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September 6, 2023

What Happens if You Get Caught Online Gambling—A Guide to Playing Safe

If this is your first time entering the world of online casinos, you may be wondering—what happens if you get caught online gambling? The answer depends on your compliance with the rules. To be able to comply with said rules, you must first get familiar with them, and we will help you with that.

From Canada’s Criminal Code to reputable establishments, learn all you need to know to enjoy gaming within the legal framework in this guide.

Who Regulates Gambling in Canada?

The first thing you should know is that gambling in Canada is legal under certain conditions. Regarding land-based venues, only charitable organizations with a valid license can manage and conduct their gaming services and regulations, and each Canadian province is allowed to set its gaming rules. Every other form of gambling that isn’t licensed and regulated by the province is considered illegal.

There are ten gambling regulatory bodies across Canada:

Regulatory BodyProvince
Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC)Alberta
Alcohol and Gaming Authority Nova ScotiaNova Scotia
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)Ontario
Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)Newfoundland and Labrador
Liquor and Gaming Authority of ManitobaManitoba
New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corporation (NBLGC)New Brunswick
Prince Edward Island Lotteries CommissionPrince Edward Island 
Loto-QuébecQuébec
Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA)Saskatchewan
The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB)British Columbia

The rules are a bit different for online casinos. Online gaming venues are not allowed to operate in Canada, and those that are registered in Canada have to follow Canadian rules. This doesn’t apply to offshore casinos, though. Section 6(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada notes that one cannot be “convicted or discharged under section 730 of an offence committed outside Canada unless otherwise stated.” You may gamble online in Canada—as long as the casino you’re gaming in is based outside the country.

Offshore Gambling Regulations

Source: Kendall Hoopes

When choosing an offshore casino, you want to look at those that are regulated by other reputable bodies and registered by a foreign jurisdiction. Only such casinos can be considered safe for gaming, as not all offshore casinos have proper privacy and security policies. 

Kahnawake and Ontario Regulations

A “loophole” to the rules of province regulations is the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake. While physically in Canada, it still counts as being offshore, and it’s regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC). The territory belongs to the First Nations of Canada, which is why it is managed independently from the rest of the country. Since it is a sovereign nation, it may provide licenses to online casinos, making their gaming business legal.

Aside from Kahnawake, Ontario also regulates offshore casinos. In 2022, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) created iGaming Ontario (iGO), which is a subsidiary that controls the online gambling market in the province. Their license is a must for any casino that wants to offer its services to gamers based in Ontario.

Both KGC and AGCO licences are valid signifiers that the venue in question is a trustworthy gaming choice. They aren’t the only authorities you can trust, though.

Other Regulatory Bodies

If the casino you’re interested in doesn’t have a license from either the KGC or AGCO, you want to look for casinos that are regulated by these authorities:

All of the above regulatory bodies conduct regular audits that guarantee the casino is fair and safe to play in. Some of them also use the services of third-party auditors, like iTechLabs and eCOGRA, which evaluate factors such as return-to-player (RTP) rates, random number generators (RNG), and information security. You can often find the names of license providers on the website of the casino you’re interested in.

If you can’t find any info related to regulations, it’s best to move on to the next venue. Making a wrong choice could result in your personal and financial information being stolen. If that happens, or if you suspect that the casino is being dishonest in any way, you should report it to the proper authorities. Keep in mind that even then, nobody can guarantee that the damage will be reversed entirely.

You need to be of legal gambling age to engage in any kind of gambling activity in Canada. This includes sports betting, playing bingo, and purchasing lottery tickets and scratch cards. The average legal age is 19, but it differs from one province to another. You can find more details in the table below:

ProvinceLegal Gambling Age
Alberta18
British Columbia19
Manitoba18
New Brunswick19
Newfoundland and Labrador19
Nova Scotia19
Ontario19
Prince Edward Island19
Quebec18
Saskatchewan19

Keep in mind that all who gamble at the casino with real money will be subjected to ID checks to ensure they are of legal age. To pass the verification process, you may need to provide one or more of the following:

  • Valid ID
  • Passport
  • Driving license
  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement 

This means that if you’re a minor, the chances of getting caught online gambling are quite high. While some casinos may allow you to play demo games and even register without ID verification, rest assured that you will have to provide one or more of the listed documents before you can withdraw any winnings

Getting Caught Online Gambling—Potential Consequences

Source: Aiky82

You may be wondering—how much trouble can you get in for online gambling? There are three things that can happen:

  1. Account termination
  2. Fine
  3. Incarceration

What’s most likely to happen is your account being permanently banned when you fail the ID or payment method verification step. You should know that online casinos sometimes share their “blacklist,” which means that getting banned at one casino may result in being banned in other casinos too. 

If you somehow manage to pass the verification test with fraudulent identification documents, the consequences of getting caught are likely to be more serious. 

Penalties per Province

Depending on the province, the sanctions may include a fine, but you could also get jail time. At the time of writing, the available information states that:

According to Section 201 of the Criminal Code of Canada, the jail sentence for being caught gambling can go up to two years, but the section doesn’t specify whether this applies to land-based casinos only or online as well. Some sources state that Canadian law doesn’t differentiate between land-based and online gambling, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Since playing at online venues that comply with the highest industry standards is essential for a risk-free gaming experience, here are our ten recommendations that you should look into: 

Online CasinoLicensesGateway
Captain Cooks CasinoKahnawake Gaming Commission
UK Gambling Commission
Malta Gaming Authority
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Click here to visit!
PlayOJOAlcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Dirección General de Juegos y Sorteos (in Mexico)
Malta Gaming Authority
Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (in Spain)
UK Gambling Commission
Click here to visit!
Ruby FortuneAlcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Malta Gaming Authority
Swedish Gambling Authority
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Click here to visit!
Lucky DaysKahnawake Gaming Commission
Curaçao Gaming Control Board
Malta Gaming Authority
Swedish Gambling Authority
Click here to visit!
PokerStars CasinoAlcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
UK Gambling Commission
Malta Gaming Authority
Click here to visit!
Casino ClassicUK Gambling Commission
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Malta Gaming Authority
Click here to visit!
Luxury CasinoKahnawake Gaming Commission
Malta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Click here to visit!
Jackpot CityAlcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Alderney Gambling Control Commission
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Click here to visit!
PartyCasinoKahnawake Gaming Commission
Gibraltar Gambling Commission
UK Gambling Commission
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Click here to visit!
Golden TigerKahnawake Gaming Commission
Malta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Click here to visit!

The Importance of Responsible Gambling

One of the key reasons for choosing one of the above-listed casinos is their dedication to responsible gaming practices. Gaming is supposed to be an entertaining hobby, but no professional gamer or organization can deny that it can become addictive—which is why most reputable casinos will offer you these five tools to help you control your gaming habits:

  1. Self-exclusion periods
  2. Deposit limits
  3. Wagering limits
  4. Time limits
  5. Loss limits

If you notice any concerning behaviour or if you hit a rough patch in your gaming journey, don’t hesitate to seek help. Most of the reputable casinos partner up with organizations that can help you, such as:

Using the tools may not make a difference in whether you will get caught gambling, but if you aim to be a responsible and law-abiding gamer, healthy gaming habits and a supportive environment should be a part of your journey.

Featured image source: Josh Appel

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