Online Gambling in Canada

Canadians like to gamble, and are doing so in increasing numbers. Despite ambiguities in Canadian federal law, online gambling is becoming more and more popular by the day.

Canadian casinos
Land-based gambling is legal in Canada and Canadians are able to visit more than 100,000 betting venues including 31,500 slot machines, 1,800 bingo halls, and 59 casinos.

It's no surprise then that more and more Canadians are logging onto online casinos. A brief review of online gaming sites found at least 30 major casinos that accept Canadian dollars and bank transactions.

Canadians are involved in more than just playing the games. Cryptologic, a major provider of online gaming software, is based in Canada, and the Kahnawake Mohawk tribe, in Quebec, is one of the largest international service providers and regulators for online gaming.

Canadian gambling law
In view of these facts, the only surprise is in the legal small print. As is not uncommon with technology-related issues, the law has yet to catch up with the facts on the ground.

Canada, like the US, has a two-tiered system of government, with federal level overarching provincial/territorial levels. Canadian federal law simultaneously makes it illegal to "operate a common betting house," yet permits the provincial authorities to operate and license gambling venues. Adding to the confusion, the Kahnawake Mohawk, as a first nation tribe, argues that its reserve is a sovereign entity, and therefore exempt from both federal and provincial gambling regulations.

The upshot of this is that online gambling may or may not be legal in Canada. Individual Canadians who log into the casinos and banks which facilitate the financial transactions are technically not violating any law but the websites, by providing "common betting houses," might. These issues are currently working their way through the Canadian courts, but concrete legal decisions have yet to be made.

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