Online gambling is an exciting pastime, and many Canadians gamble in hopes of winning big. But, is online gambling legal in Canada?
When it comes to gambling in Canada, the laws are pretty lax. In 1985, the Government of Canada gave each province and territory full reign over their gaming laws.
So, the short answer is - yes. Canadians are free to gamble online. However, there are a few factors to keep in mind to ensure you are playing legally.
At this time, there are still no specific regulations directly related to online gambling, and Canadian law does not directly prohibit online gambling, but, they are required to be licensed or owned by a provincial government if the company is located in Canada.
Some provinces and territories provide government-operated online casinos, and gambling online through these casinos are legal. Playing on any other platform controlled by a company in Canada is considered illegal.
However, the government cannot legislate international gambling websites. Therefore, these sites are not illegal. Players should also ensure they are playing with reputable online casinos that are fully licensed.
There are several licensed Canadian gambling sites to choose from, including Bodog and Sports Interaction. But, Canadians can also play on offshore online gambling sites if they are legal and licensed in their territories.
However, there are 100's if not 1000's of unlicensed (no Canadian license) offshore gambling sites offering services to Canadian players. Out of these 1000's unlicensed offshore gambling sites, only a handful are safe, trusted, and secure for Canadian players.
But, there are not technically illegal if they are licensed and legal in other territories. As of today, we have never seen any Canadian citizens punished for gambling using offshore, legal, and licensed online betting sites.
But, to be safe, we recommend playing on internationally recognised and trusted brands such as 888Sport, Unibet, William Hill, bet365, and other sites that accept Canadian players and Canadian Dollars.
What do the federal laws say about online gambling?
Gambling laws in Canada are largely left to provincial and territorial governments. In 1985, the federal government declared that provinces and territories should monitor and legislate all gambling-related affairs.
Today, many Canadian provinces and territories operate their own online casinos. Gambling on these platforms is legal. As well, Canadians are free to play at online casinos provided by companies located outside of Canada.
Why are international online casinos fair game for Canadians?
Provincial and territorial governments cannot legislate international gambling websites. Therefore, these sites are not illegal.
While Canadians can gamble online using international sites, there are a few factors to keep in mind to ensure you are playing legally.
For an international gambling site to be legal in Canada it must meet the following guidelines:
Throughout most of Canada's history, most forms of gambling were illegal or restricted, up until the 1970s, where drastic changes were introduced into legislation.
In the 70s, the Canadian government changed the criminal code by regionalizing the gambling laws. Instead of regulating the gambling markets on a state level, the reformed criminal code allowed individual provinces within Canada to license and regulate gambling in their regions, which ultimately lead to domestic casinos, lotteries, sports betting shops & racing courses throughout the country.
Following the instruction by the government, each province created a governing body that looked at gambling laws. At the time of writing this article, the law is still the same, and various provinces still create laws that guide sports betting, online casinos and many other gambling-related activities.
However, on a country level, it is the Canadian Gaming Commission that regulates the entire sector. It bridges the communication gap between the government, the media, the gambling sector, and the general public.
The gambling sector generates huge revenue for the government. Not only that, games like lotteries also generate income for religious and charity organizations. This is why provincial laws were created to regulate revenue and allow online gambling to thrive and contribute to the entire sector.
But, it is important to note that there is nothing in the Canadian criminal code that restricts or prevents players from accessing online gambling sites that are located offshore. It only refers to "Common gaming/betting houses" but nothing specific that refers to online gambling.
For all intents and purposes, Canadian gambling laws allow online gambling at offshore sites, but we still recommend only joining legal and trusted operators that hold valid gambling licences in other territories.
To legally gamble in Canada, you must be 19 years old, except in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec where you can gamble from the age of 18. The age requirement applies to all forms of gambling including both domestic (land-based casinos, lotteries, etc) and online gambling websites (both offshore and domestic).
Your winnings from online gambling accomplishments are not taxable as long as it isn't considered full-time employment for you.
What this means is that your winnings from online casino games won't be taxed if you're playing for fun (entertainment).
Meanwhile, it is illegal to operate an online casino in Canada without a license. So as a game enthusiast, ensure to register with a registered vendor and stay away from those that are not registered by trustworthy authorities.
Overall, Canadian betting laws are outdated and need refreshing, but, it is legal to bet on sports on domestically licenced betting sites such as Sports Interaction, as well as offshore licensed sports betting sites such as bet365.
Also, as of August 27, 2021, single-game betting is available in Canada. Previously, all sports bets in Canada had to be parlays. This meant that any bet had to be made up of several outcomes. However, in the summer of 2021, Bill C-218 was passed. This bill removes the ban on single-game bets and allows provinces and territories to govern sports betting in their region.
But, the laws do state that players should not gamble using illegal betting "houses" or casinos, which is why we only recommend using sports betting sites that have a valid Canadian gambling licence, or a valid offshore gambling licence.
Sports betting with real money in Canada is not a crime, therefore allowing offshore sportsbooks to leverage the lack of laws in this area and profit from it. In Canada, basketball and hockey are the two most widely wagered sports among Canadian sports bet enthusiasts.
