Gambling in Canada in 2020: Updates in Law and Regulation

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Warning: This material is for reference only. It is not an advertisement and is not legal advice. To clarify the information, we recommend you contact the authorized bodies or organizations of your state.

The Canadian gambling market is traditionally one of the most dynamic and attractive for both operators and players. It is filled with various casinos, poker rooms, and other gambling options. Many large operators are geared towards the Canadian market, as evidenced by the fact that the national currency of Canada – the Canadian dollar – is used in play. Take a look at the list of the best casinos using the Canadian dollars.

At first glance, everything seems to be simple: you need to conduct a standard casino check, and then you can go ahead, collecting bonuses and prizes… But it’s not that simple. If you are frequent in visiting CasinoNow, you are probably familiar with the fact that gambling in Canada often suffers changes in gambling regulations and law. This is even more surprising knowing that over 70% of Canadians enjoy at least one type of gambling as a way of relaxing and having fun. But, as mentioned, gambling rules may vary from year to year and now the time has come to determine how much changes have 2020 brought us.

It is no wonder that Canadian players are often confused by all these rules, not knowing if certain types of gambling are even legal in Canada. Moreover, Canadian law can be very unclear when it comes to gambling aspects like withdrawal terms, playing on domestic online casinos, or taxes paid for the winnings.

Is online gambling truly legal kn Canada? Are all gambling providers open for Canadian players, operating legally? What are their differences, what features of verification do they have, and what aspects to consider when choosing a casino? We will answer these and many more questions in detail in this article. Read on to get these and many more questions answered and get informed about the updates in regulations for 2020.

General characteristics of gambling regulation in Canada 2020

Overview gambling in canada

To begin with, we’ll clarify that regulation of offline and online gambling in Canada is by and large not divided – there are no separate rules for iGaming. Therefore, everything that is described further (if there is no additional clarification) applies to the entire gambling sector as a whole. In 2020, gambling regulations for both online and offline gamble types in Canada are still regulated by unique laws and regulations issued by the provinces where the casino is located in. An appropriate instance of what could be changed this year is the regulation regarding the legalization of domestic online private casinos, as it is possible by the Kahnawake licenses. Currently, there is the word that more similar licenses could be issued on the road to finally legalizing the current gray zones of the Canadian gambling law and sides.

The situation regarding the regulation of gambling in Canada is ambiguous and rather difficult, and there are many reasons, both objective (for example, the history of Canada, especially its territorial structure), and not quite objective (not always the clear policy of the Canadian authorities in the field of gambling).

So, let’s break it down.

Federal level Regulations in 2020

At the federal level, the main act regulating gambling in Canada is the Criminal Code of Canada 1985 (this already says something, doesn’t it?).

According to sections 201-206 of the Criminal Code, any type of gambling is prohibited. In other words, the organization or conduct of any gambling (as well as any participation in this activity) is a crime under Canadian law.

However, this prohibition does not apply to provincial governments that have the exclusive right to regulate, organize, and conduct gambling on their territory (section 207 of the Criminal Code). It means that only the provincial authorities can establish the rules of gambling on their territory and be the owners of commercial gambling rooms.

In addition, provinces may issue gambling licenses to charitable or religious organizations (but only for religious or charitable purposes).

It is highly possible that by the end of 2020, we will have a clear plan on getting better-regulated gambling law that could open many doors for private casino owners and foreign investors. Provinces may not end up being the only ones holding the exclusive licenses and therefore it tragic that these talks are stalled now thanks to the current economic crisis in the world.

Exceptions to the prohibitions:

  • Pari-mutuel betting on races is not prohibited if bets are made on the racetrack of the association conducting the races. This is expressly provided for in the Criminal Code (section 204). Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing is regulated and controlled at the federal level by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
  • Pure skill-games where the result depends solely on the player’s skills are not illegal (this is not explicitly provided by law, but follows from the definition of prohibited gambling in the Criminal Code).
  • Please note: There is a category of games that combine the traits of skill-games and gambling. In these games, the result depends both on the player’s skills and luck (an obvious example is poker). Such games are equated to gambling and are illegal.

  • Fantasy betting (bets on future results in Fantasy sport) lies in the gray zone – it is not allowed, but also not prohibited by law, and there is also no agreement on this issue in Canadian legal circles:

«… some taking the position that competitors are merely engaged in the form of betting and therefore engaged in illegal conduct, while others take the position that it is game of pure skill and therefore a legal competition».

