It is legal to gamble at online casinos in Canada, though the national and provincial governments place some restrictions on play. Canadian gamblers need to learn the limitations, but otherwise should find a much more welcoming computer gaming environment than their counterparts in the United States.
Canada takes a more relaxed stance on online gambling than its neighbor to the south, the United States. Federal and provincial agencies have chosen neither to block nor prosecute online casino operators in the country. Instead, Canadian officials hope to see their own gaming portals become productive and alluring in comparison to the international online casino operators.
Players can find 256 licensed online casinos which support the Canadian dollar and the English language. For the French speakers, players can find 147 licensed online casinos which support the Canadian dollar and the French language. Gamblers should have no trouble finding an operator which provides everything they want, though a few gaming companies you might expect to find are excluded.
Is It Legal to Gamble Online in Canada?
It is legal to gamble online in Canada, at least at the national level. Regulation is done by the various provinces and territories. Most of the provinces have strict regulation and oversight of the brick-and-mortar gaming industries, while allowing the international licensing authorities to license online casinos. The one major exception in a non-provincial authority: the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.
Online gambling in Canada falls into two main categories: First Nations and provincial. The federal government allows the provinces to offer online gambling to their residents (or not). The First Nations tribes claim they have the sovereign right to offer such gaming, also. At present, only the Kahnawake Gaming Commission among First Nations tribal authorities offer online casino licensing. Several other tribes are looking into the idea.
Taxes on Winnings
Canadian tax laws on gambling winnings is similar to what are found in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Most casino winnings are not taxed, though they might be taxable if it’s part of a business transaction. Professional gamblers might find their winnings taxed in Canada, though amateur players are not likely to have to worry about such things. This is because it is the livelihood of pro players, while they often enter into staking arrangements for sponsors to pay for their entry into tournaments.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is one of the chief licensing agencies in the online gambling industry. Kahnawake is a First Nations tribal gaming authority found across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Their reservation if called the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake. The commission established its regulations in a set of laws called “Regulations concerning Interactive Gaming”, which were established on July 8, 1999.
Websites can be regulated through the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, but their websites must be hosted by Mohawk Internet Technologies. This is a data center managed by Continent 8 Technologies and located within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake.
British Columbia – Play Now
British Columbia was the first Canadian province to offer its own official online casino website, called “Play Now”. The casino launched in 2010 and was enough of a success that other provinces and territories have considered the proposition. Of the other provinces, only Ontario has prepared to launch its own gaming portal, which came online in 2015.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission
Starting in January 2015, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission announced it would launch its own online casino. The Online Lottery & Gaming Commission website doesn’t just sell lotto tickets; it offers games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat, slot machines, and single-person poker. The site has a “mandatory weekly maximum” amount a player can deposit in a website, but the upward limit is $9,900, so problem gamblers certainly can exist on the site. The Commission said it expected most deposits to be about $75 and $80.
Canada has powerful and well-financed lottery companies. Most provinces have one or more lotto corporations which are affiliated with the government on some level. The commissions which oversee such activity often own the lottery corporation, which could be leading to states getting involved in the online gambling industry.
Bans on Ontario Gambling
Certain sites which accept Canadians ban gamblers from certain provinces. For instance, the Club World Casinos do not allow people from Ontario IP addresses to gamble on their websites. Ontario, despite allowing one of their lottery companies to run an Internet gaming site, sometimes makes difficulties for specific gaming operators.
Individual cities in Ontario sometimes pass bans on online gambling. Markham, a city of 300,000 people in the Greater Toronto, has a ban against online gambling. Years ago, I would notice that every city and region of Canada allowed online gambling, except for Kahnawake and Markham. While I can see why a ban exists in the gaming licensing center, I never learned why Markham takes such a hardline stance. One possible explanation of the founders of PokerStars lived in nearby Richmond Hill, so perhaps the city decided to ban online casinos due to an association.