Gambling is legal in Canada; slightly different rules in different parts of the country.

News 100 redBy Steve Marks

March 7th, 2019



Is gambling legal in Canada? The quick answer is yes. However, the activity, regulated by the government, is kept under strict control. If looking to play a hand or few, you can find many options in Canada.

From online casinos to hotel-casino resorts, there is something or the other waiting to be explored.

Gambling Toronto skylineBefore planning a trip or indulging in any casino activity, it is essential to know the full scope of the Canadian gambling laws. For starters, there is not one unified law for the entire country. The regulations for gambling in Canada are made by the ten provinces and three territories individually. So, while technically you can find casinos anywhere in Canada, slight changes in rules exist from one place to another.

The type of gambling available to players also changes from one place to another. Most of the standard options include land-based casinos, racetracks, online casinos, lotteries, and bingo parlours. Similarly, the age requirements for entering a casino and even using other entertainment facilities such as restaurants and movie theatres linked to the casino is 19 in most parts of Canada with a few exceptions where it is 18.

Canada has in the recent past experienced some issues with problem-gambling, and the government has taken this problem seriously by allowing people to register under the self-excused program. While implementing the program has had its fair share of challenges, it is the right step towards keeping gambling as a healthy pastime.

Gambling hearts

A hand like this puts joy in the heart of a card player.

First Nations tribes also have rights to operate casinos on their land in Canada. This has led to separate regulatory bodies such as the Kahnawake Gaming Commission to actively control the opening of casinos, both on ground and online in their region. The Kahnawake Commission offers Client Provider Authorizations to different types of sites ranging from poker to sports betting in the Mohawk territory. They often take charge of online auditing casinos whenever there is some doubt over the authenticity of their operations as in the case of Absolute Poker in 2003.

Established in 1996, all companies taking licenses from the commission need to have their data centre located within the province and managed by Continent 8 technologies.

The commission has especially been proactive in monitoring online casino activity and in 2009 imposed sanctions and fines on the Ultimate Bet poker website for cheating its customers. At present they have licensed around 50 gaming operators, but also are not afraid to reject offers even if it means fighting long court battles.

Illegal gambling still exists in Canada. One of the reasons for this is that in 2010 certain sections related to unlawful gambling were brought under the scope of a “serious offence”. Now, the maximum jail term associated with an illegal gambling offence is five years with a $5000 fine.

The primary change in favour of gambling came about in Canada in 1969 with alterations in the Criminal Code. This has, over the years, led to a considerable collection of funds via regulated lotteries by the provincial governments. Now, players can enjoy various forms of gambling at their leisure and relish both its entertainment and money-making value.

Overall, Canadian gambling laws are a lot more lenient than most countries, and especially the USA. This makes Canada a hot spot with professionals and enthusiasts who love the thrill of playing without having to worry about any legalities surrounding lawful gambling,

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