Quote from  https://iclg.com/  by Danielle Bush, Miller Thompson LLP.

But in any case, the betting is illegal if it is done by a person who does not participate in the Fantasy competition, as this will be deemed as pure betting.

At this point, gambling regulation at the federal level basically ends (with the exception of some acts regulating areas adjacent to gambling, such as, for example, the 1985 Competition Act with general provisions for conducting events with signs of competition).

Province Regulations in 2020

Provinces and territories of Canada have the authority to approve their laws and regulations governing gambling. Thus, each region has its own rules regarding gambling. In general, these rules are quite similar, but there are certain differences and aspects in different regions. Below we will provide brief background information on gambling in the provinces and territories.

You can get detailed information on the regulation and licensing of gambling in a particular province by clicking the link below:

In addition, we have prepared a special guide to the territories that are interesting to research as well. Just click this link: The 3 Canadian territories.

Alberta

British Columbia

Manitoba

New Brunswick

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia

Saskatchewan

Ontario

Quebec

Yukon (territory)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Nunavut (territory)

Prince Edward Island

Please note: In addition, each region has its own laws on consumer protection, which must be followed by all gambling operators (whether they are located in Canada or foreign), in particular, to ensure the implementation of player rights provided for by these laws.

Thus, according to Canadian laws, the provincial governments formally have a gambling monopoly. The real situation is different from that described in the laws, which we will address later in this material.

Regulators

There is no single gambling regulator in Canada. All authorized bodies and organizations operate at the level of provinces and territories, and there is not always a single body/organization in each region. Above is a list of regulators by province and territory.

Canadian players can contact these regulators to verify Canadian gambling operators registered in the relevant territory, or suppliers of games and equipment for these operators, as well as to review any claims arising from their activities and disputes with them, and to clarify all matters related to gambling in the province.

However, the activities of these regulators apply specifically to Canadian operators and their associated suppliers of games and equipment, but not to thousands of other operators who provide their services to Canadian players.

And now let’s look at the kinds of operators represented on the Canadian gambling market.

Online casino operators gambling in Canada: Types and Licenses in 2020

Actual Canadian gambling operators

These are the government companies mentioned in the previous section of this material that have a monopoly on gambling.

In Canada, formally, there can be no private casinos. Thus, gambling licenses are not issued to private operators (licenses can only be issued for charitable and religious lottery events). However, this could significantly change if negotiations this year determined that the regulation law for gambling in Canada will change.

Nevertheless, there is a legal way for private companies to operate in Canada’s gambling market which is to cooperate with government companies or their agents, which are established in all provinces in the form of government lottery corporations or casinos.

In this cooperation, private companies act as suppliers of software, technical support services, or other services necessary for conducting games (hereinafter referred to as “service operators”). In other words, only government companies can be a formal gambling operator in Canada, but in fact, private individuals/organizations can also be operators.

Moreover, service operators do not have to be Canadian – there are no a priori restrictions on the place of their creation or registration. However, Canadian regulators conduct an obligatory assessment of the risk of working with these individuals based on certain criteria, including evaluating the “honesty and integrity” of operators.

importantPlease note: Despite all these opportunities for private companies to cooperate with the provinces, the most important thing that players should keep in mind is that gambling can be carried out only under the name of a government company created by the provincial authorities.

For example, in British Columbia, according to the Gaming control act, a government lottery corporation may enter into agreements with registered gaming providers for the provision of services required to run and manage provincial games. So, the gaming service provider offers these services under the control of a lottery corporation.

Licenses: In 2020, provinces still hold exclusive licenses and regulate the casinos and other gambling categories in Canada.

While we know that it will change soon, there is no actual date now that could tell us the exact time of these changes taking place. Also, provincial regulators post information on registered service providers who are entitled to supply or maintain gambling in cooperation with provincial companies (for example, this information can be found on the British Columbia regulator website).

Operators with foreign Licenses

Although Canadian laws prohibit any gambling, except for that organized in provincial and territorial government organizations, a significant number of foreign private companies operate on the Canadian gambling market.

One of the reasons is the dominant doctrine of “territoriality” of the laws and jurisdiction of Canadian government bodies (we addressed the content of this doctrine in the article on the regulation of gambling in Switzerland. According to this doctrine, the prohibitions and rules established by the Canadian Penal Code can only be applied domestically.

However, the real question of whether the Criminal Code of Canada applies to online gambling offered by foreign operators licensed in jurisdictions where gambling is allowed by law has never been definitively settled by law or the courts of Canada.

