Is Online Gambling Legal In Canada?June 12, 2015 10:00 am
Canada has no federal law governing online gambling, but just like the USA it does permit individual provinces to create and manage their own internet gambling industries. The Criminal Code of Canada does, however, forbid playing at any gambling websites not licensed by a local government, even though there is currently an estimated 1,400 offshore gambling websites available to Canadian citizens. This has led to the country’s iGaming market being considered a grey area, especially as no player has yet been prosecuted for illegal internet gambling by authorities. Shedding some light on the rather confusing situation is Michael Lipton from Toronto-based law firm Dickinson Wright, who explained:
“As far as I’m concerned, you as a player aren’t committing any criminal offense by being in a position where you are engaged with an offshore operator playing poker, playing slots, or whatever the case may be.”
As far as online operators are concerned, authorities have indicated a willingness to prosecute those companies flaunting local laws, although to date just one such action has taken place when in 1999 law-enforcement agents raided the offices of Starnet Communications International in Vancouver, and subsequently prosecuted the Delaware corporation. Nonetheless, it is still up to the individual provincial governments to decide whether to target unregulated operators for violating gambling laws, and as lawyer Michael Lipton further elaborates:
“I don’t think [the law] is grey. You may want to call it anything you call it, but I think I can point to a particular provision in the Criminal Code and I can tell an offshore operator, under the circumstances, that if you do such and such then you could be prosecuted under that particular section of the Criminal Code.”
Under this present situation, Canada still remains an attractive and relatively safe gaming environment for the country’s residents to enjoy online gambling games, and collaborations like the Canadian Poker Network has seen operations in British Columbia, Quebec, and Manitoba come together to offer a shared regulated poker environment for the country’s poker players to enjoy. In the meantime, any Canadian player wanting to check whether a particular site is licensed or even legal in their particular province can always find the relevant details online.