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August 17, 2023

Online Gambling Rules and Regulations in Canada—Stay Within Legal Limitations

Gambling has always been popular in Canada, with the earliest records showing that natives used sticks for betting. Over the years, betting and gaming evolved from sticks to playing cards and chips, leading to games like poker and blackjack and, eventually, slots.

Nowadays, many Canadians prefer playing their favourite games from the comfort of their home. Since online gaming is relatively new compared to traditional games, Canada’s stance on it is somewhat vague and unclear. You shouldn’t risk playing illegally, so it’s wise to learn more about the specifics of online gambling laws in Canada.

We’ll tackle the following topics to keep you properly informed:

  • Online gambling laws by state (province)
  • The legality of online venues
  • Regulatory bodies in Canada
  • The best online casinos in Canada

Online Gambling Rules and Regulations in Canada by Province 

Several decades ago, Canada had uniform gambling rules for all its provinces. Today, the situation is different. Every province can regulate the online gaming scene within its borders. It’s a source of confusion for many Canadians because some provinces have loose online gaming rules and regulations, while others are pretty strict about them.

Here’s an overview of traditional and online gaming rules and regulations throughout Canada.

Alberta

The regulatory body in this province is the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission. According to the province’s regulations, the only two types of entities that can register as gambling service providers are charitable and religious organizations.

Alberta allows online gaming but features only one online gambling website named PlayAlberta.ca. The profits this website generates go back to the province’s treasury and are directed toward initiatives and services Albertans use daily.

British Columbia

The institution in charge of regulating gambling in British Columbia is the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB). It operates in accordance with Canada’s Criminal Code and the Gaming Control Act.

Both traditional and online gaming is legal in British Columbia. If you want to gamble online, there’s only one local online gaming website: PlayNow. The website is owned and operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).

Manitoba

Gaming service providers in the province are regulated by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MLLC). Traditional and online gaming is legal in the province. The venues that want to operate here need to follow two acts:

  1. Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation Act
  2. Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Control Act

New Brunswick

Traditional and online casinos are legal in the province of New Brunswick. The casinos are regulated by the Gaming Control Branch of the Department of Public Safety. This institution mostly relies on the 2008 Gaming Control Act.

As far as online gaming goes, the only regulated online platform in New Brunswick is Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC.ca). This corporation is present in four Atlantic provinces:

  1. New Brunswick
  2. Newfoundland and Labrador
  3. Nova Scotia
  4. Prince Edward Island

Newfoundland and Labrador

In terms of gambling, Newfoundland and Labrador is among the least progressive provinces in Canada. You won’t find any land-based casinos here. The only games this province allows are non-profitable.

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation is the only online venue allowed to operate in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nova Scotia

According to Nova Scotia laws, traditional and online gambling is legal as long as you’re at least 19 years old. The institution in charge of registering providers, handling complaints, and bearing the industry’s burden is the Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco Division of Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia residents can enjoy online games via the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and its portal, offering bingo, casino games, sports betting, and more.

Ontario

Ontario is the province with the least restrictive online gaming regulations. It follows two acts—the 1992 Gaming Control Act and the 1999 Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act. Ontario-based players can play in many land-based establishments or try their luck at online casinos.

The Game Changer—iGaming Ontario

Source: igamingontario.ca

As online gaming became more popular, Ontario recognized the importance of ensuring its residents play in a safe and secure environment. The province announced it was creating a unique online gaming market named iGaming Ontario in late 2020. The plan was for this market to be regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

In 2021, iGaming Ontario began registering companies, and in 2022, the market saw the light of day.

By making this revolutionary move, the government of Ontario allowed third-party gaming providers to enter the Canadian scene, giving the residents various options. While this action opened the door to many online establishments, it’s important to mention that they can’t be independent. iGaming Ontario monitors every venue available to the residents.

Before iGaming registers a company, it requires detailed information about its operations, including strategies to prevent money laundering, fraud, data leaks, and theft. Thanks to that, Ontario residents can have peace of mind when playing online.

The Prince Edward Island

The set of regulations governing the Prince Edward Island gaming scene is the Lotteries Commission Act, while the institution that regulates gaming providers is the Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission.

Both land-based and online gaming is legal in the province. If you prefer playing games without leaving your home, you can use the Atlantic Lottery Corporation portal.

Quebec

Quebec relies on the Act Respecting Lotteries, Publicity Contests, and Amusement Machines. In this province, you can enjoy both land-based and online casinos. Unlike most provinces, where the minimum age for gambling is 19, Quebec has set the limit to 18. 

Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, the gaming scene is monitored and regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). This institution relies on the 1997 Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Act. The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) is the largest casino operator in the province. 

The online gaming market in this province was regulated in November 2022. The SIGA joined forces with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, and PlayNow was introduced to Saskatchewan residents. It is currently the only domestic online gambling site.

Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories

Gaming is legal in Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest territories, but the options are limited. These territories aren’t developed in this sense, so you won’t have more than a few licensed and regulated venues, which goes for both land-based and online gaming.

The Criminal Code of Canada—The Source of Confusion

Source: Criminal-code.ca

Most provinces in Canada allow land-based and online gambling, so you may wonder why some people still believe that gambling is illegal. The likely source of confusion is the Criminal Code of Canada. 

If you look at the Code, particularly sections 201(1), 203, and 207(1), you’ll see that gambling in Canada is technically illegal, except when it’s regulated by a province. In other words, the regulations from the Code aren’t valid if the province you live in has different rules regarding gaming.

What about online gambling? The Code states that operating online venues from within Canada is illegal, but there are two important loopholes that allow Canadians to enjoy online gaming, regardless of their province.