Therefore, the widespread opinion in the gambling environment about the complete legality of online gambling offered by foreign operators in Canada, which can be found on many specialized sites, is not true.

In fact, this is another “gray zone” of Canadian regulation – one cannot argue that online gambling provided by foreign private companies is prohibited in Canada, but at the moment it cannot be said that it is completely legal.

At the same time, illustrative examples from practice are speaking in favor of the legality of foreign providers:

Starnet Communications International Inc. (SCI) case – SCI was originally incorporated in Delaware and controlled by Vancouver residents. The company was found guilty of storing computer applications and servers in Canada (Vancouver) that provided Canadian and non-Canadian players with access to betting. SCI made a deal with the state, paying a fine to the budget and additional $4 million as proceeds from criminal activity. After that, SCI became an offshore company and was no longer prosecuted by Canadian authorities for illegal gambling activities. Also, not a single foreign gambling operator was prosecuted, whose services are available to Canadian players.

From this, we can conclude that the Canadian authorities aim at prosecuting only those gambling operators that are geographically tied with Canada (operators that are registered in Canada, have property or controlling persons inside the Country) and turn a blind eye to the activities of foreign companies.

As many Canadian lawyers noted, the “principle of a foreign operator” (the principle of non-proliferation of Canadian laws on foreign operators) was reaffirmed in 2016 during the discussions on draft C-13.

«The foreign operator principle was emphasized in the Observations to the Fourth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-13). In response to concerns expressed by a witness of the potential extra-territorial application of a clause of Bill C-13, which dealt with the transmission and reception of information relating to book-making, betting and wagering, among other things, the Committee clarified that the intent of the clause was not to extend jurisdiction and thus the clause would not have extra-territorial application. Though the commentary relates to a specific amendment, it provides insight with respect to Parliamentary intent regarding gambling laws»Source: Jaswal Institute.

The best example at present is the attempt of the Quebec authorities to limit access to foreign online gambling operators.

On May 18, 2016, the Quebec Provincial National Assembly passed a bill known as the “Bill 74” or “Budget Act”, in which it expanded the scope of its consumer protection legislation, imposing the obligation on Internet service providers to restrict Canadian users’ access to illegal online gambling regardless of the location of the site operator.

This project immediately caused a lot of negativity from the Canadian Internet and gambling communities, which accused the Quebec authorities that the purpose of this act is primarily to eliminate competition from foreign operators to bring more finances into their government lottery companies.

In the same 2016, two months after the adoption of the bill, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (“CRTC”) appealed this provision of the law in court, citing its unconstitutionality.

On July 18, 2018, Quebec Supreme Court decided to recognize Bill 74 as unconstitutional and, therefore, inapplicable. The court concluded that the contested measure was aimed at preventing access to competitive online offers in the province, and not at consumer protection, as it was stated by the province.

Quebec authorities appealed the decision to the Quebec Court of Appeal. To date, the appeal has not been resolved in the Court of Appeal.

Obviously, this dispute will reach the Supreme Court of Canada, which will make the final decision on the issue. Most Canadian experts and lawyers agree that the decision on the non-constitutional status of Quebec’s attempts to limit access to private online gambling providers will remain in force.

Thus, at present, access to private foreign online operators in Canada is not limited, which means their activity is not considered illegal (at least for the time being).

In any case, from the point of view of Canadian law, participation in online gambling is not an offense on the player’s part. However, Canadian players should take into account certain features of online operators with foreign licenses when choosing them.

Licenses: foreign operators must be licensed by a foreign jurisdiction in which gambling is legal. Most often these are licenses of smaller European states, for example, Malta or the Isle of Man. A license obtained in the United Kingdom is recognized as authoritative.

On our site, you can find general information on casino licensing and casino licenses and their verification in individual countries.

As much as we are certain that currently in Canada the only ones that are certified to organize gambling activities are the provinces themselves, there is no law in 2020 forbidding Canadian players to gamble on foreign websites. However, this is not exactly legal either while it is in a gray zone of Canadian law since those companies are certified and hold licenses for organizing gambling in their origin countries.

Because of this many Canadian players are still wondering if it is safe to play on those casinos and if they will be able to withdraw their money. Luckily, in 2020, there has been word of these laws changing and we might live to see the legalization of the foreign casinos as well by the end of the year. On the other hand, there are some exceptions in 2020 for these rules as you will see by reading about those licenses specifically.

