Is online gambling legal in Canada? – Complete guide to Canadian gambling laws

Many people all around the world see gambling as one of the most entertaining activities. In the past years, many countries have regulated the market and made gambling available to their residents. People in Canada are no different, and they enjoy casino games, sports betting, and other forms of gambling regulated by the law. Canada is well-known for a high concentration of gamblers, and if you intend to try out your luck in some games, you should learn more about the Canadian gambling laws. We bring you all details at your fingertips, so dip into this article and find everything about online gambling in Canada you ever wanted to know.

How are Canada’s gambling laws regulated?

In the early 1970s, the Canadian government decided to decentralize the gambling legislation by changing the Criminal Code. Rather than doing it on the state level, the regulation of gambling markets is conducted by each province, with a couple of exceptions. In other words, each province established its governing body that deals with gambling legislation. This operating model is still in place, and individual provinces still enact laws that are related to online gaming, sports betting, and other gambling activities. However, the Canadian Gaming Commission is the regulatory body that oversees the entire industry at the country level. It ensures that the gambling sector is appropriately understood and communicates with the government, media, and the public.

Gambling activities generate substantial revenue for governments. Besides that, some games, such as lotteries, generate income for other groups like religious ones or charities. Provincial laws that are currently in place regulate the revenue and allow online gambling to contribute to the entire industry.

Online gambling laws in Canada

Although there are no particular laws that are explicitly related to online gambling, there were several discussions in the past decade. Of course, online gambling is a relatively new market that is developed thanks to technological improvements lately. What should be clearly stated is that players are not in any legal risk when playing online casino games, no matter if they are playing them as a part-time job or just for having fun. Another important fact is that the winnings from online gambling activities are not taxable, as long as they are not considered as full-time employment. In other words, if you are playing online casino games for entertainment purposes, you won’t be required to pay any taxes upon your winnings.

On the other hand, operating an online casino based in Canada, but without a license, is considered an illegal activity. Generally, it is always recommended to register at a trusted online casino and avoid those who are not licensed by a reputable authority. Laws do not prohibit gambling at offshore online casinos, and most of them admit Canadian players. If you want to try out your luck at some of them, you can check here the list of best online gambling sites in Canada.

The popularity of online casinos in Canada remained intact even during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the market still thrives all the challenges. Since gambling websites are allowed to advertise via the mainstream media, players keep registering for their online accounts, especially after the lockdown. If we take a look at the USA, the online gambling laws are much more strict, and they are clearly defined as well. Since 2011, the legislators took a hard stance, particularly on online poker. That is not the case in Canada, many professional US poker players moved north, and therefore, the leading online poker sites continued to operate without major problems. Unlike the US, Canada continues to be a “grey” market for online casinos, and people still can enjoy playing their favorite casino games online.

Sports betting laws in Canada

The laws around sports betting are not straightforward in Canada. Federal law explicitly prohibits placing single bets on sporting events, and therefore this way of sports betting is not allowed across the entire country. However, in many provinces, bettors can bet on parlays that are available at lottery dealers. Nevertheless, the odds are much lower in comparison to wagering the single games, and the Canadians cannot win as much money as they would get by betting on a single event.

On the other hand, Canadian online betting laws are not explicit, and they remain in the pretty same zone like the ones related to online casinos. Therefore, Canadians tend to place their wagers at different online sportsbooks that accept players from Canada. Placing real-money bets is not illegal, and offshore online sportsbooks take advantage of a lack of legislation around this area to dip into this lucrative market. Hockey and basketball are the most popular sports among the Canadian bettors, and the activities are much more frequent when the hockey season takes place.

Fantasy sports are another emerging gambling market that also falls into the category of the unregulated ones in Canada. Thousands of people like to play fantasy leagues that involve their favorite sports, and daily fantasy sports improved this market significantly. Canadians can have access to numerous fantasy websites and play their favorite games whenever they like.

Lottery and Bingo laws in Canada

Although casino games and sports betting are the most popular forms of gambling in Canada, there is a significant number of players that prefer lotteries and bingo games. Lotteries are regulated on the province level as well, and in each one, you can find local games. However, thanks to specific exceptions, provincial governments launched a nationwide lottery with eight-figure mark prizes. Canadian gambling laws that relate to lottery regulations include the possibility of buying tickets online by using a mobile device or a computer. Players have the opportunity to sign up for an online account and subscribe to many draws in advance without having to go to a retail store to buy a ticket.

The number of bingo games is in decline, mostly because a lot of bingo halls have been closed. Like the lottery, these games are also regulated on a provincial level. However, an online bingo turned out to be a perfect replacement for the shuttered one, and the operators offer different games starting every couple of minutes. Some of them also include video poker or slot games to enrich their offer.

What can we expect in the future?

The prospect of full legislation of online gambling is shady, as Bill C-218 is still on hold. There were several discussions and initiatives, but the Covid-19 pandemic moved the focus of the state government to more urgent areas. On the one hand, it is hard to expect that the law will be tightened and the Canadians won’t be allowed to gamble online. Oppositely, a regulated online gambling market might have a negative impact on the provincial gaming authorities, since it would enable superior offshore gambling sites to take over the market. Still, without clearly defined laws around online gambling, Canada misses the opportunity of taking significant tax revenues, while the legislation would open more space for employing people in this sector. It seems that the status quo will remain, and the government will address these questions in some more relaxed times than it is the case at the moment. In any case, keep in mind to gamble responsibly!