The Malta Independent 2 December 2023, Saturday
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What do you need to know about Canada iGaming legislation?

Wednesday, 25 October 2023, 12:43 Last update: about 2 months ago

Banned since 1892, gambling has come a long way since Canada legalized horse racing and bingo in the early 1900s, with the first online casino officially opening its digital doors in 1994. 

However, the key question is whether legislation made sufficient progress to allow the local gambling industry to meet market demand and reap maximum benefit from Canada’s massive craving for online entertainment. 

In April 2022 a new iGaming market started operating online casinos in Ontario, enabling online providers to apply for licenses with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. In the historically strict and complex history of Canada, it represented a major step forward. 

Gambling in Canada remains illegal unless regulated otherwise by a province. Commercial betting and gaming are allowed if managed or conducted by provincial authorities. To open a casino, operators must comply with Canadian national and provincial laws, which vary from province to province. Provincially appointed legal authorities issue registration to private entities to offer gambling-related services instead of establishing casinos themselves. In facilitating such services, some provinces established separate authorities to regulate gambling.  

Harsh Conditions for Local Casinos Competing with Foreign Operators  

The situation is challenging for companies operating within Canada that compete with online casino sites outside of Canada. Foreign operators providing online gambling entertainment to players in Canada are not subject to Canadian regulations and don’t need to register with local authorities. 

A combination of obstacles leads to severe barriers when it comes to registration and lucrative operations for gambling companies within the country. However, over the past couple of years, Canada simplified registration procedures and lifted some of its regulations, such as the ban on bets on single games via Bill C-218 in 2021.  

Canada’s Criminal Code 

The criminal code of Canada states that the offering of gambling services is illegal unless conducted or managed by a province. Thus, making local authorities and regulation especially important to iGaming companies wishing to launch in the country. 

Provincial Regulators in Canada 

Despite quite a few similarities, provincial regulators and regulations differ from one another in terms of registrations and who is allowed to operate, as proved by a few provincial law regulations below.  

  • The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission legalized one online gambling site offering sports betting and casino games.
  • In British Columbia, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation operates the only legal online betting site offering lottery, casino games and sports betting.
  • The Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba oversees the government sanctioned PlayNow site offering a limited selection of games and no sports betting. 
  • The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation regulates all betting services and with no online gambling available locally, players visit globally regulated casinos.
  • The government in Ontario created iGaming in November 2020, regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission Ontario. Since the Fall of 2021 over 70 top online casinos have offered instant entertainment to players in Ontario.  

Concluding Thoughts 

Ontario is a perfect example of the enormous revenue-increasing opportunities Canada could benefit from by legalizing online gambling across the country. Legislation changes could also hugely benefit players, legal operators will increase competition, and players will enjoy improved benefits, and higher-value bonuses resulting in a unique experience for all. 

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