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Ernest Masuka

Many regions have definitive gambling laws determining whether certain types of gambling are legal or not, but is online gambling legal in Canada? While you can play online casino games and bet on sports online in Canada, the answer isn’t clear-cut.

The Criminal Code of Canada only considers gambling legal if it’s managed by a provincial government. But the code was last amended in 1985 and hasn’t yet caught up with how the internet doesn’t respect provincial boundaries. As such, a lot of grey areas exist, particularly with offshore-based online gambling platforms. These sites can’t have servers in Canada, but residents can access them and gamble.

Canadian Gambling Laws 2024

The Canadian Federal Criminal Code governs gambling activity, specifically under sections 202-209. These provisions make all forms of gambling in Canada illegal unless they are managed by a provincial government. This includes games of chance (including some where skill plays a big part), lotteries, bingo, and sports betting. But exceptions exist, including pari-mutuel betting on horse races.

The Criminal Code mainly targets land-based establishments, so the question remains, is online gambling legal in Canada? To start with, it’s illegal for gambling sites, other than those run by provincial governments, to host their servers or have physical offices in Canada.

For example, in 2001, Starnet Communications International, an Antigua-licensed gambling operator with an office in Vancouver was barred by the B.C Supreme Court from accepting bets from Canadians. For players, there appears to be nothing wrong with playing at online gambling sites based offshore. The Canadian government hasn’t prosecuted any offshore gambling sites with no presence in Canada, so these still operate in a legal grey area.

On August 27, 2021, the Canadian government amended paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code to allow single game sports betting. Prior to this, residents could only place multiple bets. In 2023 Bill S-268 and Bill S-269 were introduced, allowing retail and online sports betting on Indigenous First Nations reserves, and creating a framework for sports betting advertising.

Gaming Regulators and Authorities in Canada

Now that you’re familiar with the broad strokes of gambling laws in Canada, let’s explore the specific regulations in the individual provinces. Residents in all the provinces can also visit offshore gambling sites.

Alberta – Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC)

PlayAlberta holds the sole gambling license, offering sports betting, casino gaming, and other gambling options. The Western Canada Lottery Corporation runs a lottery, and residents can visit over 25 brick-and-mortar casinos, several horse racetracks, and access 6,000+ video lottery terminals (VLTs).

British Columbia – British Columbia Lottery Corporation

PlayNow, the only legal gambling site in British Columbia, was launched in 2004 and offers sports betting, casino games, and a lottery. There are over 15 land-based casinos, 15 horse racing tracks, and a lottery in the province. All these gambling options are operated or licensed by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.

Manitoba – Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba

PlayNow, is also available in Manitoba, offering a limited casino game selection but no sports betting. You’ll find several land casinos, race tracks regulated by the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission, lotteries, and sports betting locations accessible to residents 19 or older.

New Brunswick – Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC)

This is one of the least populated provinces—maybe that’s why it doesn’t yet have an online gambling platform. There’s one land casino, loads of lottery retail locations, several physical sportsbooks, and horse race tracks.

Newfoundland and Labrador – Newfoundland and Labrador Digital Government and Service

There aren’t any locally-licensed online casino in Canada sites or sports betting options here. Land casinos are also prohibited. Residents can, however, access the lottery, video lottery terminals, horse racetracks, and physical sports betting locations.

Northwest Territories – Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA)

This province is mostly Aboriginal, so it doesn’t have many gambling options. There are no online gambling options or physical casinos. The MACA operates a lottery, and the Northwest Territories Lotteries runs a sports betting portal.

Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation (NSGC)

There aren’t any online gambling options in Canada’s smallest province. Nova Scotia punches above its weight in other areas, though, with two land casinos, three racetracks, a lottery, and a Pro-Line sports betting platform.

Ontario – Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation

Residents can access third-party Ontario gaming sites, making this the most progressive province. You’ll find over 70 online casinos and sportsbooks, all operating under iGaming Ontario. 25 physical casino locations, numerous horse racetracks, a lottery, and a sports betting system, are all in place.

