Gambling Laws in Canada

Many countries have different gambling laws stating what is legal and illegal. But in Canada, gambling has been in a grey area for a while. Before 1969, Canada banned all forms of gambling. But the following year, the Canadian government legalized some forms of gambling, like the lottery.

Since the 90s’ the gambling laws in Canada have improved significantly. So, if you are a new or seasoned gambler, the gambling laws are confusing. Let’s figure it out.

Gambling Jurisdiction in Canada

In Canada, gambling is any activity where someone places a wager on an event for more excellent value. So, for example, lottery, slots, poker, sports betting, and so on are forms of gambling in Canada. But is online gambling legal in Canada? According to the Canadian Criminal Code, gambling at online casinos is legal. But it is only legal when their provincial governments monitor these regulated online casinos.

Different provinces in Canada have slightly different laws guiding their gambling activities. Several gambling authorities regulate and register gambling providers. The operator must undergo a due registration process to operate in each province. Ultimately, Canadian legal online casino must get a licence to operate within the jurisdiction.

But even with a licence, Canada’s Federal Criminal Code has several restrictions. For instance, the Criminal Code restricts provinces from offering horse races and bets.

What Is the Criminal Code in Canada?

The Criminal Code in Canada is what guides gambling activities in Canada. The Criminal Code describes several instances of the legality of gambling in Canada. But there are some classes of offences in the provision every gambler should know.

Section 201

In this provision, anyone who operates a betting house in one violates the law. Such persons could serve up to two years sentence. But this section of the Criminal Code does not mention if it applies to online betting.

Section 202

This provision talks about betting and bookmaking. It states that anyone who willfully and knowingly allows betting on their property or device illegally is punishable by up to two years imprisonment.

Section 203

Per this section, anyone who places bets on behalf of others violates the law. A guilty person could serve a prison sentence of two years.

Section 204

This provision in the Criminal Code talks about exemptions. For example, individuals who engage in private bets are exempted. Also, persons who place bets through the agency of a pari-mutuel system are exempted.

Section 205

This section of the law is about the game of chances and lotteries. But this amendment has been repealed from Canada’s Criminal Code.

Section 207

This section states that provinces can manage lottery schemes. The same applies to licensed religious or charitable organizations.

Popular Canadian Regulators and Gaming Authorities

Unlike in other regions with one or two gaming authorities, in Canada, there are several. Below are some of the regulators and gaming authorities in Canada.

Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission

The AGLC is an agency in the province of Alberta that regulates the use of recreational cannabis, alcohol, and gaming-related activities. Founded in 1996, this agency operates as a broad corporation. The board reflects the government’s direction through policy and regulatory matters. At the same time, the corporation acts as the operational arm of the organization.

Ontario Lottery & Gaming

The OLG was founded in 2006 and regulates lotteries, casinos, and slots at horse-racing tracks. Also, OLG operates a self-exclusion program for people with gambling addictions.

Responsible Gaming Council

The RGC is an independent non-profit organization in Canada. Founded in 1983, RGC strives to lessen gambling risk through awareness programs and the development of a standard. It also promotes adopting the best practices in gambling safeguards and players’ protection.

Loto Quebec

The Loto Quebec is a crown corporation in the Province of Quebec. Founded in 1969, Loto Quebec oversees lottery and gaming activities in the province. The corporation regulates lottery games such as scratch cards, draw games, bingo, online gambling, etc.

British Columbia Lottery Commission

The BCLC is a Canadian Crown corporation based in Kamloops, British Columbia. Founded in 1985, BCLC consists of three business units: eGaming, Casino and Lottery. Also, the BCLC consists of five support divisions: Finance, Compliance & Security, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Communication.

Are There Illegal Gambling Operators in Canada?

There are many illegal online casinos in Canada. As such, your duty as the player is to be cautious when picking an online casino. Just because an operator is offering a gambling event doesn’t make it legal. Therefore, the first step any aspiring Canadian online gambler should take is to check the Criminal Code. By doing so, you can tell what is legal and illegal concerning online gambling. Below are tips on how to avoid an illegal online casino.

How to Avoid Illegal Casinos in Canada?

  • No licence: Most online casinos legal in Canada have undergone the registration process to operate in a region. The operator must obtain a recognized regional regulatory or gaming authority licence.
  • Flawed or pirated software: The software at a legitimate online casino is from reputable software providers. These providers extensively test the software and use RNG to guarantee fair gameplay and bug-free.
  • Disappearing payments: Most casinos that do not have the proper licence to operate in a region can only provide a few banking options to users. So, when you only find banking options like crypto, and nothing local, be suspicious of such platforms.
  • Lack of negative user feedback: Another way to know an online casino is illegal is when you find little or negative user feedback. Most illegal platforms don’t offer good customer support or even responsive websites.

The New Gambling Laws in Canada to Know?

One sure thing about Canadian Gambling laws is that it is gradually becoming more open. Ontario is a good example, as it simplifies the gambling market for third parties. Furthermore, Canada passed Bill C-218 in 2021. Bill C-218 lifts the restriction on single-event sports betting. It also simplified specific registration procedures to improve the profitability of gambling companies in Canada.

Some Useful Information for Canadian Players


Is It Legal to Deposit and Withdraw Money From Canadian Online Casinos?

Yes, you can legally deposit and withdraw from an online casino in Canada. But it is a must that the online casino you use is licensed to operate in the province. It becomes illegal if the operator is not licensed and you make a deposit to its account.

Do Online Casinos Offer Canadian Dollars Payments?

Yes, there are many online casinos legal in a province that offers players the option to play in CAD. As well both local and international casinos offer players this option. However, you must find the right platform that accepts Canadian players, and you will get this option.

What Is the Number of Canadians Gambling Regularly?

On average, about 70% of Canadians aged above 15 years old gamble regularly. It equates to approximately 19 million people actively gambling in one form or the other. As such, Canada is ranked as the 8th country with the most people actively participating in online gaming.

Does the Canadian Government Collect Tax on Gambling Winnings?

Yes, you must pay tax on your winnings from a Canada online casino legal in a province. You will have to comply with the tax laws in your province regarding how much to pay. But when you win a lottery outside Canada, such income is not taxable in Canada. So you don't have to report it in your Canadian income tax return.