Legality of Online Poker in Canada

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Online gambling in most countries across the world remains a contentious issue. There are some regions though who are strongly in favour of online gambling and others who are strongly against it. Each country has its own reasons to justify their position. Unfortunately, the end result is that online gambling in is still a ‘grey area’ with no definite position as to whether it’s allowed or not, thus it remains open to interpretation many countries. When it comes to one country in particular, Canada, this is certainly the case as it remains within a ‘grey area’. For those who know how liberal Canada is, many wonder if playing online poker is indeed legal which urged us to explore this topic in detail.

Are There any Taxes on Online Poker Winnings?

Playing online poker games in Canada is somewhat of a confusing topic when it comes to the legalities and intricacies involved. The reason for this is that there are many government owned online poker brands operating in Canada, which may lead players to think that non-government poker sites are not legal. However, this is not true. In fact, all online poker sites, whether public or private, are competing for market share in Canada.

Further to this, the insurance option is quite limited at most online poker sites, which is why it’s quite important to only play at a reputable site with good credibility and payouts. The reason for this is because any winnings resulting from playing online poker is not taxed in Canada; so therefore, players need to practice caution in terms of bankroll management.

Online Poker Site Operators

In essence, what constitutes as legal or illegal lies with what the online poker operator does and whether it makes it services available from a physical house or not. If the online poker brand operates from a physical location, we ask whether such an entity indeed makes any profits. If it does for some reason, then the online poker site is operating an illegal business, unless, of course, the poker site has permission from the Canadian authorities to do so. For players, this is crucial information. While playing online poker games in Canada is considered as legal in simple terms as it’s done in private, the mere fact that gambling laws that specifically target operators should be a cause of concern for the player in choosing a poker site to play at.

Settling for a poker site that does offer online services, but having unrecognized headquarters in Canada may be problematic. If you do come across any issues at an illegal poker site, you can’t really report it to an online gambling board as the operation will be deemed as an illegal entity. Your best bet in this case will be to advise the police and no one really wants to go down that road due to unnecessary paperwork and stress. As such, it’s wiser to choose a poker site run by an operator that is 100% safe and legal.

The Case of Local and Foreign Online Poker Sites

The Criminal Code of Canada that governs gambling in the country is domestically inclusive (with the exception of Kannawake Reserve which does not consider itself part of Canada and hence is not bound by the laws of Canada). Therefore, whether it’s a local operator or a foreign operator, all poker sites are bound to operate within the boundaries set in the Criminal Code of Canada. Primarily, as a gambling operator, you should seek permission first before setting up shop or roll out gambling services.

This process is easier for foreign operators than local operators. This is because foreign operators may already have physical houses or headquarters in other countries; hence the only permission they will seek is to roll out gambling services.

Though not explicitly illegal, foreign operators can still offer gambling services even without seeking government approval as the Criminal Code of Canada only restricts (foreign) operators from opening shop i.e. opening common betting or gaming houses without permission. Though this can be done and interpreted to be legal by operators using loopholes in the Criminal Code of Canada, but for players, it’s wiser to rather settle for an online poker site that is ethical and who acquires the necessary permission before they even start to think about profits.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

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