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Gambling Laws and Regulations in Canada

Playing online casino games for real money is a very popular pursuit in Canada and gambling at locally operated, licensed establishments is perfectly legal. The laws surrounding the legality of playing with casino operators based offshore are somewhat unclear, but no one has ever been prosecuted for doing so and it is not deemed unlawful in any way.

An Overview of Canadian Gambling Law

Canada’s gambling regulations have always been relatively strict and land based activities are very closely regulated. Each Province has its own laws and there are several brick and mortar casinos that are government approved.

When it comes to online and mobile casinos, the laws are a little more complex. Certain Canadian Provinces operate their own online gaming establishments and government-approved betting outlets allow you to wager and buy lotto tickets in the virtual environment.  For operators, the law states that they may not provide any type of online gambling services to citizens unless they are government approved and licensed, but there’s rather a grey area when it comes to casinos that are based overseas, but allow for Canadians to gamble with them. As online gambling is legal in Canada, players are not breaking any laws by visiting international sites and as the casinos are not based locally, the local laws do not apply.

Canadian Gambling Laws for Players

For Canadian online casino enthusiasts there’s no law that says that gambling is illegal, but there is also not a law that deems it legal either. An old law that states it was illegal to visit a “common betting house” could arguably be applied to online casinos, yet no player has ever been in any sort of legal trouble for gambling on the web.

The only drawback Canadian players may face is that if they chose to visit an online casino that is outside the state and government approved options there are no local regulations enforced. This is not an issue if you choose reputable online casinos licensed in other jurisdictions, so the onus is on the player to opt for a site that’s trustworthy and respected.

Changes to Canadian Gambling Law

There have been several reports that the Canadian government is debating the introduction of changes to the online gambling legislation but at present there have been no concrete plans put in place and the situation remains unchanged.

As of January 2017 all forms of gambling have been deemed legal. With the exception of three provinces, players must be 19 years or older to play. Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec are the only three provinces in Canada that allow players to be 18 years old. The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory outside of Montreal is known for its administering of online gambling licenses as far back as 1999 and plays host to a number of the world’s top web-based casinos. Kahnawake is one of a few territories that are allowed to issue gaming licenses to overseas operators. In doing so, the operator in question can then provide its services to various territories around the world.  Gaming commissions like Kahnawake will then make sure that the casino adheres to certain regulations and can also be approached by players who feel that the casino might have treated them unfairly.

Other Gambling Commission

The following territories are situated around the world and are known for their ability to offer licenses of regulation. It does however need to be known that not all these territories are equal and some are quite relaxed in their approach to regulating the casinos that they have licensed.

  • Malta
  • Curaçao and Netherlands Antilles
  • Costa Roca
  • Gibraltar
  • United Kingdom
  • Antigua and Barbuda

In a nutshell, and with the exception of Costa Rica, the abovementioned licensing territories are known for their good practices when it comes to regulation. Malta, Gibraltar and the UK are much respected and Malta is in fact the most important of the lot.