilst you may be able to bet at 18 in some provinces, if you travel across a border to a new province your legal right to gamble may be revoked. With the strict legislation in place, it is easy to see why bettors in Canada circumvent any domestic gambling options and choose to use the range of high-quality offshore online betting companies available to them.

How Gambling Payments Work

The majority of betting that takes place within Canada is actually using businesses that are not actually based in Canada. This can add a level of complexity when it comes to players making payments or companies processing these payments. Some online casinos will limit the way in which you can deposit money which does make it difficult for Canadian players, or they can force them to set up an account with a third-party site before playing. 

Some of the most common methods for depositing include the common names such as Visa or MasterCard, which we are sure you will be familiar with as credit or debit card suppliers. Surprisingly, not every online gambling site accepts Visa due to their complex nature of the transaction, so keep an eye out for ones that do not.

You can also use sites such as Citadel Commerce who are specialized internet payment method services that safely process transactions for you. Instadebit is a hugely popular choice for Canadians thanks to the speed in which you can make payments and process withdrawals with betting companies. iDebit is a similar product which is popular with Canadian users, too. Lastly, a PaysafeCard is a plastic pre-paid card that allows you to top up so that you can safely use it across a wide range of online and offline systems. Again, this is another useful option for Canadians.

Canadian Gambling

Offshore gambling is projected to have generated more than C$450million from Canadian players in 2020. Although there are strict regulations on Canadian-based betting companies, it is completely legal for Canadian citizens to use betting sites based abroad. There are also local, usually government-run lotteries and sports games that are legal to use but they can be quite restrictive and are heavily policed.

Gambling Laws in Canada - FAQ

Is it legal for Canadians to play at online betting sites?

Yes, although the laws can be confusing, placing online bets with sportsbooks and playing at online casinos are both perfectly legal for players in Canada. 

Where can I place bets in Canada?

There are some domestically registered casinos and lotteries for Canadians to use, but most commonly Canadian bettors will utilize licensed and respected offshore betting companies.

Can I use my Canadian Dollars when betting online?

Yes, many of the top betting sites will allow you to deposit directly with Canadian dollars. If not, there are always many options for you to go ahead and convert your currency into something that the international site accepts.