Canada Gambling Laws & Legal Canadian Gambling Sites

Play at Canada’s Top Ranked Online Casinos, Poker Rooms, Betting Sites, and Online Bingo 2018

In Canada, all forms of gambling are legal on the player level. Our criminal code only makes it a crime for someone to operate a gambling business or keep a percentage. This is also true for online gambling. It is legal to use both provincial licensed and foreign gambling sites. In almost all cases, offshore sites offer better value and thus a more popular option here.

www.bodog.eu is the most known foreign company servicing Canada. It has casino games, poker and sports betting available from the same website, with Canadian dollar (CAD) as the only supported currency. Due to CFL sponsorship and past relationship with NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, they are well known. Players can deposit with credit card. Those verified might find Interac e-Transfer available too. Based in Antigua, not Canada, all players in our country can use Bodog regardless of which province they live.

Provincially licensed websites are available only to physically present legal residents of the licensing province. Residents of Alberta and Saskatchewan have no such sites available. Our largest province Ontario does not offer online sports betting nor poker. Even where there is a provincial website, many choose to go elsewhere for better value.

As this article aims to be a detailed guide to online betting in Canada, I provide details about both domestic gambling sites too. If it then seems like I am biased and favour the foreign ones, well that is because it is true. I, however, provide reasons why foreign sites are better multiple times throughout this article. As this is a large topic, scroll the headers to find any specific information you might be looking for.

Provincial Licensed Gambling Sites

As already mentioned, provincial licensed online gambling sites are only available to legal residents of the licensing province who are also physically present there. I reference all sites available by province in this section, but first, note that single-game betting is illegal under our Criminal Code. These sites offer sports betting in parlay format only. The odds are very poor compared to what foreign sportsbooks offer, but that is a topic for the next section. For now here is complete mention of all province operated gambling sites.

Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only two provinces that offer no forms of online gambling.

In Ontario, gambling is regulated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). The only forms of online gambling they make available are casino and lottery. The website for those is www.playolg.ca.

In British Columbia gambling is regulated by British Columbia Lottery Corporation. This province was the first to become heavily pro-gambling. It introduced parlay based sports betting to Canada in early 1975, and other provinces followed thereafter. They are also pioneers in online gambling. Their provincial website www.playnow.com opened well over a decade ago in 2004. Today it offers sports betting, casino, poker, bingo, and lottery.

In Manitoba gambling is regulated by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. The province has always operated most forms of legal gambling under partnerships with other provinces. That is still the case today. Since January 23, 2013 residents of this province can also use the PlayNow site mentioned above. Players doing so are still regulated by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, but the website they use is managed by British Columbia Lottery Corporation.

In Quebec, all gambling is regulated by Loto-Québec. They offer a full range of online gambling products at their provincial website www.espacejeux.com. This includes sports betting (parlays required), online casino, online poker, and lottery.

The Four Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador) are all managed by the Atlantic Lotteries Corporation (ALC). There are four types of online gambling available. Parlay based sports betting is available at prolinestadium.alc.ca. They have a VERY limited number of online casino-like games called Pick N’Click, online bingo called iBingo, and online lottery sales all available at www.alc.ca.

With the provincial sites now covered I covered I discuss foreign gambling sites in the next three sections which are online sports betting, online poker, and online casino. Each section shows how foreign sites offer better value. I then conclude with tips on banking. That last section is a recommended read for anyone depositing frequently to foreign gambling sites.

Online Sports Betting in Canada

Sports betting has been offered by Canadian provinces for over 40-years. The first were British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, but today all provinces have it. They are prohibited by the criminal code from offering betting on single games. Thus only parlay wagers are accepted.

In our largest province Ontario, it must be a 3-game or greater parlay. In some other provinces, two team parlays are allowed. This offering is known under different names by province. Depending on where you live you’ll recognize what I’m talking about by names such as Sport Select, Pari Sportif (Mise-O-Jeu), Pro-Line, and Sports Action (Oddset). In Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan this is only available in person. In the other provinces, it can be bet in person or online.

The first issue with provincial sports betting like Pro-Line is the odds are very poor. This YouTube video shows a comparison of Proline odds vs odds from www.bet365.com. Doing a $10 proline ticket on 5 random teams he had a payout of $153.00. Doing the same at Bet365 this paid $257. It is always like this! The odds are VERY poor with Sports Select, Pro-Line etc. The same wagers can be made online at far better odds. We’re not talking pennies here either. Even for small stakes bettors know $2 bets paying $30 locally often pay $50+ online.

