Section VII of the Canadian Criminal Code addresses the legality of sports betting in Canada. As you can imagine, it’s a gripping read.
There is nothing specific in the Code that suggests it is illegal to bet online nor does Canada have an equivalent to the Wire Act in the US.
However, it is illegal to accept wagers in Canada (ie becoming a sportsbook) unless you meet certain conditions — which is why there are no Vegas style brick and mortar sportsbooks here. (There are, however, online sportsbooks such as Sports Interaction that are located on the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, about 15 minutes outside of Montreal.)
We know many people who make a living betting on sports professionally and they have never had an issue with the government.
Some people believe the Canadian law is in a bit of a grey area. While that may be true, consider this:
- Bowman’s, now owned by Bet365, advertises in Canadian media and even sponsors Toronto’s CFL team. You can see their banners at the Rogers Centre.
- Almost all sportsbooks will accept bets from Canadians. Only a handful of sportsbooks will not take bets from Canadians.
- To our knowledge, no one in Canada has been prosecuted for placing an online bet.
- The Canadian government allows many online sportsbooks to operate in Canada. Considering the laws are always tougher on the business accepting bets, we can conclude there is legal betting for Canadian residents until the government takes action against the sportsbooks operating within our borders.
Do I have to pay tax on sports gambling income?
As a general rule, the Canadian Revenue Agency doesn’t tax gambling winnings. That’s due to a variety of reasons, primarily because they don’t want you to be able to claim gambling losses as a tax deduction.
We wrote an extensive article that addresses the question “Are gambling winnings taxable in Canada?” in much further depth.