The Canadian gambling laws are rather confusing, but rightly so. Gambling laws are part of every country where gambling is legal, simply to minimize the risk of residents being subjected to scams and gambling addiction. But the complexity of the Canadian gambling legislation can leave many Canadians in despair. Are there Canadian online casinos you can gamble at, or do you have to turn to a foreign platform, and if so, is it legal?
We have put together this guide to break down Canada’s online gambling laws, which will also give you an insight into illegal gambling and tips on how to stay safe and gamble responsibly.
The online casinos must operate offshore
First things first: is gambling legal in Canada? Well technically, online gambling is legal in the country, provided the casino operator is established outside the country. However, under the Criminal Code of Canada, all forms of gambling are illegal unless the operator is licensed and managed by the local regulatory authorities. In other words, online casinos operating within the territory of Canada are illegal, but that offshore casinos licensed by local regulators are legal.
This means that Canadians have a wide range of online operators to choose from, but also that they must comply with the domestic gambling legislation that the casino in question also follows. For example, if Canadians choose an online casino from New Zealand that also provides services for Canadians, they will find that the casino is regulated by both a license from a province in Canada and a license under the NZ Gambling Act 2003.
So, to answer the question of whether gambling is legal in Canada: yes! If you choose an offshore online casino with a license from Canada, it is. Therefore, as a resident of a Canadian province, you should always make sure that a local government has licensed the offshore casino you are considering gambling at before doing so.
How to avoid illegal casinos
Even before the advent of the internet, there were illegal bookies and so-called underground poker operations. As online gambling activities have become possible, the problem has become even more complex, not only in Canada but also internationally. Therefore, strict gambling laws are needed that exclusively regulate the online gambling market. Unfortunately, these laws are not always enough to keep illegal operators at bay.
So how do you ensure your safety when gambling online? The only way to avoid such illegal casinos is to be aware of the laws and only gamble on reputable, regulated websites. We suggest reading reviews from other players to get a feel for the casino before signing up and using a comparison site to see the most reputable casinos available for Canadians.
Best of all, though, is to make sure of the casino’s license, which is often written at the bottom of their platform. It is hard to fake a license, but if something feels slightly off, it is better to leave the platform altogether. You can also check if the license is valid by visiting the local regulatory authority’s website, as they usually offer services where it is possible to check all approved licenses.
Canadians have plenty of options to gamble online today, which has its obvious pros and cons. The wide choice means that gamblers can set higher standards for operators and thus get a better gambling experience, so to speak. However, a wide choice can also be synonymous with more gambling, and even if it is done legally through an offshore casino regulated by a local government, there is still a risk of developing a gambling addiction. Hence the importance of learning to gamble responsibly.
A gambling addiction can manifest itself in many ways and the risk of developing one is incredibly individual. Therefore, following a few tips does not necessarily mean that you will prevent developing an addiction. It is important to listen to yourself and follow your gut, and to stop when you feel you are heading towards an addictive pattern as well as ask for help when needed.
However, some tips you can carry with you are to look at gambling purely as a form of entertainment and not as a means to make money. Only gamble with money you can afford to lose and set limits on how much money and time you can spend gambling.
As mentioned, the Canadian gambling legislation is kind of a gray area. As a Canadian, you must comply with the rules that apply within the country, which means that the casino you potentially choose to gamble at must be offshore, but at the same time regulated by a license issued by a Canadian province. This means that there are many choices, but as a player you are responsible for ensuring that everything is done legally. To avoid illegal casinos, always check the license before playing and read reviews to be on the safe side.
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