Many online casino companies operate in Canada, offering residents of the country a multitude of gaming options. Yet the only online casino games legally available in the country are offered by provincial lotteries. All the other companies, like Jackpot City, Spin Casino, and 888casino, operate in a legal grey area.
The good news is that the legal ambiguity will soon be cleared up, in Ontario, at least. That’s it, there is no bad news. Canada online casino gaming is here to stay and will only get better after being fully legalized and properly regulated by provincial gaming authorities.
This page is your guide to every aspect of online casino gaming in Canada. From the legal grey area to the pending launch of legal, regulated casinos, to the province-run sites, to the most popular games, to the banking options, we will cover it all, including a very special FAQ to wrap things up. Let’s get started.
Online casinos in Canada
Canadian legislative leaders likely didn’t anticipate the rise of online casino gaming when they outlined a legal framework for the regulation of casino gaming in the country. It likely seemed pretty simple at the time: online casinos are not allowed to be based in Canada. The problem is that it is not explicitly illegal for offshore casinos to operate in the country, nor is it written into law that Canadians are prohibited from using online casinos.
In Canada, there isn’t even a wink-and-nod approach to gambling online; operators gladly accept Canadian customers, and Canadians gladly gamble with those offshore operators. The government seems content to remain on the sidelines: Not a single person nor company has been federally prosecuted for engaging in online gaming in Canada. These online casino companies do not have a physical presence in Canada, so they aren’t breaking the law that prohibits casino companies from being based in the country, but the ambiguous laws have created a thriving online casino industry.
New Ontario regulations allow iGaming
It was big news when the Canadian Parliament passed C-218, which allowed provinces to fully legalize single-game sports wagering and regulate it as they see fit. Before that, single-game wagering had the same fate as online casino gaming, floating in a sea of ambiguity, not legal but not technically illegal either. The federal government did the right thing by giving full authority to the provinces, most of which already operate online sports betting through provincial lotteries. The money that flows to offshore sportsbooks will now stay in Canada. Additionally, all the operators opening up shop in the country will be licensed and regulated, which will add layers of protection to the identity and deposits of bettors that are sorely missing from offshore companies.
Ontario took the lead on legalizing single-game wagering, quickly amending its provincial laws to explicitly legalize sports betting and getting to work on regulations that would allow for sportsbooks to come to the province. Proline+, the province-run sportsbook, has offered single-game wagering since late 2021 and outside sportsbooks are currently in the process of being approved for operation in advance of the April 2022 go-live date.
What hasn’t been as widely reported is the fact that the same rules legalizing sports betting in Ontario also legalize iGaming. Online casino companies will soon be able to obtain a license and legally operate in Ontario. This is great news for the operators and the bettors in the province. The tax revenue generated from iGaming will pay for many important programs in the province, and bettors will be able to wager knowing their deposits are protected and available for withdrawal at any time, pending operator approval.
If the Ontario iGaming rollout is similar to US states that have introduced both sports betting and iGaming, many sportsbooks will also offer online casinos. There are a few casino-only companies in New Jersey and Michigan, the two largest states with iGaming, but the market largely consists of sportsbooks with casino attachments. We expect things to be a little different in Ontario, where several online casinos have been operating in the legal grey area for many years and thus have an established set of loyal customers.
Online casinos coming to Ontario
Right now it is hard to say which online casinos will end up being licensed in Ontario. Many online casinos are operating in Canada already, and we presume some of them will make the jump to the regulated market. Add to that the sportsbooks coming to the province that also offer online casino gaming and we should see a robust, competitive casino market. This list will be updated as more casinos and sportsbooks become licensed to operate in Ontario before and after the April 2022 launch date.
Rivalry – The popular wagering site has been approved to offer single-game sports betting and eSports wagering in Ontario. One look at the Rivalry website quickly clarifies that the operator will be a top eSports destination for bettors in the province. We expect that Rivalry will also offer some sort of casino gaming option, though it remains to be seen what it will look like.
theScore Bet – The biggest online sports information company in Canada is theScore, and its sportsbook product, theScore Bet, is currently live in several American states. While the company hasn’t announced its intention to add an online casino to its online sportsbook, theScore Bet is already licensed in Ontario and could follow the lead of its larger American sportsbook counterparts by easily adding an online casino to its existing product. Stay tuned on this one.
PointsBet – Speaking of adding an online casino and mobile casino app to an existing sportsbook product, PointsBet did just that in New Jersey and Michigan. It is not a stretch to presume that PointsBet Casino will go live in Ontario.
