Is It Legal to Gamble Online in Canada?

The legality of online gambling has become a pressing matter for all gaming aficionados from Canada who enjoy playing their favourite games at online casinos on the market. Being law-abiding citizens as we Canadians undoubtedly are, it is essential to know that we are not breaking any laws while playing a hand or two of poker.


The Canadian law and legislation do not recognize playing at offshore casinos as any sort of felony, and as such, you won’t be prosecuted for spinning the reels of those most popular slots or playing blackjack, roulette and all other popular slot games.


However, the sphere of online and mobile gaming is rarely a straightforward thing and is considered to be more of a gray area. The reasons for it are numerous, and at least one of them has to do with the rapid development of the online form of gambling that probably took the Canadian government by surprise.


The confusion also arises from the fact that current Canadian law prohibits companies and gaming providers from operating online casinos from within Canada, but a closer look we’ll give to these regulations in the subsequent paragraphs will paint an entirely different picture.


In fact, Canadian laws and regulations are entirely outdated when it comes to gambling in general, let alone online forms of gambling. Also, the financial institutions, namely banks, bear their fair share of the blame with their restrictions on transactions related to funding gaming accounts to players from Canada.


Gambling Laws and the Criminal Code

Gambling in Canada goes way back and was considered completely legal in the beginning but was later cast away as an illegal activity and prohibited until 1969. Not only was poker, blackjack, and other classic games banned, but the ban expanded to cover lotteries, raffles, and horseracing as well, as they were at the time considered to be gambling, but to a lesser degree.


So, 50 years ago, 10 provinces were allowed to operate, govern, and regulate all lotteries and raffles, which was the first breakthrough. Following in that line was the 1985 federal decision that was a step towards more lenient regulations which allowed the individual provinces to control the laws in their respective territories.


However, the Criminal Code of Canada stipulates that it is legal to run a betting establishment anywhere in Canada or to be found in one, but it is not clarified what these betting establishments or betting houses refer to.


Furthermore, the federal government’s decision is not in accordance with the Criminal Code, which is a breeding ground for loopholes. One such loophole is exploited in the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation’s territory.


Kahnawake Mohawk Gaming Commission and Online Gambling

Before moving on to regulating offshore casinos and their acceptance of Canadian players, the regulations need to grapple with the Kahnawake Mohawk sovereign territory in Quebec. The Kahnawake Mohawks were allowed to open both land-based and web-based casinos under the Canadian law and regulate them in their own accord.


This gave rise to the establishment of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. This regulatory body is in charge of regulating several web-based and land-based casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks operating on the Kahnawake Mohawk territory and beyond. The gaming commission gives right and licences to casinos to set up their gambling businesses after a thorough search of their games, payout abilities, security, and all other important parameters that are essential for all players.


So, technically speaking, the Kahnawake Mohawk territory is listed as an offshore territory, but being on Canadian soil and under the supervision of Canadian regulations, all players from Canada can play in their online casinos without worrying about the legality of their actions.


Payment Methods and Money Transactions for Online Casinos

One of the key segments of online casinos is the way of funding your account. This might come as a bit of a problem and a legal issue for Canadians due to all the regulations mentioned above.


The best-case scenario is when you can find a convenient, fast, reliable, and widely accepted payment method for both depositing and withdrawing funds to and from your account. Nowadays, the payment methods are so diverse that it is almost impossible to name them all. The most frequently used ones are direct bank wire transfers and credit cards, as well as instant banking e-Wallets, cheques, and so on.


Banking Wire Transfers and Credit Cards vs. Instant Banking and E-Wallets as Payment Methods

A lot of players are having a tough time choosing the favorite payment method, as online casinos have their own set of rules regarding payments. The traditional approaches include wire transfers and credit cards, and these have been used for a long time.


Despite them being a fast and reliable way of conducting money transfers for a long time, both in our everyday lives and online gaming escapades, these methods may run into some serious obstacles. These obstacles are related to the gaming regulations of Canada and the legality of playing in offshore and domestic online casinos.


There have been various cases where online casinos won’t accept direct transactions through banks because the banks will deny funding gaming accounts. In order to avoid this impediment, players might feel compelled to go through a third-party provider, and this might not be the safest way to go.


Also, cases when even Visa cards were not accepted at casinos are not uncommon. This too may be because the Visa financial institution won’t allow their clients from certain countries, like Canada, which don’t have a clearly regulated take on online gambling to fund their accounts. This way, you will be faced with the adversity of not being able to use one of the biggest payment cards there is.


However, all this can be avoided with the use of instant banking and e-Wallets. These new and incredibly fast ways of transferring funds to your account are taking over the world of online payment. They offer almost instant deposits and equally as fast withdrawals with a couple of simple clicks.


Not only are they faster than the traditional payment methods, but they are also more widely accepted and won’t encounter the legal obstacles that bank transfers might. This is because your instant banking system and e-Wallet provider have already validated your bank account, and casinos don’t have to directly deal with the banks that might be barricaded by regulations but will deal with the instant banking institution instead.


Also, using e-Wallets like ecoPayz and instant banking systems like Interac, iDebit, InstaDebit and others will guarantee you the safety of your information through additional encryption and layers of security.


The Most Popular Payment Methods

The most popular payment methods have been named as such due to the expediency, safety, and overall security of both money and information. The following certainly fall under the category of top-notch payment systems.



A relatively new payment option to Canadians, Interac Online/e-Transfers have become the most popular depositing method due to its ease of use.  Widely used in Canada as a means to pay for goods and services online or to send funds to family/friends, Interac is now accepted at most casinos.  This gives players ease of mind that they can enjoy playing games online with confidence that transactions are performed in a secure and speedy manner.



InstaDebit is one of the most popular e-Wallets for Canadian players. It allows you to transfer money from your bank account to your InstaDebit account and then to casinos without divulging any sensitive bank data. InstaDebit is a sort of an intermediary between the banks and casinos that executes payments rapidly and safely. Most banks accept InstaDebit and recognize it as an official payment method, so the chances are your bank will be among them as well.



iDebit e-Wallet functions pretty much like InstaDebit with one big difference. Namely, you don’t even need to set up an account at iDebit to deposit money to casinos. Simply enter your banking information when you deposit cash through iDebit, and the bank and iDebit will do the rest. However, when you choose iDebit to withdraw your winnings, you need to set up an official iDebit account first before you can receive the funds. As is the case with InstaDebit, the majority of Canadian banks will accept iDebit and grant transfers of the funds to it when requested to make casino deposits.


In Conclusion

Yes, it is safe to gamble online in Canada and no citizen has ever been prosecuted for playing at sites located offshore.  Unlike the US market where payment processing is prohibited to offshore sites, there are plenty of third party options available in Canada that will allow you to make transactions safely.