Online casinos have taken the world by storm, allowing everyone to experience the thrills of a land-based operator from the comfort of their own homes. Whilst less developed than other countries, the Canadian market has started to swell in recent years. Unfortunately, as is often the case with new innovations, the legal system has been a little slow to catch-up. This has led to a number of grey areas emerging within the country's online casino laws.
Whilst this is the case, that should not deter you from playing within the country. In fact, there are a number of perfectly legal ways in which you can do this. Here we will provide an overview of the current online casino laws, so you can play with total confidence.
Whilst many countries take an extreme stance on gambling, either in favour or against, Canada has gained a reputation for moderation. After initially outlawing gambling back in 1890s, its undiminished popularity saw this ban lifted in the 1970s. Initially, this new legislation included bingo, and horse racing betting, before gaming machines joined them in the next decade.
The most recent reforms have seen oversight of these regulations passed to the individual provinces. Whilst this is good news, if you live in a more liberal province, it has ultimately led to grey areas emerging within the online casino laws.
Right, so now we've established why there are grey areas within the online casino laws, let's take a closer look at the individual provinces. First up, Ontario. Currently, there is just one locally authorised onshore operator within the province - PlayOLG.ca. PlayOLG.ca is operated by the province's own Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation, though they recently announced plans to allow private operators into the market. This is the reverse of what is going on in Quebec. Currently, players within the province can play with any licensed operator. This may change, however, with plans in motion to change the province's online casino laws. The new proposals will make only Loto-Quebec licensed operator playable - this would include the province owned Espacejeux.
British Columbia and Manitoba are the two other provinces with government-owned gaming sites - PlayNow & PlayNow Manitoba. None of the other provinces or territories have their own licensed gambling products, though players across Canada can still benefit from playing at casinos based offshore. More on that next.
Whilst it is against online casino law for onshore operators to do business without a provincial license, there is a loophole for those based overseas. This is because there is no explicit statement, within the online casino laws of Canada, that prevents players from using sites based outside of its jurisdiction. So, although it is illegal for operators within the country to offer services without a local license, overseas operators are not obliged to observe these same rules.
As such, falling foul of online casino laws shouldn't be a concern for players - so long as an operator has some form of license. You should, however, ensure any license demands the same high standards as those authorised within the country. The Malta Gaming Authority and UK Gambling Commission, for example, are internationally recognised and should give players full confidence. For more information, have a look at our homepage.