Online Gambling In Canada - Is It Legal?

Joe Kata, Last Updated: July 24th, 2019 Best Real Money Online Casinos In Canada
Online Gambling In Canada - Is It Legal?

There's a legal "gray area" when it comes to online gambling in Canada, mostly because Canadian law hasn't caught up to modern technology. But it seems like a straightforward question, "can you gamble online in Canada?"

The law states that companies within the country are not allowed to operate online Canadian gambling sites or offer online poker to Canadians. Companies outside of Canada, however, as well as gaming servers that are located within the Kahnawake native reserve, have been providing forms of online gambling for years without legal recourse. On the player side, it's actually not against the law to play at online casinos; it's simply stated that it's illegal for someone to own and operate an online casino in the country. Of course, some of you may be asking, "isn't the Kahnawake native reserve in Canada?" So you're already starting to see why the laws centered around online wagering in Canada are so murky. Let's take a closer look at the laws and see why they're currently convoluted.

History Of Gambling Laws In Canada

Gambling in Canada was made illegal back in 1892, as legislation passed that explicitly stated that wagering in all forms was against the law. There was no grey area back then, but there also was no internet to add to the complexity of the law. This, of course, didn't completely cease all betting, as relaxed enforcement of the law led the way to illegal gambling becoming more and more popular. Early in the 1900s, certain games like bingo and raffles were made legal, albeit within the realm of charity events. Then shortly after that, betting on horse racing was legalized and immediately became popular.

1985 was the key turning point in Canadian gambling law, as gaming machines such as slots and video poker were legalized. This paved the way for land-based casinos to open across the provinces shortly thereafter.

Why Aren't Online Gambling Companies Allowed To Operate Within The Country?

As stated earlier, online betting is not allowed to be offered within the borders by companies who operate in Canada. Those laws do not extend to offshore sites that don't have a physical presence in The North, however. While the laws don't state that it's illegal to use these offshore sites, it also doesn't state that it's legal.

So are Canadians at risk to be fined or arrested for using any online gambling sites that operate offshore but offer their services within the nation? While the legality of it is still very much up in the air, there have been no reported fines or arrests made to Canadian citizens who participate in online wagering. And although this may be the case, provinces in Canada have gone after some offshore operators in the past. The most notable was back in 1999 when Starnet Communications International of Delaware was forced to give back $6 million CAD and fined over $100,000 for offering online gambling services to British Columbians.

Legality Of Online Sports Betting In Canada

Online sports betting in Canada pretty much turns out the same way as online gambling. Most people use offshore sports betting websites without any issue from the police even though the illegality is still a very gray area. It's even further hampered by the fact that the country does have legal betting sites such as Pro-Line. And though these sites exist, they do not allow Canadians to bet on single games. Also, Canadian sports betting sites like these typically give lower payouts versus their offshore counterparts because of weaker odds. Not to mention offshore online sportsbooks usually have great sign-up bonuses that you can use for wagering.

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About Joe Kata

Joe Kata is currently a Senior Site Manager for MLB Advanced Media, and has done extensive writing for sports, betting, real estate and dating sites over the last 15 years. He's dabbled in equity trading, professional wrestling, corporate law, MMA fighting and online cooking shows, but his two greatest passions are loving his family and informative writing. 

MLB.com, MiLB.com, NHL.com, PWTorch.com

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