Canadian Casino Law Explained

If you are thinking of playing casino games online in Canada, you may be wondering if internet gambling is legal or not. This is a question many Canadians don’t actually have the answer to. Prior to 1970 all forms of gambling were prohibited inside the country. In 1985 the various provinces and territories were given the right to decide whether they wanted to allow gambling within their domain. As a result, many of the areas began construction of land based casino and started holding lotteries.

Territorial Rights

The edict that grants the right for land based gambling in Canada should hold true for online gambling, although this is still a matter of debate. Technically online gambling activities should fall within the same edict for provincial and territorial rights. In fact, many provinces have started running their own casino gambling websites with official tenders. But even beyond the provincial domain, to date Canadians have been able to enjoy uninterrupted online casino and poker games without any bother by the authorities.

Online Gambling

If you are worried about playing at foreign-based casino sites, consider these statistics. As yet, no person has ever been charged with the crime of playing casino games online in Canada. The industry as a whole has been stable with the biggest crackdown hitting a land based casino in 2007 which operated their own online casino and poker rooms outside of their jurisdiction.

US Verses Canadian Law

One key thought to keep in mind is that US law and Canadian law are two separate entities. US law does not grant states the rights to run online gambling or poker websites in any manner whatsoever. In Canada however, the various provinces have the right to allow and licence legal online casinos as they please. Sports betting is another gambling practice that is illegal under US law but not under Canadian Law. The criminal code in Canada only allows parlay bets of three or more matches. Efforts are currently being made to remove this restriction.

Poker is another area where people are not sure whether the law is on their side. Almost all of the online poker sites available in Canada are foreign based. As yet, no law has been passed that prohibits Canadian players from signing up and gambling on any of these sites.

Taxation of Casino Winnings

Finally, let’s take a look at taxes on gambling activities. According to Canadian tax law, gambling winnings are not taxable unless they are seen as a form of employment. The amount of tax paid on these activities is depended on frequency of play and the expectation of payout. This means professional poker players should pay taxes on winnings while the average player has nothing to worry about.

What it All Means

If we take a look at all the information combined we can see that under Canadian Law, it is legal to gamble in certain territories. This applies to all land based gambling, online gambling sports betting and online poker sites. Up till now, no player has ever been fined or charged with a crime of gambling online whether at a locally based site or foreign casino site. To add to this, no tax is paid on any of the casino winnings unless it is your primary source of income.