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Gambling Laws in Canada

The federal Criminal Code of Canada makes all sorts of gambling illegal, with the exception of pari-mutuel betting on horse racing. However, this prohibition is only on a federal level. With an amendment of the Criminal Code from 1985, gambling was exclusively given under jurisdiction of the provincial governments. Thus, all Canadian gambling regulations are provincial with the exception of the pari-mutuel betting. This also implies that only the provincial government is legally authorized to offer gambling activities on its territory.

The Criminal Code does not specifically make it illegal to gamble online in Canada, unless it is found that the act itself somehow falls under-recognized areas of the Code, or the player is underage in which case the youth can be criminally charged.  Online gambling, offered from a private company, operated from within Canada for players in Canada, will fall under the prohibition of the Code. However, the offer of online games by offshore companies to the Canadian market is unregulated and no charges have been raised against these online gambling sites.  

Moreover, Native American tribes are allowed to pass their own gambling and online gambling laws.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Canada?

Not on a federal level, according to the Criminal Code (R.S.C.,1985, c.C-46). However, on a provincial level, online gambling activities can be legal.

 

Online Casinos in Canada

There are some specialized online casino sites in Canada, even though these are operated only within the provinces’ borders, as it is the case of Québec. The Criminal Code prohibits private companies to offer Canadian residents with online gambling at a federal level. However, there is no mention of companies based outside of the country, which is why gamblers have free access to these platforms.

Online Poker in Canada

As poker is considered a game of mixed chance and skill, it falls under the general prohibition on online gambling, according to the Criminal Code. There are, however, some Provincial Governments that legalized online poker sites in Canada.  Moreover, the online poker scene in Canada is also enriched by the international specialized poker rooms licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Online Lottery in Canada

Although there are no special Canadian online lottery laws, running online lotto sites is not allowed. However, Provincial Governments can also legalize the game within their border and there are various provincial and interprovincial lotto providers in Canada, that also offer the game online. Moreover, gamblers have free access to offshore websites.

Online Bingo in Canada

There are no specialized online bingo sites at a federal level, due to the Criminal Code. But there are many authorized provincial lotto providers that hold licenses to run bingo platforms. Furthermore, playing in bingo rooms is also possible in offshore online gambling sites targeting Canadian players.

Online Sports Betting in Canada

As with the other forms of online gambling, online sportsbook sites in Canada are illegal at a federal level. However, small online sportsbooks with a limited offer can be found under the jurisdiction of the provinces. The only form of betting that is legal in Canada, however, is the parlay betting, which puts restrictions on gamblers. This is why they are using more offshore sites, which they can access without prosecution.

Online DFS in Canada

Online DFS sites in Canada are not legally regulated. There is an ongoing debate on the status of this type of game, but considering the legality of online sports betting in the country, it is very probable that Daily Fantasy Sports will become legal.