How Does Offshore iGaming Impact Canada?

Realistic impact of Canadian online betting with international sites.

The Realistic Impact of Canadian Online Betting with International Websites

It was more than two decades ago now that the online gambling industry skidded across the proverbial tarmac to its launch. Times were far different in the 1990s. Computers, and the internet in particular, were still striving for mainstream household status. Security technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is today. Legal restrictions were virtually non-existent. At that time, everyone who trusted internet gambling enough to partake in its immaturity did so with operators all over the world.

Today, with global online and mobile gambling businesses generating billions of dollars each year, most governments are encouraging – if not legally mandating – residents to do their iGaming with a locally regulated operator. Odds are, if you live in a jurisdiction where internet gaming is legal, your government is taking steps to keep your wagering dollars within their jurisdictional borders.

Canada is one such nation. Every province that delivers a home-grown iGaming service (all but Alberta and Saskatchewan) encourages local play. The difference between Canada and some other jurisdictions, including numerous European and US states, is that Canadians can gamble at any website they wish. In Canada, iGaming is legal for players whether the online casino is locally regulated, or internationally operated. Freedom of choice is fantastic, but as is true of most things in life, every choice you make has an impact.

Canadian Online Betting with Offshore Sites

Our government tells us we should never gamble with offshore websites. So what is it that makes these websites so bad? According to provincial governments, there are three primary problems. We’ll take a look at these claims and dissect the reality of each situation.

#1 No Benefit to Provincial Coffers (True)

First and foremost, offshore sites aren’t providing our provinces with any revenue. The government has stated many times that millions of dollars are flowing offshore due to Canadians gambling with international websites. There’s no arguing with them on this one. They are 100% right.

If you lost $100 at BC’s PlayNow online casino, that money goes to the BC Lottery Corp, which reinvests it back into BC communities. If you lose $100 at Maltese-licensed Royal Vegas Casino, that money never sees the Canadian light of day again.

#2 Lack of Regulation / Player Protection (False)

Canadian provinces say international gambling websites are not regulated, and that they do not protect players from the potential harms of gambling. To address that first point, international gambling sites are, indeed, regulated. They just aren’t regulated here in Canada. The most reputable ones are regulated in European jurisdictions (UK, Malta, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, etc.), where player protections are actually more strict than Canadian law.

For instance, in the UK, licensees are required to monitor all gambling activity and intervene when at-risk behavior is detected, encouraging players to take a break and think about the potential consequences of their spending. Voluntary self-exclusion and deposit limits can be set by players. Regular software audits and fairness certification is mandatory. This is hardly different from the GameSense program promoted by most Canadian provinces.

#3 Offshore Gambling Sites are Illegal (False)

On several occasions, our provincial government’s have gone so far as to say international gambling websites are illegal. Anyone with a basic understanding of the English language, and the patience to read the relevant text in the Criminal Code, knows that’s not true.

Online casinos games, poker games, bingo games, etc. – these are not illegal. We can play them at Canada’s land-based casinos, as well as some of the nation’s provincial online casinos, so long as we are physically located in the province that offers them. We can also play them at international gambling websites, despite those claims.

Province’s like to call them illegal because it is illegal for them to offer some of those games. Take single-event sports betting for example. The Criminal Code says single-event sports betting cannot be authorized or presented to Canadians. It is illegal to do so. However, the law does not states Canadians can place single-event sports bets. The penalty of law lies with the receiver of the bettor, not the placer of the bet.

Offshore betting sites are not bound by Canadian law. If single-event sports betting is permitted in the country that regulates the website, it can be offered to Canadian players without consequence. Therefore, it is perfectly legal for Canadians to bet on sports, so long as the bets are placed with an international sportsbook.

What’s Better – Domestic or International iGaming?

That is a question that can only be answered by the person doing the gambling. If your home province offers an iGaming website that meets all of your needs and wagering desires, by all means, utilize its services. At the least, your losses will go back into the community. If you want more from your iGaming experience, so long as you only gamble at reputable, strictly regulated websites, you will be perfectly protected, and are not doing anything illegal.

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