Indigenous peoples’ casinos and companies with a Kahnawake reservation License.

In Canada, in addition to the provinces and territories, the territories of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada (reservations) are regulated separately. Special rules apply to these peoples, for example, Article 35 of the Constitution of Canada, which guarantees the recognition of their indigenous rights (rights that they had before the arrival of Europeans on the territory of modern Canada), or the Indian Act.

Indigenous peoples have long been fighting for their right to hold gambling and casino operations, citing the fact that this is their original aboriginal right and that they were engaged in gambling even before Europeans thought of leaving their shores.

However, the Canadian authorities disagree, which is proven by the examples of the White Bear Nation, the Shawanga First Nation and the Eagle Lake First Nation cases in which the courts indicated that Aboriginal rights of the Indigenous Peoples cannot go against the Canadian Penal Code and do not possess distinctive features of aboriginal rights.

However, the protests of the Indigenous Peoples, and their struggle for the right to organize gambling operation and use it as one of the main revenue items of their economy, led to the fact that now the authorities of many provinces are loyal to the gambling of Aboriginal people and incorporate them into their provincial legal casinos or issue licenses for ‘charitable’ gambling, which is especially characteristic of the Saskatchewan province.

Brief Recommendations on Checking Online Casinos

We have already made a detailed review of the topic of choosing a casino, what should the player focus on and how to check gambling operators. Also, on our website, you can find information on licensing companies in different countries and how to check casino licensees in specific jurisdictions.

Now we want to outline in a few words the main recommendations for checking online casinos and give a kind of instruction that will help you quickly and correctly navigate the offers in the gambling market.

Verification recommendations:

1. Check the license, its validity and who issued it.

In different countries, permissions for games are called differently. Most often they are licenses (as in Canada), but sometimes there may be concessions or just permissions.

Information about the casino license can be found at the bottom of the page or on the sidebar of the online casino website. Sometimes operators have more than one license in different jurisdictions.

Pay attention to who issued the license and in which jurisdiction it was made.

  • firstly, the level of requirements for licensees in different countries is different – for example, the requirements of offshore jurisdictions are high but still less stringent than those of developed European countries. In addition, sometimes on specialized websites, there is information that offshore jurisdictions do not always exercise proper oversight of their licensees.
  • secondly, in some jurisdictions licenses are issued not only by government bodies but also by private companies (sub-licensing) – in this case, the validity of a license is more difficult to verify;
  • thirdly, sometimes depending on the specifics of gambling regulation in a country or region, it is worth giving preference to licensees of your region of residence – countries of one region often enter into economic or other unions in which general rules and principles of regulation of trade and services are applied, which may affect the common regulation of gambling (for example, residents of the EU countries, all other things being equal, it would be better to choose a licensee from this association).

Recheck the license – use special national registries to check the casino licenses. Such registers exist in most states (but not in all states, for example, in Curacao, there is no such register). At least from the registry, you can find out if this license really exists, whether it is valid (has it not been canceled/terminated) and its expiration date.

One of the most authoritative is the license of the United Kingdom. Also, many large online casinos are licensed by Malta.

2. Check whether the online casino accepts players from your region, whether it is legal in your region.

Some casinos directly say in their T&C information about the prohibition of registration and games on their website to players from some states, in order to comply with their national legislation. However, not everyone does this, even large casinos. To find out whether this or that online casino is legal in your country, you need to refer to the national legislation. In addition, you need to understand whether there is a responsibility in your country for playing unauthorized gambling and how it is applied in practice.

We recommend playing only in a legal casino. However, it often happens that it is impossible to accurately understand from the laws of the country whether a particular type of gambling is allowed or prohibited (for example, as in the case of foreign online casinos in Canada). In these cases, it makes sense to seek clarification from specialists. For example, you can write to us, and we will forward your questions to our legal experts.

3. Check the software used on the website: its manufacturer and its testing by specialized organizations.

4. Check the system of payments – payment periods, how and where your funds are stored, which payment systems are used, how payments are protected.

The most reliable option is to store players’ deposits in a separate account that is not associated with the operator’s bank or trading account.

5. Check the security of your personal data – the privacy policy of the operator and its right to process your personal data.

6. Check the owning company of the website and its location (registration) – information about the company should be on the site (usually, they are shown in the same place as the license information).

