Summary of Canadian Gaming

By Ben Hamill - June 19 2016

Blackjack Table

With all of the recent legal wrangling that has been going on in various Canadian provinces regarding the legality of various types of gambling, it seemed like it would be a good idea to clarify some of the issues.

Gambling in Canada

Since the Canadian Criminal Code was codified in 1892 the Canadian government has tolerated gambling but in the 1970s the Canadian Government amended the Code to specify that gambling would recognized as legal — if conducted under specific circumstances. The law was amended again in 1985 to clearly state that each province or territory could decide to allow lotteries, casinos, horse racing tracks or other gambling entities within its domain. Slowly, the attraction of casino gambling spread and the provincial governments created their own statues which permitted different forms of gaming within their province. The provincial governments themselves didn’t operate the gambling facilities — they created gambling corporations to facilitate these activities under the auspices of each province’s Ministry of Finance. .

Today casino gaming, as well as betting on horse racing, lotteries and other gambling activities, are legal throughout Canada. Technically this holds true for the operation of freemarket casinos in Canada. Some questions remain.

An Overview and Some Facts about Canadian Gambling Today:

  • Canadian Criminal Code: Canadian Criminal Code of Canada is the official codification of Canadian law. In Canada, the provincial governments are very strong and hold a great deal of decision-making power, so the option to provide gambling entertainment to Canadians was created by the Federal government, but the choice as to whether to offer it in the individual provinces was made by the provincial governments. At this time, gaming for money is legal in every province and territory. This includes online (freemarket) gaming.

There are exceptions — if the player is under 19 years of age (the legal age of gaming in every Canadian province) he cannot legally play.

There is a question as to whether Canadians can legally gamble on a site that’s based in another country, but as of now, no mechanism exists that would effectively enforce this prohibition".

  • S. players can play at Canadian casinos but cannot easily play at the online casinos that are operated by the various provincial gambling corporations. Players from the U.S. must report their winnings to the Internal Revenue Service and pay taxes on their wins, even though Canadians are exempt from paying taxes on Canadian casino payouts.

In addition, the Canadian gambling corporations are authorised to operate only within their province’s boundaries. This means that, if an individual crosses into another province, or into another country he no longer has access to his Canadian gambling corporation’s online casino account. So, for instance, if a OLG player crosses into Detroit, he won’t be able to play at the OLG site, even though he is a citizen of Ontario and has left the province only temporarily.

  • Sports Betting is legal in Canada and is a major activity in race tracks and land-based casino sites. Gamers can bet on-site or online, which is in contradiction to U.S. law where sports betting online is not legal. Canadians can play parlay wagers (three or more matches at a time) and, in the near future, may be able to wager on higher numbers of matches simultaneously.
  • Tribal gaming centres include both land-based casino sites and local poker arenas which are housed on First Nation lands. There are also online poker websites — both those that are part of a freemarket casino and those that are independent poker venues. There are no laws that specifically make such poker playing legal, but there are also no laws that make this type of activity illegal.
  • No Charges have ever been filed against an individual or group for playing online or for operating an online casino. The Quebec government is, at this time, attempting to pass a law that would force Internet servers to block freemarket sites, but the law has not yet been passed and even if it is, no one knows how it would play out — whether the servers would be ready/able/willing to adhere to such a law and whether Canadian law would permit such a suppression of Internet services.
  • Canadian casino regulation is facilitated by individual provinces and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Kahnawake runs servers for its own casino sites and is a recognized regulation and assurance agency for gambling sites worldwide. Many of the online sites that operate within Canada also operate under the supervision of international regulatory agencies, such as eCOGRA, which monitor online sites’ paytables, random number generators and other aspects of egaming.

Know your Options

Canadian gamblers tend to be savvy when it comes to their online gaming activities. They know that they have many options and can tell you the pros and cons of each one.

Many casino gamers choose to play at the land-based casinos as vacation venues or for a night out. But the players who are simply want to enjoy relaxing gaming fun and excitement with real money wins can sign in and play from home.

The Canadian Freemarket casinos offer a convenient venue for interactive gaming. These casinos are online 24/7 so the gamer can enter his casino account and play at any time and from any location on his PC or mobile device.

Players who are looking at the bottom line frequent these online casino venues where the house edge is reduced by several dozen points, creating a more satisfying payout percentage than that of the land-based casinos.

The brick-and-mortar casino venues offer all of the card games, table games, lotteries and slots that gamers find online, but many players prefer the Internet casinos where the game variations — which can include hundreds of game options — offer more of a choice

An additional consideration regarding which venue to play involves the casino bonuses. Land-based casinos generally offer limited bonuses that are limited to points for casino eateries, entertainment and accommodations. At the Internet casinos the bonus prizes include cash rewards and other real-world give-aways.

Canadian gamers can enjoy the best of both land-based and brick-and-mortar casino gambling, thanks to the wide range of gambling opportunities offered.