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August 1, 2023

Quebec Gambling Laws Explained—Everything You Need To Know

According to researchers from Concordia University, around 15% of Quebecers play at online casinos. iGaming’s increasing popularity in Quebec has led to many online gambling venues offering their services to local players.

According to gambling laws in Quebec, playing is legal at both land-based and online casinos—but that’s not the only thing that should matter to you. Before wagering, you need to ensure you’re dealing with a trustworthy gambling establishment. There are plenty of scammers out there who are only interested in taking your money. 

To avoid them and follow the local gambling regulations in Quebec, start by learning about gambling laws in Canada. Some aspects of the gaming industry are regulated by both federal and provincial laws, so you’ll need a basic understanding of both to gamble safely. 

Understanding these laws might be difficult without a legal background, but don’t worry—we’ve put together an in-depth guide to Quebec gambling laws! Keep reading to get all the facts you need to be a responsible casino player. 

Gambling Laws in Canada—A Quick Overview

Source: Jason Hafso 

Due to Canada’s federal nature, all its regulations are either:

  1. Federal laws—Obligatory throughout the entire country
  2. Provincial laws—Mandatory in their home province

On the federal level, the gambling industry is mostly regulated by the Criminal Code of Canada. This legal act forbids Canadian citizens or companies from organizing a “betting or gaming house,” aka casinos. Advertising gambling activities is also prohibited both online and offline. 

Historically, Canada’s gambling regulations have been prohibitory and stringent—mostly due to the government’s desire to protect its citizens from the consequences of irresponsible gambling. Keep in mind that the law only applies to running a gambling establishment—it has never been illegal to play in one.

Today, there are more responsible players than before, which is why Canada’s lawmakers have been slowly moving towards a more liberal legal framework for gaming. If you want to know how the Criminal Code’s sections on gambling changed throughout the years, check out the table below:

Date of AmendmentGambling-Related Change
July 1, 1892Initial enactment of the entire Criminal Code, which prohibited gambling
June 23, 1910Limited horse racing is allowed
December 10, 1969State-run provincial lotteries are made legal across the country
June 20, 1985Provincial governments get free reign to regulate gambling individually within their jurisdictions 
June 17, 1999Betting is allowed on cruise ships
June 21, 2021Ban on single-event sports betting is lifted

Before the latest change to Canada’s Criminal Code, sports betting was only legal if the wagers were parlay bets on multiple events. The amendment of 1969 is arguably the most significant one for the gambling industry in Quebec. 

Canadian Lottery Corporations—Quebec & Beyond

Source: Loto Quebec

In 1969, the federal government decided to let provinces organize and run their lottery companies, mostly for charitable and public causes. The 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal was the first major event partially funded with lottery money. 

Soon after that, Canadian provinces were granted a monopoly on gambling, making them the only legal casino operators in their jurisdictions. Loto-Québec became the state-owned gambling operator in Quebec. Here are all the other provincial-run gaming companies across Canada: 

  1. British Columbia Lottery Corporation
  2. Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis
  3. Western Canada Lottery Corporation
  4. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
  5. Atlantic Lottery Corporation
  6. Saskatchewan Lotteries
  7. Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation

In practice, these state-owned enterprises rarely organize gambling activities themselves. Unofficial casino operators have always existed, but to avoid the federal ban, the provincial law would label them as “suppliers” to the state lottery companies. That’s how casinos have been set up in Quebec and the rest of Canada since the 1980s. 

Various private management companies help the province of Quebec run its four local casinos, along with an assortment of smaller poker rooms. Still, Loto-Québec is the only official operator of land-based casinos in the area. 

Source: Aidan Howe

Everything discussed so far applies only to land-based establishments. Judging by the number of Canadians who enjoy casino games in online casinos, that’s far from the full picture when it comes to Quebec gambling laws. So, is playing in online casinos legal in Quebec?

The short answer is yes. The situation is similar to the regulations regarding land-based casinos—it’s illegal to run an online casino if you’re not the state lottery company, but it’s legal to play in one. That’s also true for off-shore casinos, whose servers and companies are based in other countries. 

The only Quebec-based online casino is Espacejeux, which is also run by Loto-Québec. Since the founding of Especejeux in 1999, the website has expanded its gaming portfolio to sports betting, a mobile casino, and even a live dealer section. Unfortunately, it’s still trailing behind the thousands of exciting games offered by off-shore online casinos. 

