Canada has had a relatively strict history where gambling is concerned and it was pretty reluctant to accept online gambling when it first emerged on the scene. Things are a lot different these days though and modern Canada is one of the best places in the world to be a gambler—that’s true whether you’re a fan of online slots or you prefer to play offline table games. Not only do players have access to a host of games at all stake levels, but they can also start when they are very young.
The Legal Gambling Age in Canada
Canada’s laws are provincial, which means they are set by the individual provinces, of which there are 10 in total. However, while this can cause complications with other aspects of gambling, it’s less of an issue with age restrictions as all provinces require players to be either 18 or 19 in order to play.
18 is the legal gambling age in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, while the other 7 provinces require players to be 19. This applies to all forms of gambling, including lotteries, bingo, and other number games.
If you are above the legal age limit then you should be able to gamble freely both online and offline, but if you plan on visiting a casino or racetrack then you will still need to abide by the dress code, etiquette and rules of the establishment.
Age is not a golden ticket—you still need to follow and respect the rules. This is usually harder for youngsters as they have never gambled before and don’t have the experience required. If you find yourself in this situation simple check the casino’s website and read their code of conduct.
What Happens to Those who Break the Rules?
There are rarely any repercussions for underage gamblers who break the rules. As with the drinking age, the onus is on the establishments to enforce these rules and if they are found to be breaking them then they can face sizeable penalties.
In Ontario, for instance, an establishment can be fined as much as $250.000 for allowing an underage customer to gamble. This is true whether they let them into a casino where they spend thousands of dollars, or they let them purchase a $1 lottery ticket. These high fines and strict punishments are why establishment owners tend to be overly cautious, asking for ID from anyone who even remotely looks like they could be underage.
How This Compares to Other Countries
If you compare Canada’s legal gambling age to the United States there are some notable differences, as most states require players to be at least 21 and some restrict gambling altogether regardless of age. There are even more notable comparisons elsewhere, with Greece requiring players to be at least 23 years old.
These are the exception though and for the most part, the legal gambling age around the world tends to be between 18 and 19. In most cases, you’ll find that the legal gambling age is in line with the legal drinking age. This is also true of Canada, where the legal drinking age is either 18 or 19.
Canada Legal Age vs UK
There are a number of countries that have similar gambling age requirements to Canada and many more that require players to be older, but there are very few that allow younger players to gamble. The UK is one such country, and for generations it has had very relaxed gambling laws that have turned cities like London into a mecca for gamblers across Europe.
You need to be at least 18 to gamble on a sports book or online casino in the UK and you also need to be at least 18 years old to drink and to visit a bookmaker or racetrack. Some casinos insist that players are either 21 or 23, but this is entirely down to their preference and the government’s official stance is that players need to be 18.
This is different where lotteries, scratch cards and the pools are concerned though, as players only need to be 16 years old to play these in the UK. This would be considered very young and inexperienced elsewhere, and some would even consider it reckless on behalf of the authorities, but this is the way it has been for a long time and as these particular forms of gambling are considered low-risk, it probably won’t change any time soon.
Can You Gamble Overseas?
That leaves one question, a question that is no doubt on the lips of many young Canadians right now: Where do you stand if you want to gamble in other countries? In such cases, you need to abide by the law of the country that you’re in, as opposed to the country that you’re from.
In other words, just because you are 21 years old and have been gambling freely for 3 years in Canada, doesn’t mean that you can do the same if you pay a visit to Greece. Similarly, you can still be charged for underage drinking outside of Canada even if you are of legal age according to Canadian law.
Such charges are rare, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for them nonetheless. On the flip side, if you are 16 or 17 years old and paying a visit to the United Kingdom, you might be allowed to gamble, even though you are not legally allowed to do so back home in Canada. Your gambling activities will need to be restricted to lotteries and scratch cards, but it’s all legal and it could be a good chance for you to experience something that is typically out of reach.
You don’t need to visit casinos or sports books in order to buy these tickets in the United Kingdom, as you can pick them up from newsagents and other stores. You may be asked to show your ID, but being a Canadian won’t impact your chances of winning, nor will it stop you from claiming the money if you do win.