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Online Gambling Sites » Best Online Casinos in Canada 2024 » Are Online Casinos Legal in Canada?

Are Online Casinos Legal in Canada?

Last Updated on 12/07/2024
Fact checked by: Melissa Roy

If you want to play at an online casino in Canada, you’ll want to know if the online casino is legal or illegal. Any online search, however, will quickly show you that it is a complicated subject.

As you would expect, like all gambling laws around the world, the question is an online casino legal in Canada? is not easily answered. For that reason, we’ve put together this insightful guide to provide more information about what makes an online casino legal or illegal in Canada and the interesting and complicated arrangement that occurs within canadian gambling laws.

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To find the answer the question is an online casino legal in Canada you have to start by looking at the offline gambling laws and how they have evolved over time in the 10 provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan and how they affect online casino legal decisions.

Gambling was illegal in Canada until 1970, when to combat the illegal gambling activity, The Canadian government changed the criminal code and effectively decentralized gambling legislation to each province who then set up their own governing body.

  • Ontario – Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
  • Alberta – Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission
  • British Columbia – BCLC
  • Manitoba – Liquor and Gaming Commission of Manitoba
  • Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority
  • New Brunswick – New Brunswick Gaming Control
  • Nova Scotia – Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco Division Service of Nova Scotia
  • Québec – Loto Québec
  • Newfoundland – Service NL
  • Prince Edward Island – Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission

Which means in principle that each territory could change its own gambling laws and online casino legal decisions, but in practice the Canadian Gaming Commission is in control at a national level. With this many governing bodies with varying levels of control, it is easy to ask why the question of what makes an online casino Canada legal or illegal such a complicated one.

The basic laws regarding what makes an online casino Canada legal or illegal might, on the face of it, seem quite simple. But as you may have already worked out, on closer examination that is not the case at all. In fact, it might seem to some that the online casino legal decisions about what makes an online casino legal are unclear and possibly even slightly contradictory.

The basic principle is that while it is illegal to operate an online casino in Canada, it is not illegal to play at an online casino. This has led to many offshore casinos being accessed by Canadian citizens who want to play real money slots and table games online.

Some of those casinos are instead licensed by the gaming authorities in Malta or Gibraltar who provide licenses for gaming sites in the UK, and many others licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, governed within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake which is located in Quebec and therefore on Canadian soil.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission

The reason for this seemingly contradictory piece of legislation about what makes an online casino legal in Canada is that Kahnawake Mohawks have jurisdiction and sovereignty over their territory and are therefore able to self-regulate many activities, one of which is gambling.

Since the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established in 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Law has meant that more than 50 licenses have been issued for land-based gambling facilities, and since the widespread use of the internet, more than 250 licenses for online gambling on sports betting websites and online casinos

This is more than just a box ticking exercise, and certain requirements have to be met, the same as any license issued in Malta or any of the US States that allow online casino legal gambling. The requirements involve transparency about the company, founders and shareholders, the quality of the software used and security regarding both data and the transaction that takes place.

Unlicensed sites and sites which do not require verification

The sites licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission or Malta will typically involve some form of verification before players are allowed to access the services on the site. This will involve providing details and personal information, as well as presenting official documentation as proof of identity.

Unfortunately, there are also unlicensed sites which operate offshore and do not have such strict regulations regarding what they can offer their customers. It should go without saying however, that sites such as these are probably not governed by online casino legal restrictions and therefore not ones you should trust with any of your information, either personal or financial, no matter what they look like from the outside.

For this reason, as part of this guide to what makes an online casino legal in Canada, we have put together a checklist of 5 things you should look for when finding the most trusted online casinos.

Our checklist for finding a safe and fair online casino in Canada

When looking for what makes an online casino Canada legal or illegal, you need to start with finding an operator that offers a safe and secure experience throughout the whole process of signing up, making a deposit and playing on the site. With that in mind, we have created this checklist to help you make sure all the right boxes are ticked.

#1 Is the operator licensed and legitimate?