The other issue is the need to bet in parlays, and this is a big one too. Casually gamblers often fail to understand the exact workings of parlays. They are no different than if I said hey let’s bet $10 on a coin flip. I win get $20 ($10 stake + $10 win) back. I then say let’s do it again all in. I bet $20 get $40 back ($20 stake + $20 win). Then say hey let’s do it again. Bet $40 and get $80 ($40 stake + $40 win). In a 3-team parlay we add all three games to the same ticket, and all must win for our wager to be successful. The payouts are calculated as what 3 consecutive an all in-bets of stake+win would pay at the given odds. Doesn’t matter what order you start in doing the calculation the net is the same. With point spreads 3-team $20 parlays would pay $80 if given true odds. With Proline it pays $50, and online it pays $70 to $75.

Those serious about getting the most value should avoid parlays. Instead, shop multiple sources looking for the best odds. The odds differ by bookmaker. www.5dimes.eu tends to have excellent odds on hockey and baseball. www.bodog.eu has some great point spreads on underdogs in football and basketball. We get better odds making one bet at a time at whichever is offering the higher payout. In other words, we find favourable odds than don’t have to worry about adding a second or third bet to the same ticket.

But with the above suggestions, what happens if you prefer instead betting with parlays? The parlay is no different than just going all in over and over again after each win. If you still prefer parlays it is only a mental issue. Make a single bet at the best odds possible shopping multiple sites. Whatever you get back bet it on your selection for another game, again shopping the best odds possible. You’ll make even more money this way. But if don’t want to do this, still you’ll make much more doing your parlays at any online sportsbook over the provincial sites regardless.

There are also bonuses involved. Bodog and Bet365 each offer a 100% up to $100 initial deposit match. When you start at these sites you deposit $100 but get $200 to start with. You’ll need to rollover your deposit plus bonus a few times prior to cashing out, but it is still well worth it. I’ve also only thus far compared apples to apples. Online sites offer a lot of features our provincial lottery does not. In-game betting, additional leagues, and a lot more markets like props are just some of the items I could mention. If you make the change you’ll see for yourself how much more enjoyable and often more profitable online betting with foreign sources is.

Online Poker in Canada

In Canada, just under 40% of the population has access to the sole provincially licensed online poker room. Though in BC and MB it is via PlayNow, and in QB via Espacejeux for poker it is all essentially the same site. It is one network managed by Amaya Gaming Group, using GTECH G2 software. That software was previously used on the network known as Entraction and International Poker Network (IPN). Even players living in this province tend to play at foreign gambling sites over this one.

The first major issue is that the traffic is very limited. I logged in on July 23, 2015 at what was 12:15PM in Quebec, 2:15 PM Manitoba, and 3:15PM British Columbia. There were a total of 118 real money ring game players present. Though the network offers other games, all were playing No-Limit Texas Hold’em. Most all the traffic was at micro-stakes. There was one table of $2/$4 with 5 players, one table of $1/2 with 2 players, and 2 tables of $0.50/$1 with 13 combined players. Everyone else was playing for pennies. The bulk of the traffic was to $0.02/$0.04 and $0.05/$0.10 games.

Of course, Friday afternoons is not the most populated time because many are still at work. But imagine what any player wanting to play at 4AM must deal with? Also, the traffic is still not even that much better on a Friday night.

The other issue is the rake. Here it is 5% and raked quite frequently. I mean in some games they actually rake a penny on a twenty-cent pot. They do have a rewards program but doing out the math it returns only 4% rakeback!

With foreign gambling sites, you can do a lot better. www.bodog.eu offers a 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus. Their rake calculation method is unique as it depends on net-deposit. That is a long topic I skip for the sake of time. The details of it are that the best players will find it is worth about 17% rakeback, where novice players will find it worth much more. www.titanpoker.com offers a large sign up bonus as well and has even larger player traffic.

The two sites mentioned above have double-digit times more player traffic than our provincial poker network. As they are international networks, you can find good player traffic at any hour of the day to a large variety of card games and stakes. If you prefer small online poker sites like the one in Canada, you can do much better.

www.5dimes.eu is an online sportsbook. They don’t market their poker rooms, but rather just offer them as an option for their sportsbook players. Their poker room called the Shark Tank Poker room operates on the Winning Poker Network. It has about 450% the volume of our provincial poker room. Here all players get 27% rakeback paid directly to their account. Their other poker site called the Grand Poker room is very small, but has a loyalty program worth 35% rakeback.

For the benefit of readers who are new, rake is how the house makes money in poker. The pots have a percentage taken out (normally 5%) at certain intervals. The amounts add up to big figures. For example a player playing three tables of No-Limit Hold’em with $1/$2 blinds for an average of 2 hours per day pays $17,208 per year in rake! The same scenario at tables with $0.25/$0.50 blinds is $8,052 per year average, and with $0.50/$1 blinds is $10,620 per year average! Rake is a huge part of the game, and a key to making money at poker is to pay as little of it as possible. With full rake, tiny rakeback, and small player volume, the provincial sites really don’t compete at all with what is available at other sites.

