Is it Legal for Canadians to Gamble Online?

The short answer is yes

Canada legal justiceIn the past, Canada was anti-gambling and had very strict laws that only allowed limited forms of gambling. However, following the new changes introduced to the legislation in the 1970’s, things changed quite significantly, as the amended Criminal Code gave the provinces the right to allow gambling within their own regions.

Read more

As a result, a number of brick-and-mortar casinos opened throughout Canada, and many of the provincial governments began to hold their own lotteries, and continue to do so till date. Today, several government-approved sport betting outlets also exist across the country, and while they allow a legal way to place bets on sports, the betting opportunities offered are fairly limited.

Current Legal Status:

  • It is legal for Canadian casino players (gamblers) to play at online casinos
  • It is illegal to operate a web-based casino from Canadian territory
  • Canadian Criminal Code defines gambling or conducting any gaming activities in Canadian territory as illegal, unless these activities are specified as exceptions in the Code
  • Canadians can play at online casinos that are based or licensed within the territory of Kahnawake

A Brief History of Gambling in Canada

In truth, gambling in Canada has been around for as long as the first people, and the first European visitors from France and England began exploring the lands. While the first actual piece of gambling legislation made its first appearance in 1892, when the new Canadian legislation proclaimed it as an illegal activity. However, over time the laws became more and more relaxed and by the early 1900’s certain gambling activities such as bingo were permitted within charitable contexts. This was followed by the legalization of horse racing in Canada.

Significant changes occurred in the 1970’s, when the Canadian Criminal Code underwent a number of reformations which included gambling activities. Now each province could determine the extent of their own legal gambling through individual licensing and regulation of gambling enterprises. This led to the opening of several legal casinos throughout Canada as well as a variety of provincial lotteries and approved sports betting outlets under the brand name “Sports Select” (depending on the province).

After 2010, the first legal online casinos in Canada were launched and there are currently over 300 of these legitimate Canadian online casinos available. It is important to note that it is illegal to operate an online casino in Canada without government approval. However, it is legal for Canadians to play at online casinos that are defined as ‘offshore”, which in the case of Canadian online casinos, means licensed and regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, located within the Mohawk territory of Canada. This is also where most of the online casino servers are located.

Who decides what’s legal?

In Canada, sanctioned online and offline gambling activities which include sports betting, horse racing, lotteries and casinos, are regulated by their relevant provincial authority.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission also determines licensing and regulation for many online casinos. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is technically located within Canada but is a completely independent regulatory body. There are essentially five different licenses which the Kahnawake Gaming Commission grants:

  1. Interactive Gaming License or IGC
  2. Client Provider Authorization or CPA
  3. Secondary Client Provider Authorization or Secondary CPA
  4. Key Person License or KPL
  5. Poker Room License or PRL

Each of these different license types is intended for specific purposes and the official Kahnawake Gaming Commission gives great detailed into each license type and its specific function. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has also grown over the past few years and is now one of the most respected online gambling regulators in the industry.

The commission also works alongside other regulatory bodies such as the Financial Services Regulatory Commission of Antigua and Barbuda. Other regulatory bodies include the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta which is intended to stream line the online licensing process. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has enjoyed close relationships with these particular bodies since 2005 and 2006 respectively.

I’ve Hit the Jackpot! What to do Next?

If you’ve just won a jackpot or a couple of crucial rounds of roulette, congratulations! Winning at an online casino is one of the most exciting experiences in the world and is obviously a huge part of why we sign up with online casinos is the first place. However, before you get too excited and go rushing off to try and claim your winnings from the casino, stop and make sure that you have crossed all of your t’s and dotted all of your i’s.

It is very important to understand that all online casinos follow a very specific process when it comes to withdrawing winnings. This is why we always recommend that you thoroughly read those boring terms and conditions found on every online casinos website. Here the online casino will clearly stipulate all of its policies pertaining to withdrawing of winnings and indeed, qualifying to withdraw any winnings that you may have been lucky enough to earn.

There are quite a few different policy aspects that you need to be aware of and these are generally the same from one online casino to another. Policy usually includes when the online casino makes withdrawals available, the limits that can be withdrawn at any one time, the preferred methods used by players to withdraw winnings and the proper identification requirements and processes. It is often a good idea to actually contact your online casino before deciding to withdraw any winnings. Having a live chat to one of their support staff about what exactly is needed can save you a lot of headaches. In the meantime, take a look at our simple step by step guide that covers the majority of online casino withdrawal requirements and procedures.

Step 1: Account Details

Ensuring that your account details are completely accurate and up to date is of paramount importance. This will go a long way to ensuring that your withdrawal request runs smoothly and will invariably include a copy of your regular credit card (funding authority) along with some form of legally recognized identity documentation.

