A cognizant discussion of mobile gambling laws in Canada.
If you’ve done any online searches into Canada mobile gambling laws, you’ve probably found a lot of regurgitated information. Gambling at internationally regulated (offshore) websites falls into a “grey area” of the law. It’s not expressly legal or illegal. So what is it?
What everyone wants is a straight answer, and no can seem to provide it. Even gaming-related legal experts love using the “grey” word. Unfortunately, that’s the most reasonable explanation for Canada’s legal climate. But there is some good news. Not all of the laws surrounding mobile gambling are so cloudy.
How Canada Mobile Gambling Laws Effect You
First things first, it is not illegal for you – as a player – to wager at internationally regulated mobile casinos and poker sites. You can register an account with your real name and address. You can deposit funds, play the games for real money, and withdrawal your winnings. There is no law on any federal or provincial books to stop you, or penalize you, for doing so.
However, you do have to be picky about where you do your online and mobile gambling.
The Criminal Code of Canada states that it is a punishable offence to place a wager at an illegal gambling house. However, according to the myriad definitions associated with betting, gaming and gaming houses, an illegal gambling operation is one with a “place”. Whether it be a private or public place, it has to occur at a “place”. And if that “place” is not located in Canada (such as the office or server of an offshore gambling operation), the federal government has no jurisdiction over it.
What this means is that the mobile gambling website you choose to play at must not have servers, offices, advertisement materials, or any other tangible materials on Canadian soil. If it does, you, as a player, could be punishable for wagering at an illegal gambling house.
This is the very reason I spend my wagering dollars at Royal Vegas Casino. They provide a functional platform with every advantage for Canadian players, without stepping on the toes of the Canadian government.
How Mobile Gambling Laws in Canada Effect Operators
Based on the evidence above, we can easily estimate that any mobile gambling operation that is not licensed or regulated by a Canadian province cannot have a physical presence in Canada.
That fact was proven in 2001 when Starnet Communications International was deemed an illegal online gambling operation by the BC Courts. Although based and licenced in Antigua, their mistake was holding an office in Vancouver. That physical presence was the only factor that got them shut down by the Canadian government for accepting players from Canada.
Whether it’s illegal for an operator to accept Canadians without any physical presence in Canada – that’s the big debate. The “grey area” everyone is trying to figure out.
One thing most lawyers and legal eagles have agreed on is that it’s not yet illegal for offshore operators, and will remain so until the Canadian court system hears a case. So far, with no cases on file, no precedence has been set.
It is certainly possible that the courts could interpret the laws in a way that determines offshore mobile gambling is illegal. It’s just as likely that it could go the other way, especially considering what happened to Starnet all those years ago. Unfortunately, until (if ever) charges are filed, and some precedence is set, Canada mobile gambling laws will continue to carry the “grey” label of legality.
Royal Vegas Canada is Canadian friendly, a legitimate brand and operator that has been our editorial pick for back to back years. Highly recommended for prospective Canadian gamblers.