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Billie Noble
Author Guarantor: Billie Noble Last updated: 30 August 2022

Gambling has been a popular hobby in Canada since its introduction by the first immigrants. Throughout the growth of the country and its provinces, Canada has attempted to provide its inhabitants the right to gamble. This has enabled the expansion of everything from land-based casinos to today's internet gambling phenomena, with even government-sponsored websites joining the popular trend.

In today's article, we will cover everything a Canadian gambling player needs to know, including law, the online casino situation, and our process of evaluating Canadian online casinos. From there, players from this country may widen their horizons about gambling online and approaches to selecting the most suitable online casinos.

Gambling Culture And History In Canada

online casinos in Canada

Canada's gaming culture has a lengthy history. Until 1855, gambling was permitted in Quebec and Ontario where horse racing was very popular. It was also legal to wager on cockfights, dog fights, boxing contests, and other betting events.

On the other hand, other types of gambling relating to casino games were restricted by the Canadian government. For example, the government prohibited gambling games such as baccarat and roulette in 1892. 

Moving forward with restrictive rules from the government, Canada continued to implement legislation prohibiting racetrack and off-track betting in 1909. This was part of a larger movement that began in the 1800s. It outlawed racing because it was viewed as a sport for rich elites, excluding the working people.

In 1910, limitations were eased for the general public by allowing horse racing and betting without the necessity for charity. This gambling ban remained in effect for eight years until games of chance such as raffles and Bingo were legalized, but only for charity purposes. Until 1925, the general public was permitted to participate in raffles and bingo games at state fairs, but everything else was prohibited.

Over 70 years after the first ban, the legislation was altered to allow the public to play lottery games such as slots. The increase of berths subsequently supported the 1974 Olympics. Finally, in 1985, all gambling laws were lifted, legalizing the casino sector throughout the country. In 1989, Winnipeg opened the first land-based casino, which helped shape the sector into what it is today.

Currently, the gambling business in Canada is one of its largest entertainment industries, employing approximately 267,000 people across the country and significantly contributing to the national economy. 

Facts You Need To Know About Canadian Gambling 

Below, we will summarize interesting facts you should know about the gambling situation in Canada in recent years. From there, you can see how this entertainment genre is flourishing in this North American country.

The First Gambling Laws In Canada

The Canadian Criminal Code was adopted in 1892 and included provisions governing gambling, which was tolerated but not authorized under certain situations. In 1910, the Criminal Code was revised to enable pari-mutuel betting on horse races, as well as other games of chance for charitable and religious reasons. However, such rules were lax, and as the 1900s progressed, gambling became increasingly popular among Canadians.

The Laws That Apply To Modern-Day Gambling In Canada

The Criminal Code has revised again in 1970, allowing provinces control over gaming. The country's first casino opened in Winnipeg in 1989, and several others followed after in Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia. Even before that, racetracks were created and expanded over the years to become one of Canada's most popular types of gambling. Aside from the live casinos and horse races, several provinces have permitted the installation of video lottery machines, which provide money for governments. Lotteries have been established across Canada, and gambling is widely recognized as a source of money for charities, religious organizations, and governments.

The government does not consider unlawful gambling to be a significant threat to Canadians since it is commonly considered a victimless crime. Gambling is generally permitted and left to residents to utilize responsibly and for fun. The majority of present provincial legislation is solely in place to manage income and allow government-sponsored internet gaming to contribute to the broader gambling business.

Who Regulates The Canadian Gaming Industry?

The Canadian Gaming Commission regulates the whole Canadian gaming sector, providing information and responding to any severe concerns that develop. The group engages with the general public, the government, and the media to ensure that the industry is correctly understood and maintained in a suitable context. Individual provinces create and enforce laws governing casinos, internet gambling, sports betting, and other related activities.

Land-Based Casinos Situation

When gambling was prohibited in Canada, gamers had to rely on charity campaigns to locate places to play and gamble. As the first public facility to enable betting and gambling, horse racing venues soared in popularity.

❗ Information

The minimum legal age to enter a casino in Canada is 19.

