Gaming Legal News - December 13, 2012 • Volume 5, Number 27: Individual Liability For Being An Online Gaming Customer In Canada

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Explore:  Internet Gambling

When asked whether “gambling” is lawful in Canada, the focus has often been upon the commercial enterprises that provide gaming and betting services to people in Canada. Less frequently asked is the question of whether the individual in Canada who registers with a website based outside Canada that allows him or her to bet or play “real money” games online is breaking any criminal law.

Over a century of Canadian case law indicates that the Criminal Code (the “Code”) does not render gaming unlawful. Part VII of the Code criminalizes the seeking of profit from the betting of others; it does not make the playing of games for stakes illegal per se.

Under the common law that existed prior to the enactment of the Code, gaming was not illegal. For a brief period of time, the Code included a provision which explicitly made it unlawful to play in a “common gaming house” (although no similar prohibition ever applied to those who bet in a “common betting house”). Section 199 of the Code, enacted in 1892, stated: “Every one who plays or looks on while any other person is playing in a common gaming-house is guilty of an offence…”

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