Gambling laws in Canada
Discover Canada's online gambling laws, province by province, in our comprehensive guide. Gain insights into legislation and explore the top legal casinos for Canadian players. Your go-to resource for all things online gambling in Canada.
Is online gambling legal in Canada?
In Canada, it is generally illegal for casinos and sportsbooks to operate online. However, Canadians can still play on gambling websites that are licensed internationally. Although Canadian law doesn't allow gambling operators to have their servers in Canada, no laws prevent residents from visiting and gambling on these websites.
In the past, the Canadian government-controlled gambling through the Criminal Code. However, in 1985, the federal and provincial governments reached an agreement that allowed provinces to create their own regulations for online and land-based gambling (except for horse racing).
The Canadian Gaming Commission oversees the entire gambling industry in Canada, but each province has its own laws and regulations. While many provinces have established land-based casinos and sports betting facilities, only Ontario has implemented specific laws for online gambling through licensing and regulation.
Some indigenous communities in Canada share the revenue from gambling with provincial governments. In 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Law was passed, which created the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC). This regulatory body issues licenses and regulates third-party gambling operators.
Gambling laws in Canadian provinces
Canada does not have a central regulation for gambling laws. Instead, the federal government leaves it to provinces to create their own rules for online and land-based gambling. As a result, various laws are dependent on the territory. Gambling state laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, with some provinces taking a more lenient approach than others.
While Alberta is the most populous Prairie Province, it also has vast areas and many small towns. Legal Alberta licenses are only available for online gambling for one casino and sports betting provider. All gambling is regulated by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC).
Online: PlayAlberta is the only official online gambling site offering casino games, sports betting, and more. While online gambling platforms cannot operate in Alberta, residents can visit internationally-licensed operators.
Casino: Land-based casinos are popular in Alberta, with 25 based around the province. Most of these casinos are charitable and share profits with good causes. The government and First Nations also run several casinos in this province.
Horse racing: There are several racetracks located in Alberta, with each offering betting: Century Downs, Alberta Park, and Northlands Park. Fifteen other gambling locations offer horse racing bets.
Lottery: The Western Canada Lottery Corporation runs daily lotteries in Alberta. There are also 6,000+ video lottery terminals (VLTs) in Alberta
Sports betting: The Sport Select service allows residents to wager on multiple sporting events but with a $250 daily limit. There is no single-event sports betting in the province.
British Columbia has a long history of embracing gambling, with over 30 years of offering various gaming options:
Online: PlayNow is the only legal online gambling site in BC, operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. It has provided casino games, sports betting, and lottery games since 2004. BC online gamblers can also play at offshore casinos and sportsbooks.
Casino: British Columbia has 15 land-based casinos in Vancouver and other locations that cater to locals and attracts visitors from nearby US states like Washington and Oregon.
Horse racing: Fraser Down, Surrey, is British Columbia's sole horse racing track offering exclusive betting opportunities within the province. Gamblers can also wager on off-track simulcasts at more than 15 locations across BC.
Lottery: BC has been offering lotteries since 1985, regulated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.
Sports betting: Land-based sports betting is available, but not on single-bet markets. The legal British Columbia framework for online gambling remains limited to government-owned sites.
The Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba oversees various gambling options for players, such as:
Online: PlayNow is available in Manitoba as a government-sanctioned casino site with a limited game selection and no sports betting. Residents can also access internationally licensed online casinos and sportsbooks.
Casino: Manitoba has several land-based casinos, mainly in the more populated urban areas in the province's south. Winnipeg hosts two Liquor and Gaming Authority locations, while First Nations casinos are also available.
Horse racing: Assiniboia Downs is the only racetrack in Manitoba offering bets on Standardbred and Thoroughbred races. The Manitoba Horse Racing Commission regulates off-track betting locations in Winnipeg.
Lottery: Manitoba sells lotteries and scratch cards from the Western Canada Lottery Corporation at retailers and online. The province also has video lottery terminals run by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries.
Sports betting: Players 19 or older can bet on multiple sports events but with a $250 daily limit. Alternatively, Manitobans can access sportsbooks regulated internationally for single-bets.
Only one million people live in New Brunswick, but they are all tightly populated in a province that is 85% forest. Gambling is prevalent in this Maritime province, including the following forms:
Online: The NB government has frequently considered adopting licensed online casinos but has yet to do so. Residents can still visit regulated international casinos and sportsbook operators.
Casino: To access a land-based casino in NB, you'll need to go to Casino New Brunswick in Moncton.
Horse racing: New Brunswick has horse racing in Fredericton and Saint John, with off-track betting available in Dieppe and Quispamsis.
Lottery: 900 retail locations around the province sell lottery tickets, and video lottery terminals (VLTs) are available. In fact, New Brunswick was Canada's first province to adopt VLTs in 1990.
