Canada is a country that falls under a tricky little section when it comes to betting online. A term often used within the betting industry is ‘grey area’ and this is pretty much as close as you are going to get to sum up the situation. Throughout this article we will try and break down the ins and outs of how the country works in relation to online betting.
Canada actually has a long tradition of betting. In the 1960s wagering on sports such as hockey and American Football were favoured pastimes for most. Times have changed quite dramatically since then and its clear that a lot of people are still widely unsure if you are legally allowed to bet online.
What we have found is that it would appear a lot of the problems in the US have slowly started to come into fruition within Canada. This was widely to be expected but it’s taken a fair few years for people to understand exactly what they can and cant do when it comes to online gambling within Canada.
Is online betting legal in Canada?
As a punter you are actually allowed to wager online using bookmakers that will accept Canadian bettors. This means that you can technically reside in Canada and use a European bookmaker that allows Canadians through their doors.
The flip side of this is that bookmakers are not allowed to operate out of Canadian state boundaries. The rules that are currently in place make the trading of gambling outlets prohibited from within Canada, meaning that you aren’t able to wager on sports books from within the country.
It starts to get a little more complicated again. Different rules for sports betting, poker and casino use are all in place for Canadian residents. The sports betting section states that only parlays and multiple bets are allowed, with single bets being strictly prohibited. We aren’t completely sure the reasoning behind this, but what we would guess is that it generally takes the ‘skill’ factor out of betting to make it more a recreational activity, rather than a professional one.
As a result of these types of laws, Canada has seen an influx of bettors from the US take up residency from within their country. As the US have strictly prohibited people accessing betting and gambling sites, it’s made it almost impossible for people earning a living from such recreational activities. Canada’s more relaxed laws on actually using bookmakers from outside of the country whilst still residing in Canada have proved to be a popular option for most.
How Canada differs from a lot of countries (the US in particular) is that each province can set their own gambling laws to suit their residents. The country as a whole does not determine whether online gambling within those provinces should be legal or not and as such means the laws are often more relaxed than a countrywide legislation.
With each state comes their own governing body that get the final notion on how they want to proceed with online gambling. There is one exception to this though and that’s through the Kahnawake Gaming Commission who is independent to that of Canada. What you will find is that a lot of countries around the world, US included, regulate from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which comes with a fair amount of irony being that they reside in a country which forbids bookmakers to trade.
The future of betting in Canada is actually a fair bit brighter than it was maybe 5 years ago. The US are slowly starting to see signs of recovery with individual states provide legal options for companies to both trade and for punters to play out of. Whilst this is essentially wont have any legal effect on how Canada continues to trade, if the US were to come back into the market in a more populated manner, then it would likely see Canada follow suit. A timescale for this hasn’t been set, but massive steps have been taken in the US over the last two years, with more states filling for the legalisation of online gambling. It appears to be a very much wait and see situation for Canada though as to how readily available they will make trading for bookmakers out of the country.
As a final point in this section we just want to make you aware that no single person has ever been prosecuted for gambling within Canada. If the situation ever occurred where you’d been playing at a bookmaker or casino that was trading illegally then it’s highly likely that that terminal would be closed down without prosecution to the punters.
Are winnings taxable?
Taxing in Canada is yet another pretty ‘grey area’ in our opinion. It is stated that you will not have to pay taxes on any gambling winnings as long as it’s gained in a non business-oriented action. This means that as long as you aren’t betting full time, then you shouldn’t be deemed to have to pay taxes on your winnings.
It’s a grey area in terms of distinguishing between what’s recreational and what’s professional. If betting is your sole income and something you do throughout your day then taxes will be deemed payable. If you place bets on the weekend and at low stakes then they wont. If you are in-between this then we would highly recommend getting in touch with a lawyer to see where you stand as you don’t want to get into a situation where the government decide that betting is more than recreational habit and they back tax your winnings.
There are two standout payment options when it comes to banking for Canadian punters; these are Skrill and InstaDebit.
Skrill is regarded as one of the biggest e-wallets in the world and the reason why they are so popular in Canada is basically because of their availability. There are so many companies outside of gambling that allow you to use this e-wallet to transfer funds to merchants and also make payments to your betting site. On top of that you can pick up a Skrill card that will allow you to access your funds from an ATM or pay at any MasterCard accepting shop.
InstaDebit is an interesting one as it’s an e-wallet that’s only available to Canadian users. The site works in much the same as way as Skrill, in that you load up funds from your bank account, but the restrictions means that it’s a very targeted funding source and can be quite restricting.
Don’t forget that you can still use your credit/debit card to deposit in CAD (Canadian Dollars) if you choose not to use the e-wallet option. This is often the cheapest way to bank as fees are minimal if not none existent, but it can sometimes take a day or two to get funds in and out of your account, which can be frustrating.