The gambling laws in force in Canada are regulated on a bilateral platform. The federal government decides in the highest instance what belongs to gambling and what does not. However, as a province, BC has independent power to decide on regulation and legalization. In order to offer gambling in British Columbia, a BC Gaming License is required and stands for safe and secure gambling. Who receives the license and what other requirements there are, will be discussed in more detail below.
The checkup: These facts are important to know
- Casinos in BC: Immediately near Vancouver there are numerous traditional and established casinos, but also a large number of online casinos are available that have got an official license.
- Participation limit: To play, gamblers must be at least 19 years old.
- Supervision: The regulatory authority is the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of Ministry of Finance.
- Revenues: The BC gaming industry turns over more than 1 billion USD per year.
The rules in gambling for British Columbia
In BC, the so-called Gaming Control Act (GCA) is the main point of contact for the regulation of gambling. It was passed to enable gambling in the province that complies with the Federal Laws of Canada. The GCA contains the most important guidance and rules as to when gambling is considered legal within British Columbia. The following rules are important:
- If a one-time gambling event is planned to support charitable projects, the GPEB must issue a license to conduct it. If the initiator is a non-commercial person or organization, such gambling may be conducted in the established gambling establishments.
- All authorities within BC have the right to establish their own casino and thus offer state gambling. Private companies do not have this right, they are only allowed to operate a casino (including online casinos) if they have obtained a valid license from the authorities.
Crucially, the conditions set by the province must always comply with Canadian laws as well. Canada first legalized gambling in 1985, but in British Columbia it has only been permitted to gamble since 2004, while online sports betting has only been allowed to be offered at all since 2021.
Which online casinos offer gambling in British Columbia?
Finding the right casino implies comparing different providers. Even though the rules in BC are quite straightforward, it can have a significant impact on the gaming fun whether the right establishment is really used.
It is of utmost importance that the online casino holds a reputable license, this should be the first thing you look at. Without the appropriate license, it is not allowed to participate in external casino gaming in BC. As an alternative, only the state providers with their established gaming houses remain.
Another aspect to look at is the support, which should be available in the customer’s own language. Reputable providers make it a point to always have a contact person available for customers with questions, but there are considerable differences here. The focus should be on a domestic phone number and live chat. Reviews are another criterion for finding the best deals in BC. Many reputable websites provide clear reviews that contain criticisms and praise without embellishment. This way, especially beginners can find out which casino really suits them.
Legal or not? Gambling is possible in BC with impunity
The question that many consumers continue to ask is whether gambling is even legal in BC. For a long time it was not, but the province has suited its harsh attitude. Anyone who is 19 or older, in a sound state of mind, and enjoys gambling is allowed to participate. Provincial officials operate their own gambling website in BC, but it is not mandatory to use it. Online casino games offered externally may also be used.
So-called offshore casinos often have their license from legal external regulators like Malta or Curaçao. It is not illegal to participate in these games in BC. The only problem that may arise is that there is no support from the BC judiciary in case of litigation. However, such cases do not occur on a regular basis either, because if an authority like the gambling regulator in Malta issues a license, it is a serious offer!
BC as a gray area? An example from Quebec
In Quebec, state officials demanded that websites offering offshore gambling no longer be accessible to consumers. The provincial government declared this measure to be in compliance with the law, but court officials challenged the implementation, citing censorship and unconstitutionality. As a result, Canadian citizens in Quebec are once again able to participate in classic gambling from foreign operators. The same applies to BC with a special feature. Providers outside Canada are not allowed to have a physical presence for consumers.
This nevertheless means that no advertising may be placed, because this in turn can be prevented by the authorities in BC. British Columbia is considered the gray area for many lawyers and courts when it comes to gambling on offshore websites. Therefore, it is good to once again shed some light on the applicable rules and relieve players of some of the anxiety that often surrounds them when using gambling services:
- All BC residents 19 years of age and older are allowed to participate in government-run online gambling.
- It is NOT illegal to gamble in offshore casinos.
- International casino operators that do not have a physical presence in BC and that adhere to basic gambling regulations (age, fairness, gambling addiction offer) are not breaking any rules when they allow BC players to enter their offer.
- Players cannot be penalized for participating in an available offer in BC, even if the license is from abroad.
Conclusion: Fair conditions for gambling in British Columbia
Globally, many countries have now decided to intervene in the gambling process in a regulatory manner. Whether it’s Great Britain, Austria, Germany, and of course the US itself, laws are being passed everywhere that ban gambling in parts, legalize it, or limit the selection of potential games. The conditions for gambling in BC have been set by the authorities to the best of their knowledge, without restricting players too much. The focus actually seems to be on protecting players from illegal offers, and serious offers may be officially participated in.