That’s why most Quebecers still bet at off-shore casinos. Doing so is perfectly safe as long as you’re playing at a trustworthy establishment. But if off-shore casinos are unregulated in Quebec, how do you know which casino is worthy of your attention? 

One way to navigate the legal gray area of online casinos in Quebec is to look for casinos approved by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Kahnawake Gaming Commission 

Kahnawake Gaming Commission

Source: Kahnawake Gaming Commission 

The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory is a semi-autonomous area near Montreal, whose indigenous people have had many territorial and legal disputes with the Quebecian and federal governments over the past century. 

Since the early 1990s, these people have started capitalizing on their autonomy by adopting a more liberal stance on gambling than the local and federal laws. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission(KGC) was created in 1993 to oversee all the land-based gambling operations in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. 

Today, the KGC also regulates off-shore online casinos. Since their servers are on semi-autonomous Mohawk territory, these establishments are exempt from the federal ban. 

The KGC collaborates with some of the world’s top iGaming auditors to ensure fair-play conditions, financial stability, and the legality of its licensees. Here are all the third-party auditors KGC relies on: 

  1. Scout Intelligence Inc.
  2. Triton Canada Inc.
  3. Quinel
  4. eCOGRA
  5. Gaming Associates Europe Ltd
  6. iTech Labs 

Top 10 Online Casinos in Quebec

Are you looking for a reputable casino that follows all Quebec gambling laws and has a license from the Kahnawake Games Commission? We’ve prepared a list of ten respectable venues to help you choose the right online gaming establishment:

Online CasinoLicensesGateway
Luxury Casino• UK Gambling Commission
• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
Click here to visit!
Jackpot City• Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
• Alderney Gambling Control Commission
• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Click here to visit!
Grand Mondial• Kahnawake Gaming CommissionClick here to visit!
Yukon Gold Casino• Kahnawake Gaming CommissionClick here to visit!
Ruby Fortune• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
• Swedish Gambling Authority
Click here to visit!
Captain Cooks Casino• iGaming Ontario
• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
• UK Gambling Commission
Click here to visit!
PartyCasino• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• Gibraltar Gambling Commission
• UK Gambling Commission
• Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Click here to visit!
Lucky Days Casino• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
• Swedish Gambling Authority
• Curaçao Gaming Control Board
Click here to visit!
Spin Casino• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• Alderney Gambling Control Commission
• Malta Gaming Authority
• Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Click here to visit!
Zodiac Casino• Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
• Malta Gaming Authority
• Kahnawake Gaming Commission
• UK Gambling Commission
Click here to visit!

Source: Unsplash 

If you want to choose a reputable online casino, finding one that complies with Quebec gambling laws is essential. Still, legality isn’t the only factor you should keep in mind when creating an account at an online casino. Licensing bodies like KGC and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) use additional factors when choosing which casinos to verify, such as: 

  1. Game fairness
  2. Financial audits
  3. Cybersecurity measures
  4. Responsible gambling policies
  5. Customer support
  6. Variety of banking options

Game Fairness

All casino games use random number generators (RNGs). In the case of online casinos, the lack of physical locations makes it easier for malicious casino operators to rig games. Their goal is to get players to spend way more than they would at a regular establishment. 

Licensing bodies, like KGC, test casinos’ RNGs to ensure their outcomes are really random. If the results aren’t manipulated, RNG algorithms will create an unpredictable sequence of numbers. 

Third-party auditors can’t determine game fairness without in-depth testing, which is why a significant part of their work is playtesting. They also check return-to-player (RTP) rates to see whether slot machines and other luck-based games pay out in a mathematically probable pattern. 

Most reputable off-shore casinos available in Quebec are certified by eCOGRA—a UK-based third-party auditor specializing in online casino websites. eCOGRA checks casinos’ cybersecurity and game fairness, issuing individual certifications for each. 

If the auditor determines an online casino fulfills basic conditions for game fairness, eCOGRA will publish a table showing individual RTP rates for each game category. The table is usually visible on the casino’s eCOGRA license. 

