Online gambling has been growing in popularity around the world for decades and Canada is no exception. With constantly improving technology and the freedom of the internet, online gambling has continued to flourish. Gambling laws and regulations, however, have been slower to catch up with the internet gaming boom.
The rules can be confusing, as each territory and province makes its own gambling laws. So for Canadians looking to place their bets legally, let’s dive into how legal gambling works in Canada, and which provinces allow online gambling.
Legal Jurisdiction and Gambling Laws in Canada
The entire gaming industry in Canada is overseen by the Canadian Gaming Association, which communicates important information to the media, the public, and individual provinces. The CGA is in charge of big-picture issues that come about within the smaller jurisdictions.
Provincial Gambling Law
Specific laws governing iGaming, casinos, sports betting, and any other gambling activities are both legislated and enforced by each individual province in Canada. An example of this is the gambling age. The legal gambling age in Canada is 19. However, Alberta and Quebec allow legal gambling at the age of 18.
First Nations Law
In 1995, the First Nations Gaming Law was passed allowing indigenous tribes and community organizations to create and administer their own gambling establishments in their regions, as well as run online gambling websites legally in Canada.
Canadian Attitude Towards Gambling
So, while the legal climate of gambling in Canada may seem fraught with rules, regulations, and fine print, the attitude of lawmakers is generally neutral toward the morality or cultural effects of gambling (a far cry from other nations).
Because of this, the array of legal gambling options in Canada has been allowed to proliferate, with the help of federal and local governments leaving the decision to gamble up to the citizens themselves. That’s not to say that the powers that be haven’t seen the financial benefits of promoting safe and regulated gaming — government-sponsored websites have even started popping up, adding to the growing trend.
As with any decision-making process which involves using your own money, evaluating your options is extremely important. Choosing the wrong online casino can go wrong pretty quickly. There are a considerable number of factors to be examined when looking into potential providers you may want to register at. But, before anything else, the first thing to ask yourself is, can I gamble in my province?
Sports Betting in Canada
The national ban on single-game sports betting in Canada was officially lifted on August 27, 2021. Prior to this, Canadians were limited to being able to place what are called “parlay bets” which is betting across the outcomes of multiple games.
The major impetus for lifting the ban was clearly financial. The federal ban on single-game sports betting caused a significant loss of revenue, prompting the government to take a second look at its original prohibition.
Which Provinces Have Legal Gambling?
The boundary of legal online gambling in Canada is pretty much a North-South divide. With the exception of Saskatchewan, the northern provinces allow legal retail gambling, while the southern provinces have both legal land-based and online gambling.
The Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon territories as well as the Saskatchewan province all allow land-based gambling only. The southern provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec all allow both retail and online gambling activities legally in their jurisdictions.
Here is a quick rundown of the highlights:
- Alberta – Alberta allows legal gambling to occur in its province, as long as it is regulated by the Canadian authorities. The options here include bingo, video lottery terminals, betting at racetracks, casinos, and sports betting (using the Sport Select platform).
- British Columbia – In B.C., adults 19 years of age and up can take part in gambling at casinos, online, bet on horseracing, and purchase lottery tickets.
- Manitoba – Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation manages all tribal and provincial gaming, both casinos and lotteries.
- Nova Scotia – Due to its small size, Nova Scotia does not run any of its own sites but allows its residents to play at offshore casinos and sportsbooks without fear of breaking the law.
- Ontario – With the highest population and the nation’s capital, Ontario boasts more than 25 casinos, many racetracks, sports betting and online gambling (via PROLINE), lotteries, and bingo.
- Quebec – Loto-Quebec runs the government-authorized website Espacejeux, a platform controlled by the Quebec Alcohol, Racing and Gaming Commission that offers poker, casino games, sports betting, and any other type of gambling you can think of.
This is not to say, however, that there are no other options for Canadians looking to place a good wager online. There are also many licensed offshore online casinos open to Canadian players as well.