Further, we recommend that you verify the validity of the company and information about it using special international or national services;

7. Check the ways of resolving claims and disputes – the best casinos will provide you with an opportunity for alternative (out-of-court) settlement of claims and disputes, which will be faster and more convenient than usual legal proceedings.

8. Check for online player support and whether it really works.

9. Check the social responsibility of the casino – good operators don’t need to squeeze the last money out of you. Reliable rating casinos should always provide you with the opportunity to restrict your (or someone close to you) access to the game or completely exclude it. For example, reliable casinos always have a Self-Exclusion Program. In addition, operators participate in various social non-profit programs related to gambling problems. Trust only responsible casinos.

All of this information is posted by operators on the website (usually at the bottom or on the sidebar) and/or in their T&C.

Pay attention: when choosing a foreign operator, always consider the place of licensing and the location (registration) of the owning company of the casino. If it comes to court, disputes and claims against the casino will be resolved in the jurisdictions of their owners and according to the rules established in these jurisdictions.

If you have any questions about checking online casinos or you have comments/additions/suggestions – we will be glad if you write to us.

Kahnawake licensees

Kahnawake is one of the Mohawk reservations in Canada located in Quebec. It is also one of the recognized world jurisdictions for obtaining a casino license.

Being located in Quebec, this reservation is one rare place significant for gambling in Canada. In 2020, the Kahnawake reservation has specific regulations for gambling activities and their organizations. These regulations legalize and regulate casinos as well as private casinos and represent a one of a kind anomaly in the Canadian gambling regulation system.

Currently, there are stories that we will see more of these and similar licenses being issued in all the other provinces in Canada and players can certainly look forward to this happening, since it would mark the end of gray zone era for Canadian gamblers in terms of law and regulations.

Kahnawake went much farther than all other Indigenous peoples’ territories – it adopted its own gambling laws, approved licensing rules and casino activities on its territory and began issuing licenses to private gambling operators.

Unlike the rest of Canada, offline and online casinos in Kahnawake are regulated separately.

The main regulatory act on online gambling in Kahnawake is the Regulations Concerning Interactive Gaming (RCIG).

Kahnawake has created its own regulator, which is responsible for issuing licenses and controlling operators – Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KWG). KWG is also involved in resolving player claims and disputes with operators.

In addition, Kahnawake has created its own data center – Mohawk Internet Technologies (MIT), located in the reservation. Moreover, according to the requirements, the RCIG companies themselves can be registered in any jurisdiction, but the equipment (co-location facilities) of the licensees can be located only in MIT (KWG also assesses the risks of the company when issuing a license, including cases based on the “honesty and integrity” criterion).

Licenses: KWG issues 5 types of licenses:

  • Interactive Gaming License (“IGL”);
  • Client Provider Authorization (“CPA”);
  • Inter-Jurisdictional Authorization (“IJA”);
  • Key Person License (“KPL”);
  • Casino Software Provider Authorization (“CSPA”)

Players are primarily interested in CPA – it is this license that applies to the online casino operator itself.

The site of the licensed online casino should contain the official KWG logo:

KWG logo

If the site is properly licensed by KWG, the browser will display a “Certificate of Good Standing” of this casino when you click on the logo. It should look like this:

Kahnawake Certificate

Also, a list of licenses issued (permits) can be checked on the KWG website in a special section.

It is quite difficult to understand logically, but the rules and laws adopted in Kahnawake, which contradict both federal and provincial legislation, have been successfully implemented and have not yet been appealed by the authorities of Canada or Quebec. Moreover, none of the licenses issued by Kahnawake was recognized illegal, and private online operators function in Kahnawake without harassment from the authorities.

Although in 2007 the media reported that one of the Kahnawake licensees pleaded guilty and paid a fine on charges from the Quebec authorities in illegal gambling. Later the representatives of the gambling industry explained that this persecution was not associated with the casino itself or the KWG license, but was rather initiated against the company owning the site, which had an office in Saint-Laurent located on the island of Montreal. That is, the company was fined for operating offline in Quebec; therefore, in this case, the legality of licensing Kahnawake foreign operators was not questioned.

Thus, the activities of KWG have never been disputed, and licenses issued to it are valid and recognized by other jurisdictions.

For example, KWG has signed Memorandums of Understanding with several leading licensing and regulatory bodies, including:

According to the Kahnawake KWG authorities, 443 licenses were issued without any questions or complaints from the Canadian authorities. In July 2018 it was reported that there were more than 50 operators, representing about 250 sites.

