Online Gambling Laws in Canada

 

Online Gambling Canada

Online Gambling Laws in Canada

Online gambling legality in Canada is quite vague, which leave many people confused as to whether or not they are participating in a legal activity. In many ways, Canadian gambling laws are similar to that of the United States. This holds to true to the fact that the gambling business is largely outlawed. However, individual gamblers will not get convicted of online gambling. If you are interested in betting online in Canada, then let us take a look at Canada’s online gambling laws.

History of Gambling in Canada

Online gambling is in a bit of a gray area when it comes to its legality in Canada. The country has historically been anti-gambling until 1970, at which time the government changed the Criminal Code to allow for certain gambling activities. In 1985, territories and provinces were given the right to decide for themselves whether they would prohibit gambling within their walls. Because of this, some areas of Canada began to construct casinos and hold lotteries.

Whether this legality expands to the online platform for gambling is a question that is up for debate. However, technically speaking, the same laws allowing territorial and provincial rights remain applicable to online gambling. In fact, several provinces have taken it into their own hands to begin to run their own online casino website.

The Criminal Code

Canada’s Criminal Code is an official guidebook of procedures and acts. Currently, no language specifically makes gambling illegal within this code. Many people find that the wording of the code under ‘Gaming and Betting’ is complicated and extensive. However, there is a fundamental premise in which online casinos are allowed to operate legally. That being said, the wording of the Criminal Code does prohibit Canadians from playing on overseas gambling websites. Still, a conviction is highly unlikely, as there is no procedure for charging those who choose not to follow the law.

Internet gambling is not explicitly mentioned in the Criminal Code, however, each province can choose to legalize whatever types of gambling they want to. There is also language in the Code that states that some types of gambling can be “operated through a computer.” Though, most agree this is meant for lotteries, some experts interpret this as letting each territory and province determine whether or not to legalize Internet gambling within its borders.

Another interesting section of the Criminal Code states that only provinces and the Canadian government are allowed to operate any type of gambling establishment whatsoever. However, it seems that this part of the Code is not adhered to as the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation operate outside of its boundaries and have not been bothered by the government for doing so.

Canadian vs. US Gambling Laws

One notable difference between Canada and the United States is that the US does not allow states the authority to operate their own online betting websites. In fact, the US Federal government made financial transactions that involved online betting service providers illegal through the Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. On the other hand, in Canada, territories and provinces have the ability to license online casinos if they wish.

Sports Betting in Canada

Currently, betting on sporting events is prohibited under US federal law. However, in Canada, parlay bets of three or more games are allowed. Conversely, betting on single matches is deemed illegal in Canada. Nonetheless, there is currently an effort being made to remove this restriction on single-match betting from Canada’s Criminal Code.

Taxes on Online Gambling Winnings

Canadian tax laws do not require gambling winnings to be taxed unless they are considered someone’s form of full-time salary, which is determined by payout, frequency of play, and skill level. This means that if you are a professional poker player within Canada, taxes do apply. Otherwise, your gambling winnings are tax-free.

Kahnawake Gaming Commission

This Kahnawake Gaming Commission operates out of The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, which is a native reservation that plays a significant role in the online gambling industry within Canada. Although the KMT is located within Canada, it has its own licensing jurisdiction for sportsbooks, poker rooms, and online casinos. They also manage the servers from over 70 legally operated gambling websites, most of which are smaller organizations. There has been some questioning by Canadian politicians as to whether the Kahnawake business is actually legal. However, there has never been a serious challenge to the commission.

Government Run Online Gambling Websites

Several territories and provinces run legal government-operated sports gambling websites that are open to Canadian citizens. Many other provincial governments are pushing to get in on the profits offered through Internet gambling, as it is a fast and easy way for them to raise government funds instead of raising taxes. Many politicians argue that Canadians are pouring money into overseas gambling websites anyway.

The government-run sports betting sites in Canada are called Sports Select. They are notably restrictive and are known to have high betting lines. Additionally, you are currently not allowed to wager on a single sports game. Instead, each bet you place must be a parlay that includes at least two other matchups.

