Laws on gambling in Canada


Many years before, illicit gambling in Canada was mainly the area of organized crime. And since most forms of gambling were prohibited across the globe before 1970, these shady people had plenty of opportunity to pursue their business in gambling. Things gradually started to get better around 1970, when certain once illicit gambling operations were made available to the ordinary citizen. Another big jump took place in 1985, after provinces and territories were given the right to regulate activities such as slots, charity betting, and lotto. Gambling was first identified and confronted in the 1880s and procedure rules were codified, this ultimately culminated in the adoption of the Canadian Penal Code in 1892. In the form of the Criminal Code in 1892, the first law in Canada relating to gambling emerged. In order to manage their increasing operations, tolerate them and handle gambling under strict conditions, this legislation was established to keep gambling in periodical check. It opened the way for gambling to be allowed to a certain extent, with relating laws that favored the ruling state and the operators of these gambling houses as well.

What Is Gambling?

Gambling is taking part in the event during which you play with money or something of monetary worth in order to earn cash or a prize. The outcome is unpredictable and can be decided by luck, talent, a mixture of opportunity and abilities, or a competition. There are plenty ways of gambling, such as lotteries and scratch cards, games of poker and cards, betting on sporting or competition, slot games, slot machines or games of bingo.


Laws relating to gambling in Canada basically come under the purview of responsibility of a province. Generally, no gambling for money should be accomplished without an authorization from the regional gambling regulator. In Canada, gambling has become a more accepted and integrated sport for fun and entertainment. Nowadays, gambling options are accessible by charities and private companies approved by the government under the laws of provincial and territorial governments. Canada has some of the world has ever known most liberal gaming laws, with gambling allowed in some manner or another in the region. However, the types of gambling that are allowed differ, depending on the jurisdiction or territory. Canadian law does not make internet gaming illegal. However, current regulations mandate that any online gambling site be authorized or operated by a provincial authority to be legitimate.

Canadian Legislations on Gambling

Canada’s Criminal Code is indeed the legislative authority by which licensed gambling platforms are administered and/or controlled by provinces. However, Canadian legal gambling is distinguished by differences across jurisdictions, since provinces can step in or out of providing these practices. There are major variations between the legal gambling models available, the provision and administration of gambling facilities, the degree of participation of the private sector, the distribution of gambling profits and the control of gambling.

A broad variety of illicit gambling offences are covered by the Criminal Code of Canada, but the below are by far the most popular:

  1. Section 201 covers a wide number of crimes, but running a typical gaming or gambling house is the most common one. It says that running a betting house or being caught in one is illegal. But it makes no mention of an online gaming house, so it’s not clear if the code falls on Canadian online casinos and poker sites.
  2. Section 202 deals with illicit gambling, book-making, and marketing pools.
  3. Section 206-crimes relating to Lottery crimes and other gambling of chance.
  4. Section 209-Gambling in luck games with the intention of defrauding either the client or the property.

Why there is a need of gambling laws?

Online Betting and online gambling are subject to differing degrees of misconduct, exactly as all other human behaviors and activities. Laws governing the gambling industry was primarily designed to guarantee the general security of the interests of the society. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which forbids banks from making trades with online overseas gaming platforms, is a prime example of such legislation. There is no clear rule restricting law which prohibits gambling online. Originally, Canada’s gambling rules were very stringent and only restricted ways of gambling were permitted. Now Canadians are only allowed to provide gambling facilities which are approved by authorized gambling platforms. An unlicensed gaming site or online casino within Canada is illegal to run. And to keep that in check it is necessary for law enactments especially for Gambling.


Gambling comes under provincial control in Canada, but offshore sites pay zero consideration to borders. Online gambling occasionally comes within the purview of grey field of something. The practice of betting over the Internet is not forbidden by Canadian legislation, although that service is required to be authorized or owned by a provincial authority in order to be deemed legitimate. The government does not provide any license to online based casinos, which means we won’t find much of Canadian-based online casinos or online gambling. Canadians can enjoy playing casino games through offshore-based websites.


Several years back, gambling was prohibited in Canada, but the laws always keep evolving and changing. Casual trivia contests and bingo were legalized for charitable events and horse races a decade later. Gambling machines followed in 1985, and several years later, as gambling became more common place online gambling become most popular form of gambling.

