Legal Betting FAQ: Terrestrial and online gambling laws of Ontario in 2020.
Ontario is perhaps the most famous of all provinces in Canada. It is certainly the most populated of them all, home to 38% of the nation’s total population, and the second largest by area. Its capital of Toronto hosts an impressive collection of professional sports teams, including the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA’s Toronto Raptors, and MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays.
Ontario has a bustling economy, driven largely by manufacturing and natural resources. Tourism is another major economic driver, greatly spurred by the presence of the majestic Niagara Falls. Residents of the province tend to visit the area more than one might think necessary; not to see the famous Horseshoe so much as to visit the multitude of local attractions. These include a pair of world-class, integrated commercial casino resorts. Tourists are drawn to these, as are the locals – many of which have displayed an affinity for both live and online gambling entertainment.
The area’s gambling enthusiasts among the luckiest in Canada, having access to so many different wagering opportunities, both on land and online. Today, we’ll be looking at all these forms of gambling to determine what is legal, what is illegal, and what might fall somewhere in between those lines.
Terrestrial and Online Gambling Laws of Ontario
In the following context you’ll find a complete, Q&A-based reference guide to Ontario gambling laws that is short, factual and easy to understand. Note that all of the information provided is current as of February 2020.
What forms of gambling are legal in Ontario?
– Horse Racing (Quarter Horse, Standardbred, Thoroughbred)
– Lottery (OLG)
– Sports Betting (Pro-Line)
– Casino gambling (slots, tables, etc.)
– Charity (bingo, raffles)
Who regulates gambling in Ontario?
Almost all gambling activities in Ontario are regulated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). Lottery sales, including number draws, scratch offs and Pro-Line sports lottery tickets, are managed directly by the OLG. The gaming regulator licenses and monitors all commercial casinos, poker rooms and charitable gaming facilities, most of which are managed by third-party operators.
Throughout all of Canada, horse racing is overseen by the federal government. Tribal casinos are also out of provincial control, being operated by their respective First Nation tribes. These are the only types of gambling OLG has no real authority over.
What do Ontario online gambling laws cover?
Online gambling is 100% legal in Ontario. It is one of just a few Canadian provinces to address online gambling directly in its law books. Ontario chose to legalize and regulate internet gambling with the launch of PlayOLG.ca in 2015.
PlayOLG is accessible only to adult residents of Ontario who have not voluntarily self-excluded themselves from provincially licensed gambling activities. It offers a wide range of gambling options on desktop or mobile; lottery sales, horse race betting and an assortment of casino games, including slot machines, table games, video poker, and progressive jackpot games.
Is it legal to gamble at offshore gambling sites?
Yes. Despite having access to a home-grown iGaming destination, gambling with internationally regulated online casinos is not illegal in Ontario. The Criminal Code of Canada stipulates that gambling houses with a physical presence in a province, are only illegal if they are not licensed by that province. Being located overseas means international online gambling sites are not subject to Canadian law.
In short – and mind you, numerous legal authorities have agreed with this point – because offshore iGaming operations are not explicitly illegal in Ontario, they are legal.
Is single-event sports betting legal in Ontario?
No. Single-event sports betting is not currently permitted in Ontario. That is one area of the law that is mandated on a federal level, and upheld by all provinces and territories of Canada. Sports betting is only legal when multiple picks are made (i.e. parlay betting). Ontario offers such wagering via the Pro-Line sports lottery, available online at PlayOLG.ca and in countless retail locations across the province.
It is worth noting that, while single-event sports betting cannot be conducted within Ontario, it is perfectly legal outside of Canada. Ontarians can partake in the wagering opportunities of internationally regulated online sportsbooks with no threat of legal recourse.
Furthermore, Ontario’s sports fans will soon be able to cross the border into the US state of Michigan to place single-event sports wagers. Michigan legalized sports betting, online and on land, in December 2019, and is projected to begin launching sportsbooks in March 2020
Are gambling winnings taxable?
No. Canadians are not required to pay taxes on gambling winnings, with just a few rare exceptions. If the individual is a professional gambler, they may have to claim gambling winnings and losses on their income tax (learn more here). Moreover, if an Ontarian wins a sum of money equal to or exceeding $1,200 from a US-based casino, they must fill out a tax form right there on the spot to give the US government its due. In no other circumstance are Canadians required to pay taxes on gambling winnings; including winnings from international online casinos.
Is it safe to gamble at offshore online gambling sites?
Since the online gambling laws of Ontario were passed, resulting in the 2015 launch of PlayOLG, Ontario has offered the safest form of iGaming in the province. That’s not to say that offshore gambling is hazardous, so long as you know what to look for in a safe and reputable online gaming site.
First and foremost, an operator should be regulated in a respectable jurisdiction; i.e. The UK, Malta, Alderney, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, etc. European authorities such as these hold all licensees to the strictest standards, and are swift to penalize any operator for evidence of non-compliance.See our Gambling Safety Tips to learn more.