Prince Edward Island – The Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission

PEI has an extremely small population, so it comes as no surprise that it doesn’t have online gambling options. There are three racetracks, with one offering casino games. A lottery and sports betting options are also available.

Quebec – Alcohol, Racing, and Gaming Commission

An online gambling service called Espacejeux is available in Quebec. Nine land casinos, one racetrack, several lotteries, and sports betting via Mise-O-Jeu, are also available.

Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA)

Even without online gambling platforms, Saskatchewan has the highest gambling figures in Canada. The province has eight land casinos, with six of them being run by the  National Indian Gaming Authority, and two operating under the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation. You’ll also find three racetracks, 4,000+ video lottery and weekly draws, and sports betting establishments.

Yukon – Western Canada Lottery Corporation

Yukon doesn’t offer online gambling options, and land-based casinos are prohibited, except Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, which is open from late spring to early fall. Daily and weekly lottery draws are available, as well as sports betting.

As you can very well see, there isn’t a yes/no response to the question, is online gambling in Canada legal? The table below summarizes the activities allowed by the different provincial Canadian gambling laws.

Province Online Casinos Online Sportsbooks Horse Racing Betting Lottery
Alberta ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
British Columbia ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Manitoba ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
New Brunswick ✔️ ✔️
Newfoundland and Labrador ✔️ ✔️
Nova Scotia ✔️ ✔️
Ontario ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Prince Edward Island ✔️ ✔️
Quebec ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Saskatchewan ✔️ ✔️
Yukon ✔️ ✔️

The Kahnawake Commission

We’ve asked— is online gambling legal in Canada, and figured it’s only legal if run or regulated by provincial governments. Offshore gambling sites aren’t affected by Canadian law, since they are based elsewhere. The Kahnawake Commission, while not physically offshore, isn’t bound by local laws. kahnawake gaming commission

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake established this regulator in 1996 based on the Kahnawake Gaming Law that’s affirmed in subsection 35(1) of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982. Online casino sites, sportsbooks and online poker rooms all operate under the regulator’s purview.

Responsible Gambling for Canadian Bettors

Canadian gambling laws play a critical role in ensuring casino and sports betting sites adhere to strict standards set by regulators. A key area is in the area of responsible gambling. As such, you can find dedicated sections on most gambling sites for safe gambling, with information and tools for recognising problem gambling signs.

You can also find tools to set deposit, bet and loss limits, and self-exclude yourself for some time. Third-party organisations, like those below, also promote responsible betting in Canada.

Avoid Illegal Online Gambling

Operators require a license from one of the provincial governments to legally run online casino gaming or sports betting in Canada. Plenty of illegal and unreputable sites abound, but fortunately, it’s easier than ever to spot them. One way to check a casino or sportsbook’s reputability is to verify the license.

Even when you register with an offshore site, choosing a licensed and regulated platform ensures you bet within industry best standards. Online reviews also play a critical role. For example, the Business2Community team evaluates gambling sites’ games, betting options, payment methods, bonuses, security, licensing, navigability, and more. This allows you to access the best sites for legal sports betting in Canada.

Gambling in Canada – Keep It Safe & Legal

So, is online gambling legal in Canada? The answer is yes, but only if the casino or sportsbook complies with local gambling laws. This means you either have to access a casino run or licensed by a provincial government, or you bet at offshore gambling sites.

Residents can also find third-party Ontario gaming sites, licensed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. The Kahnawake Gambling Commission doesn’t abide by Canadian laws, so it licenses many of the locally available sites. While legal online gambling has been available for some time, same-game sports betting was only introduced in 2021.


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Ernest Masuka

Ernest Masuka is a casino gaming expert, having worked as a casino floor manager and written in-depth online gaming guides and reviews for the past 5 years. He joined SafeBettingSites as a freelance content writer in 2022 and is now a full-time contributing writer. He previously worked for publications like Silentbet and TopBettingSites.