Legal casinos in Canada is a little bit of gray area when it comes to Canadian law. Gambling was illegal until the 1970's when the Criminal Code was amended by the government to allow certain activities. In 1985 the power of authority over gambling was given to the provinces and territories who now have the right to decide whether or not to allow online casinos and gambling within their domain. There are numerous provinces that have their own online casinos but beyond this, Canadians are free to enjoy online gambling from international sites and there have been no lawsuits brought in relation to this. More and more people are questioning the legal status of online gambling in Canada. The situation is complicated and on this page, you will find all the information you need.
Legal Casinos For Canada
Facts About Legal Casino Gambling in Canada
There are a number of facts that players must be aware of when it comes to real money gambling in Canada and these are broken down in detail below.
- The Criminal Code: The Criminal Code of Canada is a coding of the criminal acts and procedures. This law does not make it illegal to gambling online in Canada unless it is found that the act itself falls under-recognized areas of the code, of the player is underage. The actual wording of the Criminal Code is complicated and the section on "Gaming and Betting" is extensive, and this is the basic premise under which online casinos have managed to thrive legally. The Criminal Code may prohibit Canadians from gambling at online casinos in different countries but there is no way to effectively enforce this prohibition.
- No Charges Have Been Made: To date no person has ever been charged with the crime of playing at online casinos in Canada. The closest call was back in 2007 when servers hosting online casinos and poker rooms from Indian reservations were deemed illegal, and the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve was fined $2 million. Since then, the reserve has continued to appeal its jurisdictional rights, and the servers continue to operate.
- Canadian vs U.S. Law: In Canada provinces have the right to allow and license online casinos if they see fit. The U.S. does not grant states this right because of their Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.
- Sports Betting: The betting on sporting events is allowed in Canada and the Criminal Code allows parlay bets of three or more matches. Single match betting is not allowed but if Bill C-221 is passed in parliament, this may change.
- Poker: Online poker sites are available to Canadian players but the majority of these are hosted internationally. No law has been passed prohibiting gambling on such sites.
- Taxes: The Canadian tax law dictates that winnings from gambling are not taxed unless seen as a form of employment. This is determined based on skill, frequency of play, and expectation of payout. If you are a professional poker play, taxes may apply but for gambling at online casinos just for fun, winnings are generally tax-free.
Regulators and Gaming Authorities For Legal Casinos
Regulators are required for legal casinos and the purpose of having a regulating body is to ensure that all Canadian online casinos operate in a fair manner. The regulating body acts as the governor of the site and handles any problems that may arise. If a casino breaks any of the rules set out by the regulator, its license can be revoked and it will no longer be able to offer its services.
Each province in Canada regulates its own online gambling sites. Other regulators include the Kahnawake Gaming Commission which operates inside Canada but is technically its own governing body. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission runs servers and regulates online casinos in Canada as well as being one of the most-used regulators around the world.
Provincial Online Casinos in Canada
There are two provincially run legal casinos in Canada. These are Playnow and EspaceJeux.
PlayNow is the official online casino for British Columbia. BCLC oversees gambling in this province and the casino is specifically for BC residents as well as residents of Manitoba. Players here have access to lottery tickets, keno, bingo, live poker, sports betting, and a variety of casino games. However, free online bingo is the signature feature of this casino. Players at PlayNow can enjoy in all the different variants of bingo on desktop and mobile with no download required. PlayNow is regulated in accordance with all federal and provincial laws and is the legal casino for British Columbia.
EspaceJeux is the provincial online casino for residents of Quebec. Here players can enjoy legal table games, online slots, video poker, blackjack, bingo, lottery, and sports betting. In March 2015, the government stated that they were going to force ISP's to block residents in Quebec from viewing international online casinos. The law has been passed but there is ongoing debates and lawsuits have been filed.
Legal Casinos and Online Gambling in Canada FAQs
Why do some sites prohibit Canadian gamblers?
There are some online casinos that do not allow players from Canada to sign up for a real money account. There can be many reasons for this, but often it is due to the complexities of Canadian law.
What are the benefits of gambling online in Canada?
Some of the main benefits are that you can play from the comfort of your own home. You can also play higher paying games online for real money as well as claim bonuses and promotions that you won't get elsewhere. There are more games to enjoy too and the ease of access makes them the more popular choice for a lot of players.
What is the legal gambling age in Canada?
The legal age for gambling in Canada will depend on which province you live in. The most common minimum age is 19 but you are advised to check this out before you sign up with any online casino that accepts players from Canada. All legal casinos will go through some identification checks, one of which includes an age check.
What do I do if I have a complaint about an online casino?
If you are playing at a legal casino you will very rarely have a problem. If you do have a problem the first thing to do is contact the customer support team. They are there to help with any problems you might have. If this doesn't help and you have exhausted all other avenues, you can contact the licensing authority for the casino and seek their help and advice.
Are online casino games fair?
Online casino games are virtual and this means that they use what is called a Random Number Generator (RNG) to determine the outcome of the games. Most legal casinos will have their games independently certified to show that they are fair. A certificate is often displayed on their website and we advise players to look for the eCOGRA seal of approval or TST. These are the two most trusted independent auditors.
What type of casino games can I play online?
This will depend on the site you choose to play at and the software that they use. It is normal for online casinos to offer a range of slots, table games like blackjack and roulette, as well as baccarat, video poker, craps, and more. Many sites use a number of casino software providers so that they can give their players more choice so be sure to check our software reviews and best casinos for more information.
Is customer support available all the time?
When we are looking at legal casinos and compiling reviews we look very closely at customer support. The best sites will offer 24/7 support and have a number of ways in which you can contact them. This will include live chat, toll-free phone lines, and email. The quickest way to get answers to any questions that you might have is the live chat feature. This is instant and you will have a member of the customer support team guide you through any problems you might have in real time. In our reviews, we also check for customer support agents that speak a number of languages including French and English.
How many banking options are available for funding my casino account?
Again, this will depend on the legal casino you choose to play at. You should be able to deposit funds instantly and withdraw them with ease too. So, when looking for the best Canadian online casino, make sure to have put the instant deposit/withdrawal option as a priority. Then you have to decide whether is more convenient for you to use e-checks or the standard credit/debit cards. Most Canadians prefer to use e-wallets to fund their casino account and we also list sites that accept Instadebit and eCheck. You will also find that most online casinos accept debit and credit cards as well as Neteller, Interac, Skrill, Ukash, and more. Bank transfers are also allowed.
Can I gamble using CAD?
Yes, you can. When we look for the best legal casinos for Canadian players we make sure that you can gambling in Canadian dollars. If you have to play in other currencies you will have exchange rate charges and so on and we like to make things as easy as possible for our readers.
What do I do if I feel I am becoming addicted to online gambling?
If you have any doubts at all you should seek support and advice immediately. Some online casinos will allow you to place limits on your gambling as well as ban yourself from your account for a number of days. There are lots of different organizations throughout Canada that can help as well including ProblemGambing.ca, CPGCB, KnowYourLimit.ca and the Problem Gambling Helpline located in Quebec. All of these organizations are just a mouse click or a phone call away. Responsible gambling is important and you should always seek professional help if you feel you are developing a gambling problem.