Players in Canada are about to finally get access to safe, licensed, and fully regulated online casinos. On April 4, the first iGaming licenses are set to go live in Ontario, one of the largest Canadian provinces. The new online gambling law requires all casino operators wanting to provide services for CA players to obtain a license from Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
Other provinces are likely to follow suit in the future, but Ontario has been on the forefront of the iGaming regulation in Canada so far. For the first time, private companies have been given a permission to apply for licenses and, once verified, provide online casino services in Canada.
In the past, different forms of online gaming, including sports betting and online poker, were operated by government-owned or subsidized bodies, such as provincial lottery corporations. With the new law in place, CA casino players will have access to a wide array of gaming options, hosted by safe and licensed sites, creating a much safer environment.
One of the main ideas behind the new online casino regime in Canada is to get some of these grey area operator to apply for a license and continue offering their services in a much more regulated and structured way, adhering to important responsible gambling and anti-money laundering laws.
Where in Canada Are Online Casinos Legal?
The situation with casino-style online gaming in Canada has been a bit of murky territory for quite some time. As mentioned, up until recent legal changes in Ontario, private operators were not able to apply for licenses. However, some provinces have set up their own online casinos, powered by provincial lotteries.
Ontario Online Casinos
After April 4, players in Ontario will be able to play on a number of online casinos powered by major iGaming companies. These will be fully licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, adhering to all the laws and requirements set forth by the regulator.
This will allow all fans of casino games in the province to enjoy their gaming in a safe and trustworthy environment, which wasn’t the case in the past. There are many offshore operators accepting players from Ontario and CA in general, but without a local oversight, players and their funds are always at risk.
Ontario-licensed casinos are required to offer different responsible gambling tools, ensuring players have full control over their gaming habits. These tools can be an excellent resource for anyone struggling with gambling addiction or just wanting to take a break from online gambling.
In the same vein, casinos have to follow strict anti-money laundering protocols. This means the operators need to confirm players’ identities and ensure they know where the deposits originate from.
All of these regulatory changes will help create a much safer and more enjoyable gaming environment in the long run.
British Columbia Online Casinos
British Columbia introduced its own online casino in 2010, looking to combat offshore sites targeting Canadian players. The site is owned and operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.
Like other provinces offering CA online casinos, BC does not accept applications from private companies. Instead, the BCLC has the monopoly to offer online casino games.
Online Casinos in Manitoba
Manitoba is one of the Canadian provinces that have been offering online casino gambling for some time now. Unlike Ontario, though, casino games here are operated by PlayNow, a site owned by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.
The BCLC has a monopoly on online gambling in the province and, as of right now, private companies are not allowed to apply for licenses. Whether this changes in the future and if Manitoba will follow in Ontario footsteps remains to be seen.
As for the game selection, players have access to a decent range of slots from some of the best game providers, including several IGT-powered progressive games such as PowerBucks Arctic Gems, MegaJackpots Siberian Storm, and MegaJackpots Cleopatra.
Quebec Online Casinos
In Quebec, players have access to a province-licensed online casino. The casino is powered by Loto-Quebec and it represents a completely legal and regulated option for those looking to try their luck playing some of their favorite casino games.
The site hosts over 200 different titles, a majority of them being slot machines. However, the Loto-Quebec casino also features a limited selection of live dealer games powered by Evolution Gaming, so Canadians in this province have a decent selection of options.
Here, too, private companies cannot apply for a license. Loto-Quebec has the sole right to operate an online casino in the province.
How to Recognize a Legal Online Casino in Canada
As mentioned, there are many offshore sites catering to Canadian players, operating outside of the country’s legal framework. For the players, it is always much better to stick with legal online casinos Canada, as that provides them with a much higher degree of safety. The question is, how can you recognize an online casino is actually licensed in Canada?
- Affiliation with a province: all online gambling in Canada is regulated on the provincial level. This means that all legal online casinos will have a seal of approval from the provincial licensing body, such as Alcohol and Gaming Commission.
- Local venue: Licensed Canada online casinos will have ties with one of the local gaming venues located in the province instead of operating from (often unknown) offshore locations.
- Geolocation rules: Since gaming is licensed on the provincial level, players are only allowed to access online casinos licensed by the province while physically present in that province. Thus, all properly licensed sites will have geolocation measures in place to ensure this rule is enforced.
