Online Casino: A Complete Guide to Gambling in Canada

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Gambling has been a popular pastime in Canada since settlers first introduced it to the country. Throughout the evolution of the country and its provinces, Canada has tried to give its citizens the freedom to play. This has allowed everything from land-based casinos to today’s online gambling phenomenon, with government-sponsored websites even joining the popular trend.

About legal gambling in Canada

Gambling began in Canada as early as Aboriginal people, with evidence of the use of sticks for betting and gambling. After John Cabot’s voyage to the Canadian coast in 1497, playing cards were introduced, which brought the first versions of games such as faro and developed into poker and blackjack. Dice and games like Barbot also became Canadian favourites as the game evolved over the years.

Although still permitted, gambling was eventually subject to government scrutiny in the late 1800s, but only to be somewhat limited and regulated. As citizens continued to demand their freedom to play games, laws also advanced. In 1970, the government decided to leave these decisions to individual provinces, allowing most Canadians to build and use land-based casinos as they saw fit. Today, decisions about online gambling are mostly left to the players themselves, with the provinces occasionally intervening for regulatory oversight and industry participation.

What were the first gaming laws in Canada?

In 1892, the Canadian Criminal Code was enacted and included gambling laws, which were conditionally tolerated but nevertheless permitted. This part of the Criminal Code was amended in 1910 to allow pari-mutuel betting for horse racing, and other games of chance were allowed for charitable and religious purposes. However, these laws were not very strict and as the 1900s progressed, gambling was increasingly accepted by Canadian citizens.

What laws apply to modern gambling in Canada?

In 1970, the Criminal Code was amended again, this time to place the supervision of gambling in the hands of the provinces. The country’s first casino was built in Winnipeg in 1989, and many others followed in Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Even before that, racetracks were built and continued to grow over the decades to become one of the most popular forms of betting in Canada. In addition to live casinos and racetracks, many provinces have approved the installation of video lottery terminals, which generate revenue for governments. Lotteries have been instituted across Canada and gambling is widely accepted as a revenue generator for charities and religious groups, as well as governments.

The government does not view illegal gambling as a real threat to Canadians, as it is generally considered a victimless crime. Gambling in most respects is accepted and left to citizens for responsible use and entertainment. Most current provincial legislation is only enacted to control revenues and allow government-sponsored online gambling to contribute to the overall gaming industry.

Who regulates Canada’s gaming industry?

The Canadian Gaming Commission oversees the industry as a whole in Canada, providing information and responding to any serious issues that arise. The organization communicates with the public, government and the media to ensure that the industry is well understood and put into perspective. Legislation relating to casinos, online gaming, sports betting and other similar activities is enacted and enforced by individual provinces.


Canadian Player Information

Whether Canadians are interested in live poker or Internet gambling, they are free to do what they want without any repercussions from their government. In fact, Canada has developed such a reputation for being a friendly place to play that many online poker players who have been denied access to most international online gambling sites from the United States have moved to Canada in recent years. Canada has become one of the fastest growing online poker markets in the world.

Because provinces establish their own gambling laws, some allow players to start at age 18, while others do not allow gambling until a person turns 19. The provinces also create their own online gambling sites in order to reap some of the revenue benefits and provide citizens with an offering on par with international sites. These are only options, however, and the provinces have refrained from instituting major restrictions on players or prohibiting them from choosing which site to play on.

How many Canadians play regularly?

A study conducted in 2000 showed that more than 70% of Canadians participate in some form of gambling each year. In 2002, another survey found that 18.9 million Canadians gambled, mostly in lotteries or other games of chance played only occasionally. More recent polls show that between 75% and 85% of Canadians play some form of gambling, whether it is charity games, online poker, or any other option. Participation in some provinces, such as Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, is higher than in other places.

Are Canadians allowed to play at international online casinos?

Yes, there is no law that specifically prohibits Canadian online gamblers from using international sites. Many of these offshore companies target Canada for its growing market because many players participate in games such as online poker, baccarat, slots, craps, video poker, roulette, blackjack and other casino games. Canadians have many options for playing casino games on the Internet.

Can I legally deposit and withdraw money at online casinos?

Yes, since most Canadian provincial governments are open to online gambling, there are many options for depositing and withdrawing money at online casinos. In addition to many convenient online payment processors and third party companies, most banks in Canada allow direct transfers of funds.

Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?

The amount of taxes that Canadians must pay generally depends on whether or not players declare Canada as their principal residence and whether or not they play poker professionally or recreationally. Players should check with their local lawyer or tax specialist, as each province also has specific tax codes that must be applied. In general, winning players must pay taxes on their winnings, but the amount varies.

Do online casinos offer gambling in Canadian dollars?

There are many online casinos that offer Canadian dollar deposit and withdrawal options. This means that players do not have to worry about exchange fees or rates when they take money from their bank or deposit their winnings. In addition, many of the larger international sites, and in particular all provincial government-run sites, offer site play in Canadian dollars, which means that no translation is involved when you visit the cashier page.