Another emerging gambling product that isn’t regulated in Canada is Fantasy sport. A lot of people love to play the fantasy league which is offered by numerous websites by selecting their favourite teams.
In Canada, sports betting and casino games are the most played for gamble enthusiasts. However, a huge number of people prefer playing bingo and lottery games.
Meanwhile, the laws on lotteries are controlled on the province level and in each province, there are local games available. Due to some specific exclusions, the provincial regime has launched a national lottery with prizes up to eight figures.
Canadian gambling laws allow you to purchase lottery tickets online via a computer or a mobile device. You can also register for an online account and subscribe to as many draws as you want without going to a retail store to purchase the ticket.
Bingo games are declining at the moment because lots of bingo halls have shut down due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Alternatively, the emergence of the online bingo platform has become a timely replacement of the traditional bingo halls with the operators offering various games like online slot games, video poker, and many others.
The gambling sites below were either founded in Canada, or by Canadians. Of course, there is an increased focus on Canadian players, sports, and payment methods, but, it can be hard to compete with the powerhouses from Europe.
Sports Interaction - Founded in 1997, Sports Interaction is one of the only legal and licensed Canadian gambling sites which offers sports, poker, casinos, and slots. Sports Interaction is licensed and regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, and operated by Mohawk Online Limited.
Bodog - Bodog is one of the most popular Canadian gambling companies, providing a top-tier gambling product since 1994. Canadians can gamble on sports, poker, or casino games and tables on Bodog. But, Bodog is also an offshore gambling site with the company registered and licensed in the Caribbean Nation of Antigua.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is a regulatory body in Canada that is in charge of both land-based (in Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake) and online gambling sites. It has been continuously licensing and regulating a wide range of online casinos and sports betting sites since 1999.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has the power to license and regulate gaming and gaming-related activities that are conducted within and from the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake.
At present, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has 100's of operators with licences including the companies behind Sports Interaction, Spin Sports, & Spin Casino to name a few.
International online casinos aren’t required to have a license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. However, this license guarantees credibility and signifies a trustworthy site for Canadians.
In addition to interactive gaming, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission also regulates land-based casinos. This includes the regulation of:
Each province and territory has its own regulations governing online gambling. Here is a breakdown of the current gaming laws in each region.
Technically, PlayNow.com is the only legal online gambling site in British Columbia (BC). However, there is nothing stated in the law that makes offshore casinos illegal. Therefore, residents of BC can:
The online casino must not have any physical presence in Canada. This was highlighted in BC in 2001. BC Courts found an online gaming provider guilty of offering illegal services.
Although the company was licensed in Antigua, they had an office in Vancouver, BC. This physical presence within the province made their online gambling illegal.
To avoid breaking any Canadian laws, offshore casinos should also adhere to BC’s gambling regulations. This includes age restrictions. In British Columbia, all players must be 19 years or older.
Although BCLC offers some gambling online, players will find a much larger selection of games on international sites. These casinos offer tons of choice when it comes to game types, including live dealer games, jackpots, slots, table games, and more.
The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) regulates all gambling in Alberta. The AGLC operates an online gambling site called Play Alberta.
When playing at international online casinos, players can collect awesome welcome bonuses and join exclusive loyalty programs. This is why many people in Alberta choose to play on international platforms.
Gambling on this government-regulated site is 100% legal. As well, Alberta is a member of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). Therefore, any online games offered by this corporation are also legal.
Albertans can play online at the following casinos:
The Western Canada Lottery Corporation is an organization that is authorized to control gambling-related activities on behalf of its member. Members include:
In Alberta, there is no law regulating international gambling sites. Therefore, gambling on these sites is not illegal.
To legally gamble on a website that is not run by the AGLC of WCLC, the site should:
In Alberta, players must be 18 years or older.
Saskatchewan also has a government-operated online gaming site. Sask Lotteries is considered the only legal form of online gambling in the province.
Saskatchewan is also a member of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). As such, games administered by the WCLC are also legal. Unfortunately, to date, only sports betting games are offered by the WCLC. These games are provided on the Sport Select website.
However, Saskatchewan cannot legally regulate online gambling sites located overseas. Therefore, it is not technically illegal for residents to engage in other forms of online gambling. No laws are being broken as long as the website meets the following criteria:
In Saskatchewan, players must be 19 years or older to play.
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While people in Montréal can gamble on Government of Québec sites, international online casinos provide better options in many cases.
These offshore sites also provide generous welcome bonuses and impressive customer service. Plus, you can choose from numerous Canadian-friendly payment options.
Manitobans who enjoy gambling can find many great land-based and online casinos to play at.
Whether you love table games or prefer slots, if you live in Manitoba, you’ll find just what you’re looking for.
The Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation is in charge of overseeing all gambling in the province.
Manitobans can play online at:
All other online gambling is considered illegal.
Players must be 18 years or older to gamble in Manitoba.
Although online gambling falls within a grey area of the law, it is not illegal in Ontario. In fact, Ontario has its own government-run online casino - PlayOLG.ca. You can also place sports bets in Ontario at a number of domestic and international sports betting sites.
