Online casinos in Canada
Playing at online casinos is something many Canadians do regularly and it is perfectly legal to partake in real money games. Having said this the gambling laws are complex and take some reading to understand.
This article will explain the legalities, make recommendations and give you a general overview of how to play at online casinos if you are based in Canada.
Canadian online casino games
There is a vast number of games available to Canadian online casino consumers, providing far more variety than you would find at land-based casinos. While you will find standard variations of casino classics at real money gambling sites you will find there are many more versions of games and much more favourable table limits (you will also find live dealer games with reasonably low table limits).
Thousands of real money slots are available online, including some jackpot games which can net you upwards of $1 million. Some of the biggest jackpot pokies available to Canadians include Mega Moolah and the Age Of The Gods series by Playtech.
Slots venues in Canada will generally have a return-to-player rate around 91 per cent. This simply means that is how much of the money put into it, the machine will return to players. Like the land-based equivalent, online slots should have a RTP attached, and the RTP rate should be higher online. Some choice slots from Microgaming and Playtech will even have RTP rates as high as 99 per cent.
- Video poker: Video poker can be found at land-based casinos but you will find it much more frequently online. These days there is actually much more variety online as well. All of the biggest software providers still produce video poker titles.
- Skill or casual games: These are a real growth area in real money games, with the opportunity to play games such as Scrabble and Yahtzee against both computers and real people, depending on what website you play at. Other games in this space include Rummy and Dominos.
Live dealer casinos
Canadians are lucky in that they can play at online casinos with live dealer play without fear of falling foul of the authorities. For those who have not played live games before they simply feature a dealer streaming to your computer or laptop and a graphical interface which allows you to place your bets — just like you would at a land-based casino.
Because we don’t have strict laws banning offshore online casinos it means the majority of enthusiasts will play live dealer at one of these sites. You will find that the live games offered by casinos powered by Playtech, Microgaming and Evolution Gaming (among others) are absolutely top notch and most will accept Canadians.
What games can you play in live dealer? you might ask. Well it’s pretty simple; anything you can find at a casino you are likely to find in some form online. This means you can play titles such as blackjack, roulette and baccarat with a real life human dealer throwing your cards down.
What are the table limits in live games? Generally online casinos will have much lower limits available, with the lowest the WGL has seen being 50 cents per hand in blackjack and $2 per game in roulette. On the upper limits it can go well into the thousands of dollars, although usually a high-roller standard table (one that has not been set up specifically for a VIP) will be capped at $2000 or $5000 depending on the website.
These days playing at online casinos on your mobile device is almost as commonplace as playing on your computer. Often a casino will have downloadable apps available (yes, including Canada) for both iOS devices and Android phones and tablets. All casinos will also have a fully responsive website, which will work on tablets and mobiles.
The casino games that you will find on your mobile devices are probably fewer in number than you will find on your desktop computer, but you will still find plenty of slots and RNG table games. If you are playing at some Evolution Gaming or Playtech casinos you will also find live dealer games.
To download an iOS app you can do it directly from the Apple store, although we strongly recommend opening your account online, beforehand, so that you can take advantage of any sign-up or welcome offers that the website might have.
Gambling apps are not allowed in the Google Play store which means you won’t find them in Canada if you go looking. This doesn’t mean you can’t use gambling apps, it just means you need to download them directly from the source. These “non-market” apps are free to download and give you instant casino play. If you are struggling to download an app from a gambling website you might need to turn on “non-market apps” which should be in your security settings.
Online casino sign-up bonus offers
Often the process of signing up at an online casino will mean you get the opportunity to claim a welcome package. This often will come in the form of a matched deposit or free spins on a slot, or a combination of the two. This theoretically means you can join a website that is offering up to $1000 bonus and 100 free spins. It’s not as simple as you just receiving these free incentives, but rather there will be terms and conditions attached that you have to meet to claim it.
For instance, your deposit might be matched at 100 per cent, so if you decide to deposit $200, the casino will match your deposit dollar for dollar, adding the extra cash to your bonus balance, which should not be mistaken for real money, but more on this in a second.
