Online Gambling’s Legality in Manitoba
As is the case in all Canadian provinces, providing online gambling services in Manitoba is prohibited unless carried out by a state-run operator. For years, no such operator in Manitoba existed, but the success of British Columbia’s PlayNow site – launched in 2004, and owned and regulated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) – changed perceptions within the Manitoba government.
In 2013, Manitoba approved the launch of its own online gambling site, adopting the same business model as the BCLC and sharing its PlayNow platform. As a result, PlayNow Manitoba now operates under the wing of the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA). The site hosts a great selection of casino games, supplied by developing giants like IGT, Bally, and Big Time Gaming.
However, our guide wouldn’t mean much if it were just a review of a government-controlled site. Although Canadian gambling laws makes any service provided by a private operator illegal, there’s nothing in the legislation that forbids Canadian residents from playing at sites regulated in foreign gambling territories. As such, our references to the best online casinos in Manitoba refer to any site that Manitobans can access around the world. These sites are perfectly safe and illegal to play at, licensed by respected gambling bodies such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Malta Gaming Authority, and others.
The ‘Grey Zone’
This contradiction in legislation – that Canadians are legally allowed to gamble online, but no operators are permitted to provide this service within Canada’s borders – has led to plenty of confusion over the years. So much so that the term the ‘grey zone’ has come to represent this liminal space between legislation.
The grey zone refers to the practice of gambling at an offshore site from within Canada, signifying all the lost revenue potential as this practice takes place. In Atlantic Canada alone, for example, it’s thought that roughly $100m is lost at offshore gambling sites every year.
These financial losses have caused many Canadians on the ground and in parliament to argue for changes to Canada’s gambling laws. The launching of state-run sites over the past decade or so is part of this change, but many argue that this doesn’t go far enough – Canadians are still gambling at offshore sites, and revenue opportunities continue to be missed.