In the current global climate of pandemic and global instability, the once-attractive diversion of jet-setting off to a resort/casino for some good fun and a chance to win big may be a thing of the past. For now, the best options for gamblers of all types are online casinos… and Canadians gambling enthusiasts may just have some of the most choices out there.
Betting and gambling for real money are some of the most popular lifestyle entertainment activities in Canada. There seems to be no shortage of places to play for Canadian gamblers, either. Which begs the question: Is online gambling legal in Canada?
Gambling laws in Canada
Talking about the legality of online casinos in Canada requires quite a few caveats. The laws are full of exceptions, contradictions, and empty spaces where things haven’t yet been fully ironed out. What we do know is this:
Both land-based and online establishments are required to have a license to operate legally in Canada. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule when it comes to indigenous/tribal land, such as the Kahnawake native reserve.
However, the laws in Canada have not been solidified and don’t cover all possible scenarios. Private companies are technically not allowed to operate an online casino within the nation’s borders.
The legal gambling age in Canada is 19 years old and Canadians are free to enjoy any form of internet gambling, completely legally. No Canadian citizen has ever been prosecuted for playing at an online gaming site.
Long story short: it is illegal to operate an online casino in Canada without a license, however, it is perfectly safe and legal for residents to play at any offshore casino.
The impact of the United States on Canadian players
Although the United States has no direct jurisdiction on Canadian players (or casinos for that matter), the indirect impact comes in the form of financial transfers. A law passed in 2006, known as the UIGEA law, makes banking transactions to online casinos illegal (to or from the USA).
Due to the overlap of extensive North American banking networks, Canadian banks like TD and RBC have had to implement certain restrictions on debit and credit card purchases for Canadian players in order to avoid breaking U.S. laws.
While this is irritating and a bit of an inconvenience, it’s not the end of the world for Canadian players. Many companies have come up with a variety of alternative ways around these restrictions in order to let Canadian players move money around as they wish. With third party and voucher options like Interac, Citadel, PaySafeCard, UKash, and PayPal, transferring your winnings has never been easier.
A “grey” market
Canada is considered to be a “grey” market in the online gambling sphere. What this means is that playing at online gaming sites is neither explicitly legalized nor outlawed. The United States (with the exception of Native American territory and recent laws in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada) is a good example of a “black” market.
In stark contrast to both, an example of a “white market” would be the United Kingdom where online gaming has been explicitly legalized. There is also a distinction between hosting a gambling site versus playing on a gambling site. The former is illegal whereas the latter is very much not.
Despite there being a lot of grey areas when it comes to gambling in Canada, legal Canadian online casinos actually do exist. Technically, there are very few laws that relate to the action of playing online, with many provinces never taking a legislative stance or others allowing several forms of online gambling. So far, this has left the door rather wide-open for Canadian players to enjoy their hobby, worry-free.
At the end of the day, it is not illegal as a player to visit an online casino, so you’ll never be in trouble for doing so. What is illegal in some circumstances is the hosting of an online Casino, which is why so many of the legal sites exist offshore.
An (offshore) world of bonuses
The online casino world is truly Canada’s oyster. There are so many safe, secure, and bonus-filled options for Canadians to enjoy without fear of breaking any obscure gambling laws. Tax law in Canada treats gambling winnings as “windfalls” too, which means that no taxes are ever levied on casino winnings.
A great place to start is Casinosca.com where Canadian players can enjoy thousands of dollars in free spins and no deposit cash. Canadian casino enthusiasts have a wide-open world of 100% legal online gaming options with a huge choice of slots, table games, and live dealer options to choose from — not to mention big welcome bonuses.
Happy gaming – remember that staying home means staying safe in these times.