Is it legal to play online casino games for real money in Canada? If you live in a province that offers licensed online casinos, you are lucky. You just have to sign up and start wagering. You have yet another option that works anywhere in Canada—playing at offshore online casinos.
Canadian Gambling Info
- Canadian provinces have the power to regulate online gambling.
- Some Canadian provinces have legalized online gambling and offer licensed online casinos.
- There is no law prohibiting Canadians from playing at offshore online casinos.
- Operating an online gambling business in Canada is against the law unless authorized by a provincial government.
- The most important federal gambling law is the Criminal Code.
Canada Online Gambling Facts & Figures 2021
- 80% of Canadian gamblers are men and most of them are young adults.
- 1 – 2% of Canadian players are problem gamblers.
- The Canadian gambling industry generated CA$15 billion in 2019.
- Canada’s unregulated online gambling market generates CA$1 billion every year.
- According to Ipsos, a market research company, Canadian players deposited CA$868 million at online casinos in 2010.
- Sports betting and table games are popular among male players and bingo is popular among female players.
- 72% of Canadian online gamblers play slots and 59% play table games and poker.
Online Gambling in Canadian Provinces
Canada has ten provinces—Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan. The federal government of Canada has granted each province complete power to regulate gambling activities.
Let us have a look at provinces that offer legal online gambling:
Quebec legalized gambling in 1970 and allows you to play at any offshore online casino that accepts Canadian players. You can also play at the Espacejeux, which belongs to the government.
The Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba, launched in 2014, oversees all gambling activities in this province. Residents are free to sign up at any of the thousands of offshore online casinos that accept Canadian players. Also, Manitoba has adopted British Columbia’s online gambling business model and launched a legal online casino called PlayNow Manitoba.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation supervises gambling activities in this province. Gambling has been legal in British Columbia for the past 30 years.
British Columbia offers one legal online casino—PlayNow, which belongs to the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. The online casino went live in 2004 and offers a variety of online gambling services such as casino, poker, bingo, lottery, and sports betting.
As you see, you have a handful of legal online casinos in certain Canadian provinces. These online casinos have received licenses from their respective provincial regulatory authorities. But you need to be a resident of the province to sign up and play.
Also, no Canadian province has banned online gambling within its jurisdiction. This leaves you free to sign up at any offshore online casino or sportsbook. So far, neither the federal government nor the provincial governments have penalized residents for playing at offshore online casinos.
Gambling Laws in Canada – The Federal Criminal Code and Various State Laws
The federal Criminal Code is the major law that applies to all forms of gambling in Canada. Sections 201 – 206 of this code prohibit all varieties of lotteries, gambling, and betting. However, Section 204 permits pari-mutuel betting.
The Criminal Code is, therefore, a prohibitory law while all the provincial laws regarding gambling are regulatory. The only exception is the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, a federal body that governs pari-mutuel betting throughout Canada.
According to the Code, all forms of betting other than pari-mutuel betting fall under the definition of gambling and are, therefore, prohibited, irrespective of whether they are offered at a brick-and-mortar casino or an online casino. At the same time, individual provinces are free to regulate land-based gambling and online gambling activities as they wish. For this reason, we find plenty of legal gambling options, including online casinos, in Canadian provinces.
Regulatory Authorities in Canada
Canada has many regulatory authorities, most of which function at the provincial levels. However, the regulatory body that supervises the country’s gambling industry at the federal or national level is the Canadian Gaming Commission.
The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) is a federal-level trade association that aims to develop the gambling industry in Canada. It aims to increase the economic value of gambling across Canada through innovation, research, best practices, and dialogue among industry representatives. It co-owns the Canadian Gaming Business magazine and the Canadian Gaming Summit, an annual Canadian gaming conference and exhibition.
Also, we have to make a mention of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which is located in Kahnawake, a First Nations reserve close to Montreal in Canada. Established in 1996, this regulatory authority has granted licenses to several gambling sites, many of which accept Canadian players. All online gambling sites licensed in Kahnawake have to host their servers at Mohawk Internet Technologies, which is a data centre in Kahnawake.
Canada’s gambling laws do not apply to Kahnawake as it is a self-governing territory according to a treaty signed with the federal government. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission states on its website that the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is a sovereign nation bearing the powers of self-governance.
Responsible Gambling in Canada
Each Canadian province is serious about creating responsible gambling policies. Support services are, therefore, available for Canadians experiencing gambling harm all over the country.
The following is a list of non-profit organizations that support problem gamblers in Canada:
Responsible Gambling Council (RGC)
The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) works to minimize risks related to gambling and has been doing so for the past 35 years. To do so, it uses the methods of improving safeguards, raising awareness, and launching innovative initiatives.
You can approach the RGC to find support for problem gambling, find local gambling treatment centres, and locate a PlaySmart Centre. The last-mentioned are gambling information centres that provide gambling-related facts, advice, and tools.
OLG.ca Responsible Gambling Policy
The Ontario Lotteries and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has a responsible gambling policy, as part of which it offers a resource called PlaySmart. It invites Canadian players to visit PlaySmart.ca to find complete details on game rules, learn strategies and odds, and get facts about gambling.
If you are experiencing any type of gambling harm, you can use the OLG.ca’s self-exclusion program, which allows you to take a break from Ontario online casinos for a pre-determined time.
The OLG.ca’s responsible gambling program has received the World Lottery Association’s Best Overall Responsible Gaming Program Award in 2015. If gambling has stopped being fun, call its ConnexOntario at 1-866-531-2600.
Great Canadian Gaming Corporation
Established in 1982, Great Canadian is a gambling and entertaining company with 25 properties across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia, and Ontario. Great Canadian is committed to the following responsible gambling initiatives:
- Most of Great Canadian’s gaming venues have received the RG Check accreditation. The RG Check is the RGC’s globally acclaimed accreditation program.
- Great Canadian not only trains its staff on responsible gambling issues but also provides brochures and literature on responsible gambling to players at its properties.
- Its voluntary self-exclusion program allows players to exclude themselves from Great Canadian properties whenever they wish.
- Each Great Canadian property has responsible gambling information centres staffed by trained advisers.
- Players have to be 19+ to play at any Great Canadian property.
Also, the Great Canadian is involved with the following responsible gambling programs:
- Gamesense Program
- British Columbia Responsible and Problem Gambling Program
- Ontario’s PlaySmart Program
- Nova Scotia’s Gaming Corporation
- New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corporation
Support for problem gambling is also available at the following:
- Canadian Partnership for Responsible Gambling
- Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission
- Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario
Canada Online Gambling FAQs
Is software download necessary to start playing?
Most top-rated Canada-facing online casinos are browser-based. All you need to do is register, sign in, and play in your browser. No download is required to play games and win prizes. Also, you can access your gaming account and the casino games on desktops and mobile devices.
Are Canadian players eligible to receive casino bonuses?
Yes. All Canada-facing online casinos welcome players with generous bonuses. Later, you can claim reload bonuses, loyalty bonuses, free spins, cashback offers, and many other types of casino bonuses.
How much should I deposit to start playing at a Canadian casino?
The minimum deposit amount depends on the casino’s policies. Generally, you can start playing with CA$10. However, you don’t need to deposit any money to play for free.
How do I know that a casino is licensed?
Check the casino website footer. Licensed online casinos display logos of their regulatory authorities on the website footer. You can also contact customer support and request them for the licensing information.
Are casino winnings taxed in Canada?
You have to pay taxes on your casino winnings in Canada only if you declare that you are a professional gambler. If you are a recreational gambler, you don’t have to worry about taxes.