Popular online casinos operating in Canada
As we have mentioned, there is no shortage of online casinos operating right now in Canada. These same casinos will likely still accept Canadian customers after the regulated market goes live in Ontario and elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, but right now there seems to be little incentive for successful offshore casinos that already operate in Canada to change their existing business model to become regulated by provincial authorities.
We expect some of them to go through the licensing process to appeal to the large potential customer base that may not want to use an unregulated online casino, while others will be content to keep their existing customers and not do anything differently. The most popular iGaming online casinos currently operating in Canada include:
- Jackpot City
- Spin Casino
- 888 Casino
- Wheelz Casino
- Betway Casino
- LeoVegas Casino
- Unibet Casino
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
The Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is located in Quebec and is a sovereign authority not under the jurisdiction of either provincial or federal governments. As such, in 1999, tribal leaders had the interesting idea of creating an independent regulatory authority with the express purpose of licensing online casinos. As mentioned, before 2021 it was against the law for online casinos to have a physical presence in Canada.
The Kahnawake saw a way around this and began to license online casinos to operate in Canada using their sovereign authority. This authority wasn’t recognized by the Canadian government and resulted in an additional legal grey area, but the Kahnawakes insist their authority was/is legitimate and have allowed licensed online casinos to house servers and other processing facilities on their territory to operate in Canada. Of course, they collect a licensing fee, which has proven to be very lucrative for the tribe.
Dozens of online casinos have received Kahnawake-issued gaming licenses, allowing them to host servers and process transactions on Kahnawake land while operating in Canada. However, those licenses are not recognized by the Canadian federal government nor by any provincial governments. The Kahnawake insist that their licenses are legitimate as an independent regulatory authority.
This has resulted in another grey area, because while the government doesn’t recognize Kahnawake authority as an online gaming regulatory body, officials haven’t investigated or prosecuted any of the casinos licensed by the Kahnawake, thereby leaving them to operate in Canada without the threat of prosecution.
Here are the biggest online casinos licensed by the Kahnawake:
- Bwin Casino
- Bet99 Casino
- Spin Casino
- Jackpot City Casino
- Royal Vegas Online Casino
- Quatro Casino
- Cafe Casino
- Zodiac Casino
- And dozens more
Kahnawake vs. Ontario
Ontario will be the first test of how provincial online casino gaming authority will affect Kahnawake authority. Now that Ontario and other provinces have the authority to regulate online casino gaming as they see fit, it will be interesting to see whether that authority will impact Kahnawake. Provincial gaming regulators do not recognize Kahnawake’s authority, so it seems unlikely that an online casino will attempt to be licensed by both the provincial government and Kahnawake.
Will some online casinos surrender their Kahnawake licenses and become licensed by Ontario? It seems likely, but we don’t know for sure. Another scenario could be that everything continues pretty much as it has been for years now. New operators will choose to go through the provincial licensing process and online casinos that have been licensed by the Kahnawake continue to operate nationwide.
Canadian province-run online casinos
We’ve gone over which casinos are already in Canada and which might be coming soon. Now it’s time to cover the province-run online casinos, the only ones that are fully legal in the country. Like most US states, all 10 provinces in Canada offer a government-run lottery program.
Unlike most US states, in Canada, the lottery commissions also offer online casino gaming and sports betting through their own apps. This has worked well for the provinces because the online casinos generate a great deal of revenue for government programs and services. Let’s go over all the provincial-run online casinos in the country, starting in the Atlantic and heading across to the Pacific.
Atlantic Province online casinos
The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) runs a successful lottery program for the residents of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. The leaders of the four provinces decided to pool their resources instead of running four separate lotteries. This has proven to be a wise decision, as the ALC is by all measures a well-run organization that generates a great deal of revenue for the four provinces. ALC offers an online casino that features all the top slot titles and table games.
Quebec online casinos
Loto Quebec is the province’s lottery provider, and, like the other provincial lotteries, it offers keno, lottery games, sports betting, and an online casino. All the major slot machine providers are featured, including IGT, NetEnt, and others, and a live dealer option is also available for table games.
Ontario online casinos
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) offers a robust online casino that features many of the top slot titles and even has live table games. Signing up for an account is easy, and your deposit is shared with the Proline+ online sportsbook should you want to wager on sports in between hands of blackjack. You can play casino games on your home computer or your phone anywhere in the province.
Manitoba online casinos
Similar to their Atlantic friends, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta share a lottery commission: the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). Unlike other provincial lottery commissions, the WCLC does not offer online casino gaming. This leaves the prairie provinces, as they are colloquially known, to independently offer online casino games.
