In Europe and the United States, the laws relating to online gambling and in particular to online poker have evolved a lot in recent years, but what about in Canada? What are the laws in effect regarding online poker in Canada? How to identify a safe and reliable site? On what sites can Canadian poker enthusiasts play legally and safely? Which control is guaranteed? What are the methods of payment and withdrawal of winnings for poker in Canada? What taxes will the lucky winners have to pay?
If all the answers to these questions interest you, then you are on the right page!
The best poker sites in Canada:
Do you know what is the common point between Daniel Negreanu, Jonathan Duhamel, Guy Laliberté, Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier and Kara Scott?
Poker fans will immediately recognize celebrities from the poker world. But they also have another thing in common: they are all from Canada! And even though they are currently all established in other countries to practice their trade, Canada remains their country of origin, a country that played a key role in the poker boom in the early 2000s.
Is it legal to play real money online poker in Canada?
In fact, Canada is a federation made up of three territories and ten provinces. In the constitutional laws of 1892, any form of gambling was considered illegal, including that for charitable purposes.
This lasted until the 1970s when the government reformed the Criminal Code of Canada (applicable across the country). Certain gambling activities then become legal.
In 1985, the federal government decided to entrust the issue of gambling to the provinces and territories, and since 2010, each province / territory has had the power to establish its own regulations for online poker.
In 2015, the Quebec Minister of Finance announced a new budget and proposed changes to the Online Gaming Act, but these proposals have been strongly criticized and the status quo still prevails today.
Tolerance is required in Canada.
The word that best sums up the situation for gambling in Canada therefore seems to be “legal vagueness” because nothing is expressly authorized or prohibited … Each of the three territories and ten provinces can currently introduce its own laws relating to online poker, and each has its own regulator. These regulatory bodies are essential because they guarantee that all gaming operators respect the rules and exercise their activity legally and fairly.
In addition, poker is classified in games of skill ( game of skill ) or local regulations strictly apply to games of chance … There is therefore a multitude of points of view and legislation which paradoxically offer a space of freedom for online poker players in Canada, provided that they check the legislation in force before registering on an internet poker site.
- Canadian gambling laws depend on location, type of gambling, legal age and province / territory.
- Online poker sites based in Canada are prohibited from advertising their services within Canada.
- The websites of foreign game operators (which are not regulated by the different provinces) are not on any black list and can be easily accessed from Canada. This is the case for the rooms in our top list that you can find above .
- To date, no player has been convicted in Canada for playing online gambling, be it casino games or online poker. Which seems to confirm that this type of online activity for an average player, like you who read us, is hardly monitored currently.
What is the legal age to play online gambling and poker in each Canadian province or territory?
Below is a summary table about the legal age for gambling in Canada, as it varies by province and territory. You will need to provide a copy of your driver’s license and / or passport to register.
|Province / Territory||Age legal for gambling|
|Alberta||> 18 years old|
|Nunavut||> 19 years old|
|British Columbia||> 19 years old|
|Manitoba||> 18 years old|
|Yukon Territory||> 19 years old|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||> 19 years old|
|New Brunswick||> 19 years old|
|Northwest Territories||> 19 years old|
|New Scotland||> 19 years old|
|Ontario||> 19 years old|
|Quebec||> 19 years old|
|Saskatchewan||> 19 years old|
What sites can you access? Which poker sites accept Canadian players?
Canadian players can access all foreign online gambling (casino and poker) available in Canada, without any restrictions. Indeed, as none of the proposed sites is hosted in Canada (apart from those authorized on Indian reserves, such as in Saskatchewan ), no law prevents Canadians from playing there.
Beware, however, of the differences: if in Nova Scotia online gambling is strictly prohibited, the other provinces are very flexible, notably authorizing several variants of online poker. Some provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec have even launched their own online gaming sites!
What about when you travel outside of Canada? Apart from the fact that some sites may not work in the country you are in due to the laws in force there, you will be able to continue playing normally. However, remember to take a look at the regulations of your country of destination before going there, so as to remain legal once there.
How are poker winnings (live or online) taxed in Canada?
This is THE good news: earnings from poker and gambling when it comes to leisure activities are not considered income in Canada. They are therefore not subject to any tax . What you keep is what you earn! – which is far from being the case in many countries, there will be jealous!
Canadian residents can even request the retrocession of all or part of the taxes that were deducted from them if they played and won a big jackpot in a hard casino based in the United States for example.
On the other hand, if a Canadian lives on his earnings from gambling, that is to say that his main income comes from a gambling activity , then these are considered professional income and they must be declared to the taxman.
Likewise, gambling operators established in Canada are liable to taxes and duties towards the government, which makes it possible to reduce (or even cancel) the tax burden on “normal” players. Isn’t that beautiful?
How do online poker deposits / withdrawals work in Canada?
Most sites accept conventional deposit methods (and if not, think twice!).
E-wallets are widely used and Canadians are used to using Skrill or Instadebit , their national e-wallet. Among the classic solutions also used and usable we find: PayPal, Neteller, Citadel, ClickandBuy, Ukash, FundSend or PaySafeCard . All of these systems allow money to be transferred securely and inexpensively to player accounts. They also allow you to quickly recover winnings from your bank accounts (depending on the conditions of the gaming sites, however, read carefully).
As for traditional credit card payments such as Visa or MasterCard , they are obviously great classics for funding a player account and recovering funds, even if some difficulties can sometimes arise. Indeed, credit card transactions on Canadian poker sites are governed by a set of banking regulations that can prevent transactions related to online gambling, when a card issued by a concerned bank is used.
How do you ensure a reliable online poker site in Canada?
To be sure of benefiting from completely reliable gaming offers, we recommend that you check the following points :
- Has the poker site had its games checked and tested by an independent organization guaranteeing that its software is fair and truly random? If the site displays the eCOGRA label (issued by an independent English company which has high demands on fairness and player protection), then there is very little risk.
- Does the poker site hold a license or a license of play delivered by a reputed country? The regulatory authorities of Malta, Gibraltar or the countries of the European Union are among the most reliable.
- Does the site accept Canadian dollars? If not, this may cause some concern with your bank or even result in additional charges.
- Does the site offer several systems for depositing / withdrawing funds, at least one of which you are completely satisfied with?
- Is the site (and its Customer Service) available in English AND French? This will avoid possible misunderstandings when using their services.
If you live in Canada or you are Canadian, then playing online poker will not cause you any legal concerns, especially if you make sure to play on sites that meet all the criteria that we detail here and on our pages.
If in doubt, do not hesitate to visit the official websites for more information.
To start playing with peace of mind, consult our list of the best online poker sites to play in Canada right at the top of this page , sites that have been evaluated and ranked by us.