Canada’s gambling laws – are they beneficial to the country?

There are currently 19.3 citizens that regularly participate in online gaming in Canada, in which Canada’s gambling scene is similar to that of the United States. As one of the countries leading past times, Canadians are thought to spend over $17 billion per year in Canadian casinos and a staggering $4 billion at overseas casinos, making them a major contributor to the market. However, Canada’s gambling laws are not clear-cut. Whilst there have been a lot of changes to gambling laws since the previous century, in which there is now much more freedom to participate in betting and gambling, there’s still a lot of confusion over online betting and gambling.

For those who are considering trying out online gaming and gambling for the first time, the rules can be majorly confusing and has many people wondering whether or not they could be breaking the law. In the following article, we’ll look into what the Canadian laws are on betting and gambling and explain exactly what you can and can’t do, so you can focus on the game.

An overview of Canada’s gambling laws

The gaming and gambling laws in Canada have generally been very strict, in which it wasn’t until the 1970’s that legislation was significantly relaxed. During this time, the Reformed Criminal Code gave each individual province within Canada the authority to license and manage their own gaming laws. From this date, many of the provinces opened their own land based casinos and sports betting venues, as well as managing local lotteries.

To this date, gaming is legalized in Canada; however, the local province must license the outlet that is providing these types of services. Many of the sports betting venues are strictly regulated and are run by a company know as Sports Select. The name of these sports betting venues is different in each province and although they are run legally, they offer very restricted ways to bet.

Any gambling or betting institutions within Canada that is not licensed by the local government for that province or territory is classed as illegal. However, this does not mean to say that there aren’t unlicensed institutions within Canada as a certain amount of illegal betting goes on via way of things such as private betting houses, non-government-regulated video gaming and lottery machines.

Online gambling laws

Whilst physical venues used to once be the most popular way for Canadians to participate in gambling activities, statistics now show that there are over 2000 gambling websites in the country. Statistics show that land-based casinos return only 60% in wins, indicating a potential reason why online gambling is becoming significantly more popular.

For those that are interested in playing on a Canadian online casino, it can be useful to compare some of the casino offers and bonuses for first time players in which there are usually plenty of incentives such as bonus rounds, free spins and much more. In addition, with higher jackpots available and larger return on wins, it seems that online gambling is becoming increasingly more beneficial that visiting a physical casino.

One thing to note is that the laws for online gambling in Canada is open to interpretation, in which they are not all that clear. The rules clearly state that it is illegal for any gambling institution to offer services to a Canadian citizen if the local government does not license their establishment. However, if the establishment is outside of Canada and on international soil, there is debate that Canadian law does not apply to them.

The rule is only applicable to the establishment and it is therefore not clear whether or not is it illegal for a Canadian citizen to engage in online gambling with a foreign provider. However, there is no evidence to suggest anyone in Canada has been warned, arrested or charged for such an offence previously.

The good news is that Canadian citizens are able to place wagers online and can also purchase lottery tickets from a licensed source.

Canadian gambling taxes

As gambling is not considered as a business in Canada, the good news is that consumers do not have to pay taxes on physical or online winnings. This means that no matter how much your jackpot is, you can keep every cent for yourself, providing they are genuine winnings. The games that are included in non-taxable winnings are considered games of chance, such as sports betting and online casinos.

However, it is worth noting that if you earn interest on your winnings then this must be declared by filling out a T5 form. Consumers who don’t do this can risk facing a fine so it’s best to get it out in the open.

Differentially, full time gamblers who are making a living off of their gaming activity, either on or offline are required to pay tax. This is due to professional gamblers such as poker players being viewed as operating their own freelance business.

Overall, the gambling laws in Canada do enable players to participate in a variety of games, both on and offline. While each territory is able to enforce their own laws on gambling, this can make the industry a little more restrictive than the likes of Great Britain, however there are a number of great opportunities in physical and online casinos.



About Joel Levy 2101 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography