A Complete Guide to Canada Gambling Laws

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Canada is a vast nation and is one of the biggest in the world. Even though less than 40 million people are living in the country, it has one of the highest concentrations of gamblers. There are many reasons for this, including the weather (it is cold many months of the year) and the ease of access (many people live in remote areas).

Canadians have been betting on sports, playing their favorite slots and table games, and trying to win the big jackpot in the lottery for decades. But what exactly are the laws that govern in-person and online gambling in Canada? We’re going to take a look at the different types of Canada gambling laws on this page.

Who Decides Canada’s Gambling Laws?

Let’s start by outlining how gambling laws in Canada are managed. A few decades ago, the Government of Canada decided that the country was too big, with too many differing opinions on gambling to govern it with one set of laws. It was in the early 1970s when the government decided to give the rights to legislating and regulating gaming to each of the provinces. That mandate continues to date (with a couple of exceptions), with each province creating their gambling governing body.

Are There Online Gambling Laws in Canada?

While there has been a lot of talk in the last decade about enacting online gambling laws in Canada, none have been passed. For now, you can access any online gambling sites that are open to Canadian residents. Over the last decade, the governments of many provinces have added online versions of their land-based offerings; however, these trail far behind the online operators in both quality and traffic.

The lack of online gambling laws in Canada has brought many professional poker players from the United States, which took a hard stance on online poker in 2011. As a result, many of the top online gambling sites like PokerStars and partypoker continue to thrive.

Online casinos and sportsbooks in Canada also continue to be very popular. Under Canada gambling laws, these sites are allowed to advertise via traditional media methods, and that’s why they continue to add more new players. However, it is still important to find a site that provides the best product and offers to enhance the overall player experience. Here are some examples of the top online gambling sites in the Canadian market.

Sports Betting Laws in Canada

Sports betting has been at the forefront of the discussion around gambling in Canada ever since the US government reversed its stance on the topic in 2018.

When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) repealed, the floodgates opened to regulated sports betting across the country.

As Canadians are only a border north of their American counterparts, the news traveled quickly, which opened the door to discussing the idea of legalizing sports betting in Canada.

The sports betting laws in Canada are a little complicated. It is legal in many provinces to play a parlay-style game available at lottery retailers, which is administered by the lottery itself. However, the odds of winning those tickets is much lower than betting on the games individually. Unfortunately for Canadians, there is a federal law in place that explicitly prohibits betting on the outcome of a single sporting event.

However, the odds of winning those tickets is much lower than betting on the games individually. Unfortunately for Canadians, there is a federal law in place that explicitly prohibits betting on the outcome of a single sporting event.

Online Sports Betting Sites

Still, these Canada gambling laws don’t stop players from flocking to online sports betting sites to make their bets. With the lack of legislation around online gambling, many top sites are taking real-money wagers from Canadian players. This tends to peak for Canadians during the months that hockey season is taking place. Add in the recent international success of Canadian sports teams like the Toronto Raptors, and the interest in betting on sports in the country has reached a fever pitch.

Fantasy Sports Laws in Canada

Over the last few years, fantasy sports has seen a seismic shift in delivery and popularity.  While there are still thousands of people who love to play in their favorite sport’s fantasy leagues, the advent of daily fantasy sports forever changed the way the game is played.

Under Canada gambling laws, daily fantasy sports fall into the category of unregulated products. This means you can access the large sites and play your favorite games whenever you like.

Lottery Laws in Canada

As with all the other forms of gambling, lotteries are regulated on a provincial level. Each province has its local games that vary from scratch tickets available at retailers. There’s also weekly draws that offer players the chance to win much larger prizes.

There are a couple of exceptions to lottery laws in Canada. The provincial governments agreed to manage multiple nationwide lottery games jointly. These games can be played at the same retailers that sell local games. They give players the chance to win pooled jackpots, which can see winners well into the eight-figure mark.

Multi-Colored Lottery Balls

Over the last 10 years, Canadian gambling laws have seen an expansion in lottery regulations to include being able to buy draw lottery games online from their computer or phone. This allows players to make an account and subscribe to many draws in advance, eliminating the need to hear to a retail outlet and manage a physical ticket.

Casino Laws in Canada

Most of the provinces now offer land-based casino gambling to their residents. There aren’t as many casinos in the country as you might think. However, the landmass is so big that it is spread out in an attempt to draw business from rural areas.

The casinos in Canada are also licensed and regulated by the lottery corporations. There has been an expansion of casino gambling since 2000. Many of the racetracks dealing with failing horseracing revenue numbers were allowed to add slots gaming to their properties. In the last couple of years, this casino licensing was expanded to add video poker and table games as well.

Legal land-based casinos in Canada are no different than many casinos in the United States and elsewhere when it comes to the games you see on the floor.

Many of the top slot machine vendors are represented. However, one main difference in Canada is that all alcohol on the premises must be purchased. There are no comp drinks at a Canadian casino to help loosen up the players.

As with sports betting, there are no Canada gambling laws regarding playing online. So, if you don’t feel like driving to a casino, you can always gamble online.

Bingo Laws in Canada

There was a time when bingo halls were all the rage. They seemed to be all over the place, and they were packed with people coming to play for big prizes. These days, there aren’t nearly the number of games available, and the majority of bingo halls are closed. The game is legal and licensed by each province. You are more likely to find larger games in rural areas of the country where there are fewer entertainment options available for residents.

Bingo Balls Representing Each Color That Corresponds With Each Letter Called

Many players have found online bingo to be an excellent replacement for the shuttered bingo halls in their town. An online bingo site typically offers games starting every couple of minutes. Many offer side games like slots and video poker to help enhance the excitement factor.


What is the Legal Age for Gambling in Canada?

The legal age for gambling in Canada varies depending on what it is that you are looking to play. If you want to play bingo or any games sold at a lottery retailer, the minimum age is 18 years old. However, to step foot onto a casino floor to gamble, the legal age increases to 19.

Many online casinos vary in the minimum age between 18 and 19 as well. Your best bet is to look at the bottom of the homepage of the site you are thinking of joining to see the rules for that particular company.

Can I Play at Online Casinos in Canada Even Though There Are No Laws?

Yes, you can! As mentioned above on this page, no Canada gambling laws are restricting you from playing at an online casino. As long as the casino you select accepts Canadian players, and you have the appropriate funding method to make your deposit, your favorite casino games await!

James Peralta

As a recent addition to the GamblingSites.org team, James Peralta has been covering everything about casinos, sports, and laws that are specific to online gambling in Canada. James started writing about sports in 2007 during his first year at U of T Mississauga. ...

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