30 Nov

Is it Legal to Gambling Online in NL, Canada?

Current online gambling laws of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Online Gambling Laws of Newfoundland and LabradorThere was a time – a very long time – when gambling was thoroughly outlawed in Newfoundland and Labrador. Across all of Canada, in fact. You couldn’t play cards, you couldn’t shoot dice or play slot machines, you couldn’t even play bingo or buy a lottery ticket. For most of you reading this, that might seem unfathomable. If you happen to be 40+ years old, however, you may remember those days well.

Fortunately, Canada – and many of its provinces – have relaxed their gambling laws a lot since then. Unfortunately, Newfoundland and Labrador only went so far. There’s good and bad news, though. Actually, it’s good news, bad news, and then more good news.

Gambling Online in NL, Canada: The Good & Bad

The first good news is that the province’s gambling activities are under the regulation of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC). This group provides regulation for Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

ALC runs its own internet gambling website, via ALC.ca, which confirms online gambling is legal in Newfoundland and Labrador. They recently launched a companion ALC mobile app as well, with the same gambling options via Android/iOS smartphones and tablets.

The bad news is that the ALC provides a very limited range of internet gaming activities. ALC.ca presents players with an opportunity to purchase lottery draw tickets, instant win tickets, instant bingo games (iBingo), and Canada’s infamous PRO•LINE sports wagers.

The other good news is that, because Canada’s gambling laws are so lax, it is not illegal to gamble at offshore casino websites. They are regulated by international jurisdictions, providing the same level of security and fairness. they just happen to offer a much wider range of betting options, including casino, poker, and more versatile sports betting.

Online Gambling Laws of Newfoundland and Labrador

I’m not just going to relay my estimation that online gambling is legal in Newfoundland and Labrador and leave it at that. If some random person on the internet told me they found Jimmy Hoffa’s body, I’d want proof.

I’m no legal-eagle, either. I don’t have a degree in law. But I have done a lot of research into the matter, and there are many gaming law specialists right here in Canada who came to the same conclusion, based on the same evidence.

Gambling & the Criminal Code of Canada

First things first, gambling is not legalized or outlawed on a federal level. Individual provinces and territories are responsible for handling all gambling regulation. The Criminal Code merely defines gambling, and how those jurisdictions may authorize it.

It’s also worth noting that only unregulated gambling activities that take place physically within Canada are considered illegal, punishable offences. With that in mind, we’ll look at a portion of Section 202, which describes the illegal promotion of gambling in Canada.

202 (1) Everyone commits an offence who…Meaning
(f) prints, provides or offers to print or provide information intended for use in connection with book-making, pool-selling or betting on any horse-race, fight, game or sport, whether or not it takes place in or outside Canada or has or has not taken place;It is illegal for any person or business in Canada to provide or help provide online gambling services without a licence from a provincial regulator. International operators have never been subject to this law unless they have a physical presence in Canada.
(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 immaterialIt is illegal to promote online gambling services to Canadians. So long as an international online casino’s services and promotions are not geared towards Canada specifically, there’s no law being broken by accepting Canadian players, or providing them the same services and promotions as players from other regions.

Provincial Online Gambling Authorized

Next up is how Canadian provinces can handle online gambling regulation. According to Section 207 of the Criminal Code…

207 (1) …it is lawfulMeaning
(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;The provinces and territories of Canada, at their discretion, may authorize and regulate an online gambling market. They may also work in tandem with other provinces/territories to share an online gambling market, as the Atlantic Provinces have done through ALC.


What Does NL Law Say About Gambling?

NL doesn’t say much at all about gambling activities, except for defining the types of “lotteries and gaming” available. There are those conducted by the ALC, which raise money for the government. Then there are those conducted by charitable organizations, raising money for their individual charities.

ALC Push for Online Casino, Poker Games

It took the ALC a long time to receive final approval for its iGaming activities. The regulator wasn’t exactly happy about how limited those activities have been. ALC has been pushing for expansion ever since. The recent launch of the ALC mobile app was a big win for them. But it wasn’t enough.

For years, ALC has debated the need for a full-scale gambling site, complete with online casino and poker games. They simply can’t compete with offshore operators when limited to lottery, instant bingo and unfavorable PRO•LINEs.

The following statement comes from a 2014 report beseeching the Atlantic provinces to expand their iGaming horizons:

Atlantic Canadians are spending millions of dollars annually on [internationally regulated] 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.”

This statement alludes to one very interesting point. The regulator knows there’s nothing in the law books that can stop internationally regulated gambling websites from accepting Canadians, or stop players in Newfoundland and Labrador from accessing them. If there were, the ALC would beseech the government to go after them in court. Instead, they implore the government for an expansion of services to compete with them.
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 Newfoundland and Labrador, and/or Canada, please contact an attorney or local authorities.

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