31 Dec

Deciphering Yukon Online Gambling Laws

Scrutiny and rationalization of online casino gambling laws Yukon.

Online Casino Gambling Laws YukonThe Yukon is a unique territory of Canada. It is the smallest of the three territories, sharing in their number one economic trade of mining. Despite its location as the northwestern-most region of the country, Yukon’s climate isn’t so extreme as the Northwest Territories (NT) or Nunavut. However, it has the least inhabitants of all Canadian jurisdictions, home to just 35.8k residents.

Tourism is big in the area. Yukon touts the motto, “Larger than life”, and if you’ve ever caught a glimpse of the picturesque landscape, you can understand why. Majestic mountains, lush forests, pristine rivers, lakes and hot springs, not to mention the enigmatic wonder of the Aurora Borealis (aka Northern Lights). What’s not to love?

With tourism being the second most important industry, Yukon has a 1-up on its fellow territories. It is the only one that presents a legal, regulated, land-based casino. Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall in Dawson City is the oldest casino in all of Canada, opened in 1971. It’s not a large casino, playing host to 60 slot machines and 8 table games. However, the historical landmark is only open during the height of tourism (May-September).

What About Online Gambling in Yukon?

We know gambling itself is legal in Yukon, but what about online gambling? That’s a much more complicated matter. When it comes to gambling, legislative rifts between territorial and federal governments make it hard to discern what is, and is not, legal.

Anything that is not defined one way or the other falls into what analysts and legal eagles refer to as a “grey area” of the law. Unfortunately, that’s where Yukon online gambling laws currently lie – in that translucent grey area.

In order to decipher the legal status of online casinos, we must examine both territorial and federal statutes. Here goes…

Online Casino Gambling Laws Yukon

Under Statues of the Yukon‘s Liquor Act, it says very little about gambling. That’s because the federal government determines all gambling to be illegal, while giving Canadian provinces and territories the right to legislate and regulate certain forms of gambling, thereby making them legal.

According to Section 70 of the Yukon Liquor Act:

Conduct on licensed premises
70(1) No licensee, and no person employed in any premises in respect of which a licence has been issued, shall…

Meaning

(c) permit any gambling to take place in the premises; or

Patrons cannot gamble…

(d) permit any slot machine or any device used for gambling to be placed, kept, or maintained in the premises.

Slot machines and other gambling devices are illegal on any premises.

(2) Paragraphs (1)(c) and (d) do not apply in respect of premises in respect of which a licence or permit has been issued to a person on behalf of a non-profit organization under section 48 or 53 if the gambling is authorized to be carried on under a licence issued under the Criminal Code (Canada).

Gambling is illegal on any premises unless that place is licenced to permit gambling.

(3) Paragraph (1)(c) does not apply to the sale of tickets in a raffle that is licensed under the Lottery Licensing Act. S.Y. 2002, c.140, s.70

Gambling, as an illegal activity, does not apply to the Lotteries Yukon, as managed by the Western Canadian Lottery Corp.

The Lottery Licensing Act states:

Eligibility Meaning
2(1) Any charitable organization is eligible to receive a licence under this Act. Only charitable organizations are able to apply for and receive a licence to conduct legal gambling.

Yukon Online Gambling Laws per the Criminal Code

The federal government has ultimate control over the legality of gambling. The Criminal Code states that all gambling is illegal. However, Section 207(1) gives provinces and territories the right to legalize and regulate gambling, if they wish.

207 (1) …it is lawful

Meaning

(a) for the government of a province, either alone or in conjunction with the government of another province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in that province, or in that and the other province, in accordance with any law enacted by the legislature of that province;

Yukon can legalize gambling, so long as there’s a regulatory body appointed to licence and oversee the activity. The government has already done so, aligning with the Western Canadian Lottery Corp to supply lottery and Sports Select services in the territory.

What Does It All Mean?

The Yukon does not permit the online sale of lottery tickets or Sports Select tickets. These may only be purchased at a local, licenced retailer. Thus, for the time being, there is no Yukon-regualted online gambling site.

Yukon laws state that any gambling activity conducted on a premises and without a licence is illegal. Because the activity requires a premises, or physical location, Yukon has no right to impose its laws or penalties to any international online casino operator.

Canada doesn’t seem to have jurisdiction over offshore online gambling sites, either, even if they are accepting players and deposits from Canada. To support this point is evidence dating back nearly two decades.

BC Canada vs. Starnet

In 2001, an online gambling operator, Starnet Communications International, was charged with illegal gambling. The case was heard in the BC Courts. The operator was accepting Canadian players and deposits from its licenced servers in Antigua. The courts took no issue with any of the activities, but found Starnet guilty based on one single fact. The company had a secondary office in Vancouver. Its downfall was its physical presence on Canadian soil.

No other operator has ever been subject to charges of illegal gambling in Canada. Until (and if ever) that happens, there is no precedence to call online gambling illegal. Therefore, online casino gambling is legal in Yukon.

Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers, and are not qualified or attempting to offer legal advice. The following is our personal interpretation of current legislation. For precise clarification of the laws in Yukon and/or Canada, please contact an attorney or local authorities.

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