Are online gambling regulations in Canada similar to those in the US?

image: depositphotos.com
image: depositphotos.com

Widespread moves are afoot to fast-track regulations in favor of online casino gaming, at the state level. Various state legislatures across the US have already enacted pro-online gambling legislation, or are introducing bills for passage. Already, several states across the US are well established when it comes to online poker, online casinos, and online sports betting.

New Jersey is the most established US state with online gambling activity. There are many online gambling options in New Jersey, with a variety of reputable operators. Each of them is fully licensed and regulated by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to offer real-money online gambling to legal-age players (21+) in New Jersey.

While the online gambling activity has been on the rise, the focus of activity is clearly on sports betting. To this end, many full-scale legalized sports betting options are available across the US, including the following states: OR, NV, NM, IA, AR, MS, IN, IL, MI, WV, PA, NY, NJ, DE, RI, and NH. Recent bills are passed in multiple states including MT, CO, TN, NC, and DC. The passage of online sports betting bills are generally regarded as a bellwether for similar measures vis-a-vis online casino gambling. As it stands, increased liberalization of the online gambling scene has taken root in the USA, at a steady clip. In order for Canadians or other foreigners to play at one of NJ’s online casinos, they would have to physically be located in NJ to participate in online games.

Online Gambling Regulations in Canada in 2020

Source: Pixabay No Attribution Required
Source: Pixabay No Attribution Required

According to Canadian regulations, ‘there is no legislation or case law that specifically criminalizes or otherwise prohibits the provision of digital gaming by private companies.’ This is clearly outlined in the Federal Criminal Code (sections 201 – 206). While Canadian online gambling companies are subject to Federal laws in Canada, it is less clear what provisions external operators are subject to, making this a grey area issue.

Nonetheless, Canadian legislation expressly states that all online gambling activity offering services to Canadian players –outside of Canada – are deemed illegal (subject to provisions listed below) and should be shuttered. In other words, Canadian online casino players are restricted when it comes to foreign-based online casinos.

While online gambling is outlawed in Canada if it is not a state-licensed operator; there are exceptions to this rule. Pari-mutuel betting on horses is governed by the Canadian pari-mutuel agency at the Federal level, and various provincial authorities have taken it upon themselves to regulate digital casino gaming, including blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and slots games. The Alberta Gaming Liquor Commission (AGLC) is tasked with this duty, while in British Columbia this falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. In Manitoba, the Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Authority (LGCA) of the province take care of regulation.