Online gambling in Canada is more or less legal. For years Canadians have used online casinos and played online poker games without being charged with any crime. The legal status of gambling online isn’t clearly spelled out in Canada’s criminal code. Online casinos have been operating in Canada for years and neither the online casinos themselves nor the Canadians who use them have ever been charged with violating Canadian gambling laws. The wording of the Canadian Criminal Code with respect to online gambling is very complex and rarely, if ever, invoked.
Prior to the 1960s the Canadian government had been strongly against any form of gambling. Since then the government has given each province the option to regulate gambling as it sees fit. Some provinces used that freedom to build casinos and run lotteries. But online gambling isn’t addressed in the Canadian Criminal Code. This legal grey area has allowed online poker games and casinos to flourish. At one point the Attorney General said it was illegal for Indian reservations to have servers which host online poker rooms and casinos. But they still operate and no one was ever charged.
In Canada it is only legal to bet on sporting events online if you are placing parlay bets on three matches or more. However, there’s a movement afoot to have this restriction removed from the Canadian Criminal Code and allow Canadians the freedom to place bets on single games or sporting events. Canadians have numerous online poker sites on which they can gamble. However the only ones hosted in Canada are on Indian reservations. Money won gambling online in Canada is tax free unless it is part of a business-oriented transaction. Professional poker players may have to pay taxes.
Canada does not have national gaming authorities or regulators. Each province is in charge of regulating its own online casinos, poker, and gambling sites. Those provincial regulating bodies ensure the online casinos operate fairly. They govern the sites and handle any disputes. They can pull an online casino’s license and bar them from continuing to operate should they violate the rules set by the gaming authorities and regulators.
Although millions of Canadians play poker online and use online casinos, the laws governing online gambling remains unclear. If you are uncertain if a particular online casino is legal, you should take the time to check on its status. However, no one has ever been arrested for gambling online in Canada. For many people it is simply their preferred form of harmless entertainment.