Insights on Gambling Laws and Regulation in Canada

The gambling industry in Canada is an example of smash cooperation between the authorities and casino organizers. Thanks to gambling establishments, provincial budgets receive a good income annually. Gamblers can play safely without fear of prohibitions. As a result, Canada has a very low number of people with gambling addiction.

Today almost 20 million Canadians play gambling games. Thanks to this, the country took 8th place in the world ranking for online gambling.

Canadian Online Gambling

About the Legality of Gambling in Canada

Casinos in Canada have been legalized since 1999. Gambling is now legal throughout the country, but online gambling laws are determined locally in each province.

To operate legally, a Canadian casino must apply for a license from the local government. Now online casinos are available in every province except for Saskatchewan. However, by law, a license for such a gambling format is allowed to be issued only in British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Therefore, without proper documents, online casino sites can operate only locally.

Unlicensed offshore casinos fall into the legal gray zone and can operate more or less freely in the country. According to Canadian criminal law, only regular casinos can be punished. In simple terms, if you do not physically operate a casino in Canada, you can be fined for not having a license. Officially, an online casino should not target a Canadian audience, but there is no law prohibiting residents of this country from playing on offshore sites.

Gambling Laws in Canada

As we have already said, casinos in Canada are legal since 1999. At the same time, the government passed legislation and launched the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, as well as corresponding provincial commissions.

The gambling industry in Canada is controlled by articles 204, 206 and 207 of the Criminal Code. These are the key provisions based on which more detailed bills are created locally.

  1. Article 204 defines the rules for horse racing regulation and betting on them.
  2. Articles 206 sets the list of gambling activities that are prohibited.
  3. Article 207 determines the list of permitted gambling activities. Each province can create its own lotteries and administer gambling thanks to this provision.

Regulation of the gambling sphere depends on the provinces. There are 13 territories in the country, and each has its own characteristics of legislation and gambling sphere.

Peculiarities of the Gambling Laws in the Provinces

Since the legislation of the provinces is different, the gambling industry in each part of the country has its own characteristics. In some provinces, you can play from 18. In others – from 19. In some territories, only lotteries are allowed. In some – all types of casino games, horse races and bets.

Below is a brief specification of the gambling industry peculiarities in each Canada’s province.

Alberta – one can play from the age of 18 years. Residents can gamble in casinos, take part in lotteries and bet on sports events.

British Columbia – betting on horse races, bingo and lotteries, casinos and slot machines are available from the age of 19 years. In addition, there is a legal resource – British Columbia Lottery Corporation.

Labrador – casino games are allowed to those who are 19 years old already. Horse racing, offline and online lotteries are considered to be legal. But only state lotteries approved by the local authorities are allowed.

Manitoba – the age limit in this province is 18 years. The local regulators permit casinos, lotteries and sweepstakes at the races.

Newfoundland – here one can play from the age of 19, betting on horse races. Residents can also play offline lotteries (only provincial).

Northwest Territories – gamblers can play online games and state lotteries from the age of 19 years.

Nova Scotia – here casinos, offline state lotteries and bookmakers are operating. The age limit is 19 years.

Ontario – gambling entertainments are available from 19 years old. There are casinos, bookmakers, and lotteries on the territory. Provincial internet lottery allowed. In addition, on April 4, 2022, the iGaming market was officially launched.

Prince Edward Island – one can play from 19 years old. An interesting feature is a racino, a hybrid of a casino and a totalizer for bets. Private lotteries and online government lotteries are allowed.

Quebec – only persons under the age of 18 years can gamble. There are several online/offline lotteries, casinos and sweepstakes at the races and poker rooms in the province.

Saskatchewan – games are allowed for players not younger than 19 years old. Provincial online lotteries, as well as offline lotteries, casinos, betting platforms and racinos, are legal.

Yukon – gambling activities are available from the age of 19 years. State and private lotteries are available to enjoy, as well as non-profit operators.

About Taxation of Winnings

Canadian authorities do not collect taxes on winnings unless they are designated as a form of income. Earnings from casino winnings under Canadian law vary in two ways:

  • the player has special skills;
  • payments occur with a certain regularity.

That is, taxes can be collected from players who are professionals in poker. Those who gamble for their own pleasure should not pay taxes.

How to Avoid Illegal Operators

The only way to avoid illegal casino sites is to know the laws and play exclusively on reputable platforms regulated by local authorities.

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