Legal Online Casino Canada – Where To Play and Why
One question that seems to come up time and again from new players is, “Are Online Casinos Legal?” Well, the answer depends on where you are in the world. But, for most countries, yes, they are.
Whether or not a particular online casino is legal depends mostly on its individual operations, licensing and general compliance with both industry standards and the regional regulations of the geographical location in which it operates.
In the USA, for example, online casinos are mostly illegal, although some states have started to allow some form or another of gambling. Many cynics would argue that the reason for the shutdown was to stamp out the competition and then run the show – taking a lot of the money – when regulation began.
In Great Britain there is a different approach, whereby online casinos are allowed to operate within the country so long as they operate within the law, pay taxes and are fully regulated.
Gambling in Canada is something of a grey area when it comes to the legality and that’s no surprise really, considering the different opinions around the world when it comes to legal gambling.
It’s not difficult to find some reputable legal online casinos in Canada but it’s helpful to know what you’re looking for.
Check out our reviews for the best legal online places to play right now, learn more about what we look for in an online casino Canada legal operator, and the history and current state of play of Canadian gambling laws.
Finding a Legal Online Casino in Canada
Despite the laws surrounding Canadian online gambling being somewhat hazy, now is the best time for Canadians to gamble online thanks to helpful sites like GamblingInsider.ca. We have done the legwork to make sure that you can play at the best legal online casino in Canada without the risk of unsafe websites or disappointing games.
When looking for a great online casino Canada legal site there are several factors you need to consider.
First off you need to make sure that the online casino has a reputation for fair payouts and reliable operations. You’ll also need to make sure that it is licensed and registered with the proper authorities and that it is allowed to operate in the country you wish to play in.
Generally speaking, you will not be breaking any laws by playing at an illegal site, but more likely you’ll find yourself being ripped off by an underhand operator. If you want to be 100% sure that you’re playing at a trustworthy and legal establishment, check out our top recommendation.
How We Pick the Best Legal Online Casino Canada
When we review casinos we always look at the following criteria to ensure players enjoy the very best all-round experience:
- Trustworthy – All of the online casinos that we recommend are 100% trustworthy.
- Rewarding – With big Welcome Bonuses, brilliant payouts and amazing Jackpot prizes, the legal casinos we recommended are the most rewarding you’ll find anywhere
- Legal – We only recommend sites that are 100% legal. You can trust that any deposits you make will be safe and secure whilst you play.
- Fun and Fair – The best casinos ensure fair gaming so that you have the best chance possible of winning whilst having a great time.
Brief History Of Gambling Laws In Canada
Now you know how we go about finding the best online casino Canada legal options, we’re going to tell you more about the history of local gambling laws and the current status of gambling in the country.
Between 1892 and 1969 there were no such things as legal Canadian casinos – in fact it was illegal to gamble on anything in Canada other than horseracing and charity lotteries and raffles. The Criminal Code of Canada stated that it was illegal to run a betting house or to be found in one. However, in 1969, the federal government decided to allow the 10 provinces to hold their own lotteries as this seemed like a good way to fund various local projects.
Next, in 1985, the federal government decided to devolve all control of gambling to the individual provinces; this means that each region can control the gambling laws in its province. But the Federal Criminal Code did not change, adding more confusion to the issue.
After the 1900s, bingo and casual raffles were allowed for charitable events only, and a decade later, horse races were legalized.
Canada’s first legal online casino, PlayNow.com, launched all the way back in 2004. This was the starting point for the legal use of the services online casinos provide with the relevant provisos adhered to.
In 2012, British Columbia followed suit and launched a site that offers Poker, slots and table games to residents of British Columbia. However, no one from outside of the state is permitted access.
In the years that followed, more casinos started to appear as gambling operations started to become increasingly popular among local players. However, the Criminal Code still stands, although it’s now an archaic and outdated law, and difficult to apply to online ‘betting houses’ or online casinos without further clarification.
Federal And Local Gambling Laws
Federal and local gambling laws differ, and it’s important to understand how they impact local activities.
