Canadians live in an interesting space when it comes to online casino play. There have historically been no efforts to stop Canadian players from enjoying online gambling, even if some provincial governments have been reluctant to go as far as endorsing the practice. On the other hands, some provinces have actually set up their own gambling sites specifically marketed to their citizens. This means that Canadians have a wide range of options when it comes to online casinos, poker rooms, and other gambling sites.
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Can Canadians Play at Online Casinos?
By and large, the answer to this question is yes. As mentioned above, Canadians are free to play at online casinos if they choose to do so. Historically, this has meant playing at overseas casinos, or casinos that have been licensed by one of the many Canadian Indian tribal groups.
However, in recent years, Canadian officials have looked to get in on the online gambling explosion, hoping to capture revenues that were previously going to overseas sites. Provincial governments have set up regulatory schemes that provide online casinos accessible only in their provinces. These sites were first set up in British Columbia and Quebec, though other provinces have expressed interest in establishing sites of their own (and others have made the decision not to offer such sites).
There are a handful of online gambling sites that do bar Canadians from playing at their sites, but this is a relatively rare occurrence. Most likely, this is due to these sites misunderstanding Canadian law, basing their policies towards Canada on US law, or taking overly cautious steps to prevent Americans from circumventing rules preventing them from playing. For the most part, however, Canadians are welcome at nearly all major online casinos.
Legal Issues for Canadians at Online Casinos
There are few, if any, legal issues Canadians need to be concerned with when it comes to online gambling. The only real regulations put on Canadians when it comes to online gambling deal with establishing gambling sites; most Canadians are not allowed to operate online gambling businesses in the country (unlike in the USA, however, this does not extend to the Native Indian tribes in the countries). While provincial governments due operate and license some online gambling sites, most Canadians can still access sites other than these local options, meaning the situation isn’t exactly analogous to that of players in France or Italy.
Given the comfortable legal standing of online gambling in Canada, it’s to be expected that most deposit options are generally available to players — including a few special ones that work directly with the online banking systems offered by some Canadian banks. That said, a few deposit options that are commonly used internationally are not offered in Canada. Again, as with the handful of casinos that do not allow Canadian players, this is likely due to extremely overcautious reactions to US legal changes.
Another issue of interest to Canadian players is that of taxes on gambling winnings. For most Canadians, there is no requirement to pay taxes on any gambling winnings of any size, as money made in any form of gambling is not considered taxable income. However, as in many countries, there is an exception made for professional gamblers. In Canada, being considered a professional player is mostly a “know it when we see it” situation, though the tax code does specify that a player must invest money and use skill to win before they can be considered a professional player.
Future Outlook for Online Casinos in Canada
If you enjoy playing at established, overseas online casinos, you’ll probably see virtually no changes in Canadian gaming laws that affect you in the near future. There have been no serious attempts to stop players from gambling at online casinos, and it’s unlikely that such a movement would take root anytime soon.
But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be serious debate over online gambling in Canada in the years to come. However, these debates are going to focus on whether provincial governments should actively provide online gambling sites to their citizens. As mentioned earlier, there have been a few provinces that have already done so, and players have generally reacted positively to this; many players who were uncomfortable gambling online before feel much more secure using a site that is licensed, regulated, and often even operated by their government.
However, there is still ongoing debate in other provinces over whether the new revenue streams provided by these online casino sites are worth the potential increases in problem gambling or other social ills that are often associated with online gambling. For instance, Prince Edward Island has made it clear that they will not be establishing an online casino anytime soon, and a handful of other provinces also appear opposed to the idea of internet gambling. This means that, for many Canadians, overseas sites are likely to remain the only option for some time to come.