Editorial

Can You Gamble in Online Casinos in Ontario?

Despite ongoing controversies surrounding sports betting, Canada is considered one of the more liberal countries concerning gambling and sports betting laws. The Gaming Control Act of 1992 regulated all forms of gambling, and it paved the way for the first-ever land-based casino in Ontario.

The gambling industry in Ontario is thriving, and gamblers have access to tons of different options for placing bets. But the law around online gambling and online casino operation in Ontario is fuzzy, leaving many to wonder whether they are operating within the confines of the law.

Is Online Gambling legal in Ontario?

Ask this question to an Ontario resident, and it’s unlikely that they’ll know the answer. It’s obvious that gambling is legal in Ontario. There are numerous racetracks, casinos, and Lottery retailers scattered across the province. The government even hosts its own iGaming website at PlayOLG.ca, allowing online gambling. So, online gambling must be legal, too, right? Well, sort of.

According to provincial law, Canadian-based casinos must be operated by the provincial government. You’re breaking the law if you’re playing in an online casino not run by the government. Many don’t realize that most popular gambling sites like 888 Casino, William Hill, or Royal Vegas aren’t licensed in Canada. So, it’s perfectly legal for Canadians to play in them. Legal Ontario online casinos are limited to government-run sites, but these aren’t the only online casinos available for residents to gamble.

If you found this explanation confusing, you’re not alone. The law itself is confusing. It’s illegal to operate a Canadian-licensed online casino that isn’t government-run. But it is not illegal for Canadian customers to patronize offshore online casinos.

Many offshore licensed online casinos offer their games and services to residents of Ontario. As long as they hold licenses outside of Canada, it’s perfectly legal for them to do so.

What Types of Gambling Are Legal in Ontario?

Ontario may be only the second-largest province in Canada, but it has the highest population. Over 90% of Ontario residents live within a one-hour drive of a gambling establishment. There are several different forms of gambling that are legal in the province.

Casinos

Ontario is home to over 25 land-based casinos, both government-owned and private establishments.

Slots

Ontario residents can play slots at numerous locations. There are more slot machines in Ontario than in any other province in Canada.

Lottery

The national lottery and provincial lotteries are both available. Ontario has one of the largest lottery networks in North America, with fiscal earnings in excess of $3 billion.

Horse Racing

Numerous racetracks host Quarter Horse, Standardbred, and Thoroughbred racing.

Sports Betting

The Pro-Line system is operated by the Government of Ontario and is available for Ontarians to place bets on live sporting events. This system is available through in-person counters and online.

Charitable Gambling

Bingo and charity raffles fall under this category. These games are licensed by the OCG, which also runs numerous eBingo sites. Next to lotteries, this generates the next highest amount of gaming revenue in Ontario.

Summary

It is legal for Ontario residents to gamble in online casinos. It is not legal for privately owned Canadian casino operators to offer online casinos at this time; however, offshore online casinos can offer accounts and gambling services to Canadian customers. A few online casino sites operated by the Government of Ontario allow online gambling.

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