Canada’s Gambling Laws: An Overview

Canada’s Gambling Laws: An Overview

Image by Greg Montani from Pixabay

Gambling is a highly popular leisure activity in Canada and players enjoy it both online and offline. However, the gambling laws and regulations may be confusing for beginners as they are subject to territorial and provincial laws in Canada. Keep on reading and find out where and when you can play casino games!

Is it legal to gamble in Canada?

The short answer is yes, gambling is legal in Canada. The long answer is more complicated and can even be confusing. Let’s break it down!

Until 1985, most forms of gambling were illegal in Canada, but this is when provinces and territories were granted the right to oversee these activities. However, even after playing casino games was allowed, it took several years for the industry to develop and gain more popularity. Today, the country’s gambling revenue stands at around C$14 billion a year.

Technological advancement allowed casinos to launch their own websites and even mobile apps. Unfortunately, online gambling falls into a grey area when it comes to Canadian gambling laws. This is because, technically, it is not prohibited to gamble online. Nevertheless, it is forbidden to operate an online casino without a license issued by the government, and the country’s government will not issue any such licenses. This leaves Canadians with only one option – they can legally play online casino games on offshore sites.

Gambling laws in the provinces and territories

The fact that each province and territory manage and oversee gambling activities means that there are differences in their rules, even when it comes to the minimum age required to play in a casino. Here is when and where you can gamble, depending on where you live:

  • Quebec – being in one of the most liberal provinces regarding gambling laws, residents of Quebec can access any offshore casino or Espacejeux, a gaming site run by the government. There is also one sports betting site, Mise-O-Jeu, but only parlay bets can be placed. Those who love land-based casinos can pick from 9 options;
  • Alberta – gambling is highly popular in Alberta, and players may choose any of the 25 land-based casinos located here. Sports betting is also allowed but limited to parlay bets;
  • British Columbia – There are 15 land-based casinos in British Columbia, and the only Canadian gaming and sports betting site available is PlayNow;
  • Manitoba – all casino activities are overseen by The Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba, both online and offline. PlayNow Manitoba is the only licensed online casino in this province, and sports bets are limited to C$250 per day and are only available via the Sport Select site;
  • Ontario – with 24 casinos and various venues offering slot machines, Ontario has very relaxed gambling rules. Online you can either play at PlayOLG, bet on the Pro-Line service, or join an offshore site;
  • New Brunswick – although land-based gaming halls are allowed here, there is only one venue you can play at and only one regulated sports betting site, Pro-Line;
  • Nova Scotia – this province offers residents two casinos owned by the government and the Pro-Line service for parlay sports bets;
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – this province’s laws do not permit land-based casinos to operate, and there are also no regulated casino sites. You can, however, place sports bets up to C$250 via the Pro-Line service or sign up on an offshore gaming site;
  • Saskatchewan – online casinos cannot be based here, but if you live in Saskatchewan, you can access any casino based on other provinces or countries. Sports Select service offers players the option to place parlay bets;
  • Prince Edward Island – physical casinos are allowed but missing from this province, and only Pro-Line betting is available online;
  • Northwest Territories – there are no land-based casinos and no online casinos in the Northwest Territories, even if the law allows them. Sport Select is the only legal service for sports betting;
  • Yukon Territory – it is not allowed to operate a land-based casino here permanently, but temporary licenses are granted to various venues for a maximum of three days. There are no licensed online casinos, but Sports Select allows legal sports betting options.

The minimum legal age to engage in gambling activities in Canada is 19, except for Quebec and Alberta, where you must be at least 18. In all provinces and territories, offshore gambling is allowed.

Illegal gambling and how to avoid it

Since there are only a few government-run casinos and betting services across all Canada and offshore gambling is legal, there is no way you can go wrong. However, an essential thing you need to consider at all times is to only join fully licensed and regulated platforms.

Many licenses allow operators to offer their services to Canadian players, but here are the most trustworthy: Malta Gaming Authority, United Kingdom Gambling Commission, Kahnawake, Curacao.

Read expert and player reviews before joining a new site and check their license number as well! This way, you will know if they are operating legally and what they can offer you.

While you may not engage in any illegal gambling, your children might. It is not uncommon for underage players to use false information during sign up to gain access to a gambling site and even manage to play before having their accounts closed. Protect your child from gambling by being informed, vigilant, and ready to take the right measures against it.


Gambling is legal for everyone above 19 in Canada, but most of them prefer offshore gaming platforms. This does not stop Canadians from enjoying this activity, as the industry is flourishing in the country. They have a wide array of options, and all they need to worry about is to pick a licensed website and make sure no children or teenagers have access to it.

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