Online Sports Betting in Canada: What’s Legal?

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The legality of sports betting, online casinos, poker sites and online horse racing remains a grey area for Canadian gamblers. So here’s a run down of what you can bet on, where you can do it, and what legislation to consider.


The Legal Situation

Prior to 1969, gambling in Canada was illegal, bar some lotteries and betting on horse races. But in 1985, it was ruled that the individual provinces/territories would decide upon their own gambling regulations.

Online (or internet) gambling is not mentioned in the Criminal Code of Canada, with each province being allowed to legalise specific forms of gambling by their own accord.

Having said this, a section of the Criminal Code of Canada does state that only the Canadian Government and its provinces are allowed to operate any forms of gambling. According to Online Gambling, due to Kahnawake Mohawk Nation – an “Indian” tribe that operates just outside of Montreal – not being prosecuted for their online gambling site, the legality of their actions are at somewhat of a moot point.

For Canadian players however, there are no laws that prohibit the activity of online gambling by Canadian residents. Other than the age restrictions, fraud or identity theft, nothing is stopping Canadian gamblers from partaking in online betting.

The Laws are currently in regard to the site operators of online gambling, and not the users. Whilst Canadian based betting sites may be few in number, there are also no restrictions on Canadian gamblers using international betting websites.

 

Age Restrictions

As mentioned before, age restrictions are one of the few things that limit online gambling in Canada, as they do everywhere else. So here’s a breakdown of the legal age of gambling per province and territory – in accordance to Online Gambling.

 

 

Province / Territory Legal Age of Gambling
Alberta 18 years old+
Nunavut 19 years old+
British Columbia 19 years old+
Manitoba 18 years old+
Yukon Territory 19 years old+
Newfoundland & Labrador 19 years old+
New Brunswick 19 years old+
North West Territories 19 years old+
Nova Scotia 19 years old+
Ontario 19 years old+
Quebec 19 years old+
Saskatchwan 19 years old+

 

 

Sports Betting

In the United States of America, online sport betting is illegal. Under the Canadian Criminal Code however, residents are free to bet on sporting events online. But, the bet itself must be on three or more matches.

So, in Canada, it is illegal to wager on a single or a double, but an accumulator involving three games or more is perfectly legal.

Having said this, The Rebel reports that single-event sports betting legislation is being re-introduced by a New Democratic Party MP.

 

Online Casinos

The vast majority of online gambling, and online casinos, would be run offshore and in gambling operating safe havens, like Gibraltar and the Isle of Man and, as it stands, there is no illegality in gambling on their websites. CBS Canada reports lawyer, and gaming law expert, Michael Lipton as saying:

As far as I’m concerned, you as a player aren’t committing any criminal offence by being in a position where you are engaged with an offshore operator playing poker, playing slots, or whatever the case may be.” 

roulette wheel
Online Poker

There are two types of online poker. There is free online poker, where players will engage in games with other online players through the use of fake money that they don’t have to pay to use – it’s completely free to play. Then there’s real money online poker, where participants deposit their real money into a betting account to then gamble – or play with – in online poker rooms.

In accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada, both of these forms of online poker are perfectly legal for Canadian residents to partake in.

 

Online Horse Racing Bets

Horse racing is not governed by the Canadian Criminal Code; it is instead under the ruling of the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency.

As betting on horse races has been perfectly legal in Canada since 1969, you would have thought that it is still legal now, and it is. Betting on horse racing, even online, as a Canadian resident is legal.

 

Bookmakers

With all online betting and gambling sites being available to all Canadian residents – bar those who are too young, committing fraud or identity theft – but including those that are supposedly ruled out by Canadian statutes, like the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation’s gambling site, those living in Canada can take their pick of sites to play/gamble on.

Here’s a brief run-down of the top sites for Online Casinos, Sports Betting and Online Poker, specifically for Canadian users.

  • Jackpot City is Canada’s favorite Online Casino. They’re compatible across all formats (computer, tablet and mobile device) and offer a huge $1,600 bonus. However, their 97.16% payout is marginally less then second place on the rankings, Spin Palace, who boasts a 97.44% payout.
  • When it comes to online sports betting, Betway Sports take the top spot. They are also compatible across all formats, whilst also having a mighty $200 bonus with a rapid payout speed of just 24 hours. With Betway Sports’ number of markets to bet on in each sport, they do well to come close to that which second on the rankings, 888 Sport, offers.
  • 888 Poker is seen as Canada’s favorite for Online Poker. Their bonus of $888 is, initially, inferior to the likes of Iron Poker – who offer $2000 bonus – but 888’s site and usability is superior to that of its competitors. With the actual game of Online Poker not really differing much from site to site, it mostly comes down to personal preference.

So, to sum up, as a Canadian resident you can feel free to bet on online sports games and horse races,– provided that you bet on three or more in any one wager. You can also play online poker and other online casino games.

Warning, the laws concerning online sports betting are constantly changing, with Canada’s legal authorities working towards bringing their laws up to date with the possibilities of gambling online. Any advice given during the content of this article is an overview of the general situation at the time of writing, and is in no way a form of legal advice.


If you’ve checked out your options when it comes to betting online but want more, check out DFS betting! Read on to find out about Draft types for fantasy sports! 

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