Online Casino Canada Legal?
Expert George Shipp
First things first, it is our opinion that a proper clarification is due as regards legal online casinos in Canada, and this is that while online casinos operating from within Canada have to be owned by the Government, Canadians are still free to play with other casinos that are licensed by other authorities. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) for example is one of the best offshore licensing authorities, and casinos licensed by it are considered to be operating with the highest law standards. Casinos that following all laws and regulations include BetPoint Group (License Number: MGA/B2C/203/2011) operated.
Data has shown that while online gaming sites are starting to attract more online players than ever before, land-based gambling casinos are becoming more attractive as a family or fraternal outing. Therefore, it is clear that Canadian players who engage in gambling are unanimous in their choice of online casino sites when compared to land-based casinos. Online casinos, like land-based casinos, are fully legal in Canada as long as they hold a valid license. In the next section, we’ll be talking more about this subject matter.
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Is online gambling in Canada legal?
The short answer to whether online gambling is legal in Canada or not is yes. In fact, gross sales in the online gambling industry can reach up to $31 billion a year, with purchased services totalling some $14 billion per year. As can be expected, this results in millions of dollars worth of tax revenues for Canadian provinces, meaning that the residents of these provinces get to benefit directly from Canadian online casino gambling sites! With that being said, there are some gambling restrictions both for online casinos as well as for land-based casinos. For example, single sports betting such as betting on horse races is considered to be a no go in Canada as it is illegal. With that being said, online gaming and playing your favourite casino game online are fully legal in Canada. Therefore your legal status and legality are ensured when playing in a licensed online casino that is licensed in a foreign country.
What is the legal status of Video Poker in Canada?The short answer to this question is: fully legal. Why? Because given that federal law as regards gaming sites in Canada is somewhat ambiguous and non-existent, it is the respective provinces that regulate the legal status of online gaming (including video poker). Canadian players are therefore free to play video poker with Canadian casinos owned by the said provinces, and they are also free to play with online casinos licensed and regulated in foreign jurisdictions.
What does the Criminal Code of Canada say about gambling?
The Criminal Code penalizes those who:
- Keep a gaming or betting house;
- People found in premises or owner that permits the use of a tenement for this purpose;
- Betting, pool-selling, book-making in the said places; And
- Placing bets on behalf of others.
Moreover, it is also illegal for an online casino to operate from within Canada unless it is owned and licensed by the Canadian Government.
Tax on Casino Winnings
As things stand at the moment, Canadian players do not have to pay taxes on their winnings from online casinos. With that being said, when every Canadian inserts their T5 Form, they are legally obliged to declare all interest that they’ve made from their casino revenue. With that being said, professional gamblers have to declare all of their income from gambling activities. Professional players, as opposed to recreational players, are deemed to be operating their own business under Canadian law, and therefore they too have to file their tax returns. If you have doubts as regards the legality of this question then our suggestion is that you speak to a lawyer in order to get this matter secured up given that it is a bit of a grey area. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to Canadian laws that concern real money!
Regulators and Gaming Authorities
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established in 1996 making it one of the early leaders when it comes to the licensing of gambling jurisdictions. It licenses both land-based casinos who literally own physical gaming machines, as well as online casinos that are entirely based on the virtual world of the internet. As of this moment in time, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission offers four distinctive licenses which include:
- The Interactive Gaming License;
- The Client Provider Authorization;
- The Secondary Client Provider Authorization; And
- The Key Person License.
In order to apply for a license, one has to pay a number of fees. The Client Provider Authorization license for example costs $25,000. A Key Person License on the other hand comes at a cost of $5000. Meanwhile, for more information on this subject, you are encouraged to visit the Commission’s website by clicking on this link.
Gambling in Ontario is regulated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. For one to be able to gamble here, they must be a resident of the state itself. And moreover, gamblers in Ontario must be 19 years of age if they are to engage in real money-making gaming activities according to gambling legislation.
British Columbia operates its own casino called PlayNow which is licensed and regulated by BCLC, British Columbia’s gaming authority. Players searching for a gambling site that offers various bonuses and the ability to gamble online from multiple devices will be pleased to know that PlayNow offers such services. And what’s more is that in order to benefit from all these offers, players need to be just 18 years of age!
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority in this region and a grand total of 9 land-based casinos are made available to players. Strictly speaking, when it comes to gambling only the province’s lottery is allowed. Yet Saskatchewan residents are free to use online casinos that are registered elsewhere.
The Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco Division Service of Nova Scotia is in charge of regulating gaming in Nova Scotia. Although small, gambling activity is ripe in this province with both land-based and online casinos being widely popular. The legal age requirement for potential gamers however stands as 19 years of age as opposed to other provinces where this age limit stands at 18.
Only one casino is offered in New Foundland and Labrador. If you’re looking for a top notch gaming experience, we therefore suggest that you look elsewhere as this province is conservative when it comes to gambling.