The site was announced by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) in January 2015. Here, Ontario residents can legally play online games.
The grey area of the law means that players in Ontario can also play on international online casinos. No online gambling laws are broken as long as players play:
In Ontario, you’ll get the best bang for your buck at offshore online casinos. Why? International online casinos have less overhead and more players, allowing them to give away larger jackpots. Take advantage of the abundance of online casinos available.
In Ontario, a player must be 19 years or older to gamble at either land-based or online casinos.
Loto-Québec runs the only provincially regulated online gambling platform in Québec. These websites (Espacejeux and Mise-O-Jeu) are considered the only legal form of online gambling in the province. However, offshore sites are not regulated.
In response to increased gaming on online casinos outside of Canada, the province attempted to blacklist offshore platforms. However, in July 2018, the Supreme Court found this legislation to be unconstitutional.
Therefore, players in Québec are now free to use any online gaming platform as long as it is:
Online casinos can provide a great source of entertainment. Legal offshore online casinos in Québec offer games from a variety of different software providers. This means you’ll have endless games and awesome graphics!
Players from Québec also have a wide range of choices when it comes to sports betting with both domestic and offshore sportsbooks available.
Players in Québec must be 18 years or older.
If you live in or visit New Brunswick and want to check out some online gaming, you’ll find several great sites.
People in New Brunswick can play at the following online casinos:
For convenient and fast payment casinos, consider playing at sites outside of Canada.
There is no provincially operated online casino in New Brunswick. However, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) offers government-regulated sports betting via their online website Proline-Stadium.
The Atlantic Lottery Corporation oversees gambling in the four Atlantic provinces of Canada including:
To date, there are no laws in New Brunswick that regulate online gambling offered by sites overseas. Therefore, residents can legally gamble on online casinos, as long as they are located outside of Canada.
To gamble safely online in New Brunswick, players should ensure that the online casino they are using is:
To gamble in the province of New Brunswick, players must be 19 or older.
The government of Nova Scotia does not regulate international gambling. The same is true for the Canadian government in general. Therefore, gambling on international sites is not illegal.
Nova Scotians are free to gamble online using:
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Players must be 19 or older to gamble in Nova Scotia.
Along with the other four Atlantic provinces, gambling in Prince Edward Island (PEI) is governed by the ALC. Residents can legally gamble using any site run by this government organization.
PEI residents can also play on international online casinos. As long as the online platform adheres to the following regulations, residents of this province are free to participate.
To gamble in PEI, players must be 19 or older.
Interestingly, Newfoundland and Labrador do not have any physical government-operated casinos. While lottery tickets, scratch tickets and sports betting are legal, physical casinos are not. Casinos can be found on First Nations land, however, as this restriction does not apply.
As an Atlantic Province, the ALC regulates gaming in Newfoundland and Labrador. Therefore, online gambling provided by the ALC is legal.
That being said, international online casinos are not illegal. Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador can freely join and gamble on any overseas casino.
Those in Newfoundland and Labrador can play at these online gaming sites:
Online casinos operated outside of Canada are plentiful and totally legal! This option offers the most variety. These online casinos also include frequent bonuses and many payment options that suit the needs of Canadians.
Players in Newfoundland and Labrador must be 19 to gamble.
The Nunavut Lottery Act and Regulations is the governing legislation for gambling in Nunavut. Like Newfoundland and Labrador, no physical casinos exist in Nunavut.
But this does not mean that gambling is illegal. In fact, there are several lottery games hosted by the NW Territories and Nunavut Lotteries Commission. As well, charitable organizations can be approved to host gambling activities like Bingo.
When it comes to online gambling, Nunavut does not have its own government-run website. However, the territory is a member of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. Therefore, residents can legally gamble online using any site operated by the WCLC.
Residents of Nunavut can also gamble online using overseas sites. Local and federal governments in Canada cannot legislate international online casinos, therefore they are not illegal.
Within Nunavut, you can legally use the following online gaming platforms:
International casinos that are legal in Nunavut offer 1,000+ games and generous RTPs.
To gamble in Nunavut, players must be 19 or older.
There are no physical casinos in the Northwest Territories. As well, the territory does not offer any online gambling site run by their government. However, as a member of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation, residents can legally gamble online using the websites managed by the WCLC.
Luckily, there are plenty of great sites to choose from!
When gambling online from within the Northwest Territories, players can play at:
Choosing to play at internationally run online casinos is an excellent choice. At these casinos, you can make deposits as low as $1. This means you can start playing right away - without breaking the bank.
Gambling in the Northwest Territories requires players to be 19 or older.
While the Yukon government does not provide any online gambling services, the territory is a member of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. Therefore, residents can gamble online legally using any services provided by the corporation.
There are no laws in the Yukon that prohibit residents from gambling online using international sites. It is not illegal to play on these sites, given that they:
To gamble in the Yukon, players must be 19 or older.
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Our team recommends the best sportsbooks and casinos available. On these highly rated online gambling sites, you’ll get all the perks, including: