Industry Reports

Online Gambling Regulatory Climate in Canada

In recent years, online gambling has been gaining a lot of steam. Online gambling is a thriving business around the world and many markets are really close to reaching their saturation point. Various studies show that the global online gambling wagers is set to approach $1 trillion by 2021. The online gambling craze is fuelled by its easy availability. Gone are the days, in which the players need to travel for hours to reach the nearest land-based casino.

Despite the exponential growth of the online casino gaming market, there has been a lot of outspoken concerns about the fairness and security of playing at online casinos. Many countries moved to restrict or ban online gambling, but it is hard to point out a particular reason that explains the officials’ decision. The laws governing online gambling around the world vary wildly from one country to another.

Speaking of online gambling, it is important to note that the industry is a multi-faceted sector that includes poker, casinos and sports betting. To make it clearer, a number of countries do not place a ban on online gambling, but restrict non-authorized operators to target local residents of the particular country.

Regulation of Online Gambling in Canada

In Canada, gambling falls under provincial jurisdiction. The legality of online gambling in Canada is a confusing issue as there is no law that prevents local residents from placing a bet through any of the offshore online casinos. Online gambling in Canada is often called a “legal grey area” as many offshore sites have no physical presence in Canada, but are based in places such as Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, and Cyprus, where gambling rules are liberal.

Hence, Canadian players can easily reach such websites and place a wager through them. Some of the provinces operate their own online casinos and it is perfectly legal to place a bet through state-run online gambling sites. So, from the players’ point of view, online gambling in Canada is not a criminal offense. It is interesting to note that no Canadian player has been arrested or charged for betting or gaming at an overseas site thus far.

Needless to say, online gambling industry in Canada is a thriving business and offshore websites benefit from the government’s hands-off stance on the matter. In that sense, the government loses mounds of revenue every year. For those of you asking why that happens since Canada has its own state-run gambling websites, here is the explanation: offshore websites are better equipped to offer a rich selection of games powered by some of the leading vendors. That made government think that regulating the industry is more than necessary.

Benefits of Legalized Online Gambling Industry

Everyone has an opinion about gambling. Those wanting stricter regulations would argue that gambling can be addictive and destroy people’s lives. People that favor online gambling would say that gambling can foster economic development. There is no question that legalized gambling has brought certain economic benefits to some countries. For cash-strapped economies, online gambling legalization appeared to be a good way to patch up a budget deficit.

Logically, it seems that Canada has a good stimulus to regulate and tax online gambling. Industry observers are convinced that establishing a clear regulatory regime that will govern the provision of online gambling services across the country is to protect the players from fraudsters. In the same stream of thoughts, it might be a winning bet for Canada to regulate its online gambling industry.

As aforementioned, the remote gambling market is growing year on year. To keep pace with that tendency, provincial lottery corporations in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have begun to broaden steadily their online footprints. In 2010, British Columbia Lottery Corporation launched the first government-run Internet casino in North America. Canada’s provincial governments are fully aware of the economic benefits of online gaming. According to some industry analyzers, Canada is even more progressive than America in terms of online casino industry regulations.

Canada Makes Steps to Extend Online Gambling Footprint

In July 2010, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation went live with casino table games, slots and poker on its site, In November 2010, the corporation’s director of e-business stated that the updated website attracted the attention of 25,000 new customers. In December the same year, Loto-Quebec went live with casino table games and poker on its site,

In February 2011, the BCLC and Loto-Quebec launched the first “regulated poker network” in North America also known as the Canadian Poker Network. In February this year, Casino Reports found out that British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) launched the first live dealer casino in British Columbia. Legal experts and industry insiders are convinced that the provincial lottery corporations in Canada will continue expanding their online gambling footprint.

Canada vs United States Online Gambling Regulatory Framework

Being neighboring countries, it is interesting to make a small comparison between the regulatory framework of the online gambling industry in Canada and the United States. In fact, both countries have a lot in common when it comes to the legality of online gambling. Both countries have identified online gambling as illegal unless authorized by a province/state. What is more is that both countries allow local jurisdictions to legalize certain forms of gambling.

However, the two countries have also many differences when it comes to the legality of online gambling industry and its branches. Canada has several sports betting sites, mostly run by an organization called Sports Select. These are known under different names in the different provinces and offer legal sports betting options. Unfortunately, players have limited betting options with these websites.

In the United States, on the other hand, the situation is quite different as the sports betting industry is governed by the antiquated federal ban called Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that prohibits the provision od sports betting in 46 of 50 American states.

Another important difference is that each regulated Canadian province offers a single Internet gambling website to its residents and no competition is allowed. In the U.S., it can be said that competition is a major factor that boosts the market. Every land-based casino in Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada is capable of applying for a licence to run an online gambling website.

The online casino landscape in Canada is promising as it will provide a valuable source of revenue. It is yet too early to make an accurate forecast on the regulatory changes in Canada that may finally establish a clear regulatory framework regarding the online gambling industry. But the situation looks optimistic as without legislative change, the provinces are losing millions of dollars to unlicensed operators.