- No cryptocurrencies accepted: While many offshore sites accepting Canadian players will also accept deposits made with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, this is not the case for any licensed CA online casinos. In fact, the only currency you will be able to deposit and play in is the Canadian dollar (CAD).
Why Choose a Legal Canadian Online Casino
Many offshore casinos catering to Canada players offer big bonuses and many other perks that seem very appealing. Yet, even with all these, we always recommend sticking to licensed and regulated CA gambling sites and avoiding all others at all costs, primarily for reasons mentioned below:
- High degree of accountability: Locally-licensed Canada casinos have to adhere to the rules set forth by local regulators. These regulators perform checks to ensure the operator is doing everything by the book and if there is ever a problem, players have someone to turn to for assistance. With offshore sites, this is simply not the case.
- Local banking options: Playing at licensed Canada online casinos, you will have access to many convenient payment options adjusted for the local market. Thus, you will never have problems with deposits or withdrawals. Furthermore, your cashouts will usually process much quicker.
- Responsible gaming: As mentioned before, licensed CA casinos have to follow rather strict responsible gaming rules. Players have access to a variety of tools to help them control, restrict, and even completely stop their gaming activities. Most offshore sites do not offer such a high level of protection.
- Benefiting local communities: Finally, regulated Canada casinos always contribute to local communities in one way or another. While exact laws and regulations vary from one province to another, a portion of gaming proceeds always goes to local causes, such as health, police, responsible gaming, etc. Offshore sites do not contribute in any way.
Risks of Playing at Offshore Online Casinos
In addition to all the benefits that players get by playing at locally-licensed CA casinos, there are also some very real risks and dangers connected to offshore sites. While users are often oblivious of these risks, they are something that should always be considered when deciding where to play.
- Your money is always at risk: While offshore casinos promise prompt and hassle-free payouts, this is often not the case. Sadly, players only discover this once it is too late and their withdrawal gets stuck in an infinite loop of back and forth emails over a vague problem that does not really exist.
- Total lack of accountability: Being out of reach of local Canadian authorities, offshore casinos can pretty much do whatever they like. If there is ever a dispute raised by the player or a problem caused by the operator, there is no relevant third party to intermediate and ensure all rules are respected. Instead, you are mostly left at the mercy of a casino.
- Your personal info can be abused: Many offshore casinos are not afraid to look for profits wherever they can find them. This sometimes includes selling off players’ sensitive personal information to the highest bidder. Something like this can never happen with a regulated Canadian casino as there are mechanisms in place to both prevent and severely punish such practices.
- Potential legal risks: While Canadian laws do not explicitly prohibit players from playing at offshore sites, this does not mean that it is impossible to get in legal problems for doing so. Furthermore, there have been cases where players’ accounts were closed by banks that refused to process transactions from illegal gambling sites, which on its own can be quite a headache.
Types of Online Casino Games Available in Canada
Legal Canada casinos offer a variety of gaming options. Not surprisingly, slots make up the biggest portion of the overall offering, and CA players in provinces that offer legal casinos have access to many popular titles, including some progressive jackpot slots.
Live dealer tables are not available across all provinces, but some casinos do offer live games like roulette and blackjack. We expect these will also be available in Ontario once iGaming is live on April 4, but we will know for sure after that date.
Do I have to be a resident of the province where I want to play to be able to register for an online casino account in Canada?
In most cases, licensed casinos require players to have physical address in the province. This is not always the case, though, as some provinces share jurisdictions (like BC and Manitoba via the PlayNow brand), so you can register and play from both provinces.
Are online casinos legal in Ontario?
Yes, starting with April 4, 2022, online casinos are legal in Ontario. Operators wanting to provide their services in the province need to be licensed by the local regulator and can only cater to players physically present within Ontario.
Do I have to pay taxes on online casino winnings in Canada?
No, gambling winnings are not taxed in Canada. There may be some exceptions to this rule pertaining to persons identified as professional gamblers, but these are rare cases and not something you should worry about.
How can I know an online casino is legal in Canada?
The best way to make sure a casino is legal in Canada is by looking into the information on the site to see if there is an affiliation with the province and if the operator has local connections. Additionally, legal CA casinos only offer play in CAD and do not accept deposits with cryptocurrencies.
What types of games are available at legal Canada casinos?
You will find different types of games at legal Canadian casinos, from video slots to live dealer tables. Different games are available in different provinces.