Gambling has a long history in Canada, with various forms of betting and gaming activities millions of Canadians enjoy yearly. However, the legal landscape surrounding gambling in the country can be complex and varies depending on the type of gambling activity, jurisdiction, and regulatory framework in place.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the legalities of gambling in Canada, including the laws governing it and the implications for operators and players.

Federal vs. Provincial Regulation:

In Canada, gambling laws are primarily regulated at the provincial level, with each province responsible for overseeing and licensing gambling activities within its jurisdiction. While the federal government sets overarching laws related to criminal activities, such as money laundering and organized crime, it leaves the regulation of gambling to the provinces.

As a result, there is a patchwork of gambling laws across the country, with each province having its own set of rules and regulations.

Criminal Code of Canada:

The Criminal Code of Canada is the federal law that governs most criminal activities, including gambling. Section 207(1)(a) of the Criminal Code outlines the types of gambling activities that are legal in Canada, including lottery schemes operated by provincial governments, licensed casinos, and charitable gaming events.

However, the code prohibits certain activities, such as operating a common betting or gaming house and participating in illegal gambling activities.

Provincial Regulation:

Each province and territory in Canada has its own regulatory body responsible for overseeing gambling activities within its borders. These regulatory bodies are tasked with licensing and regulating casinos, racetracks, lottery schemes, and other forms of gambling.

They also enforce rules related to responsible gambling, player protection, and anti-money laundering measures. While some provinces have opted to legalize and regulate online gambling, others have chosen to prohibit or tightly restrict it.

Legal Forms of Gambling:

Despite the restrictions on certain types of gambling activities, several legal forms of gambling are available to Canadians. These include land-based casinos, horse racing, charitable gaming events such as bingo and raffles, provincial lotteries, and sports betting through provincial sports lottery schemes. Additionally, some provinces have legalized and regulated online gambling, allowing residents to wager on casino games, poker, and sports betting through authorized websites.

Online Gambling:

The legality of online gambling in Canada is a topic of ongoing debate and interpretation. While there is no specific law that prohibits Canadians from accessing online gambling sites operated by offshore companies, the legality of these activities remains unclear.

Some provinces, such as British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, have chosen to regulate online gambling and offer their own legal online gambling platforms. However, other provinces have not legalized online gambling or have imposed restrictions on its operation.

Player Protections:

In addition to regulating gambling activities, Canadian provinces have implemented various measures to protect players and promote responsible gambling. These include age restrictions, self-exclusion programs, responsible gambling awareness campaigns, and resources for problem gambling support.


Regulatory bodies also monitor gambling operators to ensure compliance with regulations and standards related to fair play, responsible gambling, and player protection.

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Let’s Sum Up:

The legal landscape of gambling in Canada is complex and subject to federal and provincial regulations. While certain forms of gambling are legal and widely available, others are tightly regulated or prohibited altogether. It’s essential for both operators and players to understand the laws that govern gambling in their province and to comply with regulatory requirements to ensure a safe and legal gambling experience.

By promoting responsible gambling practices and adhering to applicable laws and regulations, the industry can continue to thrive while protecting players’ interests and the integrity of the gaming environment.