The free spins component of the offer might be triggered over your first two deposits, with 50 given to you for each of your first two deposits of $20 or more.
After you have claimed these bonus offers it’s important to acknowledge that there is the possibility that you might need to clear the wagering requirements before you can withdraw it. This means you might need to turn the money over a certain amount of times before you can cash out. These rollovers are often set at 25x or 30x.
Another thing to take note of, that we can’t stress enough, is that you should be aware of the terms and conditions attached to any bonuses or promotions. An example of a term that could slip under the radar is that only slots clear the wagering requirements or that any real money winnings are capped at $100, so even if you jag a huge jackpot you won’t actually get the money. Imagine the heartbreak.
Online casino games providers
All of the big names in the iGaming industry allow their games to be played by Canadians, meaning software providers such as Playtech, Microgaming and NetEntertainment are available.
These software companies are licensed in places such as the United Kingdom, Malta, the Isle of Man and other jurisdictions, with the ones mentioned all operating only in legal markets, like Canada.
With the laws surrounding online casinos due for an update it remains to be seen how many of these companies will stay in the Canadian market, post changes. We have seen in the Australian market, which used to be regarded as one of the biggest gambling jurisdictions in the world, just how quickly the online casino market can change, with none of the big software companies allowing their platforms to be marketed to Australians.
Canadian currency deposit options
Canadians have many options when it comes to funding their online casino account, with all of the casinos we recommend also supporting the CAD currency. Making a real money deposit is generally instant if you use a credit or debit card or any number of instant bank transfer methods, such as iDebit, which allows you to log in to your online bank account and fund your account from there.
Other options include eCheck and bank transfers, though the downsides of these deposit methods is that they can take 2-5 days to hit your account. They do have their pros as well, including that they are the preferred method for large deposits, often with no upper cap at all. Banking methods you will find available at online casinos accepting Canadians include:
Canadian casino withdrawal options
Withdrawing money from your online casino account is just as easy as depositing. It’s simply a matter of visiting the banking section at your online casino and choosing “Cashout” or “Withdrawal” from the menus. You will be then prompted to choose the method you want to use to send the money back to your bank account or web wallet.
One important thing to remember when withdrawing from an online casino is that how long it takes for the money to hit your account will depend on the chosen casino’s internal policies and process times. If it takes 48 hours for someone to tick it off, the processing time for the withdrawal will begin only then. This means you should take the estimated times given to you by the online casino with a grain of salt because they are often inaccurate and it can take longer. Common ways Canadians withdraw money from their online casino accounts include:
Are online casinos legal in Canada?
The Canadian government does not issue online casino licences; instead this is left up to the provinces, although this has been a hot topic of debate in recent years, with politicians arguing the industry should be taxed. While there has been no official movement on regulating online casinos in 2018 it would not surprise if this happened in the next 18 months.
Since the 1960s, Canadian provinces have been allowed to decide whether they will allow lotteries and poker within their borders. Under the criminal code in Canada, hosting a gambling website is illegal, but each province can legalise certain gambling types which can be “operated on or through a computer” inside their borders.
Muddying the waters further in Canada is the one online casino licence the government has issued, which was to the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation for the website SportsInteraction.com. This casino has copped some serious scrutiny from anti-gambling campaigners and politicians but there has never been any action taken against it.
What does the future hold for Canadian online casinos?
There are two ways the laws in Canada could potentially change that will seriously impact residents’ ability to access online casino games. The first thing that could happen is the laws are updated and online offshore casinos are effectively banned. The other potential change is they are properly regulated and taxed.
If online casinos are banned in Canada: This will mean a similar situation to other countries who have gone from failing to address online casinos to outlawing them. This means many of the best casinos will withdraw from the market because they boast licensing in places such as the United Kingdom and Gibraltar, who will stop any licensees from flouting local laws.
If regulation arrives in Canada: This is the most likely outcome in the coming years, whereby Canadian politicians thrash out a way to tax offshore casinos, or even make them apply for licensing. Fingers crossed this does not involve taxing players’ winnings, rather than the operator, because this would seriously affect our ability to turn a profit.