This popularity has persisted, making horse racing courses a famous tourist attraction. Every year, around 3.5 percent (700,000) of Canadian players participate in some type of horse racing gambling.

Physical entertainment is essential to popular in-person casino trends. Indie musicians cooperate with the industry to offer high-quality music and live performances to attract audiences. As internet casinos fail to recreate the thrill of live competition, in-person table games remain the main draw for land-based establishments.

Online Casinos Situation

Lotteries and slots are the most popular forms of gambling in Canada, with approximately 20 million players in 2020. Online casinos are the key lure for these numbers because they are conveniently accessible via browsers and mobile devices. This is particularly popular among Canadians who are unable to visit a land-based casino in a major city.

Though totally legal, internet gambling rules in Canada are rather murky. Canada relies on provincial licensing, which means that each province has its own set of gambling license standards. Some provinces, such as Saskatchewan, remain in legal limbo, theoretically permitting only internet gambling.

The 1883 Magazine assists in deciphering the fundamental terms and conditions found at online casinos. Because offshore casinos and online gambling remain the most popular destinations for Canadian gamblers, it is critical to grasp the platform's laws.

Despite legal ambiguities, online and offshore gaming remains the most popular gambling location in Canada. With so many online casinos and bonuses to choose from, Canadians will never be short of alternatives when it comes to online gambling.

Generally, gambling in Canada is not strictly regulated like in other countries. However, in the late 1800s, some regulations and limitations were introduced to control and prevent gambling addiction and abuse. By 1970, gambling was not regulated by the government anymore. Instead, each province was tasked with developing its own set of gambling laws, resulting in multiple rules circulating simultaneously.

To equip our readers with knowledge about gambling, we have gathered all you need to know about Canadian laws. The following section is dedicated to such purposes.

Real Money Online Gambling in Canada

Online Gambling in Canada Online Gambling Regulators in Canada

Online gambling in Canada has existed in many forms, all regulated by relevant authorities and legislation. It is noted that many regulatory bodies in Canada are responsible for different segments of this business.

Such casino gaming as slots, table games (roulette and blackjack), poker, bingo, betting (sports and horse race betting), and lotteries are regulated by the authorities mentioned above.

Regarding fantasy betting, there are no regulators as this form of gambling is not formally addressed in any legislation.

Social or skill arrangements are not regulated except by provincial consumer protection laws.

Gambling Laws and Regulation

The federal Criminal Code or the "Code" is the overarching statute that governs gambling activities in Canada. According to sections 201 through to and including section 206, all types of gambling, betting, and lotteries are illegal throughout the country. However, there are still exemptions, pari-mutuel betting on horse races, for example. 

While the Code is applicable prohibitory statute, all regulatory statutes and regulators are provincial, except pair mutule. This type of game is governed by the federal Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency.

According to the Code, the operation or provision of casinos, bingos, ticket lotteries, betting, poker, and other card games electronic games such as slot machines and video lottery terminals contains gambling if they are not listed as one of the exceptions in the statute. This is only applied to activities offered in land-based form or a digital one. 

Not all prohibited activities are considered gambling. Generally, any competition for a prize should be sifted through section 206 of the Code to determine whether it may have an illegal lottery. Games that do not contain any element of chance or games of pure skill are not classified as illegal lotteries, as outlined in section 206.

Advertising and Marketing

The advertising and marketing of the gambling supplies must comply with the applicable provincial gambling statutes and guidelines. For example, any entity providing relevant products in Ontario must comply with the marketing and advertising standards established by a regulatory body like Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (GLO). 

Such products that are not regulated by any regulator like fantasy betting must comply with the general legislation applying to unregulated services in the country, including the federal Competition Act and provincial consumer protection acts like Consumer Protection Act.

According to section 13.1 of Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, internet gaming site advertisement is prohibited in the province if it is operated contrary to the Code.

Online/Mobile/Digital/Electronic Gambling

Online, mobile, digital, or electronic gaming does not have a definition in the Code, even though many of those terms are defined in various provincial statutes for their monopoly offerings. 

