Exploring the online casino gambling laws of New Brunswick, Canada.
New Brunswick has one of the shortest timelines of all Canadian provinces in terms of legal casino gambling. The first casino licence was granted in 2008, followed by the grand opening of Casino New Brunswick in 2010. The region’s second casino, Grey Rock Casino, went live in 2015.
Aside from charitable gaming and harness racing, all gambling activities in New Brunswick are regulated by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC). In fact, the ALC regulates the same activities for all of the Atlantic provinces of Canada. (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.)
For years, the ALC has been pushing for the regulation of online gambling in these provinces. In 2014, the corporation published a report imploring local government’s to recognize the “competitive reality” of the online gambling industry. The ALC said:
“In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion in gaming technology and accessibility. Along with it came the introduction of more than 2,500 unregulated online gaming providers from places like Malta and Gibraltar.”
It’s worth pointing that what ALC calls “unregulated online gaming providers”, aren’t actually unregulated. The vast majority of them are regulated, just not in Canada. They are licenced and in compliance with equally strict and player-protective laws of their local jurisdictions (i.e. “Gibraltar and Malta”).
The ALC goes on to state:
“Atlantic Canadians are spending millions of dollars annually on these gambling sites that operate outside of any regulations established by our governments. Unlike Atlantic Lottery, those sites’ profits don’t stay in the region to support our communities. As is the case in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, a safe and regulated alternative would advance player protection in Atlantic Canada.”
Online Casino Gambling in New Brunswick
In New Brunswick, the ALC does provide some forms of online gambling. The ALC website and a recently launched Atlantic Lottery App provide online and mobile access to scheduled lottery draw tickets, instant win tickets, internet bingo games, and Pro Line sports betting.
Following years of government debate, however, ALC’s desire to launch provincially regulated online casino gambling, mimicking the previous regulations of BC, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, has been constantly denied.
So the question remains… If online gambling is not regulated in New Brunswick, is it legal/illegal for residents to participate in gambling with offshore online casinos?
Online Casino Gambling Laws of New Brunswick
The government’s own website, Gaming in New Brunswick, states that, “Gaming in Canada is governed by the Criminal Code of Canada.” Therefore we must turn to the Criminal Code for clarification.
Section 202 of the Criminal Code designates that all forms of gambling are illegal unless authorized and managed by the province, or a regulatory body authorized by the province.
(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;
Any provincial/territorial government of Canada can authorize and regulate an online gambling operation, and can make agreements to share player bases between other provincial/territorial governments, at their joint discretion.
Most Offshore Online Casinos Are Not Illegal
Although any unauthorized form of gambling is, by definition of the Criminal Code, illegal, it only applies to operators within Canada’s jurisdictional reach. We substantiate this fact by a case in the British Columbia Supreme Court back in 2001.
BC went after an online gambling company called Starnet Communications International. The province claimed it was an illegal gambling service. The court system agreed, based solely on the fact that Starnet had one office in Vancouver. The main headquarters (and licence) were actually in Barbuda. But because the company did have a physical presence in Canada, it was illegal.
No other offshore online casino has ever been charged with illegal gambling. Likewise, no other operator that accepts New Brunswick players maintains a physical presence in the country. Therefore it stands to reason that provinces—which would surely go after any operator they believe they can defeat in court—are not within their jurisdictional right to charge them with illegal gambling.
What Casino Websites Are Illegal?
There is one particular part of the Criminal Code that applies here. The following is found in Section 202, relating to the promotion of gambling services in Canada.
202 (1) Everyone commits an offence who
(g) imports or brings into Canada any information or writing that is intended or is likely to promote or be of use in gambling, book-making, pool-selling or betting on a horse-race, fight, game or sport, and where this paragraph applies it is immaterial
It is illegal to promote any gambling service in Canada, whether the gambling event takes place in or outside of Canada.
(h) advertises, prints, publishes, exhibits, posts up, or otherwise gives notice of any offer, invitation or inducement to bet on, to guess or to foretell the result of a contest, or a result of or contingency relating to any contest;
Same as above. Firthermore, this section also prevents provincially regulated online casinos from providing bonuses and VIP programs as an incentive to players.
What Does It All Mean
New Brunswick residents (of legal age) have every right to participate in online casino gambling at offshore, international websites. Without a physical presence or specific promotion of services in Canada, operators are not violating any laws.
Either way, only an operator in violation of the law would be at risk. Players are under no legal obligation to abstain from online casino gambling in New Brunswick.
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 New Brunswick and/or Canada, please contact an attorney or local authorities.
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Adalene Lucas: is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.