Judging from the issued permits posted on the KWG website, 20 operators are currently licensed, with a total of about 100 sites. If these figures are true, then the demand dynamics for Kahnawake licenses is decreasing.

However, it follows that the undoubted advantages for Canadian players are:

  • KWG requirements for licensees are quite strict;
  • operators’ equipment is located in Canada, and disputes with operators will also be resolved in Canada (at least at the stage of consideration of the KWG dispute), unlike licensees of foreign jurisdictions.

Gambling in Canada: Overall Regulations 2020

By following the CasinoNow page, you are familiar with the general law and regulation regarding gambling in Canada. However, there have been numerous talks about many changes that are expected by the end of 2020 or in a slightly more distant future.

The majority of updates were involved during the pandemic crisis this year since players will have to follow new regulations to even enter the casino:

  • Every second machine is out of work and chairs are removed
  • Casinos are allowed to work in half of capacity
  • Fresh airflow is a must
  • No table games are allowed inside the casino
  • Barriers are set between slot machines and sitting places

Along with these necessary changes, there are some indications of general gambling law and regulation updates in the Canada gambling association. In 2020, the intensive talks are established to finally legalize private casinos and foreign online gambling operators.

In the current situation, it is still neither legal nor completely legal to gamble on foreign online casinos since this area is not strictly regulated by the government and mostly depends on provincial authorities. Although certain regulation varies from province to province, it remains in the grey zone to gamble and deposit money on non-Canadian sites, as this is still not strictly regulated in 2020. On the other hand, private casinos are illegal in Canada in 2020 as the only fully-legal casinos operate by the license of government of the province that the casino is located in.

The good news in 2020 for Canadian players is certainly the evaluation if Kahnawake and similar licenses should be implemented across the whole state. This license would allow the provinces to regulate themselves the existence of private casinos and to legalize completely foreign online casinos; so hopefully, this could be accomplished by the end of 2020 or later. Single-game sports betting is still illegal in Canada as well, but with a high chance of legalization since there have been numerous talks about this subject in 2020 as well.

How to Check the Casino Owner

As already mentioned, only provincial government organizations can be casino owners in Canada, so it makes no sense to check them.

You can check foreign licensees and Kahnawake licensees by using special resources (read more about them in our article).

Deposits and Payments: What Payment Systems can be used. Is it possible to use cryptocurrency?

It is perfectly legal to make a deposit or request a withdrawal from an online casino in Canada. You can use any modern payment methods for playing in online casinos: bank accounts and cards (including credit cards), e-wallets (for example, PayPal or Skrill), prepaid cards, etc.

The thing is, if your bank allows online casino deposit and withdrawal, you will have easy access to doing so. Just to make sure that your bank does accept these kinds of payments, here is a list of some banks accepting online casino deposit and withdrawals:

  • Bank of Montreal
  • Bank of Nova Scotia
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Toronto Dominion Bank

By having an account in one of these banks, you will certainly be able to make a deposit and request a withdrawal. However, lately, there has been more and more news about blocking of gambling-related transactions by banks of Canada:

Therefore, we recommend that you use electronic wallets as a safety measure and other alternative payment methods that are not related to banks.

Do Canadian Players Pay Taxes on the Winnings?

Generally, the regulation of gambling in Canada states that no taxes are collected from online betting, online gambling, and in-object gambling winnings. You could play bingo, lotteries, sports betting, and all sorts of gambling categories in Canada without having to pay any taxes.

However, there is one specific case that requires paying taxes on winnings – being a professional gambler. If you play cards professionally for a living, or any other gambling category, you will be requested to pay taxes on your winnings. Canada Revenue Agency is in charge of assessment and other tax-related aspects when it comes to gambling in Canada.

Making Deposit in Canadian Dollars for Canadian Players

One of the main questions that Canadian players have regarding the matter if online gambling is illegal is whether you can deposit and withdraw in C$ currency. Luckily, no regulation forbids Canadians to deposit Canadian dollars on online casinos.

When doing so, if you are a Canadian player, CasinoNow recommends thoroughly checking if the bank you are using supports depositing online casinos. Another thing you should tend to is finding a legitimate online casino to make sure that your payments will get processed without any difficulties.

The possibility of using Cryptocurrency

Like many modern states, Canada does not prohibit the use of cryptocurrency but does not recognize it as legal tender (although it taxes income in the form of cryptocurrency).

Nevertheless, the use of cryptocurrency in online gambling of Canada is widespread (with the exception of government lottery corporations). For example, cryptocurrency is accepted by such well-known casinos as Jackpotcity and Mr Green.