In Alberta, it is the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission that regulates online gaming. We know we’ve mentioned that casinos operating from within Canada must be owned by the government, but in Alberta’s case, it must be stated that the province in question does not operate an online casino. As opposed to Ontario, Alberta legislation dictates that players have to be 18 years of age in order to engage in real money-making gaming activities.
Manitoba’s Liquor and Gaming Commission of Manitoba deals with gambling laws concerning online casinos in Manitoba, whereas other gambling-related matters such as lottery tickets are dealt with by separate entities. While the legal gambling age is 18 in Manitoba, players will be pleased to note that gambling laws also permit sports betting for Manitoban residents.
Online gambling is allowed in New Brunswick, and so are land-based casinos. Lotteries and other similar events are very much popular in this province, even though only 2 land-based casinos are operational in New Brunswick.
Loto Quebec ensures that Quebec residents are free to engage in online gambling in Canada. Loto Quebec’s legal age requirement is 18 years. Meanwhile, their online casino site entitled EspaceJeux is operated mainly in French, and players will be disappointed to find out that its bonuses are somewhat weak. If players are looking for strong online bonuses from online gambling sites that are fully legal in Quebec, try BetPoint Group‘s casino sites.
Prince Edward Island
Being a very small province, Prince Edward also has a very small gaming industry. With that being said, their gaming commission still offers a variety of gaming activities that should keep gamers entertained.
Legal Age Requirements
In a nutshell, requirements for land-based and online casinos are as follows:
|Province||Legal Age Requirement|
|Alberta||18 years of age|
|Manitoba||18 years of age|
|Quebec||18 years of age|
|Rest of the Provinces||18 years of age|
Question & Answer
Legal Commonwealth Licensing Jurisdictions
- The UK Gambling Commission – Being one of the three most secure gambling authorities together with Kahnawake and Malta, the UK Commission deserves more than a mention. In other words, you know you are safe when your casino site is licensed by the Uk Gambling Commission.
- The Isle of Man – The Isle of Man’s Casino Control Commission is renowned for having very strict compliance measures in place. It is therefore no surprise that it is one of the gaming authorities that is becoming increasingly popular with online casino sites!
- Gibraltar – In Gibraltar, it is the Gambling Commissioner that issues casinos with a license. It is a positive sign to see that this jurisdiction is also becoming renowned when it comes to online gaming licenses.
- Alderney – Although Alderney’s license count is relatively small when compares to other countries, their safety and security standards are definitely strong. It is therefore more than expected that their license count will continue increasing.
Other licensing jurisdictions
The best online casinos know that together with Kahnawake and the United Kingdom, Malta is the jurisdiction of choice for various casinos. Online gaming is one of Malta’s economic strong points, and thousands of Maltese livelihoods depend on it. It is no surprise therefore that Malta’s Gaming Authority (MGA) has the best of practices when it comes to safety and security. If trustworthy online gaming sites are what you’re looking for, then your Maltese licensed online casino in Canada comes more than recommended!
How to make sure that you’re following all laws
The following step by step guide can be your Canadian check-list in order to make sure that you’re in line with all laws and regulations?
Are you of legal age? If yes, then you may continue.
Does your online casino of choice operate from Canada? If it is then make sure that it is licensed and owned by the Canadian government to make sure that its affairs are all in line with the law.
Who is your casino licensed by? If it’s licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), UK Gambling Commission or the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, then you are in safe hands.
Does your online casino offer, safe payment processors, when paying out real money? If yes then you may proceed.
Starting your account
If all the abovementioned steps are ticked, then you may create your casino account, deposit your money and start your gaming experience. Enjoy!
Future Legal Developments
When it comes to online casinos, 2023 is expected to be a game-changing year for gaming for Canada. In fact, various changes are foreseen to take place in Ontario, where the province is willing to establish casino sites in order to start raking the much valuable tax revenue that is unique to the gaming world. Legislation will therefore be introduced that will establish a proper market for online casinos and sites that will ensure adequate protection for consumers.George Shipp
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Criminal Code of Canada say about online gambling? Collapse
The Criminal Code does not prohibit online gambling. With that being said, if an online casino operates from within Canada itself, then it will have to be owned and licensed by the state itself. Meanwhile, it is currently illegal for private-sector casinos to operate from the territory of the Great White North.
Does a player have to be a certain age to be able to gamble in an online casino? Collapse
Yes, legal limits always apply. While in various provinces like Kahnawake, the legal age one needs to have in order to engage in gambling is 18, in other provinces this age limit can rise up to 19. And therefore, we encourage you to search for the specificities of your region so that you’re 100% sure that you’re in compliance with regional legislation and regulations.
Can a player engage in sports betting in Canada? Collapse
Single sports betting is currently illegal in Canada, however other kinds of sports betting are legal. What’s interesting is also the fact that in the future, single sports betting is also expected to be legalized, and it is therefore encouraged to keep an eye out for future developments!