This is the first thing to check, for the reason you read in the previous section. As you have just read, you can probably guess the online casino legal status of one that is  operating without a valid license, they are probably cutting other corners too, most critically regarding the security of your data and your deposit.

A legitimate operator is typically transparent about the issue of their license and details of it will normally be displayed on the home page, or ‘about’ section – usually with some form of seal or rosette. The golden rule here is that if you have to go searching for the license details, the more you should be concerned.

Is the security of the site good enough?

The security of a site is next on the list of what makes an online casino Canada legal or illegal. You don’t have to be a tech expert to look for these things, however, as they should be as apparent as the license above. First of all, you need to check the address bar of the site you are looking at. The key thing to look for here is ‘https:’ at the beginning. If you just see ‘http:’ then the site’s security certificate is not up to date.

Before you consider making a deposit, you should check the transactions will be secure and that your money will be safe while it is with the operator. You should be looking for 128-bit encryption which is the same technology used by major banks and financial institutions all over the world. As with the license, a legitimate operator will normally display this information, so you should see it at the top of the payments page, if not before.

What does the operator do to keep your money safe?

Before making a payment to fund your account, you need to do something more than just check that the operator supports your preferred deposit method. Again, you don’t need to be a tech expert to look for this warning sign, but unfortunately it will probably involve you reading through the terms and conditions.

When you look through these, it is usually best to read through every word, in this case you are looking for one specific one. What you are looking for is the term ‘ring fenced’ which in practice means that when you make a deposit, it, along with every other customer’s funds, is kept entirely separate from the online casinos operating funds. Seeing that term should mean that should an operator fall into financial difficulties, any of your money is kept safe and returned to you.

Can you contact customer support?

If you have a problem while using the site, you might know from personal experience that it is likely to involve your money. This will probably involve some type of bonus or making a withdrawal, and you should question the online casino legal status if you have a query about what has happened to your money and all you get  is silence.

Check how easy it is to get hold of customer support, and this time you’ll be looking for at least two ways to contact them out of live chat, email and telephone, but preferably all three. It might also be wise to check the type of response you get, and whether it appears to solve the problem or if it looks like an automated generic response.

What are other people saying?

You might expect this to be higher on the checklist, but if the operator falls at one of these other hurdles when checking online casino legal status, there is no point in finding anyone else’s opinion on it. Also, before you consult the experience of others, there is something to take into account which means you need to filter out some of the reviews you will read.

The reason for this is that where gambling is concerned, some of the reviews can be a very emotional response to a significant win or loss, and a little short on any details you might find useful. To get a more accurate overview of an operator, you might be better off looking at the reviews on a site like this one, where they are carried out by a team of experts, who will have years of experience at knowing what to look for.

While checking for these five signs will not guarantee you a safe experience alone, not finding any or all of the things noted about should serve as a major red flag when making a decision about opening a new account with an operator.

Additional considerations when making a deposit

Because many of the entities who license the online casinos are offshore, this can lead to complications when making deposits to your account. You might know from personal experience that each operator is likely to accept a different range of payment methods from each other, and this can affect the decision about which operator you open an account with.

For this reason, many Canadian gamblers will use a service like Interac which will act as a conduit between the customers bank and the operator. This way, no financial information is shared with the operator when making a deposit, although a fee is often payable for using a service such as this, and it might not be the best option when looking for the online casino with fast payout.


What makes an online casino Canada legal or illegal could be considered complicated before the widespread use of the internet and the advent of online sportsbooks and casinos. This has been made more complicated by the legislation that does not allow an online casino to operate in Canada, coupled with the fact there is no legislation to stop people living in Canada from using an online casino.

This had led to the rise of several offshore servers being set up so Canadians could gamble at online casinos, some licensed in Europe, some licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. There are also some which are unlicensed and should be avoided by those with concerns about the security of their personal and financial data.

The easiest way to find a trustworthy operator, or the best casinos for high roller accounts if you want to use online casinos in Canada is quite straightforward. Rather than do all of the legwork yourself, use the reviews and ratings on this site to narrow down your options and help you make the best choice possible when finding out what makes an online casino legal in Canada.

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