The convenience of cryptocurrency in contrast to credit institutions and payment systems lies in the fact that you cannot be subjected to arbitrary deviations of operations and freezing of funds.

Please note: Information about transactions, including possible ways of making deposits, receiving payments, and means of ensuring the security of payments, is posted by operators in T&C.

Net income without tax. Players in Canada enjoy that gambling revenues are not taxable (unless you are a professional player).

Additional Measures of Players’ Protection and Support from the State and Specialized Organizations

In Canada, as in any civilized country, there are centers for helping players – they operate in every province and territory.

Below are organizations and their hotlines where you can ask for help if you encounter problems with gambling:

  • Alberta Commission Helpline 1-866-332-2322
  • British Columbia Problem Gambling Information and Referral Service 1-888-795-6111
  • Manitoba Gambling Helpline 1-800-463-1554
  • New Brunswick Problem Gamblers Hotline 1-800-461-1234
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Helpline 1-888-899-4357
  • NWT Health and Social Services: 1-800-661-0830
  • Nova Scotia Toll-Free Gambling Helpline 1-888-347-8888
  • Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Helpline 1-800-265-3333
  • ConnexOntario (Problem Gambling Helpline) 1-866-531-2600
  • Prince Edward Island Gambling Addiction Treatment Program 1-888-299-8399
  • Québec – Gambling Help and Referral (514) 527-0140
  • Saskatchewan Problem Gambling Helpline 1-800-306-6789

In addition, the Responsible Gaming Council (RGC), a non-governmental, non-profit organization that operates in Canada, also offers its assistance to people in the fight against gambling addiction.

Also, operators are obliged to provide you with the functionality to limit access to gambling (by setting the maximum duration of playing or the maximum number of bets) to yourself (or a person close to you), or completely eliminate it (using self-exclusion registers). In all modern jurisdictions, this is a mandatory requirement for the licensee. The absence of such a feature indicates low social responsibility or even the illegality of the operator. We recommend that you refrain from choosing such operators.

What other features should be considered when choosing a gambling operator, you can learn from our article on common approaches to the regulation of gambling in the world.

Was Gambling in Canada Illegal?

As part of the CasinoNow tradition, it is important to get to know the history of gambling in Canada, the previous regulations, and bans. Up until the 1980s, gambling was illegal in Canada. That has changed by introducing the first commercial casino in Canada in 1989 in Winnipeg.

In the following few decades, more types of gambling have become legalized by Canadian law. Mostly the regulation was done by the provincial governments which have organized the only legal types of the gamble in Canada in the 20th century. But, that has also changed by the Kahnawake license that enabled some private casinos and foreign casinos but only in the reservation.

Overall, historically speaking, these are the gambling categories regulated by the Canadian provincial government:

  • Casino, poker, slots, and bingo games
  • Lotteries
  • Sports betting

In every period of Canada’s history, these categories were regulated by specific rules each.

Sports betting has always been forbidden in Canada in terms of betting on a single game, which has always made Canadians try to search for a different chance of doing so. The compromise was made when the government decided to legalize parlay bets and a combination of multiple games that all had to be won to withdraw the winnings.

Finally, all players need to know that casino games in Canada always came with taxes on the winnings, no matter how unfair that sounds. Because of the large number of professional players, these winnings are listed as business income and therefore are taxed.

Online Sports Betting in Canada – Is it Illegal?

In 2020, a sport betting online in Canada is completely legal. The only thing that concerns Canadian players is that they are still unable to place a single bet, but that could also change until the end of the year.

What you should consider as a player is choosing a betting site that is licensed by the government of province where you are placing a bet. Up until now, no person was ever accused of placing sports bets, as this gambling area was in the gray zone of Canadian law before it was legalized. Having all of this in mind, you should rest assured when placing online sports bet in Canada.

Gambling in Canada: Average Canadian Player Information

Before getting into more specifics about gambling in Canada, CasinoNow finds it very important to follow the statistics. And here is some of the main statistic information about Canadian players:

  • You are legally allowed to participate in lotteries in Canada over the age of 19, however, the majority of participants are over the age of 35
  • Slot games are a favorite choice of Canadians as over 49% of Canadian players prefer this type of games
  • Ontario and Quebec are among the largest gambling markets in Canada
  • Over 70% of Canadians have participated in any type of games of luck
  • No more of 3% of Canadians will stake more than C$100 on gambling monthly
  • Over 50% of Canadian players are married, over 45 years old and stake no more than C$200 monthly

Having all this information in mind, we can easily state that most Canadians gamble for fun, not for profit

Regular Gamblers in Canada

Being a regular gambler is often misunderstood, since that person doesn’t have to stake on the favorite game more than once a week, to be considered as a regular. So, of course, being a regular gambler in a specific category doesn’t mean that you have a gambling problem; most of the regular gamblers in Canada play bingo, lottery, and scratch tickets.

