Online Gambling in Quebec: Laws and Regulations
If we are to believe popular belief that Canada is the most liberal country in the world, we would think that anything goes there. Well, luckily, when gambling is concerned, this widespread belief might not be too far from the truth. The reformed 1970 Criminal Code of Canada allows individual provinces and territories to decide whether or not their citizens will be able to gamble, and, again, luckily for players and punters in Canada, many have decided to allow gambling and betting on sports.
Possibly no province has managed to capitalize on these changes more than Quebec. The local government in Quebec was well aware of the potential and impact that gambling revenue can have on the local economy, which is why they legalized and regulated gambling under the jurisdiction of Quebec Alcohol, Racing and Gaming Commission (Québec Régie des Alcools des Courses et des Jeux).
In this article, we are going to explore gambling laws pertaining to gambling in Quebec, primarily online gaming, and tell you more about the online gambling options in Quebec.
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What Forms of Gambling are Allowed Under Quebec Laws?
Quebec is a unique Canadian province for more reasons than just being bilingual and the largest province in Canada. Their stance on gambling is quite advanced and liberal, which led to the establishment of land-based casinos, racetracks, slot machine facilities, and poker rooms. All of these are entirely legal and regulated under Quebec laws.
The regulatory job was passed on Quebec Alcohol, Racing and Gaming Commission — Quebec’s gambling regulatory body. The mission of managing and conducting gambling in Quebec’s territory is in the sole prerogative of the state lottery company – Loto Quebec.
This state-managed provider is the only legal and regulated provider of gaming services offered in four of their land-based casinos where players can enjoy thousands of slots and table games like blackjack, roulette, and poker, plus keno and a variety of electronic machines. Also, there are various facilities across Quebec, like bingo halls, poker rooms, and betting shops, where you can enjoy social bingo, draw lotteries and betting on sports, political, and cultural events.
With the rise of online gambling and online casinos, more and more players are opting to play their favourite casino games from the comfort of their homes, and even on the go. Where does Quebec stand on that?
Canadian Gambling Laws — Is Gambling Online Allowed in Quebec?
Under Quebec law, online gambling is perfectly legal if conducted under a licensed and regulated operator. In the case of Quebec, that operator is Loto Quebec, and Loto Quebec only. Loto Quebec launched its online gambling site Espace Jeux back in 2012 as a bid to corral all online gamblers under a single website that will guarantee their safety and fairness of the games. It is overseen by the Quebec Alcohol, Racing and Gaming Commission, as are all other forms of gambling.
At Espacejeux.com, you will find a range of gambling games like lottery tickets, sports betting, casino games that include slots, table games and even a Live Casino, plus bingo and poker games. Players aged 18 and more are allowed to set up a real account and play real money games at Espacejeux.com, while across other provinces in Canada, that legal age limit is 19.
Espacejeux.com is available in both English and French and includes several payment methods players can use to deposit funds in their account, like Credit card or Visa Debit (except prepaid cards and corporate cards), Online bill payment (all you need to do is add Espacejeux as a payee in your online personal banking profile), Interac online, and Argent Web coupon.
Furthermore, winnings made from online gambling or all other forms of gambling are not taxable under Canadian law, so there is no need for you to report them to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Is Gambling in Offshore Casinos Legal in Quebec?
Things are not so clear cut in Canada’s gambling laws when it comes to offshore sites. Under the Canada Federal Law, no online casino or betting site operators unregulated and unlicensed by individual provinces are allowed to establish and run their gambling business from within Canada and its borders.
The only exception to this rule is seen with the enactment of the Kahnawake Gaming Law by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and the State of Canada. This 1999 law enabled the establishment of casinos and gambling facilities on territories under the tribal governance and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission — a regulatory body dealing with licensing gambling operators on their lands. So, all those operators that run their operations from the Mohawk Kahnawake territory can offer their gambling services to Canadians.
The Federal law might clearly specify the prohibition of running online casinos and betting sites from within Canada, but it does not explicitly ban players from accessing offshore online casinos.
Apparently, this didn’t bode well for the local Quebec government which, in 2016, legislated an unprecedented law in Canada, the infamous Bill 74. The aim of this Bill was to preserve the province-run monopole by Loto Quebec and ban all offshore online casinos by scraping their sites, leaving only that of EspaceJeux. The provisions of the law gave power to the Ministry of Finances to order Internet Service Providers to IP-block online gambling sites and, in case ISP’s failed to do, they could face $100k fines.
However, The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) challenged the case and, in 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada (Cour Suprême Du Canada) reached a verdict that lifted the ban in Quebec and declared such legislation unconstitutional and under Federal jurisdiction and not provincial one.
This effectively means that Canadians are given the right to choose which gambling providers they want to use for gaming and how they want to play their games.
What to Look For When Choosing an Offshore Online Casino?
Only because they are offshore online casinos and betting sites, that does not mean they are not safe and fair. There are some guidelines Canadians should consider before playing in online casinos:
- Licenses and Independent Audits: There are various globally acclaimed licensing organizations that are a guarantee of casino’s fairness and safety, such as the UK Gambling Commission, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, and the Malta Gaming Authority. Furthermore, if the given casino software has been tested by independent iGaming audit agencies like eCOGRA and iTech Labs, then Canadian players have little to worry about playing at online casinos with their stamps of approval.
- Bonuses: Make sure to check out what sort of bonuses these casinos offer and what are their conditions. Most of them would offer hefty welcome bonuses for new registrations, so look around, compare them, and see where you can get the best for your sign up.
- Payment Options: Payment options are vital when choosing an online casino. Although players are not banned from offshore casinos, the government might want to curb their financial transactions, so the casinos that offer methods that Canadians can use, like Interac, ecoPayz, iDebit/Instadebit, might be the best choice.