Financial Audits

No casino in the world would be fun to visit if it wasn’t financially stable. That’s why licensing bodies do meticulous financial audits before granting casinos a stamp of approval. It’s good to know that an online casino actually has the money to pay out its players in a timely manner. 

Besides financial stability, these audits also check whether an online casino processes payouts diligently. Fraudulent iGaming websites often find loopholes to avoid paying out their players or delay withdrawals indefinitely. 

Cybersecurity Measures

Players who gamble with real money share their financial information with these establishments. That’s not something anyone does lightly, as such info can be misused. The casino also collects personal data to comply with anti-money laundering policies. 

Considering the above, you don’t want to play at a casino that can’t guarantee the safety of your private information. Respectable establishments always use advanced encryption along with secure servers to protect your data. 

Loto-Québec’s website has a cybersecurity certificate issued by Entrust, a reputable certification company that verifies enterprises’ compliance, risk mitigation, and cybersecurity measures. Off-shore casinos usually have an SSL certificate from either Entrust or a similar auditor. 

Customer Support

Even when playing at the best online casinos, you may still have issues or questions. For this reason, look for online venues that respect you even if you’re not a high-roller. Play at places that provide live chat, email, and other forms of communication for contacting customer support staff.

Responsible Gambling Policies

Reputable online casinos show genuine care for their players by steering them away from problem gambling. 

Some licensing bodies, like AGCO, require their licensees to implement a set of responsible gambling policies. These usually include visible resources for problem punters, clear steps to prevent underage gambling, and even self-exclusion options for players that need a break.

Loto-Québec is an excellent example of how an online casino should approach responsible gambling. The World Lottery Association (WLA) has awarded Quebec’s lottery company with a Level 4 Certification for its responsible gambling policies. 

Since 1999, Loto-Québec has donated over $20 million to Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services. These funds have been used to:

  • Treat problem gamblers
  • Raise public awareness of problem gambling
  • Conduct research on the consequences of irresponsible gambling

Variety of Banking Options

A worthwhile casino will let you deposit & withdraw money through your preferred payment method. It’s not just a matter of convenience—some payment methods are slower than others but may provide more security. 

Despite all the security protocols, some gamers still feel uncomfortable sharing too much financial information. They may not want to use credit cards but bank transfers, and it’s good to know that you have choices. Some casinos also let you transfer money via eWallets and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, though that’s still a rarity among popular online casinos in Canada. 

Here are some of the most often-used banking methods for deposits and withdrawals at online casinos:

Many casinos provide ETAs for individual banking methods in their terms and conditions—the more specific they are about payment dates, the more reputable the casino is. 

Gaming Regulations in Other Canadian Provinces

Source: Hermes Rivera 

Besides the KGC in Quebec, most of Canada’s provinces haven’t regulated off-shore casinos yet. Unfortunately, this means players from other territories don’t have a local licensing body to guide them toward trustworthy online venues.

That being said, the KGC releases its list of licensees to the public—nothing is stopping you from learning about those casinos and playing there, even if you’re not from Quebec. There’s also one notable exception to this lack of province-level regulation—Ontario

Like Quebec, Ontario has a state-owned lottery company. However, this province went a step further in regulating its iGaming market by creating iGamingOntario (iGO)—an official online casino operator and a subsidiary of the AGCO. 

Here’s a breakdown of the other Canadian provinces and territories, along with their online gambling authorities: 

Province/TerritoryOnline Gambling Authority
AlbertaPlay Alberta
British ColumbiaBritish Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC)
ManitobaManitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MLLC)
New BrunswickAtlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)
Newfoundland and LabradorAtlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)
Nova ScotiaAtlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)
OntarioiGaming Ontario (iGO)
Prince Edward IslandAtlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)
SaskatchewanSaskatchewan Lotteries Corporation (SLC)
YukonYukon Lottery Corporation (YLC)

Most of these are government-run lottery companies, but some also provide certifications to privately-owned online casinos. 

While the only officially licensed casino in Quebec is the provincially-run Espacejeux, iGO frequently gives licenses to off-shore casinos. Many of the ones certified by the KGC also have the AGCO licenses. As long as their servers aren’t based in Ontario, there’s no breach of federal law—but iGO and the AGCO still check them and reward trustworthy establishments with licenses. 

Featured image source: Michał Parzuchowski

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