The Canadian Laws & Regulations in Gambling
Before you begin gambling in Canada, it is important to understand Canadian gambling laws and how they relate to the countries land-based and online gambling sectors. Under the current federal statute, the Federal government of Canada is responsible for Canada’s criminal laws, while provincial governments are responsible for enacting gambling laws within their territorial borders.
While federal laws ensure the criminal laws remain identical in all provinces, how each province operates and the forms of gambling legal within their borders will differ. In order to navigate the legalities of online gambling in Canada, you first need to understand if it is legal to gamble in Canada, if an online casino is legal to gamble and who regulates casino gambling within each respective territory or province.
Is it legal to gamble in Canada?
Yes, Canadians are legally allowed to gamble and have multiple options available in each territory and province. This came into effect in 1969 after the Canadian government amended the nation’s criminal code to legalize lotteries. The amendments also gave each territory and province the right to legalize other forms of gambling within their borders. While some provinces were slow to make any changes, the majority amended their provincial gambling laws to include land-based gambling venues, horse racing and sports betting.
Is it legal to gamble online in Canada?
In response to the growth and popularity of online gambling, British Columbia and Ontario led the charge to legalise gambling online through their respective lottery and enforcement branches. Soon after, almost all provinces and territories chose to regulate online gambling, providing operators meet Federal and provincial licensing requirements.
Under the current Federal and provincial licensing requirements, offshore operators are excluded and not required to possess a valid gambling license. Resultantly, online gambling Canada regulations provide no protection from wayward operators. This includes whether playing at a live casino in Canada, using casino download software in Canada or any other gambling based venue.
For Canadians who prefer betting with an offshore gambling site, the benefits they offer are substantial. Along with offering live betting for sports bettors, most sites feature a live casino, download versions, and an endless supply of casino games such as slots and card games. This has resulted in estimated wagering of over $4 billion annually with offshore operators. Resultantly, Canadians have seen an explosion in the availability of casino download software, and more recently, an abundance of live casino gaming options.
In addition to the availability of live casino gaming, Canadian have the following options when gambling online:
- Online Sports Betting
- Online Lotteries
- Online Casinos
- Online Horse Betting
- Online Poker
Who regulates online gambling in Canada?
Each province and territory is responsible for regulating gambling operations within their provincial borders. They also have the authority to determine which forms of gambling will be allowed and whether this will apply to land-based, online or live gaming. While provinces cannot regulate whether a casino offers a download version of their live casino, they have the authority to enact licensing requirements and the collection of fees.
As each province operates independently of the other, here is a list of each provincial and territory regulatory agency:
- Alberta – The Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission
- Atlantic Canada – The Atlantic Lottery Corporation
- British Columbia – The British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch
- Manitoba – The Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba
- New Brunswick – The New Brunswick Lotteries & Gaming Corporation
- North West Territories – The North West Territories Municipal & Community Affairs Department
- Nova Scotia – The Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries & Casino Corporation
- Ontario – The Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation
- Saskatchewan – The Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Commission
- Quebec – Loto Quebec
- Yukon – The Department of Community Services
Minimum Legal Age for Gambling in Canada
The minimum age requirements in all provinces and territories in Canada corresponds with the legal age for drinking. Currently, the legal age for gambling and drinking in most provinces and territories is nineteen. However, in the province of Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba, the legal age for gambling is eighteen. This applies to all forms of gambling, including live gaming or accessing any download software for the purpose of gambling.
Frequently asked questions about Canadian gambling laws
Q: If I gamble at a live casino, will the games be fair?
A: Yes, live casinos operate in the same manner as a land-based casino and are regulated by regulatory agencies such as the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Quebec.
Q: Will I be required to pay taxes on my winnings from an online betting site?
A: No, gambling winnings in Canada are non-taxable. Therefore, any winnings resultant from gambling activities will not be taxed. However, if gambling with provincial online casinos, authorities will deduct any amounts owed for past taxes or unpaid child support payments.
Q: Will I be required to pay a fee to download casino software?
A: No, online casinos or sportsbooks do not charge a fee to download software. In fact, it is becoming increasingly rare for gambling operators to offer download software other than mobile apps.
Q: Does the Canadian gambling laws apply to Indian Casinos?
A: Yes, Indian casinos are required to adhere to all federal and provincial gambling laws.