Sports betting: Pro-line parlay betting across multiple events is available, but there is no single sports betting in NB unless you visit an offshore site.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland, home to 90% of all NL residents, offers many types of gambling regulated by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and the Newfoundland and Labrador Digital Government and Service.
Online: Laws for online gambling in NL prevent operators from hosting online casinos and sports betting sites. Instead, residents in the province can visit legal gambling apps from other nations.
Casino: Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in Canada prohibiting land-based casinos, meaning there are no casinos within the territory.
Horse racing: St. John's Racing and Entertainment Center in Newfoundland offers horse racing betting and simulcasting bets from racetracks around Canada.
Lottery: The Atlantic Lottery Corporation operates a lottery with tickets purchasable from over 1,000 retail locations, 500 of which also offer video lottery terminals.
Sports betting: NL has its own sports betting service, Pro-Line. It gives residents markets for betting on multiple events at once. No single-market sports betting is available in the province.
Northwest Territories (NWT) is largely Aboriginal, but the small population and lack of infrastructure means there are no gambling establishments in place. Furthermore, NWT does not regulate online casinos within the province.
Online: Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) is the gambling regulator in Northwest Territories and does not support online gambling. Residents can visit internationally regulated betting sites.
Casino: NWT does not have any land-based casinos, but there are no laws in place to stop one from being built in the future.
Lottery: All lotteries and bingo games in Northwest Territories must be operated by a charitable organization and regulated by MACA.
Sports betting: Northwest Territories Lotteries provides the Sports Select portal, which offers multi-bet parlay markets but no single-market betting.
Nova Scotia (NS) may be Canada's smallest province, but its residents are big on gambling. As the most densely populated province in Canada, there is plenty of gambling choice to go around. All betting services are regulated by the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation (NSGC).
Online: Online gambling is not available locally in Nova Scotia, so bettors must visit globally-regulated sportsbooks and casinos.
Casino: There are two land-based casinos in Nova Scotia, and both are operated by the provincial government. These casinos are in Halifax and Sydney.
Horse racing: Despite a small population and size, NS is home to three horse racing tracks: Truro Raceway, Northside Downs, and Inverness Raceway. Bettors can also access off-track betting.
Lottery: The Atlantic Lottery Corporation handles lotteries in Nova Scotia, with over 3,000 video lottery terminals in retail locations.
Sports betting: NS has the Pro-Line platform for multiple sports bets parlay style, with no single-betting options.
Ontario (ON) has taken the lead in Canada by embracing online casinos and sportsbooks. With online gambling legal, Ontario is the only province that licenses and regulates third-party online gambling sites.
Online: Since opening its doors in April 2022, Ontario has given over 70 licenses to major casino and sports betting operators from the United States and Europe. All sites fall under the regulatory watch of iGaming Ontario.
Casinos: Ontario is also friendly to land-based casinos, with over 25 locations around the province, including private operators, government-run facilities, and charitable casinos.
Horse racing: ON is arguably the premier location in Canada for horse racing, with numerous tracks around the province and off-track betting also available.
Lottery: Both provincial and national lotteries are available under the control of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
Sports betting: Land-based sports betting is limited to parlay-style wagers on the Pro-Line system. However, online sportsbooks with single-market betting are legal in the province.
Prince Edward Island
The Prince Edward Island (PEI) gambling offerings are on the smaller side, but that is to be expected considering the entire population is only around 165,000 residents. The Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission [link] regulates gaming within the region.
Online: Like other Canadian provinces (aside from Ontario), PEI does not currently support licensed online gambling at casino or sports betting sites. Residents can visit operators licensed in other jurisdictions.
Casino & horse racing: The only brick-and-mortar casino in Prince Edward Island is also a horse racing track (racino), the Red Shores Racetrack & Casino.
Horse racing: Alongside Red Shores, there are two other horse racing venues in the province, Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside Raceway.
Lottery: Atlantic Lottery Corporation infrastructure is available in PEI, including video lottery terminals at retail locations on the island.
Sports betting: Through the Pro-Line platform, sports bettors in Prince Edward Island can wager on parlay bets online or at retail locations. Single-event betting is not available in the province.
Gambling has been legal in Quebec since 1970 and has grown into a major industry in the province, regulated by Loto-Quebec and the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) (Alcohol, Racing, and Gaming Commission).
Online: In Quebec, residents can play on online casinos or sportsbooks that are licensed globally. Quebec also has its own online gambling service called Espacejeux. There have been discussions about blocking access to offshore gambling sites, but no action has been taken yet. Quebec residents hope the government will legalize online gambling and change its current position.
Casino: Quebec is home to nine land-based casinos, each regulated by RACJ.
