Online Gambling in Canada
Online gambling is a popular pastime around the world, with thousands of players logging in to their favourite online casinos every day to enjoy themselves. The European Union is one region that has carefully regulated the online gambling industry and offers players some of the best protections in the world but what about countries outside the EU?
Online gambling in Canada is subject to legislation but it lacks the depth and scope of laws in some other countries. That said, most of the best online casino sites in Canada are able to be accessed legally and without too much trouble.
In this article, we will be taking a look at the Canadian laws that pertain to online gambling and how players based in Canada can access safe and fair online casinos.
Is online gambling legal in Canada?
The short answer is yes – Canadian players can gamble online if they want to. The long answer is more nuanced. Canadian laws on online gambling do not target players. Rather, they target casino operators, which are banned from running their businesses from within the country’s borders.
In effect, it is illegal to run an online casino from Canadian territory but it is not illegal to visit and play at an online casino if it operates from overseas. The law does not explicitly prohibit or limit accessing an online casino but as a result, it also does not offer online gamblers protection from unfair practice or fraud perpetrated at online sites.
On the one hand, the ‘grey area’ situation benefits Canadian players by not limiting their access to online gambling sites. The flip side to that is that operators serving Canadian players are not obligated to maintain operating standards because the Canadian authorities have shut the door on that option by completely banning these operations in the country.
So what is a Canada-based player to do? Luckily, there are some serious and respected authorities regulating online casinos in other countries and players can use those licenses as a gauge of how safe an online site is.
What payment methods are available to Canadian players?
Many respectable casinos offer their services to Canadian players and in most cases, casinos will accept the Canadian dollar alongside the US dollar as gambling currencies. This information can be found in a casino’s terms and conditions document or on a ‘Deposit’ or ‘Banking’ page, if the casino has one.
When it comes to moving money into and out of a player account, Canadians have many options. The most popular method by far, everywhere in the world, is the credit or debit card accepted casinos. Visa and Mastercard lead the way on convenient and fast money transfers, and casino players use these options frequently.
Paypal is another solid option. This allows players to retain their privacy when making online transactions of any sort and because it is a popular payment method for online purchases, many players will likely already have one of these set up.
Other accepted casino payment options options include e-wallets like Skrill, Neteller and Ecopayz, all of which are accepted by a large proportion of licensed casinos. These services have proven themselves as reliable, safe and easy to use payment methods, not just for online gambling but for an array of other transactions too.
Safe online casinos for players in Canada
So we have established the Canadian legal system’s view of online gambling, which can be summed up as – it’s fine to gamble online as long as the casino isn’t based in any of the ten provinces.
Where does this leave players who want to be assured that they are accessing a safe site?
The best way to determine if an online casino is safe and of good quality is to look at its operating license. First of all, if it does not seem to have one, run a mile. You can get more information about how to spot a rogue casino on our guide. To hold a license from any regulator a casino has to abide by certain rules. No license? No rules and that’s bad news for players.
As with most things in life, casino operating licenses are not created equal. More and more countries are developing online gambling regulatory bodies as the industry continues to grow and reach new territories but the industry leaders are, without a doubt the UKGC and the MGA.
The UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority are both based in (you guessed it!) the European Union, which, as you will recall, controls online gambling quite closely. Having a license from these two countries assures players of two things. Firstly, an online casino holding one of these licenses has to adhere to strict operating procedures in order to keep said license. This includes provisions for crime prevention, keeping gambling products away from vulnerable people and minors, and access to responsible gambling resources. Customers want to know the businesses they deal with have their best interests in mind and these licences are an indication of that.
Secondly, players who feel they have been treated unfairly have recourse. Let’s say a player has won a sum of money while gambling but the withdrawal of that cash is taking too long, the customer service team are not being helpful and the casino is just generally dragging its feet on paying up. If that was an unlicensed casino, the player can only hope that their persistence pays off or that a third party intervenes on their behalf.
With a properly licensed casino, the player can go to the licensing authority and report the behaviour. The authority will then investigate and can put pressure on the casino to proceed as it should or risk sanctions. This is also useful even when there is no transaction involved. If you spot a shady-sounding clause in the T&Cs or other untoward behaviour, you can bring this up with the relevant licensing authority and they’ll look into it, thus helping players avoid trouble in future.
Online gambling is legal for Canadian players but in the absence of a Canadian regulating body or legal protections, players will need to do a little homework on their own before they choose a casino to play at. Choosing the best online casinos in Canada is a matter of selecting a site that is licensed by a respectable gambling authority such as the UKGC and the MGA. This will ensure that all gambling activities at that online casino stick to the strict rules set out by these licensing bodies and that the player is accessing safe and fair gambling opportunities.