This document is intended to be a conclusive explanation and reference to all current gaming and echeck laws related to online gambling within the nation of Canada, updated as of July 2021.
Canada has come a long way in terms of legalizing online gambling, at least when compared to US laws. In relation to the United Kingdom, Canada still has a long road ahead of them. At present, there are several provinces in Canada where online gambling, in one form or another, is not only legal, but locally regulated. These include Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, and the collective provinces of Atlantic Canada; New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
While the above listed provinces of Canada have moved forward with locally regulated iGaming, online gambling is not illegal in the remaining province of Saskatchewan, or Canada’s three territories; Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. It simply lacks local regulation, meaning Canadians in these regions (the entire country, for that matter) are not breaking any laws by gambling online with internationally regulated online casinos that operate overseas.
The following information will help shed light on the current laws of online gambling in Canada.
The Criminal Code of Canada in 2021
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, Part VII, Section 207 , it is lawful:
“(a) for the government of a province, either alone or in conjunction with the government of another province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in that province, or in that and the other province, in accordance with any law enacted by the legislature of that province.”
Extracting the legal mumbo-jumbo from that passage, it means that only the government of a province can organize, run and regulate any online gambling activities (as the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and others have). Provinces are not permitted to license other companies to operate online gambling establishments (i.e. PokerStars cannot apply for a license in Canada). In addition, online gambling regulated within Canada must be conducted on an ‘intrastate’ level. The term intrastate refers to a ring-fenced market, meaning that only residents within that province can participate in the online gambling activities provided.
An exception in the Criminal Code also allows for two or more provinces to work together (“in conjunction with the government of another province”) to present their residents with shared online gambling facilities, if they wish. In such cases, residents of both provinces would be able to participate in the online gambling activities provided by both provinces.
As an example, British Columbia and Manitoba have teamed up to offer their residents dual access to the British Columbia Lottery Corp’s (BCLC) iGaming website, PlayNow.com. Additionally, British Columbia and Quebec are partnered to share player bases, but only in regards to online poker.
There are two exemptions to the general rules of gambling, provided in the Criminal Code  that allow for “charitable” and “religious” organizations, as well as “fair or exhibition” organizers to conduct a lottery scheme, provided they are licensed by the province to do so.
Provincially Regulated Online Gambling in Canada
At present, the following provincial governments have elected to legalize and regulate some form of online gambling:
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, and the collective provinces of Atlantic Canada; New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
Please continue reading to learn more about Canadian online gambling laws by province. For historical reference, we’ve chosen to order them chronologically. These laws also impact echeck and iDebit echeck deposits. Visit echeckcasinos.ca for more information on making legal echeck deposits.
Online Gambling in British Columbia
British Columbia was the first Canadian province to legalize online gambling. The activity is coordinated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), which has been directing all lottery and casino gambling activities within the province for more than 35 years. The BCLC operates under the legislation and policies of BC’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch , which regulates all relative industry related legislature, investigates claims, and enforces respective laws.
BCLC launched PlayNow.com in 2004, accessible to B.C. residents age 19 and above . Initially, the offering included only the sale of online lottery and sports lottery tickets. Digital casino games weren’t added until in 2010, followed by online poker in 2011. Site expansion has continued ever since, now presenting bingo, keno, instant win games, live casino tables, and pool betting.
Today, PlayNow presents an all-encompassing online gambling experience, complete with slots, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, arcades, video poker and everything else you would expect to find in a large-scale, land-based casino.
Note: As of 2012, PlayNow.com is accessible to residents of Manitoba of legal gambling age (18+). See Manitoba segment below for more info.
Lawful Online Gaming in Quebec
Online gaming was legalized in Quebec  in July of 2010, allowing Loto-Quebec – Canada’s oldest lottery corporation – to present online gaming opportunities. Loto-Quebec, which has been in charge of mandating all gambling activities within the province since 1969, launched its provincial iGaming website, Espacejeux, in December 2010. The Province of Quebec sets its legal gambling age at 18+, unlike British Columbia and Ontario, where adults must be at least 19 years of age.
Most forms of online gambling are authorized for representation on Espacejeux. To date, these include casino slots, table games, blackjack, roulette, keno, live dealer tables, poker, sports betting, bingo, instant wins and, of course, lotteries.
In 2011, the governments of Quebec and British Columbia agreed to share online poker player bases , permitting their residents to compete against one another. All other forms of online gambling in Quebec are restricted to citizens within the Canadian Province.
Manitoba Legalizes Online Gambling via B.C.
The government of Manitoba took a different approach to iGaming. After witnessing the success of British Columbia’s online gambling portal – particularly its prosperous foray into online casino and poker games in 2010 and 2011 respectively – they figured, ‘Why create a whole new product, when there’s a perfectly good one up and running next door?’
In April 2012, Manitoba Lotteries partnered with BCLC  to “deliver online gambling for Manitobans on a Manitoba site, based on BCLC’s online platform”. That partnership went into full effect in early 2013, when Manitobans, age 18+, gained equal access to BCLC’s PlayNow.com. See the section above detailing online gambling in British Columbia for more info on that platform’s iGaming variety.
Legal Online Gambling in Ontario
In 2011, Ontario became the third Canadian Province to legalize some form of gambling via a gaming website . All gaming operations are controlled by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). The OLG website provides all legalized forms of online gambling in Ontario, available to provincial residents 19 years of age or older .
Early on, the majority of online gambling opportunities were truncated to numerical state lotteries . Regulations have since broadened to permit online casino games, instant wins, and sports betting via Pro-Lines, Pools and Point-Spreads.
What’s interesting about Ontario’s gambling laws is that the government scripted special forward-thinking amendments  in 2020. These amendments are designed to automatically authorize the licensing of third-party online gambling operations, thereby opening the province to a competitive iGaming market, if and when that option becomes legally available.
The amendments are written to go into effect, “On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor”; that is to say, once the federal government authorizes competition within provincial internet gaming markets.
iGaming in Atlantic Canada (N.B., N.L., N.S., and P.E.I.)
The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) spent an entire decade pitching a plan to launch an online gambling portal across the region’s four Atlantic provinces – New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island – before finally receiving an affirmative response. It came in mid-2020, when each was reeling from the effects of the pandemic, and subsequent loss of revenue from business closures.
New Brunswick was the first to accept ALC’s invitation to recover lost revenue via online casino gaming . After N.B.’s launch in August 2020, N.L., N.S., and P.E.I. followed suit, each joining the virtual gaming revolution by Spring 2021.
The ALC’s online casino presents adult residents of those provinces (age 19+) with a range of lottery options, including number draws, scratch’n wins, and video lottery games. Members also enjoy Pro-Line sports bets, iBingo, and an online casino complete with digital slots, video poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and other table games.
Legal Internet Gambling in Alberta
Alberta is the latest provincial government to authorize, regulate, and launch its own iGaming portal. Operating under the watchful eye of Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis , PlayAlberta went live on the AGLC website in October of 2020.
Patrons of the online gambling site – limited to adult residents of Alberta, age 18 and over – are privy to digital casino slots and games, live dealer table games, instant win games, and can also purchase tickets for Alberta’s local and national lottery games.
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