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The Legal Landscape of Online and Land-based Casinos in Canada

Jan 9, 2023

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Online gambling is one of the most successful industries in the world. Its net worth is more than $50 billion, and it is only growing. Therefore, it is only natural that so many countries have successfully legalized online gambling and continue relaxing the laws regarding online casinos. We can only upload them as legalization ensures better control over the illegal market and minimizes the dangers that we can find online. However, we are here today to talk about the Canadian legal landscape regarding online casinos. We will discuss the overall history of legalization, the differences between major provinces, and what you should know as a player before you start enjoying all the benefits of Canadian gambling.

The Basics of Gambling in Canada

Before we start, we wanted to highlight that we are not lawyers. Please, don’t consider this article as legal advice. We would always recommend you get answers from attorneys if you are not sure about the laws of the specific country. That said, we are well aware of Canadian history regarding casinos. Initially, gambling was illegal for several centuries. Only back in 1969 the criminal code was changed to allow different variations of lotteries. However, they were mostly concerned with fundraisers for worthwhile causes. In 1976, the government officially allowed sports lotteries. They were in no way, shape, or form connected with fundraisers. Only in 1985 the federal government finally took control over different gambling activities. Here we can include lotteries, slot machines, horse racing wagering, and any other gambling types. With this in mind, Canada was one of the first countries to successfully legalize online gambling.

Game Selection and Available Platforms

Another important thing you should understand about Canadian gambling is that the Canadian government fully controls it. Every single platform not licensed by the Canadian government can be considered illegal. People can get fined up to C$5000 if they play on an illegal platform. So make sure your chosen casino is licensed to provide its services for Canadian players. Luckily for you, as mentioned by Wagering Advisors, there are at least 100 licensed gambling and casino platforms in Canada with generous offers that will keep you entertained. All of them have different advantages and offers. Nevertheless, the most important part is that they are licensed. It is pretty easy to explain if you were wondering why this is important, apart from legal reasons and fines. Licensed platforms are regulated and monitored.

This means that all mathematical models will remain the same. Game developers and casino owners will not be able to change mathematical models, and everything will be completely random. This ensures that all casinos comply with the rules and regulations of fair gambling. If you see that RTP is 96%, a casino has no right to change math if you start winning.


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Just like the United States, Canada is divided into different regions, and they are called provinces. 10 different provinces include:

  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Nova Scotia
  • New Brunswick
  • Manitoba
  • British Columbia
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Newfoundland
  • Labrador
  • Saskatchewan
  • Alberta

All of them have different governing bodies and rules regarding many aspects, including gambling. So we decided to review a couple of major provinces and how different they are regarding gambling laws.


Ontario has the highest population compared to all other Canadian provinces. Therefore, it is no wonder that more than 80% of all adults have tried gambling at least once. This province has at least 25 land-based casinos, meaning that most people have constant access to slot machines, poker or even popular eSports. It is also quite obvious that they can always play online since online gambling is legal and regulated by the government. Thus, if you are 19 years or older, finding a way to gamble will not be an issue.

For example, you can start with slot machines available at land-based casinos. Moreover, you can also find them on horse tracks and other legal locations. As for other forms of gambling, practically everything is available. You can try blackjack, poker, bingo, lotteries, live dealer games and sports betting, and practically any other title.


Quebec was one of the first provinces that successfully legalized gambling. It is also a mostly French-speaking community, so be aware that many websites will use French as their primary language. That said, gambling is still not as popular in Quebec as in Ontario. There are only nine land-based casinos available in this particular province. Nevertheless, more than 70% of adults have tried gambling in this particular province. As for the rules, they are pretty much identical to Ontario. The only major difference is the actual history behind them since Quebec was much quicker to legalize the majority of available games. This particular province has also started with horse racing. It continues with bingo, fundraisers, lotteries, and more traditional gambling games like poker, blackjack, American roulette, and online slot machines. However, the game selection is not as impressive. If you want to try horse racing, there is only one available track. This also means that most gambling operations are done online through licensed casinos that the government completely controls. With that being said, you will be able to find any game, starting with the lottery and ending with even the most bizarre online options.

British Columbia

This is yet another major problem that we wanted to discuss. British Columbia is densely populated and shares borders with the United States of America. So it is no wonder this particular province has been offering gambling opportunities for several centuries. The province started by legalizing the lottery. This means that if you are 19 years old or older, you can already start playing the lottery. You have exactly one year to cash the prize in case your ticket is the winning one. When it comes to horse racing, there is also one track, but you can have much more fun playing at 15 different locations that feature gambling activities and slot machines. Not all of them are necessarily casinos, but the game selection remains the same. There is also a hard rock casino with more than 1000 slot machines and hundreds of other variations. This casino features a high-limit room that will be perfect for professionals. Besides that, every single game you can imagine is completely legal if it is licensed to provide its services. You can try anything from baccarat to lotteries.

Prince Edward Isles

Even though this is the smallest province in Canada, it consists of one major island and more than 200 smaller ones. Just like we see in other provinces, gambling is completely legal. You also have to realize that this province has one of the lowest gambling rates if we compare it with other regions. However, it is hardly a surprise since the density of the population is also one of the lowest ones on the map. Nevertheless, we still decided to include this province to showcase that you can play even in the most remote locations in Canada and still have fun.

Interestingly enough, there are two race tracks in several locations where you can enjoy casinos. It is funny how this particular province has more race tracks than Quebec or British Columbia. With that being said, if you suddenly find yourself on one of the islands, we recommend you enjoy online gambling. It will be the best option, and you will be able to enjoy the lottery, blackjack, poker, slot machines, and practically anything else.


We will wrap this list up with Alberta. This particular province has a high population density. We would say that when it comes to sports, it is one of the most notable provinces in Canada. However, it is also one of the most questionable ones regarding the laws as well as regulations. More than half of the available gamblers have experienced issues with gambling addiction. This means that this particular province has to evaluate its rules regarding online and real-life casinos.

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Still, you can do practically anything, starting with sports betting, and ending with the traditional lottery and online casino games. There are more horse tracks here than practically in any other part of Canada. As we have said before, Alberta has a long history with sports wagering.

Bottom Line

In short, if you decide to travel to Canada, you can gamble online and offline practically in any city. If you are 19 years or older, land-based casinos, and horse tracks will quickly open their doors for you. After all, this country has a long history of sports and gambling. However, we still recommend you do a quick research and make sure that the casino platform you have chosen is licensed. The government regulates all online and offline casinos. We still recommend you to be mindful, control your budget, and always gamble responsibly.

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