Is Canadian Gambling Regulation Sufficient?

Published: 13 May 2020

Written by: BryanL

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Canada has always prided itself as being a liberal country, and this broad-minded approach is reflective of its gambling regulations.  Canada has undertaken a decentralised approach to gambling policies, with each province given free rein to model related legislation in the way it best sees fit.  As a result, sports betting and casino gambling have flourished, while a rapid growth of online gambling has also taken place. 

Online gambling is de jure legal in Canada, although certain variations apply.  Canadian online casino providers are highly regulated, and the selection of these is somewhat limited.  On the other hand, offshore-based online gambling websites are not subject to stringent government controls and tend to penetrate the local market with more ease than their domestic counterparts.

Worldwide Regulatory Approaches

The enduring opinion divide between those who support the full legalisation of gambling, and those that see it as an addictive vice, will always exist.  Subsequently, the nature of online casino regulation varies significantly from country to country.  A good example can be seen south of the border, where the US first took a hard approach by banning online gambling across the board, only to soften its stance later and allow a certain level of cyber wagering in selected states. 

Recently, the massive growth of popularity of sports betting, as well as online poker and slots games, has led to a somewhat more liberal viewpoint by a growing number of countries.  Nonetheless, there are those countries that are taking a step back and toughening the existing regulation, worried about the loss of taxes.  Ultimately, Canada can’t impose tax on offshore online casinos as these are often set up in territories that are tax havens, resulting in a dilemma for the government.           

Canadian Gambling Regulation

As mentioned, Canadian provinces decide autonomously when it comes to gambling frameworks.  For inhouse casinos, the only requirement is that the providers are registered and possess a license.  Those unregulated casinos that try to circumvent the law are liable for prosecution at both civil and criminal courts. However, from a player side, no recorded instances of law enforcement have been noted with regards to playing at such casinos.

When it comes to online casinos, the legislation floats about in a grey area.  Theoretically, all online gamblers should only play at casinos that are regulated and licensed by their specific provincial authorities.  Realistically, this is rarely the case, since the lure of variety and choice offered by offshore providers overshadows the locally regulated offering.

The bottom line is that offshore online casinos that are registered in tax havens such as Malta, Isle of Man and Gibraltar are pretty much off-limits for the local authorities.  This privileged status has facilitated the rapid expansion of the online casino industry not only in Canada but also globally.  A lever of power that countries still have is the curtailing of player access to casino websites.  This can be done by limiting online casinos from being able to advertise locally.  Additionally, banks and ISPs can be requested to stop facilitating these casinos.

Future of Online Casinos in Canada

As it stands, no one expects a 180-degree shift in Canada’s current view on online gambling, and this setup is likely to remain for some time in the future.  Naturally, the primary concern of the Canadian authorities remains the lack of ability to enforce taxation on these casinos.  Nonetheless, even though the Canadian online gambling industry has grown exponential over the past two decades, the loss of taxes is still not seen as being that significant to warrant a more heavy-handed approach. 

The good news for the local authorities is the prediction that the number of locally registered online casinos and sports betting sites is bound to increase over the next few years.  This should then redirect a large chunk of players towards betting services that are offered domestically. 

Ultimately, as a player, the choice is yours where you decide to spend your money online.  Both offshore and domestic online wagering is deemed legal under the current legislation governing online gambling in Canada.  As always, when selecting offshore sites, make sure that you choose only the most reputable casinos around to avoid any issues.  To save you time, please check our list of top legal Canadian online casinos.