In Canada, nearly all kinds of gambling are now legalized. However, except for online poker, which is slightly more difficult since the government does not grant licenses inside the nation to run online casinos. Currently, there is no legislation banning those living in Canada from playing games of gambling at an online casino. The only gambling-related legislation applies to illicit gambling houses. Because an online casino is not a gaming house of brick – and – mortar, the regulation doesn’t really apply to that sector of gambling

The online poker situation in Canada and its legality is, at best, questionable. For all the changes in the Criminal Code of Canada, there was no one to concentrate exclusively on online games. This explains that in the eyes of the government and its legislations, land-based and online gambling are not separated, and legalizing it or not remains in the personal choice of each province and territory.

What is the Minimum Age to Gamble in Canada?

In short, it is not unlawful to put gambling bets online in Canada, as long as the website you are betting on is run from within the country or province and which holds a legitimate online gaming license granted by the federal government authority. Betting laws in Canada are governed by the federal government and the individual provincial governments of the country. The minimum legal betting age may also be either 18 years or 19 years, based on the type of gaming and your current place.

Online Gambling Transactions in Canada

As the most critical aspect of online casino gaming platforms is overseas, it is very difficult for Canadian-based players to enter such foreign payment methods. In Canada, for example, the ubiquitous visa debit or credit card is not accepted by certain online casinos, although there are limitations on how to set up payment accounts. For online gamblers in Canada, third-party payment processing platforms, wire transfers and approved payment methods are some of the factors.

Closely interested associations in Canada for online casinos

There are two organizations specifically related to online gambling and internet gaming in Canada.

  1. “Canadian Gaming Association” – This charitable / nonprofit association which is active in fostering the evolution of Canada’s gaming industry. The primary objective is to promote the Canadian gaming industry’s optimistic ideals. It incorporates research, surveys, inventions, and educational programs to help the industry advance. A constructive dialogue between gaming practitioners, online players and the Canadian Federal Government is also helped by this association. The main goal is to ensure that rules and regulations are kept in force, keeping the situation extremely straightforward and transparent. A perfect situation will be that provinces had the right to amend gaming and betting rules and laws for the greater good of those involved and concerned.
  2. “The Kahnawake Gaming Commission” – Since the Kahnawake Gaming Law was passed, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was set up in 1996. It is a governing agency that controls and licenses the Mohawk Territories for games involving betting and gambling. It’s also very focused on three poker rooms on land located within its jurisdiction. The territory of Kahnawake is free to administer its own relations, including gambling. The Canadian Government does indeed have a treaty that guarantees the rights and authority of the Kahnawake Mohawks over their territory. The Commission is authorized by more than 50 online operators and dealers. Each of Canada’s provinces seems to have its own gaming watchdog. To secure players and deter tax evasion, money laundry etc., these regulators were set up. After 2016, the Commission has stopped granting gambling licenses to US players to operators who sign up.

They can satisfy specific criteria in order for an operator to be granted a license by the regulator of commission. These include:

  • Providing all the knowledge needed about the company, its founders and stakeholders
  • Registering at Kahnawake office and supplying documentation demonstrating its presence
  • Do provide the detailed rules and regulations for games holding and payoffs to be held
  • High-quality apps should be a must
  • Pass a stand-alone audit report
  • Guarantee significant and huge payoff amounts
  • Restricted access to gambling to individuals with gambling problems and those under the age of twenty one.
  • Guarantee the confidentiality of private information and dignity of players
  • Provide comprehensive payment mechanisms and very well-adjusted technological support details

These regulators were set up to safeguard players and to stop money laundering. Canada ‘s Top Regulators are:

  • “British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch
  • Kahnawake Gaming Commission
  • Nova Scotia Alcohol and Gaming Authority
  • Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
  • Quebec Regie des Alcools des Courses et des Jeux”

As per the “Regulations for Interactive Games” implemented in 1999, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission issues four distinct forms of gaming licences. The kinds of permits are:

  • Interactive Gaming License (IGC)
  • Client Provider Authorization (CPA)
  • Secondary Client Provider Authorization (Secondary CPA)
  • Key Person License (KPL).


Gambling in North America (Canada) is governed by the Criminal Code of Canada at the Federal level, which are Section 201-207 among whom it allows for betting and gambling rules. Gambling of any type is illegal according to the legislation in Canada, although there are some exceptions. Any exemptions are provided for in Section 204 of the said Act, such as betting on legal races or sports games and the pari-mutuel racing or trotting scheme. As per the law, the enforcement of online gaming is not explicit in Canada, but it is not illegal as established by the Act. There is still no right mechanism for controlling the same. Canada’s history of gambling is long and goes beyond the days of the inception of Canada as a nation. The way people see gambling and react about it has altered over the years, but its popularity has never lost momentum. In certain parts of Canada, ranging from becoming totally prohibited to becoming legal and regulated, it speaks very much to its important role in the society of Canada.