Gambling is a popular pastime activity in Canada. Players engage in different forms of gambling, both online and offline. The question of the legality of online casinos in Canada can briefly be answered as yes. However, the long answer can be somewhat complicated.
Before 1985, all forms of gambling were considered illegal. Even so, the mandate to regulate gambling activities was delegated to provinces and territories. It took years after casino games were allowed for the industry to grow to the status it enjoys today. Technological advances have made it easy for casinos to launch websites and mobile apps.
Online gambling falls into a grey area as far as Canadian laws are concerned. Nevertheless, all online casinos operating in the country should be licensed, and the Canadian government has yet to issue such licenses. This leaves Canadian players with gambling at offshore casinos licensed by offshore authorities like the UK gaming Commission, Curacao, or the Malta Gaming Authority.
The Kahnawake Gambling Commission (KCG), on the other hand, is fast gaining traction in Canada as an online casino licensing body.
Esports legislation in Canada
Again, betting laws in Canada can be pretty complex. While there are still some grey areas, the fact that the various provinces adopt a unique stance towards gambling further adds to the complexity of online gambling laws in Canada. While most punters are limited to provincially sanctioned betting platforms, most of these local options do not include many, if any, eSports events.
Esports fans looking for betting sites that are licensed in Canada might be forced to explore international alternatives. The good news is that no law bars Canadian punters from betting on eSports on offshore online casinos.
When it comes to real money eSports betting, players should take a keen interest in their safety and security online. A license from a reputable jurisdiction, along with the availability of online security protocols, goes a long way in assuring punters that their data and money will be in trusted hands.
Notably, there is no central regulatory body for eSports. This means that this responsibility is left mainly to leagues and entities involved in eSports gaming. If the industry's rapid growth is anything to go by, then a single overarching regulatory eSports body is needed to some degree.
Betting acts in Canada
After a few amendments, Canadian gambling laws have remained relatively unchanged after enacting the Criminal Code in 1892.
The first amendment to the Criminal Code of 1892 came in 1900. This law saw the government legalize bingo and raffles legally offered by organizers who committed to spending the revenue's proceeds for charity.
Ten years later, the Criminal Code amendment of 1910 was introduced to legalize pari-mutuel betting on horse racing events. This amendment marked the first significant step towards the legalization of gambling activities in Canada.
Additional changes were welcomed through the 1925 and 1969 amendments. The 1969 amendment, in particular, saw lotteries on machine games such as slots introduced. Finally, the 1985 amendment to the Criminal Code marked the end of the era where outdated and prejudicial legislations limited gambling. This amendment saw the government's regulatory powers on overseeing gambling activities transferred to Canadian provinces or territories.
Finally, in 1999, acts from the Criminal Code were expunged, and local governments were mandated to legalize and manage all forms of gambling within their jurisdictions. Most local governments work with regulatory bodies, which do not issue licenses per se but form a working relationship with casino operators to ensure players are accorded a safe and fair gaming experience.