Online Casinos Canada
Like many countries, the online gambling laws in Canada exist in a ‘grey area’. While gambling online is not explicitly criminalized, it no explicitly permitted either. Power to license and regulate casinos is devolved to the individual territories in Canada. Several of these provide their own ‘government approved’ gambling portals offering casino, poker and limited sports betting opportunities.
This article takes a detailed look at the legal environment for online casino gambling in Canada. First of all below, the current legal setup, areas for concern and what this means for individual players is discussed. After that some of the effects on Canadian players of the laws down in the US are covered. With a wide choice of casinos available, I have provided some advice for making sure you play with a legitimate and trusted operator at the bottom of this page.
Current Legal Environment for Canada Online Casinos
First things first – no individual has ever been charged with any offense (or even arrested) for playing real money casino games online in Canada. The discussion below concerning ‘grey areas’ of the law should be seen in the context of complete non-enforcement.
Gambling site operators are not allowed to keep their servers on Canadian soil. This has led to a dispute with the Mohawk tribe, on their native Kahnawake territory. This is a self-governing tribal land, which is located inside Canada’s borders. This is also the home to the North American servers of some of the biggest casino operators around. Hosting these servers is technically illegal, though there has been no enforcement and there are no direct effects on players other than the potential for games being slower to load at some point in the future.
Individual territories in Canada have the power to license casino operators. Instead of going down that route, they have created their own gambling portals which do include casino games. While these are reasonably popular, they are rather limited in game selection. Most casino players prefer the larger international sites, which have a much better choice of games and better promotions and bonuses too.
Tax laws in Canada follow the model from the UK and Ireland. Gambling income is not taxed in general. If this becomes your only or main source of income (for example you become a professional poker player), then you may be subject to taxation.
As thing stand, Canadians have a huge choice of casinos to play at. These include the giant brands which provide the cutting-edge slot games and have a huge choice of titles. There are occasional debates from conservative groups within the government on banning or tightly regulating online gambling activities – usually playing the ‘problem gamblers’ card. These have not made it into any form of legislation at the time of writing.
Effects of US Laws on Canadian Gamblers
Unfortunately, the strict laws on banking transactions to gambling sites in the USA do have an effect on Canadians. Many banks in Canada have US subsidiaries, and are concerned that these could find themselves contravening the UIGEA. This means that banks put a blanket block on gambling transactions within Canada, even though they are completely legal. Added to this is the inconvenience of having many of the 3rd party e-wallet payment systems also pull out of the Canadian market for the same reason. Fortunately there are plenty of options for deposits and withdrawals which are still working fine.
Casinos Available for Canada
You can enjoy a wide choice of the biggest and best international casinos from Canada. With all the well-known brands available, it makes little sense to risk unknown outfits, however amazing their bonus offers seem. In the past your choice of casinos would have been heavily influenced by your choice of software platform (MicroGaming, PlayTech, NetEnt and so on). Nowadays, there are a lot of casino brands which are integrating the games from several different software providers, and making them available in your browser window or via mobile devices.
Instead, the main focus can be on trust and how well a casino looks after their long term and loyal players.
Trust includes a gaming license – global casino brands normally have licenses in the key European jurisdictions such as Gibraltar, Malta or Alderney. You should also be checking for external testing of game fairness, and if possible a chart outlining the payback percentages of the individual games. A quick search online should also reveal any issues with payments or scandals surrounding an individual operator.
Finally, the bonuses and ongoing promotions should be checked. The headline rates all look very similar, and instead you should be checking the terms and conditions for wager-through requirements, excluded games and whether the bonus (or just the winnings) can be cashed out. I also like to make sure there are plenty of promotions and incentives for loyal players. These will have a bigger effect on your bankroll over time than the welcome bonus will.