New gamblers and veterans alike, usually at some point or another question the Canadian gambling laws and whether or not the activity is actually legal. As betting and real money gaming are very popular activities in Canada, it is important to understand the laws. Gambling laws are usually quite a tricky grey area in most countries, and it is no different in those playing online casinos in Canada.

At present the Canadian Penal Code does not allow for gambling unless it falls within certain exceptions in the national law. The Canadian government have brought about numerous changes since 1892, to try and simplify gambling laws. The main change came in 1910, allowing bettors to take advantage of the situation, and provided them with many possibilities. This law allowed pari-mutuel betting, which is a form of gambling that pays out winnings from a common fund. This forms the basis of modern-day casinos.

the illegality of current gambling laws in canada

An amendment to this law came in 1970, making it more permissive. Individual provinces within Canada were given the authority to license and regulate gambling in their respective areas. This began the process for modern-day casinos.

The Winnipeg, Canada’s first gambling club, was opened in 1989 after the amendment came into effect. Now there are similar clubs in every state. Each state also owns and operates a state lottery which brings in vast sums of money on a yearly basis.

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Physical gambling and lottery systems are quite simple, and legal when licensed and vetted by the state. Things, however, become a bit trickier when you start considering online gambling laws in Canada. As each state is usually focused on its own lottery, there is no local central figure which operates online gambling. It is perfectly legal to buy lottery tickets online. However, not many Canadians make use of this feature. The illegal aspect of online gambling is any organisation that wishes to provide gaming services when it has not been approved or licenced by the government. These laws are quite clear, and not many companies have applied or tried to provide online gambling within Canada. The grey area comes from overseas operated companies, which provide online gambling to Canadians.

The actual gambling policy within Canada is stricter than most other countries in the world. Gambling within the states is operated under the control of the province and territorial governments that they fall under. Each organisation has to be very careful to respect the Penal Code, no matter which state it is found.

At present, these are the loosely categorized legally accepted forms of betting; lottery games, bingo games, horse racing, traditional casino games, video lottery and sports betting.


If you are a regular online gambler and live in Canada, you are most likely not too concerned about whether or not your online casino of choice is approved by the government. You are probably more concerned about whether or not the overseas-based online casino is legal itself or not.

At present, it is difficult to say with any kind of certainty if it is legal or not for Canadians playing at online casinos as there is no legislation that makes gambling online legal. Luckily, there is also no law which makes it illegal. Importantly, no one to date has been arrested or fined in any way for gambling through an online casino which is legally licenced in its own country.  This does seem to suggest that Canadians have nothing to fear in this regard, and it is simply an oversight in the gambling laws that have not been updated for modern times.

kahnawake gaming commission


When discussing gambling laws, mention should be made of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The commission is based in the Indian reserve of Kahnawake, which is actually based in Canada. This commission actually licenses gambling sites, as long as they do business from within Kahnawake and adhere to gambling laws and criteria.

There have been many eyebrows raised about the legality of the commission operating within Canada. What many may not understand is that Kahnawake is regarded as its own sovereign nation, and is not actually controlled by Canadian laws. Under their own laws, the gaming commission is perfectly legal.