Canada is one of the most open and easy-going nations you can choose to play online casino games in. Canadians have a deep love of gambling, and that is partially the reason why the country has not cracked down on offshore gaming, even though gambling online is illegal in many parts of the North American country. Despite that, there are plenty of opportunities for you to bet online in Canada, and on this page, we will look at some of those options. We will also look at Canadian online casinos and point out some of the many games you can play in the country.
An Overview of Gambling in Canada
Until the 1970s, gambling in Canada was largely forbidden and illegal. There was simply too much organised crime and underworld gambling for the Canadian authorities to deal with and issuing a blanket ban on gambling was one of the only ways they could control it. That began to change in 1985 when Canada issued the Criminal Code.
The Criminal Code made it clear that each territory and province had control over its own gambling laws. However, the regulations also dictated that there would be a national law which prevents Canadians in one state or province from betting in another. Several Canadian province and territories would take advantage of this to set up their own gambling establishments. However, when the Criminal Code of 1985 was issued, online gambling didn’t exist. Unsurprisingly, this has created more than a few loopholes for Canadian online gamblers to take advantage of.
In virtually all territories and provinces (save for Yukon, where stricter rules are in place), it is legal for Canadians to bet at land-based venues. A handful of these regions – notably, British Columbia, Manitoba, and in the future, New Brunswick, run their own online casinos. Most other states in Canada turn a blind eye when their citizens play at offshore casinos. This may not be true in the future for Quebec, though, where the authorities are looking at ways to blacklist offshore casino sites. Some First Nation tribes also have their own laws and jurisdictions when it comes to offering land-based and online gambling operations.
The general rule is that if you are based in Canada, you are free to bet at online casinos provided they are based offshore. This isn’t strictly legal, but falls under a grey-zone, as Canadians are only forbidden from playing at TOP Canadian online casinos which are not licensed and based in the state where they reside.
Canadians and Their Offshore Casinos
Naturally, the flexibility of the Canadian gambling laws opens the market to offshore and foreign casino sites. As these businesses are run from outside Canada, they don’t breach the Criminal Code of Canada or any provincial or territorial gambling laws. More importantly, the Canadian authorities don’t prosecute any of their nationals or residents from visiting these offshore casinos, even though they are technically forbidden. On top of that, the Canadian regional authorities do not attempt to blacklist offshore casinos with any sort of blanket ban. Canadians can, in theory, play as they see fit.
As you might imagine, the situation in Canada means that players can seemingly play at any online casino which takes their fancy. Even so, they should be cautious about which sites they choose to sign up and play at. Not all Canadian offshore casinos are worth their salt. Only play at the very biggest and best of them, as these tend to be the most regulated and well-licensed casinos. Given that Canadian has little to no regulation of its own, this is of paramount importance.
The Best Games at Canadian Casinos
Canadians are firm fans of the same sorts of games you can find in most other casinos. This means that they enjoy spinning the reels of slots, playing a few hands of baccarat or blackjack, and having a pop at the roulette wheel and more besides. Let’s look at some of the most offered games you can find at Canadian online casinos right now…
Classic Slots: Canadians will be able to find a variety of these games. Often played with just 3 reels and very few paylines, they resemble the one-armed bandits and classic fruit machines of old. Simple to play; these games seldom come with many special features.
Video Slots: Players in Canada can also try their hand at video slots. There is an ample number of these for you to play; arguably more than you will find of seemingly any other casino games. Video slot games come in all shapes and sizes, have unique themes, come with a surplus of paylines (often over a 5-reel engine) and are not shy about dishing out an excess of special features to players.
Progressive Jackpot Slots: Video slots either come with progressive or non-progressive jackpots. The latter have caps on their cash prizes. Their value always remains the same, no matter how often they are won. By contrast, progressive jackpot slots are uncapped and can pay out prizes worth millions of dollars. These bets rise with each new wager, resulting in life-changing sums of cash being up for grabs.
Mobile/3D Slots: Again, most mobile and 3D slot machine games are video slots. They may be progressive or non-progressive, too. The notable difference between these games are regular video slots is how they have been designed. Mobile slots will feature buttons and gameplay which is suitable for players who enjoy playing via smartphones and tablets. 3Ds slots are very much in the same vein, although they contain 3D graphics, animated action and more besides.
Slots may form the lion’s share of games at Canadian online casinos, but they aren’t all that Canadians like playing. On the contrary, you can also find a variety of table games at the best Canadian online casinos. These are usually broken down into two genres, such as…
RNG Table Games: RNG stands for random number generator, and these are automated games, played against a computer for real money. These form the majority of table games you can find at a Canadian online casino site, with games including numerous baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette and table poker variants, amongst others.
Live Dealer Table Games: Some of those traditional casino games can also be played as live dealer titles. These games are played with a real to life human dealer and are played in real-time over an internet video stream. They are amongst the most realistic games you can play online and are well worth a look if you fancy trying your casino gaming hand at something different.
Most major Canadian casino domains will also carry a range of other games. These may appear under instant win, arcade, speciality or “other” game genres. They include the following titles in most cases…
Instant Win Games: Also known as fixed odds games, these can include picking from several objects to win prizes, engaging in some sort of mini-game, or simple titles like keno or sudoku. The truth is that instant win titles can consist of anything and everything which cannot be easily classified.
Scratch Cards: Just like their land-based counterparts, scratch cards require players to match up icons or cash prizes to win. These games can be played in bulk, at speed, and cheaply. Although not as popular as slots and more traditional table games, scratch cards can still be found in most Canadian casinos.