Online Casinos in Canada

Online casino is a very competitive niche. As a result, pretty much everyone offers a sign-up bonus to attract new players. For example, a casino might offer a 100% match on initial deposit up to $200 free. The money, however, isn’t actually free. You might get $400 for depositing $200, but there are terms to meet. The most common term is rollover.

Rollover is an agreement to turn over your deposit + bonus, X number of times prior to cashing out. The casino generally sets the rollover high enough that despite the large bonus they are giving out, they still have an edge. They also include other terms and conditions such as restricting or only giving fractional credit for the games with a low house advantage. There are other quirks about most bonuses too, so it is always important to read terms in full.

As there are dozens of reputable casinos offering bonuses, rarely does it ever make sense to deposit without one. Why deposit $200 and start with $200 at site A, when you can deposit $200 and start with $400 at site B, etc. The optimal strategy for a casino player is to shop around for bonuses, spending the time read and decipher their terms. From there look at the games they are offering for one that appears favorable. To do this, unless they have a very favorable reload offer, you’ll always want to be changing casinos each time your bonus runs out.

The casinos below are some of the ones we recommend.

The above gives you a lot of choices, but it is wise to check them all out. Where to start will depend largely on how much you plan to deposit, and which games you prefer. I could give all the details here, but… if you are serious about having the best chance at scoring a win in an online casino, you should get used to visiting the sites, finding the bonus terms, and then deciding if that one is a good match. I can’t stress enough those who get lucky are most often the ones who find the best offers.

There is one other option to mention too. www.5dimes.eu is an online sportsbook, that while offering a casino doesn’t really market it. In fact, they don’t offer just one casino but several. If you have or open an account there, after logging in you’ll want to look for the one that says, “Bonus Casino”. This casino doesn’t actually offer a bonus. What it instead does is pay out more on every single winning bet than any casino anywhere pays for that same bet. This is Pai Gow at 1.01 to 1, instead of 0.95 to 1. Roulette paying 1.07 to 1 on odds/even, red/black, and 1-18/19-36, etc. etc instead of even money.

In the 5Dimes Bonus casino, all bets are designed to have a 1% house advantage or less. At other casinos, if you get lucky and win early, quite often you will give most of it back trying to meet the rollover for a bonus you took. Here that is not the case. There is no rollover. Instead of a bonus you just get casino games at far better than industry standard odds. Thus this is the one casino worth using without a bonus involved. As for our provincial casinos, if the bonus is good, go ahead and use those too.

Banking Options for Canada

The banking options in Canada are mostly straightforward. We can deposit with credit card, and get paid via bank transfer or paper cheque. Some sites such as www.5dimes.eu also support bitcoin, Western Union, and Money order. There is, however, a legality issue worth mentioning.

As I said several times in this article it is not illegal for players to use foreign gambling sites. While I’m not a lawyer, the same legal opinion was given to CBC by an attorney. Our criminal code is also not difficult to read. It is very clear only those in the business of gambling commit a crime. It is not illegal for players to bet with each other, or anyone else, including a bookie or gambling site.

As the criminal code prohibits anyone except provincial governments servicing their own province to operate a gambling business, all the foreign websites servicing Canada are in violation of that code. To them, this is a non-issue. They are legal, licensed and regulated in a country where gambling is legal. Extradition is only ever possible when whatever is being accused is a crime in both countries. As that is not the case here, and Canada has no jurisdiction over them, the laws of Canada mean little to such sites. However, the laws of Canada do mean something to our banks.

Though using a credit card is not a crime on our end, because the receiving party is in violation of Canada’s criminal code, the card issuer is technically supposed to stop such transactions from reoccurring. From time to time, frequent online gamblers get letters or phone calls from their credit card issuer, or bank, asking them to stop using their account for online gambling. Those who don’t comply can find their credit card, or bank account closed. No money is lost, just the credit card company or bank says they no longer wish to service this client. You still keep anything that is yours.

This issue is mostly minor. Those who gamble online only occasionally are far less likely to have any hassles. The banks are just looking to cover themselves. If they have sent no letters and closed no accounts, when compliance checks are done, they do not look very good. Those who deposit every month or two can possibly do this forever without issue. For those who deposit to online gambling sites frequently, consider using prepaid cards.

The specific cards to use are VISA and MasterCard gift cards. These are sold at some bank branches, and several dozen others places including most Sears, Staples, 7-Eleven, Petro-Canada, Esso, Canadian Tire, Jean Coutu, Money Mart, Rexall, and Quickie locations. If you do this, save the cards in-case a gambling site requests a scan of it later. With these you are able to use the cards full value, then change to a new one. No one is every contacting you about too many gambling transactions, as you are using cards that are disposable (but don’t throw them away). Again, players are at no legal risk, just online gambling is a topic that sometimes makes banks nervous.