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Ana Gomes de Almeida
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Ana Gomes de Almeida
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Before joining the team three years ago, Ana worked for five years behind the scenes for household brands like Betway and Betsson. She knows the ins and outs of casinos and sports betting sites. Having witnessed both the positive and negative aspects of the industry, she’s eager to share her expertise with fellow bettors.
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Jelena Kabić
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Jelena Kabic is a sports betting writer that focusses on responsible gambling. A psychologist by vocation, Jelena volunteered in a rehab facility, where she worked with gambling addicts. She now reviews all our content to ensure it discusses betting in a socially responsible way.
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Is Online Gambling Legal in Canada?

Cover image for post Are There Legal Online Casinos in Canada?
Are There Legal Online Casinos in Canada?
Is Online Gambling Legal in Canada?

This page is about the legality of online gambling in Canada. To read about sports betting laws and the legality of online sports betting in Canada, visit our dedicated page.

In recent years, online gambling has become increasingly popular in Canada, raising the question of whether it is legal or not.

While gambling online is indeed legal in Canada according to the Canadian Criminal Code, each province is (to an extent) given the freedom to create its own gambling rules and regulations.

This is reflected in the fact that only one province has a regulated status for international operators. As for others, it’s a bit more complicated.

Read our thorough guide to learn about the legality of online gambling in Canada and the differences between provinces.

The Canadian Criminal Code regulates all online gambling activities in Canada. According to it, all forms of gambling are legal in Canada, and that includes land-based and online casinos, lottery, bingo, and sports betting.

However, the only bodies allowed to provide these services are provincial ones, whether they’re running the casino or choosing which international casino gets approved.

In order to legally gamble in Canada, even if it’s online, players from Canada have to be of a certain age. That age differs across provinces — here are the different provinces’ requirements:

Province/TerritoryLegal Gambling Age
Alberta18
British Columbia19
Manitoba18
New Brunswick19
Newfoundland and Labrador19
Northwest Territories19
Nova Scotia19
Nunavut19
Ontario19
Prince Edward Island19
Quebec18
Saskatchewan19
Yukon19

Other than that, you’ll likely have to stay in the same location you originally signed up from and where you originally lived.

Understanding Casino Geolocation Apps

This is because each legal casino either has an built-in geolocation app, or requires you to download an external one. These geolocation apps are mandatory so that online casinos can know where you’re accessing them from.

Because of the differences in regulation between provinces (for example, Ontario has regulated international operators’ status, but Quebec hasn’t), online casinos must be careful to follow Ontario’s regulations.

They often tend to do this by having a separate site for visitors from Ontario and the rest of Canada.

Therefore, if you try accessing the Ontario website while not in Ontario, the geolocation app will pick up on it and send you to the correct website instead.

You can find more information about using the GeoComply location app in Ontario here.

Online Gambling in Ontario

In Ontario, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is in charge of all online gambling.

As the market was becoming regulated, iGaming Ontario (iGO) has been established as a subsidiary of AGCO to oversee online gambling operations in the province.

iGO is responsible for issuing licenses to international operators and ensuring that they are following the guidelines set out by the AGCO.

The AGCO has set a deadline for October 31st, 2022, for all Ontario casinos to be fully licensed by iGO.

After this date, all operators without the iGO license but still accepting Ontarian players started risking not being able to ever acquire this license.

no legal consequences to gamblers

However, there are no legal consequences yet for those who decide to gamble on unregulated websites in Ontario.

The Cost of Unregulated Gambling

Despite Ontario’s efforts, illegal betting sites can still be accessed from this province. However, not only are they not safe for bettors, but the cost of it is huge — instead of the wagers going back to the government, they’re going elsewhere and benefiting Canadians in no way.

In its 2021 report, the UN concluded that as much as $1.7 trillion money is wagered on illegal gambling markets each year. Prior to the legalization of its market, Ontario was losing roughly $110 million to unregulated sportsbooks each year.

That number is far smaller in Ontario now that the market has been regulated, but elsewhere in Canada, the revenue is still being lost.

While it’s challenging to get to the unregulated gambling revenue numbers, here’s how much several big betting countries make in terms of gambling revenue:

CountryGambling Revenue (2021)
UK$12.48 billion
Australia$6.55 billion
France$3.83 billion
Germany$3.65 billion
Spain$1.60 billion
Canada$2.55 billion

The fewer the betting regulations and the fewer legal operators available, the bigger percentage of this is lost to unregulated gambling platforms.

Why Should You Care?

As a player, you want to have the best experience while playing at online casinos, so why should you care whether it’s regulated or unregulated?

For starters, regulated casinos are legally obligated to keep your funds and personal information protected.

They put a lot of effort into it because they know should anything go awry, they’ll be held accountable and likely be ordered to pay a large sum of money as a consequence.

Same applies to making sure you’re gambling responsibly, as is obvious from AGCO’s recent fine issued to PointsBet.

And second, if you play at unregulated websites, any revenue the casino makes goes to the casino itself, and no percentage is invested back into your province.

In the rest of Canada, players can access legal government-run gambling sites, such as Play Alberta or Sport Select.

However, international gambling websites are not illegal or blocked, although there have been unfruitful attempts to do so.

While it is unclear whether these websites will be regulated in the near future, for the time being, Canadians can freely access them with no worries about legal consequences.

We always suggest, though, that they go for casinos with an iGO license. This means the operator is a safe choice for Canadian bettors, as they’re thoroughly vetted before being able to acquire this license.

Can You Access Ontario-Only Casinos from the Rest of Canada?

Sadly, some online casinos choose to only accept Ontarian players, in order to be fully compliant with Canadian laws.

Thanks to geolocation apps, all legal online casinos in Canada are able to determine whether you’re accessing them from Ontario or elsewhere.

For those from other provinces who want to access brands like FanDuel or Betano, this sadly means it’s not possible.

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