Step 2: Wagering Requirements

Virtually every online casino that offers some sort of deposit bonus will also include a set of wagering requirements in their bonus terms and conditions or under their general terms and conditions. This is one of the areas where many online casino players fail as they do not take the time to read the bonus terms and conditions thoroughly.

In most cases, a failure to adhere to the letter of the bonus terms and conditions can result in a forfeit of the bonus plus any winnings derived from it or, at worst, a closing of your account. If you do take up an online casinos bonus offer, you will be subject to their bonus terms and conditions and will not be able to put in a withdrawal request until you have fulfilled your wagering requirements. If on the other hand, you decide not to take up the online casinos bonus offer, you will not be subject to these terms and conditions. However, you may still be subject to other aspects of an online casinos terms and conditions, so it is worth checking them out anyway.

Step 3: Check rules on withdrawal methods

Not all online casinos work in the same way when it comes to how you can withdraw your winnings. In other words, not all online casinos will allow every possible option that you would normally find within their supported deposit methods. In fact, most online casinos will generally prefer you to use the same method to withdraw as you did to make your initial deposits into your player account. The bottom line is that, before you go ahead and click on the withdraw funds button, get in touch with your online casinos support staff and have a chat with them about what they actually expect from you. In most cases this is the fastest way to get to the bottom of the issue and, generally speaking, online casino support staff are friendly and very knowledgeable about their particular online casino brand’s way of doing things.

Step 4: Checking withdrawal eligibility

Once you’ve gone through all of the above mentioned steps, you’ve made sure that your proof if ID is correct, you have followed all the relevant terms and conditions and so on, there will more than likely be one last hurdle to jump over. Generally, the online casino will first check your actual eligibility to make a withdrawal at that time. There can be a number of steps involved and it does tend to vary from one online casino to another.

Most of the time, the casinos accounts department (cashier) will check that all your paperwork is accounted for and is in order, if not, they will request whatever documents are outstanding from you. The casino may also check to see if you have fulfilled all of the wagering requirements as set out in their terms and conditions.

If all of this clears, the accounts team will then get in touch with you as to the method that will be used to make the withdrawal. In most cases you will have several options open to you and, once this has been sorted out, your account will enter a ‘pending’ phase. This will also vary from one online casino to another, some are quick and move from pending to clear in a few hours, while others can take a few days. Again, it is a good idea to get in touch with the casino support staff, just to make sure that the pending status does not affect your ability to carry on playing at the casino and does not affect any other bonuses that you may have in your player account.

Step 5: Verify payer details

While not essential to the process, you might want to also get in touch with you online casino support team to find out who you will be receiving your prize money from. In most cases however, the casino does not list their name as the payer. In other words, your online casinos name will not show up on your bank statements. For your own records, you may want to know what name is used so that you can easily identify the source of those funds. 

Things to remember

It is always a good idea to do your homework when it comes to choosing an online casino to play at. Find out all you can about the online casinos licensing and that it can actually legally operate in your territory or country. One of the reasons for this is to protect yourself and have some legal recourse in the event of fraud or suspected illegal activities such as money laundering.

Legal online casinos for Canadians

If you are not quite sure how to go about doing the necessary research to ensure that an online casino that you are interested in is above board and legal, don’t worry! We’ve taken the headache out of research and you can use any of our recommended online casinos for Canadians in complete confidence.

Be aware of illegal online casinos around the world

Not all countries or territories around the world allow online casinos to operate from them, Canada included. It is vitally important that you are aware of where the online casino that you are interested in signing up with operates from. Online casinos that operate from any of the territories where they are forbidden are fraudulent and should be avoided at all costs.

Additional Important Information

It is important to note that any online casino that operates within Canada without a license does so illegally. We offer a full list of vetted online casinos for the Canadian market that are based offshore and are legally able to offer quality online gaming to Canadian players. We also provide full and detailed reviews on all of the online casinos that we have selected for Canadian players.

These reviews closely examine all key areas and aspects including gaming and software, banking and security, customer support, language support, bonus offers and bonus conditions as well as language and currency support.

Furthermore, it is important to note that the information provided in this guide should not be seen as legal advice.


Disclaimer: While TopOnlineCasinos has done its best to make sure the information here is up-to-date and accurate, this article shouldn’t be considered a substitute for professional, legal advice. After all, we are not lawyers, and local enforcement, legislation and restrictions are subject to change over the course of time. The Canadian government is frequently discussing about introducing amendments to the legislation for online gambling, and though we are not responsible to update this page for any circumstance that occur afterwards, we will provide you with updates, provided that the situation changes.