The Canadian gambling industry has been experiencing steady expansion over the years, with an increasing number of individuals engaging in betting activities and achieving unprecedented profit margins in different provinces. However, understanding the regulations that govern betting locations and times can be challenging due to the variability of gambling laws between different provinces and territories.
Despite this, online gambling in Canada is legal, but it requires players to either use an offshore online casino or a lottery corporation-supplied gambling app. This article aims to provide comprehensive guidance on Canadian gambling laws and assist users in selecting the best online gambling platforms.
Canadian Gambling Laws
Before 1969, the only forms of gambling permitted in Canada were charity lotteries and horse races that took place at fairs. However, after that year, the government of Canada brought about changes in the Criminal Code, which permitted the ten provinces and the federal government to hold their own lotteries.
In 1985, the federal government further relinquished its authority over other forms of gambling, including sports betting and casino regulation, and assigned the tasks mentioned above to be regulated by the provincial governments.
Regardless of these changes, the Criminal Code continued restricting individuals from engaging in certain gambling activities.
The Canadian Criminal Code
- Per Section 207, provincial authorities can exclusively operate or collaborate with other governments to manage lotteries. Religious or charitable organizations may also hold lotteries as long as the Lieutenant Governor authorizes them.
- As per Section 205, it is against the law to participate in lotteries or any activity involving chance.
- According to Section 203, it is against the law to make bets on behalf of another person.
- Section 202 pertains to unlawful activities associated with wagering, game pools, and arranging bets.
- Under Section 201, engaging in any form of activity within a gambling establishment or taking part in the management or operation of such establishment is considered unlawful.
Legal Gambling Age in Canada
In terms of the law, the average gambling age in Canada is set at 19, although each province has the authority to establish its own gambling regulations. For instance, the legal gambling age in several provinces, including Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, is 19.
On the other hand, the legal gambling age is 18 in Québec, Alberta, and Manitoba. Therefore, one’s place of residence significantly impacts the minimum age requirement when it comes to participating in gambling activities.
It’s also important to note that these regulations apply to online gambling. Due to this, Canadian online casinos and sports betting websites must follow the same age verification protocols as traditional casinos to ensure that bettors meet the minimum age requirement before placing bets.
Provincial Gambling Authorities in Canada
- Prince Edward Island– Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission
- Newfoundland– Service NL
- Québec– Loto Québec
- Nova Scotia– Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco Division Service of Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick– New Brunswick Gaming Control
- Saskatchewan– Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority
- Manitoba– Liquor and Gaming Commission of Manitoba
- British Columbia– BCLC
- Alberta– Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission
- Ontario– Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
Provincial Gambling Laws in Canada
The West coast of British Columbia is renowned for its numerous gambling activities, boasting 15 brick-and-mortar casinos. According to regulations, PlayNow represents the sole authorized platform for betting on sports and casino games in the region. However, local law does not restrict players from enrolling on offshore betting sites. It is important to note that individuals who choose to bet on British Columbia sports via these sites must place parlay bets.
In the province of New Brunswick, only a single land-based casino exists, thus indicating the legality of casino betting within the region. However, it must be noted that there is no officially government-operated online casino within the province.
Nevertheless, individuals who want to participate in online casino games can do so at offshore betting sites without issues. Furthermore, the sole regulated sports gambling site available is ALC’s Pro-Line.
Newfoundland and Labrador
This particular province prohibits the operation of conventional casinos on land and has no regulated online casinos. Yet, it should be noted that the residents within Newfoundland & Labrador are not bound by any laws prohibiting their access to international online gambling platforms.
Additionally, individuals interested in sports betting can utilize Atlantic Lottery’s Pro-Line service. Still, they will likely find a higher daily wager limit at most foreign-based gambling sites.
Prince Edward Island
In Prince Edward Island, land-based casinos are permitted by law. However, there are no specialized casinos currently running in the province. As for online casinos, they are unregulated. For those interested in sports betting, the Pro-Line betting service caters to Atlantic provinces. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation takes charge of a provincial lottery for the locals.
Quebec has one of the most liberal gaming laws in Canada, enabling enthusiastic gamblers to indulge in several offshore casinos, along with the government-operated Espacejeux. Mise-O-Jeu is this province’s only regulated betting site, and players must place parlay bets. Furthermore, the province features nine physical casinos, allowing anyone above eighteen years to experience the thrill of gambling at these locations.
One of the two government-run casinos in Nova Scotia allows gambling under the law. Furthermore, online casino players are free to play on any overseas-based online casino site. Similarly, online sports gamblers are allowed to place bets on Pro-Line’s website, with only parlay bets being permitted. Furthermore, the province has legalized video and ticket lotteries and other charitable games such as bingo.
Playing at any of Ontario’s physical casinos is legal, many containing slot machines for patron enjoyment. The legal regulations that preside over online casinos are comparatively lenient, allowing local citizens to engage in online gambling activities at international casino sites.
PlayOLG is the sole online casino within Ontario that adheres to statutory guidelines. The Pro-Line betting service presents an alternative for people looking for sports betting opportunities. Furthermore, residents can take part in the province’s lottery draw.
