Gambling Legal in Canada?

Gambling is legal in all of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories, although the quantity of available options may differ from one region to another. However, the Criminal Code of Canada only designates gambling as legal if it’s conducted by either the province or a body that’s been authorized to act on its behalf.

The average resident is estimated to spend over $500 per year on such pastimes as slots, table games, bingo, lottery tickets, and horse racing. The minimum age to purchase a lottery ticket in Canada is 18, which is also the requirement for playing at casinos in Manitoba, Alberta, and Quebec. In other parts of the nation, a person must be at least 19 in order to step onto the floor of a casino.

Online gambling is in a grey area, as it’s not discussed in the current laws. Citizens are certainly able to access the gaming sites of their choice, although any private organization trying to run an online operation on Canadian soil might find themselves in violation of the previously mentioned law.

Governing Bodies for Canadian Gambling

Canada is the second-largest country in the world by area, and it’s comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Each has their own regulatory body set up to operate and maintain gaming within their sphere of influence, some of which also deal with the distribution and sale of alcohol. I’ve included a few basic details about each, as well as links to the most relevant departmental websites.

  •  Alberta – In 1996, a number of regulatory bodies were combined to create the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. As the name would imply, they are responsible for regulating all gaming and alcohol-related activities in the province. Their website lists all the casinos and bingo halls found throughout Alberta, as well as winning lottery numbers and the nearest liquor stores.

  •  British Columbia – The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch regulates all gaming in British Columbia, from lotteries and horse racing to 50/50 draws and casino table games. Applications for gaming grants and licenses are available on their site, and their problem gambling program offers assistance for the 4.6% of player who become addicted to the hobby. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, $2.7 billion in gaming revenue was generated, with 55% of that amount going to operator commissions, prize payouts, and employment costs.

  •  Manitoba – Gambling activities in the province are regulated by the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission. They provide responsible gaming education, inspections for all gaming equipment, investigations of disputes, licenses for charitable activities, and registration for all casino employees and suppliers.

  •  New Brunswick – In accordance with paragraph 207 of the Canadian criminal code, the management and conduct of all provincial gaming is the responsibility of the New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corporation. These duties extend to harness racing, lotteries, video lottery machines, casino slots and table games, and charitable gaming. The province contains a single gaming establishment, Casino New Brunswick, which is located off the Trans-Canada Highway in Moncton.

  •  Newfoundland and Labrador – Lotteries are the primary form of gambling in Newfoundland and Labrador, and it’s monitored and regulated by a governmental body known as Service NL. According to their guidelines, a lottery is defined as any game in which a person pays something to enter and then possibly receives a prize based on a random drawing. The two main types of gaming are: (a) those held by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, and (b) those conducted by not-for-profit or charitable organizations. The former includes scratch tickets, breakopen tickets, Super 7, and 6/49, while the latter ranges from bingo to various card games.

  •  Nova Scotia – The Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation is tasked with making gaming socially responsible and economically feasible throughout the region. Their responsibilities extend to video lotteries, ticket lotteries, and Casino Nova Scotia (with locations in Halifax and Sydney). Ticket and video lottery products are managed by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, which is standard throughout the nation.

  •  Ontario – Created by the provincial government, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation employs more than 18,000 individuals and is responsible for 24 gaming locations (including Casino Rama and Fallsview Casino Resort), as well as over 10,000 locations that sell lottery products. Gambling has brought in over $28 billion in revenue for the province since 1975, and this is distributed throughout various governmental programs for the benefit of the citizenry.

  •  Prince Edward Island – Consisting of one major and 231 minor land masses, Prince Edward Island has one of the lowest gambling rates throughout Canada despite an average individual yearly income of over $60,000. The three-person entity known as the Prince Edward Island Lotteries Commission oversees non-casino gaming machines, while the two island casinos are controlled by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. Bars and lounges on the islands feature video lottery terminals, although a 2008 initiative significantly reduced their number. Locals and tourists can also try their luck at horse racing, ticket lotteries, and various charitable games.

  •  Quebec – Games of chance in this French-speaking province are controlled by the Quebec Alcohol, Racing, and Gaming Commission. Their oversight extends to amusement machines, video lottery terminals, bingo, and state-run casinos.

  •  Saskatchewan – In this Canadian province, both alcoholic beverages and gambling are regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. In addition to owning and operating all video lottery terminals in the region, the SLGA also regulates horse racing, breakopen tickets, raffles, bingo, and casino. All the slots at the six Saskatchewan Indian gaming establishments are also owned by this regulatory body, and they operate casinos in Moose Jaw and Regina.

  •  Northwest Territories – Since the capital of this federal territory, Yellowknife, has a population of only 19,234, the Northwest Territories aren’t exactly a mecca for gambling in Canada. No casinos exist, but the lottery is available and regulated by the office of Northwest Territories Municipal and Community Affairs. This control also extends to raffles, charity bingo, and Nevada tickets.

  •  Nunavut – In existence since 1999, Nunavut comprises a large portion of Northern Canada and was once part of the Northwest Territories. The least-populated area in the nation, the total number of residents is estimated to be 31,906 (mostly indigenous peoples). It’s unclear which governmental body regulates gambling in the area, as no specific organization is listed. Types of gambling in Nunavut include bingo, lottery tickets, card games, and Nevada pull tickets.

  •  Yukon – The smallest of the three Canadian territories, Yukon contains Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall (open from May until September), which happens to be the oldest legal casino in the nation. Other gambling options include lottery tickets, bingo, raffles, and online play. There doesn’t appear to be a commission set up to regulate gambling in the territory, although permits for charity games can be obtained from the Department of Community Services.

Canadian gambling laws allow for a wide variety of games to be sampled, just as long as the government has a hand in their operation or oversight. This shouldn’t be a problem for players, however, as it has little effect on whether they win or lose.
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