Canada is a laid back country that allows one or more forms of legal gambling in all of its ten provinces and three territories. Different kinds of gaming such as lotteries, charitable gaming, casinos (land-based or digital), sports betting, and the Internet slots
are available all over Canada. Live casinos in Canada are especially very popular. The betting industry rakes in billions of Canadian dollars every year. This is because over 70% of adults in Canada admit to having participated in wagering at least once in their lives. Though regulations are guiding the speculation trade in the Federal Criminal Code, all provinces and territories have rules that guide gaming and speculation.
The Federal Criminal Code is the overall authority in terms of the regulation of the speculation trade in Canada. The Code deals with laws regarding the gaming industry in Section 201-209. The different sections in the Criminal Code consider every form of common or unregistered gaming illegal except for horse track races and betting. This includes activities such as owning, leasing, and operating unregistered and unlawful gaming or betting houses and establishments. This is also applicable to persons who import, own, or operate devices and instruments used in these games. Landlords and lessors who rent out their properties for such games and activities also fall within this category. The Code states that the crime is punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment.
There are, however, some exceptions. As stated earlier, everything that has to do with horseracing does not fall under this category. Pari-Mutuel betting is regulated all over Canada by the Federal Pari-Mutuel Agency. Another exception is games that participants do not have to pay to participate in. Such games are exempted and need not be registered or regulated by any agency or body. The Code also points out the clear difference between games of skill, chance, and both chance and skill.
Games of chance and games of both chance and skill are regulated by regulatory bodies of all provinces around Canada. Such games include lottery, roulette, bingo, gaming machines, poker, and blackjack. These games require a certain amount of skill or province, and territories do not regulate games of pure skill such as competitions and tests of strength and memories. Consumer protection laws are, however, still applicable in such games.
Age Requirements for Gambling in Canada
Since most establishments that offer gambling services also sell liquor, the age requirement for gamblers in provinces is the same as age requirements for drinking. In Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta, 18 years old and above are allowed to drink and gamble. In all other provinces, gamblers must be 19 years and above to gamble and drink. So while 18-year-olds are free to play slot machines, poker, roulette, and other casino games in Quebec, Manitoba, and Alberta, it is illegal in all other provinces.
Registration, Taxes, and Renewal of License
Companies and businesses that wish to operate in the gaming industry in Canada have to be registered as service providers under the lottery corporation of the province or territory where they wish to operate. Though there are slight differences in what is applicable in all regions, all game houses, casinos, slot machines, video terminal slots, etc. are mandated by law to register with the regulatory body in the province. In Alberta, for instance, all service providers must be registered under the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). Gaming is regulated in Alberta by the Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Act. All provinces and territories have regulatory bodies as well as acts and statutes that regulate all forms of betting, speculation, wagering, and gambling activities.
To apply for a 'license' (it should be noted that provinces do not give licenses to game houses, they only register businesses), a company or gaming establishment will have to acquire a form and fill it. This can be done in person, via mail, fax, or email. The regulatory body in the province then considers the application for registration based on the following:
Honesty and respectability
Compliance with existing laws
Financial gain from registration
Type of registration
Companies and businesses that are registered under the provinces and territories pay taxes and levies as business owners. That is, there are no special tax laws in Canada as regards the gaming trade. All gaming houses and establishments pay taxes to the government according to what they make yearly. The income tax law governs the taxation law in Canada. No special rules state how much casinos and other gaming establishments are required to pay.
While registration is done once, all gambling and betting establishments have to renew their licenses annually. Licenses that are given out by provinces have expiry dates. Gaming houses have to renew their registration before it expires. The rules guiding renewal differ in all provinces and territories. In Ontario, for instance, casino operators pay $100,000 yearly to renew their registration. VLTs, sports betting establishments, and slot machines have different yearly subscription dues in each of the provinces and territories.
Suspension and Limitations of Private Gaming Corporations
The regulatory body in each of the provinces maintains the right to revoke licenses of gaming establishments that go against any of the laid down operating laws. This usually happens after a warning has been given. After a warning, a registered game house can also be given a fine if it still goes against operating laws. After these things have been done, then the gambling regulatory body of the province advises the business to appeal to a tribunal or have its operating license revoked. When this happens, such an establishment will no longer be able to render gaming services to gamblers or bettors.
All provincial bodies maintain the right to change or reform what counts as gambling activities in the province. A gaming house is required by law to restrict its services to those recognised by the province's statutes. In Yukon, Casinos are required to be open for only three days. As a result, gambling houses in the province are restricted. All activities of wagering houses and establishments will be restricted to activities that are recognised by the laws of the provincial government. Activities that contravene these laws will be considered illegal and can result in a suspension or revoking of license.
As stated earlier, gambling houses in Canadian provinces only register under the provincial government. The Lottery Commission and other regulatory bodies will determine what products will be offered, how the products can be advertised, and the location where such products can be offered. For example, lottery houses in Ontario must comply with the Ontario Lottery Corporation's Marketing and Advertising Standard. Products and gaming services that are not regulated by law must conform to the stipulations of the Federal Competition Acts and Consumer Protection Rights.