- Gambling laws in the country come in two categories, First Nations Law, and the Provincial Law
- Federal laws are designed to pass regulation of online gambling to each respective provincial or territorial government
- Some local laws are more restrictive when compared to the federal law
- The Ontario Gaming Law and the City Bans on Gaming are examples of these restrictions
The Provincial Gaming Authorities
Land-based and online casino Canada legal activities are regulated per province, and the following entities are responsible for ensuring local laws are followed:
- Ontario – Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
- Alberta – Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission
- British Columbia – British Colombia Lottery Corporation (BCLC)
- Manitoba – Liquor and Gaming Commission of Manitoba
- Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority
- New Brunswick – New Brunswick Gaming Control
- Nova Scotia – Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco Division Service of Nova Scotia
- Quebec – Loto Quebec
- New Foundland – Service NL
- Prince Edward Island – Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission
Many of these provinces have legal land-based casinos that operate under their jurisdiction and are regulated by provincial law.
Differences Between Casino And Sports Betting Laws
Online casino Canada legal activities are governed by each province. However, the same laws that apply to online casinos don’t apply to sports betting. In August 2021, single-sports betting was legalized when lawmakers passed Bill C-218. This gives provinces the opportunity to regulate and tax wagering in the way they see fit.
Ontario is the first province to go ahead with offering legal sports betting. Many other provinces are planning to follow their example.
The legal casino or sports betting age also differs per province. In Quebec, Manitoba, and Alberta the legal age is 18, while in all the other provinces you may only gamble or place sports bets if you’re over the age of 19.
Gambling Tax Laws In Canada
Canadians do not have to pay tax on any gambling winnings unless they are playing professionally. In this case, gambling is considered a business activity and taxed accordingly.
However, this is not the norm, and casual players do not have to declare wins. Just remember that if you earn interest on your winnings, you must legally declare this on a T5 form.
Understanding Offshore Operators
So, you’re probably wondering, then, where everyone else plays online, and the answer is, simply, offshore.
In fact, ‘offshore’ may be a bit of a misnomer since the majority of Canadian offshore casinos are located within the borders; but they technically fall under their own sovereign jurisdiction since they are Native reserves.
Kahnawake Mohawk Nation, for example, is located just outside of Montreal and in 1996 they set up the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, offering gaming licenses. This provides a loophole within the Canadian Criminal code that seems to allow many legal gaming sites to operate and Canadian players to play online freely.
All of the online casinos recommended here at GamblingInsider.ca are perfectly legal for Canadian players.
Who Regulates Offshore Legal Online Casinos in Canada?
Online casino Canada legal sites must be regulated and meet the rules set out by the Kahnawake Mohawk nation by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
As an Indian reservation and a sovereign legal entity, the Mohawk Commission is not bound by Canadian law. Therefore, it has the jurisdictional right to license and regulate offshore online gaming sites. To date, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has licensed over 50 online casinos.
The directives include:
- Operators need to provide the Kahnawake Gaming Commission with all relevant information about the company. This includes data on its founders and shareholders.
- Brands need to register an office within the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory First Nations reserve. Documents proving this are required.
- Documents detailing the rules and regulations for holding games and payouts need to be submitted.
- The software in use should be of the highest quality.
- An independent audit of operations will need to be passed.
- Large payout sums need to be guaranteed.
- Proof needs to be given that players’ private data is protected and that the site has unmitigated integrity in terms of security.
- Operators need to demonstrate how they will limit access to people who suffer from gambling addiction, as well as those under the legal age of 21 years.
- Operators also need to offer detailed information on how their payment systems will run and provide evidence of technical support that is well-adjusted.
These regulations must be strictly adhered to at all times. Failure to do will result in the operator losing their license.
Summary Of Online Casino Canada Legal Pointers
Now that you’ve got a better idea of the legality of online casino gameplay for Canadian players, you can play with more peace of mind. In summation:
- Canadians are not at any legal risk when they play real money or demo mode games at an online casino.
- Canada’s Criminal Code does not view playing at online casinos as an illegal offence.
- No Canadian citizen has ever been prosecuted in a court of law for playing at online casinos.
- Online casinos are not permitted to provide their services for Canadians without a license. The only exception is if they are located offshore. And in this case, they will be licensed and regulated by a relevant body. The online casinos rated, reviewed, and recommended by our experts all adhere to the proper standards of operation.
- Winnings aren’t taxable. You don’t have to give even a tiny percentage of your returns to anyone you don’t want to!