Online Poker Laws in Canada

Since the 1960s, Canada’s Criminal Code has gone through various modification to relax its former close grip on all types of betting. Most Canadian provinces let their residents use online poker websites and gamble with real money. Adversely, there are some Canadian provinces like Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland that use much stricter regulations when it comes to online gambling. However, even these stricter provinces place restrictions on online gambling for casino type games, but not specifically for online poker. Those Canadians that do want to play poker can breathe easy knowing that gambling with real money on poker sites is legal in most areas. What is actually prohibited is for Canadians to operate their own Internet poker room.

Legality of Fantasy Sports in Canada

Currently, there are no legislation or laws that prohibit Canadians from playing on Daily Fantasy Sports websites. The United States actually has clearer laws when it comes to daily fantasy sports than Canada does. In the United States, fantasy sports were specifically exempted from the UIGEA in 2006, as it was classified as a game of skill and not based on chance. However, in Canada there are no legislation or laws that ban DFS or that says that it is legal or exempted from other gambling laws.

The two Titan DFS websites, DraftKings and FanDuel, allow Canadian residents to play on their sites. Quebec residents previously were not permitted to play because of provincial laws, but both DFS companies were able to open up their services to that province as well. Thousands of Canadian players try their hand at the fast-paced world of DFS on these sites every day.

Until specific legislation is created in Canada, whether or not DFS will remain legal in Canada is unclear. Nonetheless, at this point, there is nothing that indicates that Canadians should not play.

Online Gambling, Province by Province

Because the Canadian federal government has given every territory and province their own jurisdiction over legal gambling within their region, it’s best to look at each province individually. For the legally operated online gambling websites run by provincial governments, it is a requirement that residents make their online gambling deposits, as well be present within the province's borders. Here is what's available in each province:

Alberta
• Alberta allows horse track gambling, casinos, and lotteries

British Colombia

• British Colombia allows government-sanctioned online gambling including the British Columbia Lottery, online casino websites for bingo, sports wagers, poker, blackjack, craps, and slots.
• Legal land-based gambling includes horse tracks, casinos, racinos, and the lottery.

Newfoundland

• Lottery is the only legal form of online gambling
• Land based gambling include horse race betting and the lottery

Manitoba

• Manitoba allows government-sanctioned online gambling. These include the lottery, online casino websites for bingo, sports wagers, poker, blackjack, craps, and slots.

New Brunswick
• Lottery is the only form of legal online gambling
• Legal land-based gambling includes the lottery and horse racing

NW Territories
• Only legal form of online and land-based gambling is the state-run lottery

Nova Scotia
• The only legal form of online gambling in Nova Scotia is the state-run lottery
• Legal land-based gambling includes the lottery, horse racing, and casinos.

Ontario
• The only legal form of online gambling in Ontario is the state-run lottery
• Legal land-based gambling includes the lottery, horse racing, and racinos.

Prince Edward Island
• The only legal form of online gambling in Prince Edward Island is the state-run lottery
• Legal land-based gambling includes the lottery, horse racing, and racinos.

Quebec
• Quebec allows government-sanctioned online poker through Loto Quebec, which works with Atlantic Lottery Corp, and BCLC.
• Legal land-based gambling includes the lottery, horse racing, and racinos.

Saskatchewan
• The only legal form of online gambling in Saskatchewan is the state-run lottery
• Legal land-based gambling includes the lottery, horse racing, casinos, and racinos.

Yukon
• The only legal form of online gambling in Yukon is the state-run lottery
• Legal land-based gambling includes casinos and the lottery

Conclusion

There are no explicit laws that ban Canadian players from gambling online. The only laws that really do apply to Canadian players are the ones that apply everywhere, such as fraudulent use of credit cards, underage gambling, and identity theft. Although this makes Canadian gambling laws quite vague and confusing, it is still best to avoid playing on overseas websites as there is no regulation or guarantee that you will be treated fairly. Stick to legal and safe forms of online gambling, have fun and make sure to play with moderation!

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