Article published on 9 September 2009
Online Gambling Still a Gray Area in Canada
If you ask the average Canadian on the street if online gambling is legal in
Canada, the odds are pretty good he or she will say something like 'I'm not
sure, but I've gambled online before' or 'I suppose so, I gamble online all the
time.' Interesting considering that online gambling is illegal in the country.
But the point is that online gambling is very much a gray area in Canada,
meaning that while it is not legal, Canadians who gamble online are not
currently being prosecuted by law.
Perhaps the reason for this is that over the last 20 years or so, Canada has
embraced gambling in general, opening up its once puritanically sealed doors to
a multitude of gambling forms. For instance, more than two decades ago, the only
legalized gambling to speak of in the whole of Canada was at the Crystal Casino
in Winnipeg, Manitoba, while the country's first ever 'video lottery terminals'
were making a debut in New Brunswick. In fact, up until 1969, any gambling in
the country whatsoever was classified as a criminal offence.
However, this all changed when the Canadian public became more vocal, demanding
that the government open up and grow its gambling industry. Being a democratic
and citizen-focused nation, the government eventually complied and the gambling
'sluice gates' flew open across the country. The Government officially redefined
gambling as a 'leisure activity' and even renamed it the softer-sounding
'gaming'. Now not only were Canadians - of legal gambling age of course - free
to gamble, but the government would stand to benefit from hundreds of millions
of dollars in gambling taxes.
Today gambling is as much a part of Canadian culture as sliced bread, with
almost 100 land casinos, tens of thousands of slot machines and video lottery
terminals, not too mention over 70 horseracing tracks across the nation. In
fact, it has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry. Which is why so many
Canadian gamblers have made the natural progression over to online casinos, due
to their privacy, easy access, availability 24/7 and choice of games, most of
them identical to those offered by their land counterparts and even more.
As online gambling is not legal in Canada, Canadians wishing to gamble online
currently sign up with online casinos, online poker rooms, online bingo casinos
and online sports betting sites hosted outside of Canada. But supporters of
legalized online gambling in the country are hoping that the Canadian government
will one day soon follow the example of the United Kingdom, and legalize and
regulate the popular online activity. This would make it safer for Canadians,
and stop them from flouting the law. In addition, the government would benefit
from taxes generated from online gambling revenues.