Gambling Laws In Canada
Before you can enjoy any form of legal gambling in Canada, it is imperative that you possess a basic understanding of Canadian gambling laws, and how they are relevant to the nation’s gambling market. Canadian criminal laws are enforced on a federal level, but gambling laws are enacted on a provincial and territorial level. This makes criminal laws identical to all provinces and territories but specific gambling regulations different throughout Canada. Today there are multiple forms of legal gambling in all territories and provinces; however, the way they operate differs around the country.
From among the numerous positive attributes that Canada boasts, one of our favorites is their stance on gambling and how they use the revenue produced from casinos, lotteries, sports betting and other wagering services to fund provincial and territorial programs to benefit their local communities. This page is designed to provide insight into the legal gambling options across Canada and to inform our readers about the laws and government agencies that regulate the gaming industry. Gambling laws vary from country to country around the globe, so it is important to stay informed before breaking any international law.
Is Gambling Legal In Canada?
Yes, Canadians have multiple legal gambling entertainment options available to them across the country. In 1969, the Canadian government changed the national criminal code to allow lotteries to help fund the upcoming Olympic games. The change also gave the provinces and territories the authority to allow additional legal gambling entertainment venues. Canada has always stood proudly as being a progressive nation and today each province and territory within its borders provides some form of legal gambling entertainment. Below we have listed the legally sanctioned betting venues found within each of the provinces and territories. The 3 territories are very remote due in part to their northern geographical location, so brick-and-mortar locations are limited if offered at all.
Forms Of Legal Gambling In Canada
As mentioned above, gambling is regulated in Canada through the individual provinces. The provincial government agencies possess the authority to determine what legislation to enact to either allow or prohibit gambling operations in their community. Lawmakers also determine where the revenue earned from those services will be applied and what provincial or territorial public service they will fund. While some form of gambling is legal in all provinces and territories, not all areas allow the same forms of gambling entertainment. The specific regional regulations upheld in the province you reside in or visit will determine which gambling options are available in that area. Below is a list of each province and territory located in Canada, as well as the legally approved forms of gambling services that are regulated by the local governments and in operation at this time.
Alberta – Casinos, Lottery, Sports Betting
British Columbia – Casinos, Lottery, Horse Racing, Sports Betting
Manitoba – Casinos, Sports Betting
New Brunswick – Casinos, Horse Racing, Lottery, Sports Betting
Newfoundland and Labrador – Lottery, Sports Betting
Nova Scotia – Casino, Lottery, Sports Betting
Ontario – Casinos, Lottery, Sports Betting
Prince Edward Island – Casinos, Lottery, Sports Betting
Quebec – Casinos, Lottery, Horse Racing, Sports Betting
Saskatchewan – Casino, Horse Racing, Lottery, Sports Betting
Northwest Territories – Lottery, Sports Betting
Nunavut – Lottery, Sports Betting
Yukon – Casinos, Lottery, Sports Betting
Casinos – Revenue generated from casino licenses and fees often fund government assisted programs such as the free health care system and other local provincial or territorial programs. In the casinos, you are likely to find traditional games such as Slots, Baccarat, Roulette, Video Poker, Blackjack, Craps and more.
Poker – There are over 50 domestic casino locations offering poker tables across Canada. Canadians are permitted to play online poker since there are no laws that specifically outlaw it. Texas Hold’em is one of Canada’s most played poker games.
Lottery – Lotteries are set up by the provinces or territories and fund local community programs. Every province and territory has access to the lottery with most areas having access to multiple lottery games. Sports betting is tagged to lottery services across the provinces and territories.
Sports Betting – Sports betting is allowed across the board with a service known as Sports-Select, Pro-Line, Pari Sportif, or Sports Action. It is the same service with different names across the country. Tickets can be purchased at lottery centers in some provinces now accepting wagers online.
Horse Racing – Horse racing is immensely popular in Toronto. There are at least 5 tracks within the Toronto greater area. All tracks in Canada are located fairly close to the US border.
Forms Of Legal Online Gambling In Canada
Canadians have many options when it comes to betting online. Almost all the territories and provinces allow online betting, and some regulate their own online betting services. Canadian criminal code states that the Canadian government and/or its provinces must license all gambling businesses operating within the nation’s borders. While offshore gambling sites are not subject to Canada’s licensing requirements, we recommend that punters only consider those options that are legitimately licensed and regulated through a respected governing jurisdiction, such as the ones listed in this guide. Many Canadians prefer legally licensed offshore gambling sites for their more attractive bonus offers, better odds, a wider selection of wagering options and betting platforms, and of course, the convenience. According to the Canadian Gaming Association, it is estimated that Canadians wager about $4 Billion a year with offshore online betting sites and some of the more popular forms of online betting come from these services.
- Online Casinos
- Online Poker
- Online Sports Betting
- Online Horse Betting
- Online Lotteries
Important Canadian National Gambling Laws
Bill C290 – Bill C290 was intended to amend the Criminal Code to allow single sport game bets. The way it stands now is that Canadians may place parlay bets on sporting events through local sportsbooks. A parlay bet is a wager placed on the outcome of multiple events, and according to existing law, a minimum of 3 events qualifies for the parlay. The bill was submitted to the House of Commons but was eventually rejected. Had the bill passed, individuals could have placed a wager on just one game, match or event and won or lost the bet based on a single outcome.