In the province of Saskatchewan, online casinos are not allowed to be operated or located within its borders. However, residents are allowed to access and use offshore or out-of-province casinos. Conversely, establishing and operating land-based casinos is legally allowed in Saskatchewan. As for sports betting, it is legal, but only if it is carried out through the Sports Select betting service. Additionally, every bet, excluding horse racing, must be a parlay bet.
Gambling is a widespread activity in this region as its inhabitants face no limitations when it comes to placing bets at online casinos. With 25 brick-and-mortar casinos in Alberta, individuals over 18 can play casino games at any of these establishments. While Alberta’s sports betting scene is also in high demand, players can only place parlay wagers and must adhere to a daily betting cap of C$250.
The regulation of all gambling activities in Manitoba comes under the jurisdiction of the Liquor & Gaming Authority of Manitoba. Although there is only one authorized online casino, namely PlayNow Manitoba, residents are not prohibited by any law from engaging in gambling activities in international casinos. Manitoba sports betting enthusiasts can place bets via the Sport Select website, with a daily betting limit of up to C$250.
Best Online Sportsbooks in Canada
Here are some of the best sportsbooks available to bettors in Canada:
888Sport is a diverse platform that primarily focuses on sports betting but also encompasses features such as poker and casino. As a way to attract new players, the website offers free bets and other promotional activities. It boasts various sports, markets, and leagues to cater to diverse interests. With an efficiently operating downloadable mobile app, betting is made easy for players. Also, individuals residing in Canada can benefit from its reliable sports gambling service.
BetVictor is recognized as one of the most prominent bookmakers with an outstanding mobile and web sporting betting product that provides many free betting opportunities and highly competitive betting odds. The platform features a robust live streaming and in-play service, supported by various payment options, and ensures that withdrawals made through Skrill and Neteller are immediate.
Tony Bet has gained popularity among Canadian bettors thanks to its extensive range of betting markets offering highly competitive odds. Newly registered players are usually granted a welcome package alongside access to the downloadable mobile application. Their website also offers a broad selection of banking options and provides exceptional customer service.
For the past twenty years, William Hill has been one of the most prominent platforms for online betting. Their website offers a variety of sports and markets for Canadian bettors, coupled with a generous welcome package for new users. The William Plus Card is a distinctive feature, allowing customers to connect bets placed on their online account with those made at the William betting shop.
LeoVegas provides an extensive range of over 30 sports betting markets, including a live betting platform. Additionally, it offers pre-match boosts for football markets, profit boosts, and complimentary bets. The payment process is swift and cost-free for registered players, facilitated by debit/credit cards and prepaid cards. A downloadable mobile application is also available, and the odds offered are competitive.
Best Online Casinos in Canada
Here are some of the best online casinos for Canadian residents:
Dream Vegas boasts an impressive collection of over 1000 table games and slots sourced from over 80 reliable software providers. The platform offers VIP members from other online casinos exclusive rewards and is compatible with various payment options, ensuring free deposits and transactions. Additionally, players can expect an attractive return-to-player percentage (RTP) ranging from 96% to 99.8%.
This platform provides its users access to over 400 different types of games, spanning popular selections such as table games, live dealer games, and slot machines. New Canadian players are eligible for benefits such as welcome bonuses, including free spins.
The site functions smoothly, whether accessed via desktop or smartphone, with various payment methods accepted and instant e-wallet withdrawals enabled. Users can also participate in the VIP program that the platform provides, and the average return-to-player (RTP) percentage is calculated at 95%.
Energy Casino offers various games, attractive promotions, and bonuses catering to all players. The platform boasts numerous live dealer games and an extensive selection of slot games. It has a user-friendly interface and a mobile application, although it is only accessible for sports betting. Energy Casino supports multiple payment methods, and its return to player (RTP) range falls between 99% and 95%.
PartyCasino, founded in 1997, is a reputable online casino that provides access to over 600 games, including live dealer options. Both new and current members can take advantage of deposit bonuses and free spins. Additionally, players can access nearly 30 payment methods to fund their accounts, and withdrawals are processed without issue.
BetVictor has a polished and modern website interface, boasting an extensive collection of table games and slots provided by multiple software developers. A desirable welcome bonus awaits newly registered players, and frequent customers can likewise take advantage of various bonuses and promotions. Customers can conveniently access round-the-clock assistance from the customer support team. Furthermore, the platform supports multiple payment options, including Visa and PayPal.
The online casino, Royal Panda, provides over 3000 games and boasts an exceptional win rate of 98.5%. It offers convenient payment options and a low bonus play-through requirement while ensuring payouts within one to three days. Additionally, the website features a sophisticated, user-friendly design suitable for players of all experience levels. Furthermore, users can download a mobile application for added convenience.
Within the Canadian legal system, no set regulations specifically pertaining to offshore gaming entities exist. As a result, many of these websites willingly welcome Canadian players without interference. It can be said that Canada is a ‘grey’ market when it comes to the legality surrounding online gaming, as it is not officially sanctioned nor criminalized.
Conversely, the United States can be recognized as a ‘black’ market. However, with the help of our guide, you can easily understand how betting and gambling work in Canada and whether it’s legal or not as compared to the USA.
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