Manitoba has entered into an agreement with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation to offer the popular PlayNow online casino app in the province. We will go over PlayNow in a little more detail in the BC section, but it includes slots, poker, and table games and seems to be popular among Manitobans.
Saskatchewan online casinos
The most prairie of the prairie provinces did things a little differently. Saskatchewan has a lottery, as mentioned, and a few retail casinos, but until now didn’t offer a provincial-run online casino option. In September 2021, provincial authorities signed a ground-breaking agreement with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) to establish a tribal partnership in which the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), which is overseen by FSIN, will manage all legal online gaming in the province.
A new provincial-run online casino will be created sometime in 2022, with all proceeds split 50/50 between FSIN and the province. SIGA is already in the casino business as the authoritative body overseeing tribal retail casinos in the province. This is an exciting opportunity for both the tribes and the provincial government that should benefit everyone in the province.
Alberta online casinos
PlayAlberta is the province-run lottery option, and it offers a top-notch online casino similar to Ontario and Quebec. Top slot titles are available, including Cleopatra, Fortune Coin, DaVinci Diamonds, The Price is Right, and dozens more. All the biggest table games are also on the website, as is a live dealer option. PlayAlberta does a good job offering everything a player could want in a province-run, regulated online casino.
British Columbia online casinos
As we get to the west coast of Canada, we are greeted with PlayNow, the excellent online casino run by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). PlayNow is the class of Canadian province-run online casinos. Its home page is easy to navigate and it offers over a hundred slot games, all of which can easily be accessed on a mobile device. PlayNow even has a rewards program, which is almost unheard of for a government-run entity.
Video demonstrations of how live dealer games work are available for those new to table games, and a robust FAQ section has answers to most questions. Plus, for those who like to bet on sports and play casino games, PlayNow also offers a sportsbook that shares a virtual wallet with the casino. PlayNow is a superior product that will more than hold its own when/if the BC online casino market is opened up to outside operators.
Games offered by online casinos in Canada
We’ve already gone over most of the gaming options available to online casino bettors, but it is helpful to have them all in one place. Here they are:
- Jackpot slots
- Video blackjack
- Video poker
- Pai Gow
- Casino War
- Casino Stud
- Poker – sit & go, multi-entry, challenge, head-hunter
- Live dealer – blackjack, roulette, baccarat, poker
- Online lottery games
- Online keno
- Online bingo
Online casino banking options
Here is a list of all the major deposit and withdrawal options that are typically available in Canada. Major online casino operators entering the legal, regulated market will offer most, if not all, of the following banking options:
- Visa/Mastercard/American Express credit cards
- Visa/Mastercard debit cards
- INTERAC online payment
- Online banking/bill pay
Due to the diversity of the market, there will be additional banking options available. We recommend checking with the FAQ or support team of your chosen Canada online casino before registration.
Canada online casino FAQ
Not necessarily. If your preferred online casino is one of the provincial lottery-run options (PlayNow, PlayAlberta, etc.), very little will change for you. If you prefer to wager with an offshore operator, things might change for the better. The many online casino companies currently doing business in Canada are operating in a legal grey area. Now that legal, regulated iGaming is coming to many provinces, including Ontario, bettors will have even more choices. It is unclear whether many existing online casinos will continue to operate as they have in the legal grey area or whether they will move to become a licensed, legal casino operator in the provinces in which they want to operate. We should know more about the plans of casino operators sometime after the legal, regulated marketplace in Ontario opens to outside operators in 2022.
Right now we do not believe all 10 provinces will end up moving to an open, competitive marketplace right away. Ontario is leading the way by opening up the province to outside iGaming operators, but so far they are the only ones to do so. Alberta is moving toward opening up its market, but with only to a handful of operators. Other provinces seem content to give their provincial-run lotteries exclusive access to the legal online casino gaming marketplace. Of course, this means that unregulated online casinos will continue to operate in Canada.
Most people that wager with offshore casinos in Canada probably do so without any problems. Deposits are easily made and withdrawals are also processed without delay. The slots and table games seem fair. But say something does go wrong. Your requested withdrawal isn’t processed. The website freezes and doesn’t let you wager or lists an incorrect balance. Maybe your account isn’t credited with a winning hand or slot payout. Who do you turn to for assistance? The government of Malta, where many offshore online casinos are registered? Good luck with that. In Canada, each province has (or will have) clear regulations spelling out consumer protections and technology requirements all online casinos must meet to become licensed to operate in the province. Bettors can use a licensed online casino knowing that their deposits are safe and the games they are playing are fair, which cannot be said for offshore casinos.