Overview of Gambling in Canada
Before understanding the dynamics of gaming market and online gambling industry in Canada, it makes sense to get an overview of gambling in the country. For most gamblers, it is hard to believe that gambling was not allowed in Canada until 1969. According to the Canadian law enacted in 1892, gambling was a criminal activity. However, attitudes changed in the later half of the 19th century as Canadian authorities realized that revenues from gambling can be used to support various Federal programs. Therefore, in 1971, the government passed Manitoba Lotteries Act, which allowed regulated casinos and organizations to operate lotteries, raffles and games like bingo. As such, proceeds from these games helped support government and various charities in the region.
However, it was not until the turn of the Millennium that large land-based Casino was opened at Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Amazingly, it took another five years before Manitoba officially acknowledged the benefits of online gambling site. To provide an online gambling environment to the residents, the provincial government initiated a contract with British Colombia to design an official gambling website where anyone can legally gamble. The website PlayNow.com allows Manitoba residents to play online poker, casino games, and sports betting, among a variety of other games that were only available at traditional casinos.
Online Gambling in Canada – What the law says?
Before commenting on online laws in Manitoba, understanding online gambling restrictions in Canada is also important. Basically, it is fair to say that online gambling rules in Canada are in the grey area. The grey area is a result of inadequate provisions about online gambling. For instance, there is not a single clause in the Canadian legislature that specifically states that online gambling is not allowed. At the same time, it also does not mean that everyone can gamble online. For instance, anyone found gambling underage can be charged.
Despite the fact that the written laws on online gambling are not clear, complexities may arise due to the implementation of laws. For instance, online gambling is different in the sense that a player is not physically present in the area. Therefore, the law becomes muddled considering that a person gambling online in Canada may also be subject to the rules of the territory where the online casino is located. Similarly, there are hundreds of different provisions and rules that are new to lawmakers when it comes to online gambling. Therefore, it can be suggested that even if there are specific rules for online gambling, implementation and interpretation of those rules is another thing. Perhaps, it is precisely the reason why there is no one charged for online gambling in Canada.
The Matter of Jurisdiction
Regarding online gambling, jurisdiction plays a very important role. For example, if a resident of Manitoba is gambling online somewhere in England, the resident may be subjected to the laws of Manitoba and England. Of Course, if online gambling is allowed in England, the resident of Manitoba only needs to understand the laws of Manitoba. ‘
On the other hand, a different ruling may be applied if a resident of Quebec rents an apartment in Manitoba and engages in online gambling in England. In this hypothetical scenario, the gambler may be subjected to the laws of Quebec, Manitoba and England, whichever is applicable.
Still, it is also possible for a resident of Manitoba to be penalized if the gambler plays in an illegal online casino in a country where online gambling is prohibited. Overall, it can be stated that the implementation of online gambling laws is a relatively new phenomenon and it is mostly a matter of jurisdiction.
Is Online Gambling Allowed in Manitoba?
The Canadian government has allowed every individual province to make its own laws pertaining to gambling. Therefore, residents of Manitoba are subjected to the laws of the province. Accordingly, there is no specific law in the province that states that online gambling is illegal. Similarly, there is no case proceeding where the provincial authority has given the verdict against online gambling. Therefore, it means that online gambling is “unofficially” allowed.
There are few major reasons, which indicates that the provincial government does not mind online gambling – at least for now. First, the province has setup its own online gambling website, playnow.com, which encourages online gambling activities. Secondly, Manitoba has never indicted anyone for online gambling even when it is well-known that thousands of residents continue to gamble using international gambling websites. Most importantly, the provincial government has not shown any intention to specifically craft laws to regulate online gambling industry in the province. The lack of interest shown by the provincial authorities is a sign that online gambling by residents is not a big issue.
Perhaps, the recent debate on the legalities of online gambling in the province started when certain prominent international gambling websites ceased their online operations in Manitoba and other provinces of Canada. To most gamblers, who were used to playing at one of the online gambling websites, the exodus of the companies was a potential sign of distress. As a result, rumors began to circulate that the Canadian government and its provinces are cracking down on online gambler. However, it is pertinent to state that the exit of various International firms from the online gambling scene is due to the problems with legal and operational setup. Unlike individuals, international gambling websites are required to abide by a multitude of local and international laws.
The Final Verdict
Overall, it can be summarized that there is no particular law in Manitoba that deals with online gambling issue. As thousands of residents of Manitoba continue to use the official online gambling website of the government and various international websites, the provincial government may not be interested in developing online gambling laws, as yet. Gamblers in Manitoba can safely access online gambling websites, but it is also important for them to stay away from fraudulent activities that may get them in trouble with law enforcement, irrespective of the location.