Legal Constraints of Internet Gambling in Manitoba, Canada
What Canadian Law Books say about Manitoba Online Gambling in 2022.
Canada’s internet gambling laws are often misconstrued by the projected views of each provincial government. Some provinces have given the impression—if not outright stated—that gambling at an international website is illegal. However, the law books don’t seem to agree.
There are several reasons why Manitoba and other provinces and territories of Canada fall into what professional gambling analysts considered a ‘grey area‘ of the law. For one, these laws are mandated on multiple levels. First by the federal government, then by the corresponding laws of each province. Furthermore, until a legal dispute actually arises in the court system, there’s no definitive clarification to determine whether offshore casinos are illegal.
It Did Happen Once…
Only one case has ever been tried in Canada revolving around an illegal online casino. That company, Starnet Communications International, was found guilty of illegal gambling in 2001 by the BC Supreme Court. However, the only reason that operation was deemed illegal was because it had a physical presence in Canada.
Although licenced to operate by the government of Barbuda, Starnet had a local office in Vancouver. Thus we know for certain that an unauthorized online casino cannot have a physical presence in Canada, and accept Canadian customers. That is most definitely illegal.
As for most other Manitoba-facing online casinos who don’t have offices in Canada, they certainly don’t seem to be breaking any laws. Hundreds of internet gambling sites are housed and regulated offshore, and have accepted Canadians for years, yet no government has gone after them.
Let’s see exactly what the gambling laws of Manitoba, and Canada’s Criminal Code, have to say on the matter.
Gambling – Criminal Code of Canada
According to the Criminal Code, all forms of gambling are illegal unless authorized by a particular province or territory. The federal government defines various forms of gambling, and what constitutes illegal gambling, in lieu of authorization.
As per the Criminal Code, Part VII, Disorderly Houses, Gaming and Betting:
Defining Illegal Gambling in Canada
The following excerpts are taken from the Criminal Code, Part VII, Section 202, Betting, Pool-Selling, Book-Making, etc.
Manitoba Online Gambling Laws
Next, we’ll look at the other dominant factor – the internet gambling laws in Manitoba, Canada. The Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba (LGA) states:
The Liquor and Gaming Control Act defines all gaming that is authorized and regulated in Manitoba. It does not deal with any unauthorized activities. Thus we must fall back on the Criminal Code of Canada to determine what is and is not illegal.
There is one item of interest in Manitoba’s regulations, though. Under Part 2, Section 9, Agreements with other jurisdictions, the Act states:
This is important because Manitoba did just that in 2012. The government entered into an agreement with British Columbia that allows Manitobans to participate at Playnow.com, the provincially regulated online gambling website of the BC Lottery Corp.
What Does it All Mean?
As I said earlier, Manitoba—all of Canada, for that matter—falls into a grey area of the law when it comes to online gambling. But there are a few points in the laws above that we can piece together to come to some pretty clear conclusions.
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 Manitoba and/or Canada, please contact an attorney or local authorities.
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