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Canadian gambling laws (or, Is sports betting legal in Canada?)

With regard to gambling laws, the Canadian government(s) has/have taken a familiar path to arrive at its current prevailing regulations and legality.  Such long-term evolution has resulted in a fairly liberal policy on gambling at traditional gaming houses though things aren’t quite as clear with regard to online sports betting.

A brief history of gambling in Canada

Gambling was first addressing and rules regarding the activity codified in the 1880s; this ultimately resulted in passage of the  Canadian Criminal Code in 1892. This first federal law encompassing all of gambling was to this day Canada’s strictest such ever. The first Criminal Code outlawed all games of chance in a section quaintly (and very 19th-century!) entitled “Offences against Religion, Morals and Public Convenience.”

But liberalisation of this law began almost immediately, with progressive change seen gradually throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. Just eight years after the original Criminal Code, legislators began working on tweaks and in 1901, bingo and raffles were allowed for charities to host. Betting on horse racing was legalized in 1910, though this was temporarily banned from 1917 to ’20, as it was found to be “incommensurate with the war effort.”  

In 1922, dice games and “wheel of fortune”-type games were explicitly outlawed in Canada, explaining in form the lack of craps games at most Canadian casinos. This may explain in part the relatively-low popularity of craps at Canadian casinos to this day – though dice games were again XBet for CFL bettinglegalised in 1998.

The last public review of the gambling sections of the federal Criminal Code was held during the parliamentary session of 1954 to ’55 and after a 1969 law allowed for the federal and provincial governments to host lotteries, gambling law in Canada has pretty much been up to local legislatures since. By 1985, exclusive authority to manage any and all lotteries was handed over the provincial governments. Interestingly enough, Canada may have inadvertently been the first nation to codify online lottery law, as the relevant statute extended authority over lottery games “conducted via a computer, video device, or slot machines.”

As for Canadian sports betting law..

One needn’t be the most astute to realise that very little Canadian law applies to sports betting specifically. The law to do so of course travels from province to province, but we can generally say that British Columbia is frequently a guinea pig for extension of sports betting and regulated online gambling. The B.C. government started offering sports betting and lottery tickets online in 2004, poker in ’09 and casino gaming in ’10. Though each got off to shaky starts, all ships have gradually been righted.

The major disadvantage to playing at a government-run sportsbook are the godawful payouts and odds. Most government-issued games essentially force the bettor to play parlays – likesay, three to six NHL games or the entire slate of CFL games in a give week – on a single ticket, then pay at odds way *way* shorter than a proper sportsbook would offer.

In any case, Canadian bettors can feel free to play at any online sportsbook. After all, even if a history of arrests of those who bet sports from their home computer existed in Canada (no such bust has ever been made), the Criminal Code itself makes reference to the “Foreign Operators Principle,” which literally states that bringing charges against offshore operators is essentially impossible.

So check out any of the CFLpass-affiliated sportsbook website to enjoy the best in CFL betting specifically and sports wagering in general. Get 50% to 100% in bonus bets by taking advantage of exclusive promo codes; click on the link for our latest offers – and enjoy the games, Canada!

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