Canada essentially gives each province the right to determine its own laws regarding gambling. However, cross-region gambling is not permitted under Canada’s Criminal Code. There are provinces which have taken a hard line, and there are some, such as British Columbia, which has got fully behind gambling. On this casino page, we will look at the gambling laws for British Columbia and lay out the rules for what residents of the province can and cannot do when it comes to betting.
Is Gambling Legal in British Columbia?
Firstly, British Columbia is far more open to gambling than virtually all other Canadian provinces and regions, except for Manitoba. All commercial gambling is run under the authority and regulation of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Charitable gambling, on the other hand, is licensed by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch.
The laws which govern gambling in British Columbia are known as the Gaming Control Act, and this is essentially what they mean for land-based betting…
Bingo Games: Any business which wishes to offer bingo games on a commercial scale to residents of British Columbia is invited to do so, provided they obtain a license from the BCLC.
Casino Games: Over fifteen casinos can be found in British Columbia, with one located on a First Nations territory. The Hard Rock Casino in Vancouver is the most notable of these. Casino gambling is legal in British Columbia if you are aged 19 or over.
Horse Racing: Canadians can place bets at racetracks, but there are not many of those to choose from. Fraser Downs is the only dedicated track in British Columbia. However, there are many other outlets and places where bets on horse racing are taken, and these are legal, too.
Lottery Games: The 6/4 and Lotto Max games are legal in Canada, and cover many provinces and regions, such as British Columbia. The BCLC also runs its own lottery games, and these are legal if you are aged 19 or over.
Sports Betting: Sports betting is also legal in British Columbia. You can place wagers at any convenience stores and licensed outlets. There are a few petite rules and regulations regarding what you can bet on and how to bet.
Others: Charitable gambling games are legal. However, these must be non-profit games, and a separate license must be acquired from the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch to offer them. Charitable gambling games are typically defined as raffles, bingo, wheel of fortune, and even poker at times.
What About Online Gambling?
British Columbia has legalised online gambling. However, playing online is not quite as straightforward as that sentence implies. While the concept of gambling online in British Columbia is legal, the provincial authorities want you to do it at a licensed and regulated website. Here is the kicker – there is only one of these active.
With that in mind, many British Columbians often venture further afield, namely to offshore casinos to gain access to a greater scope of games and gambling options. While frowned upon, this act is not illegal and falls into a grey-zone.
Canada’s Criminal Code forbids Canadians from playing at Canadian casinos outside of their province or region. As offshore casinos are not “Canadian casinos”, playing at them is considered a grey zone and within the parameters of the law. The fact that British Columbia has legalised online gambling (albeit at their own state-backed casino) be used as further proof that playing at offshore casinos is perfectly fine.
Licensed Betting Sites
British Columbia has only handed out a gambling license to one casino. Fortunately, it has almost everything a typical gambler would want to play. PlayNow (as it is known) was launched in 2004 and serves up sports betting, lottery, poker, bingo and of course, online casino games. While this is a naturally appealing (and perfectly legal) website to play at, there are often better options awaiting places just offshore, though.
Offshore Betting Sites
As mentioned, British Columbia has only legalised online gambling for one website. However, they have virtually conceded that gambling online itself is not illegal. With that in your mind, and in accordance with the “grey zone” mentioned above, many British Columbians regularly visit offshore casinos to play a variety of other gambling games.
Players will find no shortage of these international casinos and betting sites to play. Some of the types of venues you can expect to sign up to include:
- Online casinos
- Bingo rooms
- Poker rooms
- Online sportsbooks
- International lottery ticket sites, and more
Most of these offshore casinos will typically be licensed out of Malta, Curacao, or the United Kingdom. They will provide their services in English and accept players from British Columbia with ease. They will also likely offer the Canadian dollar as a currency option and accept popular payment methods such as Interac for you. Many of these foreign casinos and sites will also carry far more lavish promotions and bonuses that the province sponsored PlayNow casino, making them well worth a look.
Should I Play at Internet Betting Sites in British Columbia?
British Columbians have a choice to make. On the one hand, you can go for the perfectly legal PlayNow Casino. However, this is the only site licensed in the province, and while its services are admirable, they lack a few options compared to major international sites.
On the other, you can go to external sites, and there is nothing wrong with visiting offshore casinos. British Columbia does not punish its residents for doing this, even if they do frown upon it. You will likely find a wealth of extra games, promotions, and other perks in doing so.
On this casino page, you will find a host of top offshore casinos which accept players in British Columbia. Each has been checked to safety, security and fair play and passed with flying colours. Feel free to have a look at them, and maybe even sign up and play there, as there is nothing in the British Columbian gambling laws which says that you cannot do that.