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Navigating Canadian Casino Laws: What You Need to Know

canadian casino laws

Jun. 10 2024, Published 3:00 a.m. ET

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Canada's casino landscape is both vibrant and complex, drawing in enthusiasts from all walks of life. However, it's important to know the rules about casino gambling in Canada if you want to take part. This guide will help you understand Canadian casino laws by explaining the different regulations and details involved.

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Federal vs. Provincial Jurisdiction

In Canada, both the federal and provincial governments share the job of making gambling rules. The Criminal Code of Canada sets the basic laws for gambling, but each province has the power to control and manage casinos in their area. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Federal Level: The Criminal Code of Canada creates the main rules, banning most gambling unless provinces run it.

  • Provincial Level: Each province has its own rules and groups to oversee gambling. For example, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) manages gambling in Ontario, while the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) handles it in British Columbia.

Legal Land-Based Casinos

Land-based casinos operate legally across Canada under the regulation of provincial authorities. These establishments offer a variety of games, including slot machines, poker, blackjack, and roulette. It's important to note that while land-based casinos are well-regulated, players also have the option to enjoy their favorite games at legit online casinos in Canada. Key points to consider:

  • Provincial Licensing: Every casino needs permission from the province's government.

  • Compliance: Casinos must follow strict rules about being fair, keeping things safe, and handling money correctly.

  • Age Restrictions: The legal age for gambling varies by province, typically 18 or 19 years old.

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Online Casinos: A Gray Area

The legality of online casinos in Canada is more ambiguous. It's against the law for people to run online casinos in Canada without a license. But Canadians can still legally gamble on websites based in other countries. Key aspects include:

  • Provincially Regulated Online Casinos: In places like British Columbia and Quebec, the government runs its own online casinos that are legal.

  • Offshore Websites: Canadians won't get in trouble for playing on gambling websites from other countries, as long as those sites follow the laws of their home countries.

  • Consumer Protection: The government-run sites usually offer better protection and help for players compared to some overseas sites.

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Lottery and Sports Betting

Lotteries and sports betting are popular forms of gambling in Canada, regulated at the provincial level. Recent changes in legislation have expanded the scope of legal sports betting:

  • Single-Event Sports Betting: Before, Canadians could only bet on multiple outcomes at once. But now, changes to the law let them bet on just one game, giving more choices.

  • Provincial Lotteries: Every province runs its own lottery. The money they make usually goes to things like healthcare and schools.

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Charitable Gaming


Charitable gaming, including bingo and raffles, is another legal form of gambling in Canada. These activities are usually controlled by the province or city government and have to follow certain rules.

Only organizations that don't make money for themselves can ask for permission to hold charitable gambling events.

  • Revenue Allocation: Funds raised must be used for charitable purposes as specified in the license.

  • Event Regulation: Events must comply with regulations concerning frequency, prize limits, and reporting.

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Responsible Gambling Measures

Canada places a strong emphasis on responsible gambling. Various measures are in place to protect consumers and promote safe gambling practices:

  • Self-Exclusion Programs: In a lot of places, you can ask to not be allowed into casinos or to gamble online for a while.

  • Problem Gambling Resources: The government in each province offers help for people who are having a hard time with gambling.

  • Advertising Restrictions: Laws say that gambling ads can't target kids or people who might be easily influenced.

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Indigenous Casinos

Indigenous groups in Canada also operate casinos, often in partnership with provincial governments. These casinos play a significant role in economic development for Indigenous communities. Key points include:

  • Regulatory Agreements: Indigenous casinos work based on agreements between Indigenous groups and the government.

  • Economic Benefits: The money made from these casinos helps fund things like community services and projects to make the area better.

  • Cultural Considerations: Indigenous casinos often include parts of their culture and help keep their traditions alive.

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Recent Legal Developments

The legal landscape of gambling in Canada continues to evolve. Notable recent developments include:

  • Bill C-218: This law, passed in 2021, changed the rules in the Criminal Code to let people bet on single sports events, which is a big change in Canadian gambling laws.

  • Increased Online Regulation: Because more people are gambling online, there's a push for stricter rules to make sure things are fair and to protect people who gamble.


Understanding Canadian casino laws means knowing both federal and provincial rules. Land casinos are well-controlled and easy to find, but online gambling is trickier. There are sites run by provinces and others from overseas. With new laws, like allowing single-event sports betting, gambling in Canada is changing. Whether you're a big gambler or just interested, knowing these laws keeps you safe and legal when you play.



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