A little over two decades have passed since the first fully functional real money online casino was launched. During the years that passed ever since the internet gambling business saw its ups and downs, navigating between opponents and sustainers, in an often unfriendly regulatory environment. Most countries have made up their minds about online gambling over the years – some of them decided to regulate the industry, issuing licenses for operators and cashing in on tax revenues, others – like the US, for example – did everything they could to keep online gambling out of their territory. I said most – because there are some countries, like Canada for example, which have a curious stance on the whole business.
Canadian online gambling – legal or not?
In short – both.
Canada was basically a no-gambling nation until the 1970s when some activities were legalized. In the mid-1980s, the country’s provinces and territories were given the liberty to decide whether they wanted to allow gambling establishments to function within their borders. Some of them started their own lottery companies, others established casinos. These obsolete laws are the ones still in force, despite the rise of online gambling in the last two decades.
Canadians can currently bet on sports, but not on individual events – they can place parlay bets on three or more matches only. Canadians can currently play online poker at websites hosted in the country – Amaya Gaming, owner of the largest poker network on the planet (PokerStars) even has its HQ in Canada. But when it comes to online casino games, things get complicated.
Online casinos open for Canadians
The lottery corporations in each Canadian province and territory are the only ones that are allowed to offer Canadian players online casino services. Offshore operators are not allowed to promote such services in Canada, at least not directly. Some lottery corporations – the BCLC, the OLG, and Loto-Québec – have launched their own online casinos, but their game variety is still no match for what players can find at the competition. And, since Canadians are not restricted from playing offshore, they often flock to some of the best-known international online casinos. For a list of the most popular ones, visit the Grizzly Gambling online casinos site.
There is nothing in the Canadian Criminal Code to stop locals from flocking to international operators. And they have every reason to do so: the offshore casinos have more games, bigger bonuses, and better promotions to go around.
How Canadian authorities attempt to stop offshore gambling
Canada could follow the example of the member states of the European Union: issue gambling licenses to operators, and tax the winnings generated by local players. Instead, the Canadian legislature seems to hold on to its outdated stance, while watching massive amounts of tax dollars go uncollected year after year. One of the measures they repeatedly tried to push through was blocking access to unlicensed (= all) offshore gambling websites at an ISP level – both times this measure was proposed, it met a heavy resistance from both the telecommunications regulators and the local community.
For now, online gambling will remain in the Canadian legal grey zone. The local operations will continue to struggle, while Canadian players will keep flocking to international online casinos, spending their hard-earned dollars there – and leaving nothing for the provinces’ budgets.
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