Loophole—Kahnawake Mohawk Territory

The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory is a native reserve located in Quebec. In 1996, the reserve established the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, a regulatory authority that can issue licenses to online casinos, thus legalizing their presence.

While online gaming remains illegal according to the Criminal Code of Canada, the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation argued that they are a sovereign nation, meaning they can create separate rules and regulations.

This loophole allows online venues to qualify for a license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and legalize their operation within Canada.

Source: Gamingcommission.ca

Another Important Loophole—Playing at Off-Shore Online Casinos

Many provinces in Canada have only one regulated online venue where you can enjoy casino games. This may be enough for some players, but others may wish to explore more and enjoy a different experience. 

When it comes to off-shore online gaming (playing at online venues that aren’t based in Canada), there isn’t a rule or regulation that forbids it. This goes for both the state of Canada and individual provinces.

Section 6(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada states that “no person shall be convicted or discharged under section 730 of an offence committed outside Canada unless otherwise stated.” Canadian courts don’t have the jurisdiction to prosecute crimes that happen outside the state’s borders. The courts make a few exceptions here, but gaming activities don’t fall under them.

Off-Shore Online Gaming Isn’t Always Safe

Off-shore online gaming is legal in Canada, so you can’t be fined or prosecuted if you play at internationally-based online venues. While legal, the activity isn’t always safe because many online venues don’t have adequate security and privacy measures, so your personal and/or financial information can get stolen.

You should play at online venues that meet the highest industry standards to keep your experience fun and safe.

If you’re interested in playing at a specific online establishment but can’t find any information about its security protocols or compliance, it’s best to move on to a different one.

The best way to ensure a venue meets the necessary standards is to check its licensing. We’ve mentioned Canadian regulatory bodies that guarantee that the establishment facilitates secure transactions and fair play: 

  1. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
  2. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Besides the two, there are other regulatory bodies whose licenses indicate a venue is trustworthy. Check the details in the following table:

Regulatory Body Country of Origin 
The Malta Gaming AuthorityMalta
The UK Gambling CommissionUnited Kingdom
The Gibraltar Gambling CommissionerGibraltar
The Swedish Gambling AuthoritySweden
The Curaçao Gaming Control BoardCuraçao

These institutions are reliable and reputable in the gaming industry. Trustworthy online venues will always list the relevant licenses on their website. If you see an establishment licensed by one or more of these authorities, you can be sure there’ll be no foul play or fraudulent activities.

The Best Online Casinos in Canada

Finding a properly regulated online casino is a top priority, but that doesn’t mean licensing should be your only concern. Many factors separate good online venues from excellent ones, including various payment methods, game selection, and user experience.

In this table, we’ve cherry-picked the top 10 online casinos in Canada. These tax-free online establishments follow all online gambling laws and provide a fair and secure gaming environment for Canadian players.

CasinoLicenseGateway
Luxury Casino• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
• UK Gambling Commission
Click here to visit!
HelloCasino• iGaming Ontario
• UK Gambling Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
Click here to visit!
PartyCasino• Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
• Gibraltar Gambling Commission
• UK Gambling Commission
Click here to visit!
Captain Cooks• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• iGaming Ontario
• UK Gambling Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
Click here to visit!
Unibet• Malta Gaming AuthorityClick here to visit!
Golden Tiger• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
• UK Gambling Commission
Click here to visit!
PlayOJO• Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
• UK Gambling Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
• Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego in Spain
• Dirección General de Juegos y Sorteos in Mexico
Click here to visit!
Casino Classic• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• UK Gambling Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
Click here to visit!
Wildz• Malta Gaming AuthorityClick here to visit!
Ruby Fortune• Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
• Malta Gaming Authority
• Swedish Gambling Authority
• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Click here to visit!

Why Should You Choose These Online Casinos?

Every abovementioned venue holds licenses that guarantee their reliability. Other reasons you should consider these platforms for playing are as follows:

  1. Payment methods
  2. Wagering requirements
  3. Game portfolio
  4. Enticing campaigns
  5. Security
  6. User experience
  7. Customer support

Various Payment Methods

Online casinos offer various deposit/withdrawal methods. Some players prefer credit and debit cards and bank transfers, while others like making deposits and withdrawing money with eWallets. Here’s a list of common banking options for Canadians:

Minimum deposit and withdrawal amounts depend on the establishment. The venues we listed support fast payouts, but this ultimately comes down to your bank/payment processor.

Wagering Requirements

Most venues have specific wagering requirements that prescribe how many times you have to wager your casino money to turn it into real money and withdraw it. There are a few exceptions with no wagering requirements, like PlayOJO.

Impressive Game Portfolios

Whether you’re a fan of slots, poker, blackjack, or live games, there’s an online casino that matches your gaming preferences to the letter. The casinos we listed offer hundreds if not thousands of games, so even the pickiest players won’t have trouble finding titles that suit them.

Security

Source: Unsplash

The online venues we mentioned have tight security protocols in place. They use encryption to protect every transaction and ensure your personal and financial information is protected from breaches and theft. Note that real anonymity is impossible in online gaming because identity verification is required according to anti-fraud and anti-money-laundering laws.

User Experience

User experience is another important criterion to consider when choosing an online venue. The platform should be intuitive, with clearly-marked sections and tabs that enable easy navigation. Most venues have mobile-friendly websites, while some take this a step further with designated mobile apps. Whichever venue you pick, you can have a fantastic time playing on the go.

Customer Support

Source: Unsplash

Exceptional customer support is vital for all players, regardless of their gaming experience. In case something goes wrong or you have an emergency, you should be able to contact a casino employee and get a quick response. You can typically reach the staff using one of these three options:

  • Live chat
  • Email 
  • Phone

Most listed venues offer 24/7 support.

Ninja Admin

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