Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Online Gaming Laws in Canada

Did you know Canada..  Like America, Canada has clear prohibitions against non-governmental online gaming. However, as the online gaming industry continues to rapidly grow in both countries, with residents ignoring current gambling laws, the government may have no choice but to legalise and regulate the booming online industry.

Despite this though, the Criminal Code of Canada means that it is currently illegal to conduct or participate in any gaming activities in the country, unless they have been recognised as an exception in the legislation. Originally enacted for traditional gambling in Canada, the laws now also apply to all gambling activities conducted over the Internet.

The exceptions for online gaming in Canada include “lottery schemes” which are conducted and managed by a province, such as casinos and electronic gambling, as well as a small range of lottery schemes licensed by a province, rarely to a private individual and usually to a charity, fair or exhibition. In addition to this, bets made between individuals who are not engaged in the business of betting is legal, as is pari-muteul betting on horse races, which is regulated by the federal Minister of Agriculture.

The Criminal Code outlines that only provincial governments are permitted to operate a lottery scheme online, and it must only be available to residents of that province. The provincial government is not allowed to license other organisation to conduct the lottery, so they therefore are required to operate all sites offering the games themselves. The governments are also responsible for ensuring that residents of other provinces cannot access or participate in the lottery games, unless a cooperative agreement has been reached.

Commercial land-based sports betting is also prohibited in Canada and is not allowed to operate online. There is also some confusion over the availability of legal slots, poker and online casino games. Although the law states that non-government sanctioned gambling is a crime, a lack of enforcement and proper legal clarification has led to continued online gambling services.
Many Canadian companies, such as Cryptologic, which is one of the biggest creators of online gaming software in the world, have continued to involve themselves in the online gambling industry for some time without being prosecuted. It is also extremely unlikely that anyone playing online gambling games would encounter any issues with the law.

Although it is illegal to participate in any “common betting houses”, the lack of a physical location online means it is extremely difficult for the government to prosecute you for clicking on one of these sites. According to Zak Muscovitch, a Toronto lawyer, the proprietor of the “betting house” is responsible for the criminal aspect of the interaction of an online casino, meaning that the gamer is not technically committing a crime.

With such issues arising over internet gambling in Canada, as well as the large amount or revenues generated, it appears that the industry could be regulated by Canada’s federal and provincial governments in the near future.  Some states in America, including Nevada and Delaware, have already legalised regulated online gambling and Canada could soon follow its example. However, until any change is made, players should be aware of the risks they run by clicking onto an online gambling site. 

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