Online Gambling’s Legality in Saskatchewan
Canada’s gambling laws are controlled at the provincial level. The Saskatchewan government, like all the other provincial governments, is therefore free to choose its own regulations – an approach that’s caused lots of confusion for potential online gamblers in Canada over the years.
Officially, online gambling across Canada is considered illegal, unless the practice is conducted at a state-run site. In Saskatchewan, no such site currently exists, but the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, commonly known as Sask Gaming, recently struck an agreement with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) to develop one. This new casino site will be regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and will offer a place for Saskatchewans to freely enjoy online casino games.
Although online gambling at a non-government site is frowned upon, there’s no explicit legislation that forbids it. Gambling laws are targeted at operators as opposed to members of the public, illegalizing the act of private operators offering online gambling services to citizens within Canadian borders. This means that all Canadians are legally permitted to access online casinos licensed in other gambling jurisdictions, without fear of breaking the law and being prosecuted.
The ‘Grey Zone’
If you’re unsure about how this legislation reconciles itself, you’re not the only one. In fact, such is the vagueness surrounding Canadian gambling laws that it’s generated its own recognized term: the ‘grey zone’. The grey zone refers to the space in which gambling revenue is played and lost by Canadians at online casino operators based in other parts of the world.
Rather than imposing draconian measures on Canadians in all provinces, many argue that government at both the provincial and federal levels would be better off by formally opening up Canada to this lucrative market. Since it’s commonly known that Canadians across the country already gamble at these offshore sites – indeed, it’s estimated that $100m leaves Atlantic Canada every year through offshore gambling sites – it would be far more profitable to welcome this revenue instead of sending it elsewhere.
With the 2021 passing of Bill C-218 in parliament – also known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act – it’s clear that perceptions are turning on Canadian online gambling. Although this bill refers to sports betting in particular, campaigners hope it will engender a new dawn in Canadian online gambling legislation.