Best Canadian Gambling Sites

As is usually the case across the board, when discussing the real money online gambling industry, Canada is lumped into all discussions that refer to the folks from the United States. We are here to defend the neighbors to the north and let you know that not only is Canada a different gambling jurisdiction, but you can also make the argument that Canadians have had an even bigger impact on the industry than Americans.

We review all online gambling sites that we come across, and this page is dedicated to giving a more in-depth review of the Canadian online gambling market and what Canadian residents can expect when they want to place a bet.

Before we dive into the details of the Canadian market, we thought it would be a good idea to give you a sense of what sites we recommend for your play. As with all of our reviews, we put a team of experts on each site to determine which are the best sites according to our in-house rankings. We will examine some of the factors we take into consideration when building our rankings a little further down this page. In the meantime,

Here Are Our Top Recommended Canadian-Friendly Gambling Sites:

RankCanadian Gambling SiteSign Up BonusCasinoSportsPokerGet Started
#1BetwayBetway100% up to $1,000Check MarkCheck MarkCheck MarkVisit Site
#2BodogBodog100% up to $200Check MarkCheck MarkCheck MarkVisit Site
#3777 Casino777 Casino100% up to $200Check MarkX-MarkX-MarkVisit Site
#4888 Casino888 Casino100% up to $200Check MarkX-MarkX-MarkVisit Site
#5Bet365Bet365100% up to $200Check MarkCheck MarkCheck MarkVisit Site

A History of Online Gambling in Canada

As we mentioned right off the top, despite their close proximity, the online gambling climate is very different in the U.S. than it is in the Canada. Now, in the infancy of the industry, the two were far more similar, with both having access to the best sites, the largest promotions around the world, and a full range of products available for play. While the U.S. government began to find ways to shut down the companies offering bets to its residents, the Canadian government turned a blind eye to the whole thing...until recently (more on that to follow).

One critical piece of information you may not know about the Canadian representation in the online gambling space is that many of the first software pioneers were from that country. In the early days of the online casino world, two giants on the software side of the business were Cryptologic and Chartwell, both of which built their software in Canada.

In addition to those groups, two individuals really put Canada on the online gambling map, building large organizations that have been legendary in this business. Calvin Ayre started his small sports betting software company on the West Coast, and after trying unsuccessfully to license the package, he decided to become an operator. He built a lifestyle brand around his sportsbook and added casino and poker games to the mix. By the early 2000s, the name Bodog was known both inside and outside the industry, thanks in part to Ayre's desire to himself become a celebrity. Ayre's ego got the better of him, and he became the target of U.S. authorities. Bodog had to change itself to stay in business, and Calvin himself has "retired" to Antigua.

The other Canadian titan of the online gambling industry is Isai Scheinberg, the Israeli-Canadian founder of PokerStars. A former IBM executive, he started building poker software in the late 1990s. Talk about being in the right place at the right time...when they were launched and grew in 2003, one of their qualifiers became the most famous amateur poker player of all time. A WSOP main event win by Chris Moneymaker wearing a PokerStars hat was the best press that Scheinberg (and the industry as a whole for that matter) could receive, and the juggernaut took off. Since then, PokerStars has grown to be one of the largest organizations in the gaming market. After their U.S. business had shut down, PokerStars paid a hefty fine to the U.S. government, and recently Scheinberg and his family sold the company to Canadian software firm Amaya Gaming for 5 billion dollars. You can read that story here:

The legal landscape in Canada when it comes to online gambling is cloudy at best. There are no official laws making online gambling illegal for either operators or players, which means that it is ultimately up to each operator to decide if they want to take Canadian action. In our individual site reviews, you can easily see which are not available to Canadians, but for the most part, sites will accept your deposits and wagers.

In the early 2000s, some of the provincial lotteries started to wonder what they could do to win back the revenue being lost to these offshore gambling sites. In Canada, the provinces hold the lottery and casino licensing control, as there is no federal management of these programs. Several provincial lotteries decided to extend their land based casino legislation to include an online offering, which would only be owned and operated by these governments. In 2004, the government of British Columbia launched PlayNow.com, and other provinces followed suit over the years, including the largest province, Ontario.

While these sites were designed to give Canadians a safer option for depositing funds, quite honestly the gambling public had long passed the concerns about how to trust offshore sites. Also, when these sites launched, the Canadian government didn't do anything to prevent offshore sites from accepting players from Canada, so there wasn't much reason for a player of a site to switch to the "legal" sites. All of this added up to a dull thud of a launch, and while the sites continue to grow slowly, the promotions that are found on the offshore sites are considerably better for Canadian players.

