Learn 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, opened its doors in 2015.
The timeline for online gambling is a bit more complex. Locals have been enjoying access to iGaming websites since the late 1990s. That’s when the first online casinos launched from international locations, welcoming players from all over the world. The offshore gambling industry evolved dramatically over the next two decades. It wasn’t until August 2020 that New Brunswick began offering a locally authorized and regulated online gambling portal.
All of these facts combine to answer the primary question of the day.
Is online gambling legal in New Brunswick?
It’s pretty clear that yes, online gambling is legal. New Brunswick is no stranger to the gaming market. As unpretentious as the province is, it hosts two destination-style resort casinos, plus an online lottery, casino, and sports betting website.
Word on the street, however, is that the local iGaming portal is, well… underwhelming. Yes, it has some admirable qualities, the most important of which is local regulation. That translates to an overall safer experience with standard security and player protections. We absolutely encourage residents to make use of this option for their iGaming needs.
We also know that a moiety of New Brunswickers outsource their iGaming needs to offshore websites. So, for this margin of the community, we will explore New Brunswick’s gambling laws to see if there’s any need for concern. To do this, we have to start at the top level – federal law.
Federal Gambling Laws of New Brunswick
In order to delineate the legalities of gambling, one must understand the hierarchy of governance. It’s pretty simple. Federal law determines what can be made legal by individual provinces. Provinces determine what forms of gambling, if any, to legalize. They then coordinate a government agency to regulate legalized gambling activities.
“Gaming in Canada is governed by the Criminal Code of Canada. Under that statute, generally speaking, gambling is unlawful unless it is conducted and managed by the province (or a body authorized by the province to license gaming on its behalf) or licensed by a provincial government.”
In New Brunswick, that agency is the New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corporation, or NBLGC for short. The NBLGC is responsible for the regulation of all gaming activities, except for charitable gaming and harness racing. Those activities are regulated by the Gaming, Liquor and Security Licensing Branch, a division of the Department of Public Safety.
The NBLGC is the regulator, but that agency passes the conduction of iGaming on to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC). As its name implies, the ALC oversees online gaming operations in all of the Atlantic Provinces. These include New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
Next, we’ll look at what NBLGC/ALC can legally offer to the local iGaming community. To do this, we must first look to the Criminal Code for guidance and 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.
New Brunswick Gambling Laws Limited in Application
We could list a lot of regulatory scripture as it pertains to online gambling in New Brunswick, but the truth is, those laws apply only to authorized gambling. That means they apply to ALC.ca, and the iGaming products they offer to people in New Brunswick.
33 No person, other than the government of the Province or an agency of the government or a person otherwise authorized or licensed by or under the authority of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council pursuant to the Criminal Code (Canada), shall conduct or manage a lottery scheme.
Only the provincial government (or authorized agent thereof) can conduct online gambling. As we already know, the NBLGC and ALC are the only authorized agents.
All other applicable laws are geared toward authorized lottery schemes. As we’ve established, the ALC operates the only licenced gambling portal in New Brunswick. Therefore, all laws in the Gaming Control Act, Regulations Act, or any other applicable statutes, apply only to NBLGC, ALC, or any authorized agents or assistants below them.
These laws do not apply to any other online gambling websites or operators, such as those operating from overseas. Therefore, foreign operations must fall under the laws of the Criminal Code (as detailed above). That brings us to our next point of observation…
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 reviewing 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 in NB?
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. Furthermore, 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, 19+) can gamble at the ALC’s online gaming portal. They may also bet online at an international gambling website. Both are perfectly legal; or at the least, not illegal. So long as the website is authorized in New Brunswick (as is the case with ALC.ca), or has no physical presence or targeted promotion of services in Canada, no laws are being violated.
Even if an operator were in violation of the law, only the operator would be at risk of penalty. According to the gambling laws of New Brunswick and Canada, players are under no legal obligation to abstain from online casino gambling, regardless of the website’s location.
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.
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.