Video Poker: Video poker games are ideal for Canadians who wish to play poker without a dealer. These draw poker games merely require you to build a decent hand, and the value of that hand determines what you will win according to each game’s paytable. Numerous video poker games can often be found in a single Canadian casino site.
On occasion, the particularly more renowned Canadian casinos may also serve up other forms of gambling to their users. These may include the following options, all under one roof:
Sports Betting: Canadians are known for their love of sports betting, particularly on hockey. Don’t be surprised to see Canadian casinos serve up sports betting, live in-play betting, e-sports and virtual sports betting options from time to time.
Bingo and Lottery Games: Lottery and bingo games can commonly be found in the “other” games genre at Canadian casinos. However, popular casinos may have a separate section dedicated to bingo, keno and lottery games, if these take your fancy.
Poker: You can also play poker at many top Canadian internet casino sites. In some cases, these games will be available as table poker or video poker games. On occasion, though, they are played at live tables or tournament tables against other players. These tournaments can often have epic cash prize pots for you to win.
The very best Canadian online casinos won’t just feature games from one provider. They will be able to dish out games from many providers. This gives players more variety concerning what they can play. At the largest sites, you can find gaming libraries of 1,000 to 3,000 games playable.
Taxes on Big Wins at Canadian Casinos
Canada’s tax laws when it comes to gambling are often muddled. For those of you who gamble as a recreational activity, you don’t need to worry too much about gambling taxes. Any winnings you pocket in a land-based casino or at a licensed territorial or provincial casino are not subject to tax. Moreover, you aren’t going to be taxed if you play at offshore and foreign casinos. As these sites are technically not legal, Canada can’t very well have a gambling tax on those winnings.
If you a professional gambler, you are subject to gambling tax. Professional blackjack and poker players, for instance, are deemed to be running a freelance business. In this case, they are required to pay tax on their earnings. You are not going to be able to deduct your losses from those winnings, either.
It is worth pointing out that all Canadian gamblers (professional or otherwise) are required to pay tax on any interest they earn. If you were to one $1,000 and slap it into your bank account, and earn interest on it, you need to declare any interest earned on your T5 form.
Notable Characteristics of Canadian Online Casinos
Let us first define what a Canadian casino site is. A Canadian online casino is not one licensed out of British Columbia (for instance), as that is only open to players in that province. We would call that a British Columbian casino. Instead, Canadian casinos are always offshore or foreign sites, which are based abroad.
Aside from the obvious – being able to play at theoretically any online casino on the net – there are many perks to playing at these offshore Canadian online casinos. We should look at those in turn in the section below and try to see what makes Canadian internet gaming sites amongst the best in the business.
The Best Canadian Online Casinos to Join Today
Canadians have access to potentially thousands of online casino sites. Naturally, there are going to be many differences between some of these sites. A few of them you wouldn’t want to touch with a barge pole, but others represent the best sites that the internet has to offer. How are you to know which sites you should play at, though?
Below, you will find seven of the most important aspects of Canadian online casinos. Any site you are thinking of joining should fulfil most, if not all the criteria listed below. With that in mind, let’s see if we can figure out what you should expect to see…
Top Payment Methods: Any leading Canadian online casino should, at the very least be able to provide you payment methods which accept Canadian dollars. Interac, Instadebit and iDebit are particularly popular options in Canada, alongside e-wallets and bank card methods. All of these should feature in some way at leading Canadian casinos.
A Variety of Bonuses and Promos: Canadian players love a bonus, and most of the top sites they can play at carry them in abundance. Many offer welcome bonuses which are staggered over your first several deposits. Then, there are free spins, loyalty bonuses, VIP clubs and tournaments to contend with, too. Just make sure that your selected bonuses do accept players from Canada, as some international casinos may have restrictions on where players must live to claim promos.
Top-Level Security Features: Any Canadian casino worth its salt will be licensed and regulated. This means that they should carry a license from a reputable jurisdiction, such as the UK, Kahnawake, Malta, Gibraltar and other top regions. They will also feature SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption and protect your data behind firewalls.
Great Games from Leading Developers: Canadian casinos are typically known for their top range of games, and any casino you play at should offer the same. Ultimately, you’re going to want to see many games from a plethora of different providers. If possible, try to play at leading Canadian casinos which also offer other forms of gambling options on the side with a single account. Most top Canadian casinos will also make their sites mobile-friendly.
Substantial Support Options: If in doubt, call customer support. The best casinos open to players in Canada will provide around the clock support and assistance, will offer that assistance freely, and via several methods, such as toll-free telephone, live chat, FAQ and e-mail.
Responsible Gaming and Fair Terms: A casino shouldn’t just be licensed. It should also promote responsible gaming, and many of Canada’s best online casinos do just that. Wager and deposit caps, time out and exclusion periods and access to problem gaming platforms are the least such a Canadian casino should offer. On top of that, we would also expect to see fair terms and conditions attached to bonuses and promises. These include (but aren’t limited to) lower wagering requirements, flexible caps on wins and low withdrawal limits.
It might sound like a lot to ask for, but there are many leading online casinos in Canada which can easily offer such services. On this very page, you will find more than a fair share of them. However, if you wish to seek out your own Canadian casinos, you are free to do that.
By following the criteria listed above, you should have a pretty good checklist with which to break down a variety of casinos into those which are worth your time, and those which aren’t. Canada is one of the most relaxed and liberal countries when it comes to online gambling thanks to its grey zones. Canadians have so many different sites to choose from that they can afford to be quite picky and selective about where they play. There is no excuse for ending up at an untrustworthy, dodgy casino with poor games and bad terms. Canadians can have the pick of the litter when they opt to play at online casinos today.