Canada Online Poker Laws

Poker players are often unsure about the legality of online real money poker, but they engage in the gambling activity regardless. The reason behind this is that online real money poker gambling is often regulated by very ambiguous laws, which vary from country to country. Canada adheres to a set of regulations on Internet poker that are derived from their common Criminal Code. The Criminal Code sections pertaining to online poker indicate that game play is perfectly legal for Canadian residents.

Canadian Criminal Code

Canada’s Criminal Code is a set of laws and regulations that dictate the legality of common actions in Canada. The code covers everything from murder to the legality of online gambling. As far back as 1892, it was deemed illegal to engage in any form of gambling on Canadian soil. The Criminal Code prohibited every form of gambling regardless of its profitable or charitable intentions. Thankfully, the Criminal Code specifications about gambling have changed since then.

Poker Regulation by Province

Since the 1960s, the Criminal Code has undergone several modifications that relaxed its grip on all forms of gambling. Initially, the Criminal Code was modified to allow provinces the ability to create lotteries for the purpose of funding social projects. This resulted in each Canadian province establishing their own gaming commission. Each province would be responsible for regulating and monitoring all gambling activity in their territory.

A 1985 amendment to the Criminal Code gave each province the right to regulate computerized forms of gambling. Online poker now falls into this amendment. Therefore, the legality of online poker gaming is the responsibility of each province’s gaming commission.

The majority of the Canadian provinces allow their residents to gamble with real money at poker sites. Certain Canadian provinces such as New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador use stricter regulations when it comes to online gambling. These provinces have placed restrictions on online gambling for all casino games but have not defined any specific stipulation for online poker. This means that residents of the aforementioned Canadian provinces will still be able to play online poker without any hassle.

The legal basis of playing online poker revolves around players using the services of foreign poker sites. The online poker industry has spawned a plethora of poker sites based out of Central America and the Caribbean. Many of these sites offer Canadians access to their poker services. Canadian Provinces cannot regulate the legality of these online poker services because they are outside of their jurisdiction. This makes it perfectly legal to gamble using a foreign online poker service in Canada.

More Information About Legal Poker

While it is legal to join any known online poker site and play with real money, there are still certain restrictions that may apply. For example, foreign sites are still able to restrict residents of any specific country from using their poker service. Not all poker sites are created equal, and some do not accept any Canadian based poker players. Similar restrictions may also be found with online financial institutions. Poker sites only accept deposit and withdrawal methods that allow players to transfer money for gambling purposes. Third party financial institutions are able to refuse any online poker-related monetary transaction if they abide by policies that require them to decline deposits and withdrawals for gambling purposes.

Additionally, it is still illegal for Canadian residents to operate any form of gambling house or poker room. This includes online poker sites that directly or indirectly receive a profit in exchange for the ability to gamble with real money. This stipulation is part of the Canadian Criminal Code and is still actively used by all Canadian Provinces. This is the primary reason why Canadian provinces do not actively license poker sites to operate on Canadian soil.

Even though it is illegal to operate an online poker site in Canada, illegally run poker operations can still be found in the province of Quebec. The Khanawake reserve in Quebec actively licenses online gambling services such as poker sites. The Khanawake gaming commission regulates online gambling services that have been allowed to use server space on the reserve in exchange for a fee. The actions of the Khanawake reserve are technically illegal based on the Criminal Code and the regulations of the Quebec gambling commission, but they have successfully become the largest North American hub for online poker sites.

Canadian poker players can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that gambling with real money at poker sites is perfectly legal. The only outright prohibition involving online poker is that it is illegal for Canadian residents to operate their own online poker room on Canadian soil. Players looking for the exact regulations on the legality of online poker should contact their province’s gambling and gaming commission.