When it comes to casino gambling in Canada, anyone tasked with getting to grips with the legal landscape would be best advised to have a stiff drink beforehand. In comparison to other wealthy countries, online gaming in Canada is complex, diverse, and riddled with a high number of grey areas which make it difficult to determine how the law would actually apply in many cases - especially since there are many areas in which the law has yet to be enforced.
At a glance, the laws relating to gambling, both for players and casinos, seem almost too complex to fully grasp. However, when you break it down piece by piece, the picture starts to make more sense. If you're wondering how gambling legislation in Canada might apply to you, read on to find out more about the current state of the law.
The Key Points
The first thing you should know is that, on a nationwide level, gambling legislation is enforced by a number of different regulatory bodies, depending on location.
There's the Alcohol and Gaming Authority (AGA) for Nova Scotia, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) for the Kahnawake Territories, to name just a few.
This means that all gambling is dealt with on a provincial and territorial level rather than on a federal level. In all but three provinces and territories, gambling in land-based casinos has been perfectly legal since the 1970s, when existing strict regulations (which only allowed racetrack betting) were repealed.
The general legal age minimum for gambling in 19, or 18 in British Columbia, with all most provinces operating a huge number of large casinos and gaming resorts.
But What About Online Gambling?
Now on to the more tricky part. At this particular moment, online gaming Canada rules allow for players in Canada to play popular games such as slots, blackjack and roulette online with minimum interference.
However, the current rulebook isn't well-adapted for the digital age. With online gaming now outstripping land-based casino gaming in terms of customers and revenue, attention has been drawn to how online casinos operate. Many aren't able to operate within Canada, meaning that the most popular operators tend to operate offshore while accepting custom from Canadian residents.
This has brought some ire from the provinces, who are missing out on revenue generated from activity by residents in those same areas. This has led to an uneven application of the law, with some casino sites and developers being banned from operating in Canada, while others continue to operate unimpeded.
Steps are being taken to make the laws more clear and equal and what happens next will determine the state of online gaming in Canada for decades.
The future for all kinds of gambling in Canada looks unclear. There have been a number of high-profile stories of land-based casino plans meeting fierce regulatory opposition, meaning that planned developments have been stalled.
In the digital realm, the current trends suggest that provinces are all taking unilateral measures to bring digital casino gaming "home", so to speak. According to recent reports, future online casinos may have to have a physical presence (i.e. a server) in a certain province in order to operate there while abiding by local laws.
While the future is far from clear, it looks like necessary steps to clarify gaming regulation are not far off. Once this happens, both players and operators will be able to enjoy a much clearer idea of where they stand.