Provincial governments are permitted to provide any digital gaming activities that they desire subject to the restriction in section 207 (2014). In most provinces, any type of sports is prohibited, except parlay betting. 

In Canada, no legislation or case law criminalizes or prohibits digital gaming by private companies. Private digital gaming provided from within Canada for Canadian players will generally be caught by the prohibitions found in the Code. However, the issue is less likely to happen with services offered by offshore operators.

In reality, there have been no charges applied to offshore operators, so the law has not been tested. Such operations are illegal and should be closed down, as said by all levels of government and all of the provincial regulators.

Regulators in Canada do not impose any material restrictions on legal digital gaming. Regarding offshore digital gaming, there is no measure taken by the provincial governments or by the federal government to limit access to such sites.

If the legislation in 2016 is in force, it requires ISP (Internet Service Provider) to block Quebec residents from getting access to private online gaming sites.

Gambling debts are considered a form of consumer debt and are treated accordingly if incurred in a legally operated gambling facility. If the gambling debts are incurred in illegal or private gambling, the provincial gaming laws prohibit the use of civil proceedings to collect such debts.

How To Choose The Best Online Casinos for Canadian

Since online casinos in Canada still largely depends on individual provinces and their laws, playing at land-based casinos and their online counterparts are still somehow risky. We highly recommend you play at the top online casino regulated by international organizations with some individual reputations and statuses in the industry. Below are a few tips to help you choose the best online casinos in Canada.

Revenues And Number Of Players On Each Online Casino

We observed a strong link between a Canadian betting platform's income, player counts, and site security. The fact that a platform has a positive revenue and visitor development history illustrates the operator's ability to compensate any participant, regardless of how substantial their winnings are. Put another way, a top casino operator should have no issue paying its customers.

Users are put in danger by Canadian betting companies that have low turnover and limited customer lists. While these operators may not aim to avoid paying you out in the first place, their erratic cash flow may make it hard for them to meet their commitment if your triumph is too large for their revenues. As a result, for player safety, we advise against playing on these platforms.

Thus, we believe that analyzing and calculating the number of players as well as the income of an online Canadian betting platform may be highly valuable in establishing their safety for the reasons indicated above.

Fairness Points

Aside from the operator's ability to pay, we also evaluate to see how they handle their clients. To do so, we'll look at the Terms and Conditions portion of the platform's website. More specifically, we will look for confusing restrictions that the operator purposely placed in order to take advantage of participants. Any misleading provision that we believe to be fair to the players will result in the online casinos being degraded.

See our post on How to Rate an Online Casinos for more information on the restrictions and practices that we believe are unfair to players. The essay will go through the elements we look at while analyzing a betting platform, as well as how we do it.

Are Those Casinos for Canadians?

Although international casinos are playable in Canada, it’s still optimal to pick the casinos that cater to Canadian only. Those are the ones that let you play in Canadian Dollars, integrate banking options for the Canadians, and have French/English-speaking customer service representatives. Most gambling sites offer the same kind of software and services, so we suggest you choose Canadian-only casinos for the best experience.

Are Their Casino Games Fair?

The best Canadian online casinos are appropriately licensed and use some latest SSL technology and Random Number Generator to ensure the highest state of the art for the security of players’ information and the fairness of the game's outcome.

Suppose a player suspects any unfair activity of an online casino, which is running unfairly. They can choose to contact the Canadian Gaming Association, eCOGRA, or the licensing entity to report and require an audit report to remove players’ suspension.

Do Those Sites Offer Worthwhile Bonuses?

Most casinos offer the same kind of bonuses: welcome package, daily promotions, weekly cashback, VIP club, etc. The only differences are in their terms and conditions. Good casinos are the ones that have the most valuable offers with appropriate wagering requirements, such as 30 times the deposit and bonus amount with a 30-day expiration date.

Also, look out for those with big jackpot slots. They can give you a life-changing chunk of cash, so there’s no reason to pass on those good deals. Make sure that you know your odds before going all-in on progressive jackpot games.