Best online casinos in Canada
The internet can make it seem like anything and everything is accessible online, no matter where you reside. The truth is that different countries have their own specific rules when it comes to regulating online activity, including online gambling.
It is important to know what laws control gambling where you are so you don’t fall foul of these rules. On this page, we will be explaining how Canada regulates the gambling sector within its borders, including land-based and online casinos, as well as a brief history of gambling in the Great White North.
It’s important to note that laws can undergo reform when necessary and we strive to provide the latest updates on RightCasino. If in doubt, check back here for the latest in gambling legislation from Canada.
Navigate to the following topics:
- Online Casino Reviews for Canada
- Gambling laws in the Canada
- Gambling culture in the Canada
- Land-based casinos in the Canada
- Online gambling in the Canada
- Online casinos accepting Canadian players
- How we review online casinos
Online Casino Reviews for Canada
Gambling laws in Canada
Before 1970, gambling in all its forms was illegal in Canada. As you might expect, this meant brisk trade for those offering gambling opportunities on the sly as the only way for a person to make a bet was to do so through shady, underground means, often linked to organised crime.
A change in the Criminal Code in 1970 loosened these restrictions somewhat but the big overhaul happened in 1985, when each of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories were given the freedom to determine their own laws regarding gambling.
This led to the opening of land-based casinos across the country and the introduction of activities like lotteries, charitable gaming and so on. But it also means that there no single overarching legal framework that covers the entire Canadian nation.
In 2010, the Criminal Code was changed again, this time to categorise activities like offering illegal betting services, committing gambling fraud and cheating as serious offences, with a maximum of up to 5 years in jail as punishment.
Gambling culture in Canada
Gambling has been part of pretty much every civilisation in history and the Canadian First Nations people enjoyed games of chance and skill long before the Europeans showed up and settled there in the 1530s.
Today, the gambling industry provides 135,000 Canadians with full-time jobs, generates some $9 billion in taxes annually and is the largest sector within the entertainment industry, according to the Canadian Gaming Association.
The data available covers all forms of gambling, including casino betting, lotteries, and online casinos, so it doesn’t tell us a lot about which kind of gambling is Canada’s favourite, based on revenue. We do know that casinos (online and land-based) and lotteries are the most popular activities.
Land-based casinos in Canada
There are land-based casinos in all but three of the nation’s 10 provinces. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland & Labrador and New Brunswick do not have any casinos within their borders. The remaining seven provinces have at least one.
Ontario contributes the largest proportion of gambling revenues, followed by Quebec and British Columbia. Resorts like Manoir Richelieu and Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Niagara Fallsview Casino in Ontario and the Edgewater Casino in BC draw gamblers and other visitors in huge numbers. They offer dining and entertainment options as well as gambling activities.
There are also a number of casinos operated by First Nations tribes within their reservations. These are open to the general public and venues like Casino Rama, in Ontario, have played host to international musical acts over the years as well, further enhancing their appeal.
Online gambling in Canada
The funny thing about online gambling in Canada is that it’s not legal and it’s also not illegal. On the one hand, operating an online casino in Canada is illegal. Provinces operate their own lotteries, where players can buy tickets online, and government-approved betting opportunities on sports are also available but running an online casino from Canada is not allowed.
On the other hand, a large number of online operators are based outside of Canada, in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Therefore it can be argued that those companies are not in breach of Canadian law. This is particularly interesting when it comes to casinos licensed in Kahnawake, but more on that later.
In essence, Canada does not allow online casinos to operate from within its borders but does not stop its citizens from accessing online casino products that are offered by operators based overseas.
Online casino licensing
This legal ‘grey area’ puts Canadian players in something of an awkward position. While they can enjoy online gambling offered by operators based elsewhere, it does mean that they are not protected by government regulation aimed at keeping them safe. However, thanks to stringent licensing regulations from places like the UK and Malta, players have plenty of secure and reputable online casinos available to them.
The Canadian government does not license or regulate casinos but online casinos can get a license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is located in Quebec, and is therefore within the Canadian nation, but it has its own gambling legislation as set down by the Mohawk Council. As long as the operator holding the Kahnawake license is located outside Canadian borders (or inside Kahnawake), they can offer their services to Canadian players without any problem.
Gambling age restrictions
In Canada, the gambling age corresponds to the drinking age. This makes sense as the legislation was initially meant to regulate land-based casinos, where alcohol is served. The legal drinking age varies slightly by territory.
In Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta, the drinking age is 18 and you must be over 18 to participate in any gambling activities. In British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland & Labrador, you must be 19 years or older in order to gamble.
Online casinos accepting Canadian players
How we review online casinos
At RightCasino, we do our best to offer all our readers the best, most accurate information possible, no matter where they happen to be located. Canadian players will be looking for exciting, competitive and fair casinos to enjoy and we are here to help.
All our online casino reviews include information on licensing. This can help players identify trustworthy casinos that are closely regulated by competent and comprehensive authorities. Some casinos can choose to exclude players from certain countries but that decision is down to the operator and not due to licensing.
Our casino reviews also include information about the accepted currencies and payment methods at each casino. This comes in handy for Canadian players, who can look out for the Canadian Dollar as well as the payment services available to them that will allow them to top-up their casino account without having to bother with exchanging currencies.