Horse racing: There is only one racetrack in Quebec, Hippodrome 3R, where players can bet on races. There are also off-track betting establishments for racing fans.
Lottery: Several lotteries run daily and weekly in Quebec, with hundreds of retail locations for purchasing tickets. There are around 11,000 video lottery terminals at bars, gaming halls, and other establishments.
Sports betting: Quebecers have access to sports betting for individual markets through Mise-O-Jeu, a popular game with betting options on sports.
According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan embraces gambling more than any other province, spending more money per household. It is just as well that the province has a robust gambling infrastructure! It is regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA).
Online: Saskatchewan has yet to unlock the economic boost that online gambling would bring to the province, as there is currently no framework for licensing and regulating online gambling sites.
Casino: Visiting a casino in SK is easy, with eight locations in total. Six of these are First Nations charitable casinos under the regulatory watch of the National Indian Gaming Authority, while two are government venues from Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation.
Horse racing: There are three tracks within the province and off-track betting options too.
Lottery: Lottery games include 4,000 video lottery machines and daily or weekly draws. These games are regulated by Saskatchewan Lotteries.
Sports betting: Only multi-event (parlay) sports betting is available in SK. Users need to visit online offshore sportsbooks to wager on single-events.
There are only around 35,000 people in Yukon. Still, the province does provide avenues for its residents to enjoy betting in its various forms:
Online: Yukon does not support online gambling, but residents can visit third-party licensed casinos and sportsbooks.
Casino: Fixed-location land-based casinos are prohibited in Yukon, making it the only province to ban casinos outright. Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall is one exception, but it is only open from late spring to early fall.
Lottery: Daily and weekly lottery tickets are available from the Western Canada Lottery Association.
Sports betting: Yukon offers multi-market sports betting but currently no single-market wagers.
Canada’s gambling regulations
In Canada, a license is needed to run a gambling establishment legally. To legalize online gambling, provincial governments grant licenses that subject operators to strict regulations. While a license doesn't guarantee absolute safety, it does indicate that the operator meets the security standards set by the local authorities.
Whether you're visiting a physical betting venue or an online gambling site, seeing one of the following authorities assures you that the casino is both legal and safe:
- Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) & iGaming Ontario
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC)
- Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) & BC Lottery Commission
- Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC)
- Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux & Lotto-Quebec
Gambling on mobile and apps
In Canada, online gambling at casinos and sports betting sites is only officially available in Ontario, as this is the only province that licenses and regulates online gambling sites. The rest of Canada operates in a "grey market," meaning residents can still visit internationally licensed operators not based in Canada.
Regardless of whether you're in Ontario or another province, the laws regarding online gambling also apply to mobile gameplay. Most online sports betting and casino sites offer access to their markets and games through mobile devices, either through a mobile browser [link] or a dedicated app. Canadians can enjoy playing their favourite slots on smartphones and tablets [link] using our recommended top-rated casinos, which provide the best overall experience:
888 Casino is one of the most reputable providers in the world and is known for its excellent all-around online casino experience. The casino is available in Ontario through a license from the AGCO and accessible in other provinces via international licenses from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).
888 Casino has a great selection of exclusive games that you can only play at this casino. While many sites offer exclusives, 888 goes further with a broader picking of exclusive slots and table games known for their high quality. Other providers such as NetEnt, Evolution Gaming, and IGT help build an impressive portfolio of 1,000+ games.
LeoVegas Casino is available in Canada locally in Ontario through a license with the AGCO or to Canadians visiting the international site through the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) regulation. LeoVegas is known for delivering a high-quality casino gaming experience that retains flexibility in its payment options and customer support.
There are around 2,000 games available at the LeoVegas, with 1,700+ slots and over 100 live dealer games provided by major game developers, such as NetEnt, Games Global, Playtech, IGT, WMS, and Evolution Gaming. The site is fully set up to support Canadian players, with deposits and withdrawals in CAD and local payment options such as Interac.
Canadians can access the internationally regulated version of PartyCasino, licensed by leading authorities such as the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, UK Gambling Commission, Malta Gaming Authority, and Kahnawake Gaming Commission. The casino is also available in Ontario thanks to its licence with AGCO).
Widely considered one of the top Canadian casinos, PartyCasino has around 1,500 online slot games, dozens of live dealer games, and 40+ table games like blackjack and roulette. With support for the Canadian dollar and payment options like Interac, the site is flexible enough for most players in Canada.
PokerStars is the go-to option if you want to switch from a top-notch casino site to a world-class poker network instantly. Licensed in Ontario through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission and in US states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania (alongside being accessible to Canadians), PokerStars has 1,100+ games from providers such as NetEnt, High5Games, and IGT.
