US & Canadian Internet Gambling Jurisdictions by Province / State
As promised in a previous segment detailing National Online Gambling Licensing Jurisdictions, today’s edition will cover more locally run regulatory bodies—specifically those in the states and provinces of the US and Canada—where online casino and/or poker games are locally operated.
In these countries, the federal government has limited control over internet gambling laws. Both nations have decreed that gambling is not specifically legal or illegal, unless deemed so—one way or the other—by the state or province in which one resides.
Therefore, the legality and regulation of internet gambling depends entirely upon where one lives in North America. We’ll give a brief run down of US and Canada online gambling licenses, where they exist, and what they permit.
Important Note on Federal Gambling Laws
United States: Unless otherwise legislated, online gambling is generally illegal in any US state where the activity is not specifically regulated.
Canada: The law states no operator can provide gambling services to Canadians without a provincial license. However, that only applies to operators with a ‘physical presence‘ in Canada; not internationally regulated iGaming sites with no offices or servers on Canadian soil. Furthermore, Canadians are not prohibited from accessing offshore gambling sites. Therefore it’s perfectly legal for residents of all provinces to shop around for reputable offshore gambling operators.
US States where Internet Gambling is Actively Regulated
I use the term “actively” because there are some states where legislation is still under consideration. The following states have already passed iGaming regulations and have issued licenses, and/or are accepting license applications. This information is current as of July 12, 2018.
Delaware was the first state to go live with online gambling in 2013. The Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement regulates three licensed operators who conduct online casino and poker games. Players must be 21 years of age, and must be physically located within the state of Delaware to participate. Following a player-sharing agreement with Nevada, players in that state may also access Delaware’s online poker tables, but not the online casinos.
In 2013, Nevada chose to legalize online poker only. Online casino games are not permitted (so as to protect the state’s massive land-based gambling industry). The Nevada Gaming Commission currently regulates two licensed online gambling sites, including WSOP.com, the official website of the World Series of Poker. Players must be 21 to participate, and must be located in Nevada or Delaware (per the Delaware-Nevada shared liquidity agreement) to access the poker games.
Launched in 2013, New Jersey’s iGaming market has been more successful than any other US state thus far. Regulated by the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, the state has issued licenses to 5 land-based casinos which collectively operate 26 internet casino and/or poker sites. Players must be 21+ and physically located in New Jersey to play.
Legislation was passed in 2017, followed by regulations in early 2018, that allow land-based casinos to apply for online casino and/or table games licenses. To date, no licenses have been awarded by the PA Gaming Control Board.
Canadian Internet Gambling Jurisdictions & Licenses
In some ways, Canadian laws are more lax, such as the fact that Canadians can legally gamble online within their own province (if regulations are in place), or at international gambling sites. In other ways, they are more strict; in particular the way each regulating province attempts to monopolize their market. Each of the Canada internet gambling jurisdictions below present their residents with just one, provincially-regulated iGaming option. Unlike US states, licenses are not provided for land-based casinos to compete in the market.
The first Canadian province to regulate internet gaming, British Columbia launched PlayNow in 2004. Online casino, poker, bingo, lottery and limited sports betting options are available. Regulated by the BC Lottery Corp, players must be 19+ and physically located in British Columbia to participate.
Manitoba piggy-backs off of British Columbia’s iGaming operation. Through a shared liquidity deal, Manitoba does not operate its own gambling website, but jointly regulates the province’s access to PlayNow via BCLC and the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission. Residents, age 19 and above, have been accessing the site since January 2013.
The latest to present Canada online gambling regulations, Ontario went live with PlayOLG in 2015. It is regulated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp, offering Lottery games to 18+, plus casino, poker, bingo and limited sports betting to those 19+. Access is restricted to players physically located in Ontario.
Provincial regulators with Loto-Quebec established EspaceJeux in 2010. Quebec is a ring-fenced iGaming market, meaning only players within the province can access the site’s online casino, poker, bingo, lottery and limited sports betting activities. The legal age to gambling online here is 18.