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Online Betting In Canada: Betting Sites & Laws

Gambling In CanadaThe legality of and legislation surrounding varying forms of gambling differ from one country to another and in many cases can be quite confused and complicated.

In this guide we’ll detail all the laws and legislation which affects online betting in Canada. Unfortunately it’s currently quite confusing so pay attention to our key points below to get started.

Canadian Friendly Betting Sites: Top 3

Betting Site Rating Bonus (USD) Currency Visit
888Sport A Up to $150 free CAD
New customers only, 18+, T&C’s apply
William Hill A 100% up to $100 CAD
New customers only, 18+, T&C’s apply
Key Facts

Current legislation is massively outdated being first formulated in 1892.

Amendments to law in 1970 gave provinces authority to licence and regulate gambling.

Technically single bets are illegal but parlay bets are legal.

In spite of it’s illegality all sports betting hugely popular.

No individual ever prosecuted for taking part in online gamlbing.

Gambling Legislation & Laws

As should have already become apparent, the situation regarding the legality of gambling in Canada is a complicated and confused one. The following timeline of major Canadian gambling legislation, however, should help to clear things up at least a little:

1892 – Canadian Criminal Code

The Canadian Criminal Code was created in 1892 as the overarching law which codified criminal offences and procedures in the country. Under that code, many varieties of betting and gambling were deemed to be illegal but there were areas of leeway already in evidence in certain circumstances.

1910 – Amendment

One of the first of a number of changes made to the criminal code, in 1910 an amendment made Pari-Mutuel gambling legal. This form of gambling relates to on-course horse race betting and sees winners divide losers’ stakes and a cut of the bet go to both the course itself and to the state.

1970 – Sweeping Amendments

For sixty years gambling law in Canada remained largely unchanged until, in 1970, sweeping changes to the Criminal Code were introduced. These gave the individual Canadian provinces the authority to license and regulate casinos, racetracks, lotteries and a handful of other gaming organisations. The fact that legalised gambling is regulated on a provincial level means that exactly what is legal differs in different areas of the country.

1970-Present – Confusion and Toleration

Whilst the Criminal Code’s original content making sports betting illegal still technically stands, gaming houses providing sports betting are in evidence across Canada. These organisations are largely tolerated by the Canadian authorities and there is next to no public pressure to crack down upon them.

The legality of online gambling, meanwhile, is more of a grey area with nobody having been able to agree upon whether the Criminal Code can be interpreted as covering the area. As such, no prosecutions have ever been sought against individuals taking part in online gambling and this is not likely to change.

Tax On Winnings?

TaxMuch of Canadian law is based upon the original principles of British law, and as such Canada takes the same approach towards the taxation of gambling winnings. This is that in the vast majority of cases winnings are not liable to taxation.

The reason why winnings are not generally taxed is that Canada’s Income Tax Act does not view them as income earned from employment and thus they are not liable for income tax. Only in some very specific circumstances regarding the activities of professional poker players, in fact, can winnings be liable to any tax at all.

Deposit Methods: What Works?

DepositDue to the general confusion regarding the legality of online gambling in Canada and the fact that no prosecutions for the activity have ever – or are ever likely to be – sought, Canadian punters essentially have carte blanche when it comes to selecting deposit methods.

What that means is that the most convenient method for each individual customer can be chosen with confidence and without worrying about legal or taxation issues. In many cases this would mean choosing the simplest avenue of depositing using a debit or credit card but popular e-wallet services are also widely used.

Author: David Lenton

David Lenton
David 'the Cheeky Punter' Lenton is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has also worked for a number of top bookmakers including Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. With such a long time spent dedicated to the gambling industry no one is better placed when it comes to advising punters. Follow on Twitter @thecheekypunter