Legal Status of Online Gambling in Canada
Fortunately for Canadians, online gambling in Canada has always been a bit of grey area. Canada was a traditionally anti-gambling country. But, 40+ years ago the government legalized certain activities by amending the Criminal Code thus making it kind of legal.
Later on in 1985, the provinces got the right to decide whether they will allow poker or other forms of gambling on their territories. As a result, casinos were constructed all over Canada and lotteries were held. Fast forward today, Canada has one of the better known licensing jurisdictions, Kahnawake, where online casinos for Canada, as listed in this page, and internationally as well are licensed.
However, it’s still a matter of debate whether or not online gambling is legal. Technically, the edict from 1985 can be applied to online gambling because it gives the provinces the right to decide on their own about the various forms of gambling.
The Criminal Code
Canadians today are basically free to enjoy online casino games and poker networks. The Criminal Code, which tells what gambling acts are criminal, does not specifically pertain to online gambling. Unless it’s found that the gambling itself falls under certain areas of the code such as underage gambling, there is nothing that makes online gambling a criminal act.
Furthermore, there is no official mechanism that will effectively prohibit Canadians from gambling at Canadian or foreign online casinos, poker or sports betting sites.
Charges & Fines
No person has ever been charged in Canada for gambling online. The only case closest to this was the $2 million fine imposed on Kahnawake for hosting online casinos and poker sites in 2007. Since then, Kahnawake has actually thrived as a reputable jurisdiction.
Canada vs. USA
A key difference from the U.S. law that pertains to online gambling is that U.S. states don’t have the right to run online gambling sites. This has been changing recently as more and more states try to bring bills that will make online gambling legal if the sites are run by the state.
Also, financial transactions tied to online gambling are illegal in the USA. In Canada, all provinces have the right to license online casinos and players can freely make gambling transactions.
It is also illegal to bet on sports online in the USA. In Canada the Criminal Code allows parlay bets of 3 or more matches. Even that restriction is about to be removed soon that will enable players to wager on single events too.
You may be taxed in Canada only if you are seen as a professional gambler e.g professional poker player. So, according to the tax laws, gambling winnings are generally taxed if they are seen as a form of employment based on expectation of payout, frequency of play and skill. But, if you are an occasional gambler playing for fun, your winnings should be tax-free.
The final question is: can you get in trouble for gambling online in Canada? As long as there are no concise laws that regulated online gambling and deem it as illegal, you won’t get into trouble. Not one person has been charged for playing online.