PokerStars excels in live dealer titles and classic table games, with exclusive blackjack, roulette, and poker variations. The 'My Casino' section adds an immersive element where you can track previous games and see stats on results. PokerStars delivers superfast withdrawals and usually approves your funds within a few hours of receiving a request.
Royal Panda online casino treats its Canadian players like royalty, no matter which province they are from. Operated by the reputable LeoVegas Gaming PLC company, Royal Panda lies in capable and experienced hands. The site's Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and Malta Gaming Authority licenses mean it's safe and legal for Ontario and Canadian casino players alike.
Users can enjoy lightning-fast payments across numerous secure and popular banking options. You'll find hundreds of thrilling online slot machines, progressive jackpots, table games, and live dealer options in an easy-to-navigate lobby.
History of gambling in Canada
Over the years, Canada has experienced significant changes in its gambling laws and regulations for land-based and online gambling.
Let's take a closer look at the fascinating journey of Canada's gambling history:
July 1st, 1767: The first major horse race in Canada was held in Quebec, and gambling commenced.
1892: Gambling in all its forms was added to the Criminal Code of Canada, making it illegal.
1900: The law was amended to allow bingo and raffles for charitable purposes.
1925: The law was again amended to allow fairs and exhibits to host gambling.
1969: Another change to the Criminal Code legalized lotteries in Canada.
1970: Provinces were given the right to regulate their own gambling infrastructure.
1974: Canada held its first lottery to raise funds for the Montreal Olympics.
1985: Canada legalized casino and sports (not single-line) betting.
1989: Crystal Casino in Winnipeg became Canada's first casino.
1994: Online casinos became available. While technically illegal in Canada, residents can access them.
1996: The Kahnawake Gaming Law was passed, establishing the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC).
2021: Further adjustments to the Canadian Criminal Code allowed single-event sports betting.
2022: Ontario became Canada's first province to embrace online gambling by giving casino and sportsbook operators licenses.
Responsible gambling in Canada
Licenses play a crucial role as they demonstrate that a casino or sports betting site adheres to strict standards set by regulators. A great example of this is seen in the area of responsible gambling. Authorities like the AGCO in Ontario or the UKGC in the United Kingdom require casino sites to offer resources for responsible gambling.
Top online casinos have dedicated sections for safe gambling, providing information on managing budgets and recognizing the signs of problem gambling. They also offer tools such as self-exclusion, self-assessment, and setting limits on deposits, bet amounts, and betting time. Additionally, all legal gambling apps provide access to third-party resources and charities that promote safe gambling.
How to avoid illegal casinos
Just like in any industry, there are unscrupulous operators that you should be cautious of. Fortunately, various measures are in place to ensure that dishonest online casinos are rare. However, it's crucial to know how to steer clear of unreliable sites and only engage with reputable operators.
One effective way to determine a casino's credibility is by checking if it holds a valid license. A license indicates that the casino is respected and meets the standards set by regulators.
Online reviews also play a significant role. For instance, our review team thoroughly evaluates every aspect of an online casino, including games, bonuses, payment methods, fairness, security, and privacy. If a casino we review lacks a license or is found to deceive players in any manner, we add it to our blacklist. You can refer to this list at any time to identify the casinos you should avoid.
The contents of this page are provided for informational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice and it should not be relied on as such. Before making any decision regarding participation in any online activity, users should seek independent formal legal advice.
Legal gambling is legally placing real money bets on any game of chance, whether online or in person. A casino is only legal if it has been approved and licensed by a regulatory authority. Some countries have a single regulatory system, whereas, in Canada, there are gambling state laws, where each province has its own laws and regulations.
For most of Canada, online gambling is illegal. However, Canadians can still visit and play with internationally regulated casinos. Conversely, Ontario supports online gambling and provides licenses that allow casino and sports betting operators to offer these services within the province.
Ontario is currently the only province in Canada that has created a legal framework for online gambling. However, all provinces in Canada offer some or all of the following types of gambling: casinos, sports betting, horse racing, and lotteries.
While this is a grey area, technically, you are not breaking the law when playing a private game at home. However, it is illegal if you are commercially profiting from gambling. Canada's laws focus on gambling operations rather than players. As such, residents can visit and gamble on internationally-licensed casino sites.
Online gambling was legalized on a federal level in 1985 when the Government of Canada allowed provinces to create their own gambling regulations. However, since then, only Ontario has fully legalized online gambling by creating its own licensing and regulation for online casinos and sportsbooks in 2022.
There is currently no law that says gambling apps are illegal. However, the legality of gambling apps will vary from province to province. Ontario is the only province that has legal gambling sites.
Ontario – Canada's only province with legal online gambling infrastructure – does not allow online casinos to offer cryptocurrencies as a deposit or withdrawal method. However, internationally regulated online casinos that are accessible to Canadian residents are allowed to provide crypt payments.