The question, “is online gambling legal in Canada”, is frequently asked by players across Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. This guide will shed some light on the legality of online casinos, bookmakers, and lotteries.
Before we go more into detail, here’s a quick overview of what is legal in Canada:
Below are some offshore online casinos you can legally log into and play at as a Canadian, but if you’re looking for more choices, you might also want to check out our login directory.
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Whether an online casino is legal in Canada comes down to plenty of ifs and buts and how you interpret current law. Technically, gambling is only legal when managed by a provincial government. Canada’s federal Criminal Code prohibits all other forms of real money games.
Therefore, you cannot run an online casino legally in Canada. So far, so clear. What makes things a little more tricky is when the operator isn’t based in Canada but makes their services available to Canadians.
If you believe the Internet, over 1,000 offshore online casinos are available to Canadians across all provinces. These gambling sites are typically licensed by gambling commissions of foreign states like Malta (MGA) or the United Kingdom (UKGC) and, in some cases, from Canada’s Kahnawake Gaming Commission, like Spin Casino or Yukon Gold Casino.
Despite the vast amount of available online gambling products in Canada, there is only one known case where an operator was prosecuted for offering online gambling to Canadians. As for the reasons, Canada’s Criminal Code is outdated and hasn’t been adopted for online gambling.
The Criminal Code in Canada is long and complex, but the most relevant sections to gambling activity include:
Offenses under the above section codes were all upgrades to “serious offenses” in a significant law adjustment back in 2010, carrying maximum jail terms up to five years or fines.
What makes Canada’s Criminal Code ineffective and allows over 1,000 offshore online casinos to operate is that it neither forbids nor penalizes online gambling.
It’s for that reason that, yes, you can log in and play legally at offshore online casinos in Canada. There is no known case where a player got prosecuted for placing bets at casinos or bookmakers online.
In Canada, gambling is regulated at the province rather than the federal level. For that reason, Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) passed a new law and legalized online casinos earlier this year. Although we expect other provinces to follow in due course, let’s look at their current take on the legality of online casinos in Canada.
The AGLC is Alberta’s official gaming commission. According to their policy, only charitable organizations can apply for a casino license. At the time of writing, 28 land-based casinos in Alberta offer slot machines, electronic table games, live table games, or VLTS to players. Names include Ace Casino, Camrose Casino, and Bullys Casino. The only legal online gambling website from Canada that people from Alberta can access is PlayAlberta.
In B.C., the British Columbia Lottery Corporation regulates all forms of legal gambling. All people 19 years and over can buy lottery tickets, play casino games, engage in online gambling, and bet on horse races in the province of B.C. Currently, the only legal Canadian online casino is PlayNow. However, current law does not explicitly prohibit players from registering and logging in at offshore online casino sites.
The LGCA regulates gaming, online and offline, in Manitoba. Residents can engage in charitable gambling, buy lottery tickets, and wager real money at VLTs, and suppliers can apply for a license free of charge. At this point, Manitoba does not have a legal online casino option, but Manitobans can still play at offshore alternatives.
In New Brunswick, the NBLGC is the commission responsible for managing lottery and gaming activities. Ticket lottery, VLTs, and casinos are legal in New Brunswick as long as the supplier obtained prior approval from the NBLGC and complied with the Gaming Control Act. No official online casino exists, but alternatives from abroad are available and legal under current law.
Newfoundland is a restrictive province, and there are no legal options for either land-based or online casinos. Charitable lotteries are allowed and licenses available, but only to incorporated Not-For-Profits, K-12 schools, sports and recreation groups, and other philanthropic organizations. Online casinos with permits from other countries are currently accessible in Newfoundland and Labrador.
There are no land-based casinos in the Northwest Territories and no online option. Sport Select is the only sports betting website in N.T., and residents can enter for a fee of CA$5. Offshore online casinos are accessible via Internet service providers, and many players go down this route for real money gambling online.
The NSGC manages gambling in the province of Nova Scotia. Two government-owned land-based casinos are available to players, and residents can also place sports bets online at Pro-Line. International online casinos are also an option for those 19 years and older.
There is little information on gambling in Nunavut, and most residents choose to play at offshore gambling sites. Current law doesn’t prohibit this, and you won’t have to fear committing an offense by staking money online.
In Ontario, the AGCO has recently legalized online casinos and sportsbooks. Nearly 20 operators have already obtained a permit, including major brands such as BetMGM, Caesars, and 888 Casino, and more gambling firms will follow in 2023.
There are no legal casinos on Prince Edward Island, but the law doesn’t prevent you from starting one. Pro-Line is the Canada-based sports book for those wanting to place bets on sporting events, and you also have access to legal gambling options from abroad.
Québec offers a wide range of legal gambling options in Canada. You can visit land-based casinos such as the Casino de Montreal, with over 3,000 slot machines and 70 table games. You can also engage in online gambling at lotoquebec.com, visit bingo halls, play poker or place bets on sports events. Besides that, you can still register and sign in at offshore casino sites.
The SLGA oversees gambling activity in Saskatchewan and prohibits casinos while allowing legal sports betting through Sports Select. Residents can play at online casinos with headquarters outside of Canada and legally wager and win money.
The Yukon Territory grants gambling licenses to not-for-profit organizations that host events for no longer than three days. Anything longer than that is considered illegal, with the exception of sports betting through Sports Select. When we last tested the accessibility of online casinos from abroad, they were available to people living in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
The consensus about whether online gambling is legal in Canada is that while operating an online casino from within Canada is generally prohibited, those outside the country are safe to play at. Still, there are online gambling sites that even the lax Canadian Criminal Conduct considers illegal, which are those that claim to have offices inside the country.
The easiest way of spotting an illegal Canadian online casino is by choosing one from our recommendations. We vetted all of them and ensured that they follow existing laws and do not put you or your money at risk.
If you decide to find a gambling website yourself, here are some tips on making sure you don’t register with a potentially dodgy online casino:
In general, use your intuition when choosing an online casino in Canada. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is, and you should look elsewhere.
Contrary to any belief, accepting Canadian dollars for deposits and withdrawals is not a sign the online casino acts in bad faith. Most operators actually allow CAD transactions alongside USD or Euros.
Can you expect other provinces to follow Ontario and make online casinos legal in Canada? If rumors are true, more Canadian states, such as British Columbia, will follow Ontario’s example on the legalization of online gambling.
However, we don’t expect this change to come as quickly as this year. Changing legislation takes time, especially since current laws need to get modernized to cover all aspects of online gambling. As legislators and gaming commissions are working on this, we expect new drafts to be published no earlier than late 2023, with the actual laws coming into effect sometime in 2024.
Until then, and only if your province doesn’t offer an online gambling option or you are looking for a wider choice, offshore online casinos are a perfect alternative for safe real money gambling.
Your province regulates all forms of gambling, and many offer legal online gambling options, such as online casinos or sports books. You may register with an offshore operator if you cannot access a legal option.
As per Criminal Code, Canadian online casinos are illegal. International online casinos, however, are available to residents of Canada, and while in a legal grey area, you can play and win money without fearing committing a crime.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario legalized online casinos and sports books on April 4th, 2022.
Some operators do accept CAD, but the majority won’t. If you cannot deposit or withdraw in CA$, we recommend choosing another strong currency, like USD or GBP.
It’s entirely up to you. Legal Canadian online casinos usually offer fewer games, so most players prefer playing offshore gambling sites. If you don’t like the idea of legal grey areas and prefer to be in full compliance with your province’s policies, wagering your money at your regional online casino might be the better choice.