Gaming online in Canada has always been seen as a grey area in Canadian law when it comes to its legality. Especially so when considering the diverse opinions from around the world surrounding legal gambling. However, in the past few years, there have been a few provinces that started their own online gambling casinos. Some of these casinos are attempting to suggest that offshore operators are operating illegally, yet there is nothing in Canadian law that supports this.
The reality is that online gambling in Canada is becoming increasingly popular. Casinos.co estimate that over 70% of Canadians have gambled in the past year. But it’s far more confusing in reality and to date, the Federal Government has yet to enact any specific legislation in relation to online gambling.
Each one of the 10 ten provinces in Canada is responsible for its own set of regulations with respect to both land-based as well as online gambling. All casinos, bookmakers, lotteries and other gambling operators are required to follow the laws as specified by the governing province in which they are based. While laws are similar across most of the provinces, the types of gambling which are permitted as well as the legal age for gambling do vary slightly.
Gambling in British Columbia. You must be at least 19 years to enter a casino or partake in gambling in British Columbia. Playing in casinos, buying lottery tickets, engaging in online gambling and betting on horse races are all legal under the laws of the province.
Gambling in Quebec. Quebec’s four land-based casinos are definitely a sight to behold, surrounded by stunning landscapes and decked out in extravagant finishings. Their selection of gaming choices are also quite extensive. If you’d rather get some gaming thrills from the comfort of your own home however, you’ll be happy to hear that online casino gambling also completely legal within this province.
Gambling in Ontario. The legal age for gambling in Ontario is 19 but what makes this province stand out is that a portion of gambling revenue is invested back into the community by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) hence why casinos are considered as both commercial and charitable. Additionally, race tracks also house slot machines and other games, functioning as smaller casinos. Online gambling is also legal across ON.
Gambling in Alberta. While gambling is legal in Alberta, most of the online casino sites are run by offshore gaming operators, some of which are regulated by international gaming watch dogs. The province has a total of 20 land-based casinos, 5 of which are First Nations operators while the other fifteen are non-reservation casinos. The legal here is only 18 years, the same as Manitoba and Quebec.
Gambling in Nova Scotia. As the second smallest Canadian province, a surprisingly large proportion of the Nova Scotia population enjoy gambling activities, both land-based as well online. The legal age is 19 years old, like most other provinces, but the major drawback is that residents of the province only have access to ALC.ca websites, making for a rather limited variety of games.
Gambling in Saskatchewan. With a total of 9 land-based casinos, Saskatchewan has a large and varied array of slot machines, table games and poker. Officially, the provincial lottery is the only form of gambling that has been legalised in Saskatchewan. However, since regulations only relate to gambling services based and licensed within the province, there’s no law stopping gambling operators based elsewhere from targeting residents.
Gambling in Manitoba. Manitoba boasts a large choice of online gambling sites, making it easy for residents to get their gaming thrills from both desktop and mobile devices. While the official laws on online gambling within the province remain within a grey area however, lotteries, bingo and land-based gambling activities are permitted.
Gambling in New Brunswick. The New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corporation (NBLGC) is the provincial authority responsible for overseeing most gambling activities. While there are only 2 land-based casinos, lotteries, harness racing and charitable gaming are quite common. Meanwhile, the status on online gaming is also allowed.
Gambling in Prince Edward Island. Canada’s smallest province happens to have one of the lowest gambling rates in the country. However, there is still a healthy variety of gambling activities available, whether it’s land-based casinos, sports betting as well as online operators. It only houses 2 physical betting venues though so it’s wiser to go online if you want more choice.
Gambling in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s pretty much slim pickings when it comes to land-based gambling in Newfoundland and Labrador, with just one casino and another smaller ‘racino’ – basically a racetrack with a handful of casino games. Gambling just doesn’t seem to appeal to residents as much as it does in other provinces. However, the good news is that online gambling has not been banned here, meaning that you can still access gambling products.
The majority of casinos that operate online do so in countries that are friendly to operators. Generally, these are offshore operating in Malta, Costa Rica and other countries. The fact they are identified as “offshore” is a bit confusing as a large number of offshore casinos are situated within the Canadian borders; technically falling under their own jurisdiction as they are hosted on Native reserves.
Kahnawake Gambling Jurisdiction
The Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is located in Quebec, Canada. It’s an Indian reserve that’s about 48.05 square kilometers. There are several Kanien (’kehá:ka) territories that are part of the Mohawk Nation, and Kahnawake is one of them.
When the gambling industry went online, Kahnawake was one of the first regions in the world to recognize the potential that the industry had.
Subsequently, it became one of the earliest gambling jurisdictions in the world and is today home to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Basically, the Commission provides gaming licenses to online casinos, poker rooms, sports books, and other online gambling outfits.
The Commission has stringent provisions that the applicant has to adhere to for it to be granted a license to operate as an online gambling provider.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission was first set up in 1996, on the 10th of June. The establishment of the Commission became possible once the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake passed what is known as the Kahnawake Gaming Law (MCR No. 26 / 1996-97).
On July 8th, 1999, the Commission, for the first time, enacted its regulations concerning Interactive Gaming. Since then, the Commission has steadily been engaged in licensing and regulating online gambling outfits from all over the world.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is basically a regulatory body that grants online gambling licenses to organizations looking to provide online gambling opportunities to players over the Internet.
The Commission has also granted gambling licenses to three land-based poker rooms that happen to be located inside Kahnawake.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has three members, each member working through a two-year term. The members are appointed by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, which is the body that governs the Commission.
Types of Licenses
Currently, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission issues four different types of licenses. All these licenses are issued as per the Regulations for Interactive Gaming that the Commission laid down in July, 1999 which were subsequently amended. The most recent amendment was on June 2, 2010.
The Four Different Types of Licenses That the Kahnawake Gaming Commission Grants
- Interactive Gaming License (IGC)
- Client Provider Authorization (CPA)
- Secondary Client Provider Authorization (Secondary CPA)
- Key Person License (KPL)
To apply for a license with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, the applicant has to pay an initial fee to the Commission. This fee is $25,000 for a Client Provider Authorization license.
There’s also an application fee of $5,000 for each Key Person License. Both of these fees are refundable if the Commission rejects an application.
You can read more about these license types at the official site of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Another type of license that the Commission issues is a Poker Room License (PRL).
This type of license is issued to poker rooms operating within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, as per the Commission’s Regulations concerning Poker Rooms, which was amended as recently as April 21, 2010.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission and Other Regulatory Bodies
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission doesn’t work in isolation. Over the years, it has been working together with other regulatory bodies as well to make online gambling smoother and easier for players.
The Commission has been cooperating with the Financial Services Regulatory Commission of Antigua and Barbuda since 2005, when it entered into an agreement with this body through a memorandum of understanding.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission also has a similar arrangement with the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of the Government of Malta through another such memorandum of understanding the two parties who entered in 2006.