Having all this in mind, Canada has 27% of regular gamblers, out of which over 50% play lottery games like bingo. The average regular gambler in Canada comes from Ontario or Quebec, at the age of 45-65 and has annual income above C$30,000.

Is Online Gambling in Canada on Foreign Sites Legal?

In Canada, it is forbidden to play on an online casino if it is not licensed by the government. However, there is currently no law forbidding Canadian players to gamble online on international sites.

On the other hand, this is not exactly completely legal neither but rather operates in the gray zone of Canadian law. Knowing this, the majority of international online casinos gladly accept players from Canada, so you should have no problem registering and being able to play at these sites.

Furthermore, gambling on foreign online sites is a much legally safer option than to participate in a lottery organized by a domestic casino which you are not sure that holds the government permission to do so.

Conclusions

Private online casino operators with foreign licenses or Kahnawake licenses are not illegal in Canada, based on its existing laws and how they are currently interpreted.

Therefore, Canadian players are not limited in their choice of betting operators: they can choose between government casinos of the provinces of Canada or private operators. This choice depends on the player’s own preferences and what offers are provided by gaming establishments.

Most often, foreign casinos are favored with more attractive offers in terms of prize money, a wide choice of games and, in general, more developed and friendly software and gaming infrastructure. And it is really difficult to argue with that.

Please note: however, we recommend Canadian players not to forget about their jurisdiction (place of registration) when choosing a casino. While casinos of Canadian provinces are established and operate under Canadian laws, foreign casinos act in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which they are registered and where they obtained the license. Accordingly, all disputes and claims to casinos will be resolved in the jurisdictions of their owners and according to the rules established in these jurisdictions (in the case of Kahnawake, the dispute can be resolved by KWG, that is, within Canada. However, in the case of litigation, one would most likely have to appeal to foreign jurisdictions).

Therefore, we recommend conducting a proper check of the operator and ensuring its integrity and reliability, examining the casino T&C and paying attention to the place of company’s registration and which jurisdiction its license belongs to. For convenience, we have compiled a rating of reliable casinos with a good reputation and interesting gaming offers in Canada.

In our article you can find out more about the reasons to conduct a casino check, how to conduct it, and how this information can be useful.

Also, on our site you can find information about licensing companies in different countries and how to check the validity of licenses of specific jurisdictions.

Predictions

At the moment, gambling regulation in Canada looks like a huge “Berlin wall” raised across the entire border of the country, but this wall is full of holes through which online gambling operators, formally “unapproved by the authorities,” make their way into the Canadian market. Moreover, the Canadian authorities understand that there is no need for such a wall of unconditional prohibitions, divorced from modern realities. But for now, they do not dare to demolish this outdated structure and come up with new adequate regulation, although they do not strongly strive to counteract the existing “gray zones.”

However, from our point of view, such ignoring of problems will not last long, and in the near future, we will see qualitative changes in the regulation of gambling in Canada. At least we hope so, especially considering the events occurring at the present time, which should affect the further development of gambling in Canada:

  • the already mentioned case of appealing against CRTC Bill 74 of Quebec – the final decision on the legality of the activities of private online operators based on the current laws of the country depends on it.
  • In addition, attempts to legitimize the single-event sports betting are reviving in Canada – Canadian Gaming Association works with the Federal Member of Parliament to approve the amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada.

It should be noted that this is the third attempt to adopt such amendments, and so far it hasn’t moved beyond the level of discussion, but it is possible, given the accumulated problems in Canadian gambling sector and the attention of industry and society in general, that both parties will be able to come up with the regulations and create healthy conditions for the activities of this huge and profitable sector of the economy.

About the author

James Taylor

James Taylor

James Taylor is the chief editor of CasinoNow Canada Portal. This is the professional name of our bilingual go-to guy who adds value to all our work. He has been working as editor-in-chief at CasionNow Canada since 2018. Previously, he studied at the University of Quebec in Montreal and worked in market research companies.

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