Gambling Laws and Regulation in Canada

Gambling has been a popular activity in Canada for hundreds of years, and on a local level, it’s strictly regulated by each and every province. But there’s one inevitable phenomenon that’s been changing the gambling landscape recently – the rise of online gambling sites.

Since the regulations on online gambling in Canada don’t seem to be entirely clear-cut, CanadaCasino has set out to examine the situation to be able to give readers an overview of the current online gambling scenario and help them find a legal and safe online casino to play with.

The legalization of gambling in Canada

Gambling in Canada was made completely illegal back in 1982 on grounds of immorality. The Criminal Code was then amended in 1969 to give provinces the option to run public lotteries as a way of funding various events, such as the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. In 1985, provinces were given more rights to authorize various forms of gambling, and over the years, they started to organize lotteries and authorize slot machines. Bingo was made legal in 1900, followed by betting on horse racing, which was legalized in 1910.

This gradual legalization of various forms of gambling eventually led to a number of land-based casinos opening their doors and also gave rise to numerous sports betting shops. Gambling has since flourished particularly in Ontario and Alberta – the former currently has the largest number of gambling establishments in the country, including the renowned Caesars Windsor casino, whose renovation and rebranding cost almost half a billion dollars. Although some casinos are owned by private entities, the Canadian government still owns several land-based casinos.

The rise of online gambling

When it comes to online gambling, so far it is illegal for a company run a gambling site or mobile casino unless it has the approval of the government. However, there is no law governing overseas companies that are targeting Canadian players, and this opens up several opportunities – Canadian players can still find a legal and safe online casino that’s located elsewhere and gamble with peace of mind!

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission

Based on the Indian reserve within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is a regulatory body that monitors the compliance of legislation within the territory, and is responsible for granting licenses to online poker, casino and sportsbook providers who cater to the rest of Canada.

Since Kahnawake is deemed to be a sovereign nation, casinos in this territory are not subject to Canadian laws, but they are still required to meet certain criteria in order to be granted a license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Online casino Canada legal scenario

As such, the Canadian Government does not grant companies a license to operate online gambling sites (unless the operator is located in Kahnawake or is approved by the government). However, since provinces were granted the power to take certain decisions, every province can legalize specific types of gambling that can be “operated on or through a computer”, which makes it sound that online gambling is regulated by each individual province. In fact, some of the provinces do operate their own online casinos and Canadians can also buy lottery tickets online.

While it is technically illegal for Canadian companies to offer online gambling to Canadians, this law does not apply to companies that are located overseas. Therefore, at the moment, there are plenty of online casinos and online sports betting sites that cater to Canadian players who are backed up by years of experience and licensed by strict authorities in other gaming jurisdictions.

In future, it may be that Canada will change its legislation and require online casinos overseas to acquire a license in order to cater to Canadians. This has been the case in several European countries as well as in the US. But so far, no such law is foreseen for the immediate future, and this makes the choice of online casinos for Canadian players a huge one! What’s more, players can also rest assured that there is no penalty for Canadian citizens if they join such online casinos and play for real money.

Is it safe to gamble with offshore companies?

Players have nothing to worry about if they play with an online casino that’s based offshore, as long as the casino is owned by a company that is licensed by a reliable authority like the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority.

Most of these online casinos are located in gambling jurisdictions like Malta, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, and other EEA countries and are subject to strict regulations related to player safety and responsible gambling. This means that players can expect fair and timely payouts, and that their personal and financial details will be protected using advanced technology.

Many online casinos licensed by the above-mentioned bodies allow Canadian players to join them, and most of them have been operating successfully in other markets for years. There may be a few restrictions when it comes to payment methods that may be used by Canadian players, but other than that, Canadians can play a huge variety of games, and take advantage of massive bonuses and casino promotions running across these gambling sites.  

If you have any doubts regarding such casinos’ reliability, it’s easy to find reviews from real players. Casino reviews will give you a good indication of how fast withdrawals are, how efficient the customer service team is, as well as information about casino bonuses, promotions and loyalty programs. Here at, we also write our own casino reviews based on criteria which we consider essential for casinos to meet – namely fair bonuses, timely payouts, and a license from a regulatory body located in the above-mentioned jurisdictions.

Responsible Gambling and online casinos

One concept that online casinos need to observe if they are to be granted a license by a reliable gaming authority is that known as responsible gambling. This is an umbrella term for various measures that promote player protection and protect vulnerable gamblers from excessive gambling behaviour.

Online casinos that adhere to responsible gambling standards have measures in place to block gamblers that may be spending too much. The best ones also have a number of features or a separate platform that players can make use of to limit their gambling, such as the setting of betting limits and self-exclusion facilities.

Other responsible gambling measures involve the protection of under-age players, the detection of fraudulent activities, fair gaming, and ethical marketing – marketing that is unambiguous and that doesn’t make false promises. These measures are getting increasingly stricter in various markets, and here at CanadaCasino, we strive to promote those gambling sites that are fully committed towards responsible gambling.

Bitcoin gambling from Canada

Some say that Bitcoin gambling is the future, others express scepticism over this issue. The fact is, Bitcoin gambling is indeed possible at a few casinos, as they allow you to deposit and withdraw in Bitcoins and enjoy the control and anonymity that comes with this payment method. That said, the choice of Bitcoin casinos is not massive at the moment, mainly due to issues related to player safety and fraud.

Who knows, as cryptocurrencies become more and more popular, there are bound to be changes and Bitcoin gambling may become more commonplace. And in the meantime, once we come across a Bitcoin casino that’s safe and legal, we’ll be the first to announce it to our readers!

Online gambling Canada – the present and future

It seems that the laws with regard to online gambling offered by offshore providers are not clear at the moment, and operators are taking advantage of this by continuing to adapt their bonuses and offers to Canadian players. This opens up plenty of opportunities for the latter, as they can enjoy a huge collection of online games and benefit from regular promotions and freebies.

Of course, things are likely to change in future, and will do its utmost to inform its visitors about any amendments, as part of our effort to promote regulated and secure forms of gambling online.