Canadians can gamble at offshore casinos legally, but it’s not legal to operate an online casino without a license. No Canadian citizen has faced legal ramifications for playing at a poker, casino, or sportsbook site abroad. What’s more, the government does not tax any winnings from gambling activity. The exception is if it is perceived as a type of employmentbased on payout expectations, frequency, or skill. If you’re just playing for fun and you win, you won’t pay any tax.
The Canadian Criminal Code establishes penalties and punishments for criminal acts. It does not criminalize online gambling explicitly.
Canada vs.the U.S.
The Canadian Criminal Code does not address offshore gaming sites, which is a key difference with the U.S., where the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act targets online offshore casinos. This act bans banks and other financial institutions from processing transactions with offshore gambling sites.
After the law was passed, all major operators withdrew from the U.S. market to remain on good terms with U.S authorities, banning all players based in the country.
The absence of specific laws targeting online gambling in Canada has led most operators to keep accepting Canadian players, and happily at that. In light of the different legal situations, Canada is seen as a grey marketwhere playing at gaming sites is not explicitly legalor illegal.
Legal Developments Moving Forward
It’s hard to say what legal developments can be expected in terms of online gambling in Canada.The government has not demonstrated an inclination to crack down on the market, although the loss of tax revenue is a fact. At the same time, they don’t seem willing to legalize it fully, like authorities have in the U.K. The most likely scenario is a continuation of the status quo as the government focuses on other risky areas. Canadian playerswill be allowed to play at offshore sites in the near future.
Authorities and Regulators
This section presents a brief history of gambling laws in the country. In 1970, the Criminal Code was amended to allow gambling by letting provinces license and regulateiton their territories. As a result, several lotteries and land-based casinos were established by the provincial gaming authorities.
Below is a shortlist of the different authorities:
- Alberta – Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission
- Ontario – Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
- British Columbia – BCLC
- Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority
- Manitoba – Liquor and Gaming Commission of Manitoba
- New Brunswick – New Brunswick Gaming Control
- Quebec – Loto Quebec
- Nova Scotia – AGFT Service
- Newfoundland – Service NL
- Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission
A large number of these regulators operate their own gaming portals, often withcasino offerings. Their selection of games, bonuses, and promotions tends to be more limited than that of most offshore providers.
An interesting exception involves the Kahnawake Commission. Back in 1996, the territory of Kahnawake in Quebec saw the potential of online gambling. That year, alocal regulator was established: the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. This territory belongs to the Mohawk Nation. As such, it is a sovereign entity and not obligated to obey federal law. It can regulate and license offshore gaming sites.
In the beginning, the watchdog was popular with many brands,which had licenses to operate on its territory. At the moment, most casino sites prefer to be issued licensesby Gibraltar, Malta, and other gaming authorities.