Canada has always been lumped into glocal discussions with its larger neighbor to the south. However, while the country does share a long border and many characteristics with the United States, it definitely has its own independent thoughts on many topics. Recent proposed federal legislation of the marijuana industry in Canada have left those in the online gambling space wonder when casinos are next. For now, the country has a vague policy when it comes to legal online gambling, which we will explain to you on this page, along with giving you an idea of which software companies you should be looking to use and at what sites.
Gambling Regulations in Canada
For a country that has been around for only 150 years, Canada has a long history with gambling. Land-based casinos and bingo halls are legal as are lottery games and poker if it is being played in a casino. Sports betting of any kind is illegal except for a Parlay-based game operated by the lottery. The federal government does not control the regulation, having passed that on to each individual province to administer. As a result, there are slightly different rules in each province, which is clearly evident when discussing online gambling. More on that shortly.
Online gambling has actually had a longer history in Canada than almost any other country in the world. Back in the mid-1990s when online casinos were born, the first few software developers included some heavyweights from Canada. Those of you who have been around the industry for a while may remember names like Chartwell and Cryptologic from back then. Also, Neteller has roots in Canada as one of its founders is from Calgary. With all this history on the operator side of the business, it is surprising that there weren’t regulations for players and sites from an earlier date.
To confuse matters in Canada, in the early 2000s, an indigenous tribe on the outskirts of Montreal decided they wanted to reap the rewards of being involved in the emerging industry. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was created, and based on the fact they considered their land sovereign, the tribe created a gaming license allowing operators to be situated on the reservation. A top-notch hosting facility was built, and given the location’s proximity to the valuable U.S. market, many top operators set up shop in those server farms. The Canadian government chose not to take any action against the tribe, choosing to stay out of the political debate.
The rest of the country watched as the UIGEA bill in the United States gutted the online gambling landscape. However, Canada did not follow suit, and as a result, many online poker professionals took up residence in the country in order to be able to access their livelihood. Finally, some of the provincial governments decided they had had enough, and drafted changes to the land-based legislation to allow their government-run lotteries to enter the online gambling market. These online licenses were only given to the lottery, and not in every province. By 2010, the provinces of British Columbia, Quebec, and the Atlantic Provinces were ready to launch their own online casinos and a pooled poker site.
However, as the government did not make it illegal for offshore sites to operate within the Canadian borders, the regulated sites were not nearly as successful as the provinces could have hoped. Additional provinces added online casinos and additional products, but to this day players are still able to play at much larger offshore sites without any repercussion. There are no signs of these regulations being updated soon, which means that sites can continue to advertise in sports arenas, TV, and other traditional methods simply through a loophole in the broadcast regulations.
Online Casino Software Available to Canadians
With no real restrictions placed on them by the Canadian government, it is left up to the individual software provider to place restrictions on players from accessing their products. There aren’t many companies that have taken that path, as for the time being there are no penalties for offering online slots or casino games. Until that changes, you will be able to find great games from a plethora of suppliers, including these companies:
- Real Time Gaming
- Pragmatic Play
- Evolution Gaming
There are so many more that we could name, but as you will read in our reviews, we lay it all out for you on each casino page.
Best Online Casinos for Canadians
When we are looking at casinos to review for Canadian players, one of the first items we check out are the payment methods available. We want to make sure all of our readers can get their money to and from the site they choose without any headaches and with minimal costs if any. Next up we look at the game selection – having money on a site is useless if there aren’t the Table Games or Slots titles you want to play! Bonus marks go to sites that offer multiple suppliers in one casino lobby, and to those that have a native app from which you can access your account. For the most part, you have an open book when it comes to choosing a site to play from Canada, so to help narrow the options, here are a few sites that we recommend from our review section. We are sure that your experience at any of these sites will be a positive one.