Canada Gambling Laws

Mobile Gambling in Canada

Another significant difference between the U.S. and Canada in the online gambling space is the mobile landscape. At the time of writing this piece, several major brands have custom apps of their products available in the Google and Apple App stores. While some limit you to playing free games, there are many across the different product verticals where you can play for real money.

Whether you are looking to make some best on your favorite sport, or maybe take on the rest of the world in a big poker tournament, or even spend a few quick minutes at the roulette wheel, Canadians are in luck!

What to Look For in an Online Gambling Site in Canada

Regardless of the legal climate in the country, there are literally hundreds of options for Canadians when selecting a site for real money online gambling. With so many options, it is important to know what to look for when making your decision. At Gamblingsites.org, we give you every detail of an online gambling site that you need to be an informed player. In fact, many of our reviewers are Canadians themselves, so you are getting a first-hand report on many of these brands. In general, there are a few aspects of any online gambling site that you should be looking at before making your deposits.

Banking Options

Fortunately, up in Canada, you don't have the same problems with making deposits and withdrawals that our neighbors to the south face. However, it is important to register with as many of the third-party payment processors as you will likely be using one of those methods at least for withdrawals.

Depending on the site you choose, you will find banking options that include credit cards (depending on your individual bank), debit cards, Neteller, Skrill, or bank transfers as the most common. While each site will have minimum deposit levels for each particular option, you will usually find all these options (and maybe some more) at Canadian-friendly sites.

Customer Service

We recommend finding sites with excellent customer service no matter where you are playing from, but in Canada, this is even more of a paramount item. With a country whose time zones span four and a half hours from coast to coast, a site that doesn't have 24/7 customer care can be a huge pain. We review all our sites with this in mind.

A quick scan of our Canadian-friendly sites will show you which offer 24/7 customer service either by email, live chat or telephone.

A second issue that arises for Canadian online gamblers (as with everything else in this country) is language. A significant number of Canadians use French as their mother tongue. Coming across a customer service operation that cannot cater to French players is also a huge negative for us when we are reviewing Canadian sites. Thankfully many sites offer their customer service in both languages, so your options are not too limited.

Type of Offering

As with all our reviews, pointing out what sites offer more than one vertical is a critical piece to ensuring that our players get the most out of their gambling experience. With the options being significantly better as a result of the lack of online gambling regulations, you can find many sites that offer more than just one type of game. The advantages of having more than one offering are clear: the fewer sites you need to play at to find all the games you like, the less registering and depositing you need to undertake.

These days, the most common multi-channel sites in the Canadian market are the poker sites that offer casino games as well. If you are looking for a site that offers sports betting, you are likely also going to find casino games there as well. Finally, for those of you who don't want your promotions confused by having different clearing rates for the different products, there is a myriad of casino-only offerings out there to choose from.

Localized Promotions

All successful online gambling operations have an excellent marketing department. These folks are tasked with bringing you the types of promotions that will encourage you to register, deposit and be loyal players. Any group looking to take their marketing to the next level will then start to offer players promotions specially designed for their location. This usually requires a lot more legwork, but some markets are given more importance to an online gambling site than others. Canada falls right into that group; the quality of player from Canada from a revenue-generation standpoint is significantly higher than many other countries.

So, what should you be looking for in these promotions?

Well, first off, you should be looking for value. For example, many sites offer promotions that are only open to Canadian players, meaning that you are competing with a much smaller group of people. This means your chances of winning that promotion are greater than if you were in a global pool of players.

Also, you should be looking for lifestyle-themed promotions that match your desires. There are a lot of online gambling sites that create marketing partnerships with land based casinos and sports teams; as a result, you can find a different level of promotions. Perhaps rather than playing for a cash prize, you would get more enjoyment winning a trip to watch your favorite hockey team play. Or maybe you can't make it to Las Vegas to play in the WSOP, but you would like to qualify for the Canadian Poker championships instead? Many sites have these types of contests tailored for the Canadian market that complement their global offering. As a Canadian, you get the best of both worlds!

Conclusion

The Canadian online gambling market continues to be one of the most active around the world. With so many sites to choose from, including many legal government-run options, there is no shortage of places for Canadians to get their real-money gambling fix. We hope you have enjoyed our review of the Canadian online gambling industry and checked back here for any updates as the news could bring change at any time.

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