Criminal Code 201 – CC201 states that anyone who keeps or operates a gambling house is guilty of a criminal offense and can face up to 2 years in prison. The same applies to anyone who is found in an illegal gambling house or leases, protects, or permits a place to be used as an illegal gambling house.
Criminal Code 202 – This code condemns illegal bookmakers, illegal betting and pool selling. It states that anyone caught placing a bet, accepting a bet or selling a pool bet is susceptible to legal action and could face up to 2 years imprisonment.
Criminal Code 206 – This code lays out punishments for anyone who frauds the lottery system or schemes games of chance. It details many different lottery scheme scenarios and deems them illegal under this code.
Criminal Code 209 – CC209 states punishment up to 2 years imprisonment for anyone who is caught cheating or has intent to defraud anyone or gambling service.
First Nations Gaming Act – A piece of legislation enacted by the First Nations government of Saskatchewan. Lays out an orderly procedure and economic development plan to be driven by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Commission.
Who Regulates Gambling In Canada?
Provincial or territorial gaming control boards regulate Canada’s gambling operations. Each province or territory has their own way of regulating games of chance and their own gaming regulators. They also have their own way of disbursing the revenue earned into government funds. Legal gambling options often pay for the Canadian free health care system, educational services, and other government-funded services. Below are the gaming commissions listed and the specific aspect of the gambling industry that they oversee.
Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario – The AGCO is responsible for regulating the gaming industry and horse racing in the province of Ontario.
Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission (AGLC) – The AGLC regulates the gaming industry in the province of Alberta. Revenue received from gaming activities is returned to the community by the means of licensed charities.
Atlantic Lottery Corporation – a Canadian organization that operates lottery games in Atlantic Canada. Owned jointly by 4 provinces: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Regulates casinos on Prince Edward Island.
British Columbia Gaming Policy / Enforcement Branch – The Enforcement branch regulates lottery games, casino games, online gambling, horse race betting in the province of British Columbia. Revenue generated from gambling is used to fund city services such as health care.
Department of Community Services – Permits charity games for the province of Yukon.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission – The Kahnawake Gaming Commission licenses and regulates interactive gaming, terrestrial poker rooms and raffles in the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake. Kahnawake is regarded as a sovereign nation operating in Canada’s borders but not under Canadian legal authority.
Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba (LGA) – The LGA licenses gaming employees, products, and operations in the province of Manitoba.
Loto Quebec – Loto Quebec was founded in 1969 to oversee the activities surrounding games of chance in the province of Quebec.
New Brunswick Lotteries & Gaming Corporation – Oversees lottery schemes and responsible for the development and implication of the responsible gaming policy for the province of New Brunswick.
North West Territories Municipal & Community Affairs – Oversees the lottery system for the North West Territory. There are currently no casinos in the NW Territory.
Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries & Casino Corporation – Regulates games of chance and lotteries and assures that 100% of the profits go back into the community to fund important programs.
Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation – Regulates casinos, lotteries and horse racing for the province of Ontario.
Quebec Alcohol, Racing and Gaming Commission – The board has supervision over casinos, horse racing and amusement machines for the province of Quebec.
Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Commission (SLGC) – The SLGC regulates gaming operations such as casinos, horse racing and charitable gaming in the province of Saskatchewan.
Service NL – Regulates charitable and non-profit organizations lottery fundraising events.
Legal Minimum Gambling Age
Minimum age requirements for legal gambling correspond with the legal drinking age mandated by the individual provinces and territories. Nineteen is the legal minimum gambling age at casinos throughout most of Canada, but 18 is the legal gambling age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec.
Indian Casinos In Canada
The first Indian casino started operations in Toronto in the early 1990’s but in 1995 the First Nations Gaming Act was enacted to allow regulation of Indian casinos in the Saskatchewan province. By 1996, four more casinos had opened their doors. All casinos are charitable casinos and profits are put back into public funds. Today there are about 20 Indian casinos spread across 6 provinces.
Illegal Gambling Operations In Canada
Canada has a long history of illegal gambling operations that are still active today. Underground illegal gambling houses are in just about every major city throughout the country. These illegal gambling houses often feature illegal gaming machines and table games. Organized crime is often associated with these illegal gambling activities, so local task forces and provincial government agencies are especially looking to curtail these operations. In 2015, 33 illegal gambling houses were uncovered in the Toronto area and one raid even confiscated over $200,000. There have been raids reported in all major cities across Canada, but many of these illegal operations seem to be located in Toronto.
Do I Need To Pay Taxes On My Online Winnings?
No, the Canadian Income Tax Act states that unless someone is a professional and makes a living from gambling, they are not required to pay a tax or claim income on gambling winnings. The Minister of National Revenue states that individuals who consistently earn money from legal gambling and/or originates their primary source of income from gambling can be designated as a business and required to pay taxes on winnings.
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