Canadian Online Gambling Laws

Online casino gaming has become a popular activity across Canada, as it has across the world. Despite this, the laws and regulations surrounding the industry can still be complicated and poorly defined. In this article we will seek to provide a basic walkthrough of Canadian online gambling laws, so you can play with confidence at your chosen casino.

Gambling Laws Within Canada

Whilst many countries choose to take a polarising view either strongly for or against gambling, Canada has emerged as a relatively moderate environment for operators. This has not always been the case, however.

It was in the 1890s when the first pieces of legislation emerged, which proclaimed gambling to be illegal. As its popularity showed no signs of fading regulation gradually started to change, with major alterations being made in the 1970s. These changes saw bingo and betting on horses legalised, before gaming machines were made legal around a decade later.

Reform eventually gave individual provinces the authority to license and regulate gambling within their own jurisdictions. Though this has ultimately been good news for operators and players alike, the decentralised regulation has resulted in grey areas within Canadian gambling law.

Gambling Laws by Province

In the most populous province of Ontario, there is currently just one locally authorised online gambling site - PlayOLG.ca. This site is operated by the province's own Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation, though plans have been announced to open up the market to private operators. Conversely, players in Quebec are currently able to play at any site willing to accept them - including the province owned Espacejeux. This may change, however, with plans to alter regulations so only sites licensed by Loto-Quebec will be playable.

British Columbia and Manitoba are the two other provinces with government-owned gaming sites - PlayNow & PlayNow Manitoba. None of the other provinces or territories have their own licensed gambling products, though they can still play at operators based outside of Canada.

Kahnawake Gaming Commission

An alternate to the provincial licensing bodies is the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which is based on an Indian reserve located inside Canadian borders. They license casino sites, providing they operate from within Kahnawake and meet certain criteria.

There have been questions raised about the legal implications of this, however, Kahnawake is regarded as a sovereign nation - and is therefore not governed by Canadian laws.

Overseas Operators

Though it is illegal for operators from within Canada to provide online gaming services without a government license, there is a loophole for those based outside of Canada.

As with the Kahnawake licenses, it is possible for Canadian citizens to gamble at sites with internationally held licenses. Commonly these may be granted by the Maltese Gaming Authority or UK Gambling Commission.

Though it is not explicitly stated that Canadian citizens are permitted to play at sites licensed overseas, neither is it stated that they cannot. As a player, legality therefore shouldn't be a concern - so long as an operator has some form of license - but you should pay attention to whether the license demands the same high standards as those authorised within Canada. The Malta Gaming Authority, for example, is internationally recognised and should therefore hold no worries for players.

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