Is Gambling Legal in Canada?

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Gambling has been around for eons, and today there are tons of online and offline options to make it more fun to play casino games, place sports bets, and so on. However, you might be wondering about the legality of gambling in Canada. This will help to clarify whether or not it’s legal to bet in the North American country, and if so, which cases that’s true.

It’s safe to say that Canada is in the middle regarding gambling legislation. That’s not just about the country being a US/UK blend. It also involves the issue of Internet gambling in Canada.


The US has taken various steps to shutdown Internet gambling. There have been various reasons given including moral, but it seems to be more about profits. In 2006 the US government passed a bill that made is illegal to do credit card transaction linked to web-based gambling. The goal was to stop off-shore casinos and poker sites that were operating in places such as Malta and Costa Rica.

The US also has the 1961 Wire Act. However, it was ruled recently that the act isn’t related to Internet poker.


However, European countries have taken a different approach to online gambling. The British Parliament passed a 2005 law that allows Internet gambling sites to operate within their country. They’re taxed and must be fully regulated.

In summary, the UK regulated and taxes online gambling, while the US has taken steps to curb Internet gambling.

Canada is somewhere between the UK and the USregarding national identity. In a similar way, it’s also in the mushy middle about gambling laws. It’s difficult to define where the country stands on the issues. The situation is complex due to the criminal code, a government that often takes a “wait and see” approach, etc.

Regarding Canada’s criminal code, before 1969 it was impossible to bet on anything within the country except charity lotteries, lotteries at fairs, and horse races. The situation changed that year when the federal government altered the criminal code so the feds and 10 provinces could legally hold lotteries.


The Criminal Code of Canada states it’s illegal to operate a better house. However, it doesn’t mention an online betting house. So it’s unclear if web-based casinos/poker sites are included.

Then there’s the issue of “offshore” online casino sites. It seems to suggest sites outside the nation. That could include the Caribbean or similar areas. Some sites operate in areas such as Costa Rica, which are similar exotic areas, but it’s not entirely a clear situation.


Another issue is that servers of some of the world’s largest Internet casinos are located in Canada. That complicates the situation.

Then there are the Canadian laws related to gambling and online casinos. Today many Canadians are still gambling on offshore sites. One reason is that many of the sites had good reputations, so there didn’t seem to be any issues.

These are some of the major issues related to gambling laws in Canada, which you should be aware of.


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