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Gambling Laws: How Canada compares to the US

Gambling Laws: How Canada compares to the US

Canada and the US are not just neighbors. They’re allies that share a national language, food and music. Both countries are huge in geographical size, incredibly developed and have populations with a 99% literacy rate.

Iram Martins
Aug 02, 2021

Table of Contents

Canada and the US are not just neighbors. They’re allies that share a national language, food and music. Both countries are huge in geographical size, incredibly developed and have populations with a 99% literacy rate.

When it comes to gambling laws, though, Canada is miles ahead in having progressive laws. The US is catching up fast but it has a long way to go. That being said, here’s how Canada compares to the US as far as gambling laws are concerned.

Legality: Regulated by states and provinces

Neither Canada nor the US permits gambling at the federal level. Instead, gambling in both countries is regulated by provinces (Canada) and states (the US). In Canada, most provinces permit some forms of gambling.

British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba allow online casinos, lottery tickets, poker and sports betting. The Maritime provinces, by comparison, support bingo and lottery tickets but not online casinos. 

In the US, New Jersey and Pennsylvania allow both online casinos and sports betting. In Las Vegas, land-based gambling is widely legal but you can’t play online casinos. In many other states, a few forms of gambling are accepted while others are banned.

Taxation: Zero taxes in Canada

Canada’s gambling laws do not clarify whether online gambling is legal or not. Owing to that backdrop, Canadians are free to gamble at offshore casinos without facing prosecution at home. Better yet, they don’t need to pay taxes on their gambling profits.

This’s guide talks about the best Canadian gambling sites in more details. It explains how to find the right casinos and lists the top websites to checkout. You can win $100 or $1 million at these websites. And as long as you’re Canadian, you don’t need to pay taxes on your winnings.

Unfortunately, things are different in the US. In Las Vegas, American citizens pay a flat tax of 24% (previously 25%) on their winnings. Foreigners pay a 30% tax although Canadians are allowed to deduct gambling losses.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey also charge 24% of your gambling winnings in addition to a 3% tax on income. In other words, you’re much safer gambling in Canada.

Games and software providers

As we mentioned earlier, the US gambling industry is growing fast. Five years ago, only New Jersey and Delaware permitted online casinos. In 2021, more than five states permit online casinos, which is helping widen game access in the country.

That said, Canadians enjoy a much wider array of games and software providers compared to their counterparts in the south. Canadians gamble through offshore casinos, and these companies provide thousands of games from 100+ software companies.

Think of NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech, Betsoft, BTG and Evolution. These companies own some of the biggest online slots and table games. All their games are available in Canada but not in the US.

The huge game variety in Canada means you can’t run out of titles to play. It doesn’t matter whether you love jackpots, Megaways or live casino games. In the US, though, the number of games you can play is limited based on the casino you join.

Tribal and commercial casinos

It’s no secret most casinos in the US and Canada are run by native Americans. In the US, tribes operate some 240+ casinos in nearly every state. In Canada, first Canadians operate roughly 20 casinos in five provinces.

Although tribes run casinos on reserved land, they contribute tax revenues to the states where they operate. According to a survey done in 2013, tribe-owned casinos generated 43% of all gambling revenues in the US.

Besides tribe-owned casinos, both the US and Canada permit investors to establish land-based casinos in certain states and provinces. In the US, Las Vegas is home to most commercial casinos. New Jersey is the other alternative.

In Canada, most privately-owned casinos are based in Alberta and Ontario. However, British Columbia and Quebec also host charity-based gambling facilities.

Sports betting laws

For a long time, sports betting was illegal in both Canada and the US. The US legalized sports betting in 2018 thanks a ground-breaking ruling by the Supreme Court. In Canada, single sports betting is about to become legal after the senator passed a bill to legalize the industry last June.

With that in mind, sports betting works differently in both Canada and the US. In Canada, most gamblers bet at offshore sportsbooks. This allows them to bet on virtually any sport, league and tournament in the world.

Like their casino counterparts, sports gamblers don’t need to pay taxes on their profits in Canada. The new sports betting law passed in June aims to tax gambling companies and therefore won’t affect punters as well.

In the US, sports betting laws vary from one state to another. Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, New Mexico and Pennsylvania are some of the jurisdictions that permit sports gambling. 

Some states permit in-person betting but not online sports betting. Others support betting on major leagues but not high-school sports. Against that backdrop, it’s essential to know where your state stands in matters to do with sports betting.

Legal gambling age

Interestingly, you’re allowed to buy lottery tickets in some states in the US. But you must be at least 18 years to purchase the same tickets in other states. That said, the general legal gambling age in the US is 21 years.

Most land-based casinos won’t accept you unless you’re at least 21 years. However, you can gamble online on games like poker, sports betting and bingo if you’re slightly younger. Precisely, the legal gambling age of playing bingo games in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware and Georgia is 18 years.

In Oregon, Montana, Rhode Island and New York, you can bet on online sports legally if you’re above 18 years. In Florida, Michigan and Minnesota, you can gain entry into some brick-and-mortar casinos if you’re above 18 years.

In Canada, the legal gambling age differs from one province to another. In Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, casinos welcome all players above 18 years. In other provinces, the legal gambling age is 19 years.

Iram Martins | Personal trainer. Aspiring sommelier. Brunch critic who works part-time. When I'm not competing, you'll find me at dog beaches with my black lab or sipping drinks at the best bars in town. I like to fly a lot.


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