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.

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