Canada hasn’t always been accepting of gambling and it was one of the many countries to try to stop online gambling from developing. But in recent years it has relaxed its laws somewhat and now takes a relatively relaxed view of this practice. However, the laws are far from clear cut and concise, so let’s dig a little deeper in order to better understand the rules and regulations concerning online gambling in Manitoba.
The History of Land Based Gambling in Manitoba
Manitoba was one of the first provinces in Canada to embrace gambling in several forms. Gambling was criminalized throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century, but in 1971 the province passed a law known as the Manitoba Lotteries Act. This opened the doors for regulated authorities to operate lotteries, raffles, bingo games, keno games, and other such games of chance. It was a long way from allowing land-based casino play or sports betting, but it was a start, and one that would trigger major changes in the years to come.
In the 1980s, around fifteen years after the aforementioned law was enacted, slot machines were legalized. This was another huge step and one that paved way for these machines to litter future casino floors.
A couple decades later the state opened its first casino at Opaskwayak Cree Nation, a stretch of First Nations land along the Saskatchewan River. It hasn’t exactly become a hotbed for land-based casinos since, but this has more to do with the province’s relatively low tourist numbers when compared to other Canadian states.
The History of Online Gambling in Manitoba
Online gambling is not as easy to regulate and has caused a problem for many authorities over the years, including those in Manitoba. The problem with online gambling is that it can’t be controlled, regulated, or taxed with the same ease as a land based casino, simply because you can’t stop a foreign casino from allowing Canadian players, nor can you stop those Canadians from playing.
One of the ways they tried to initiate some control was to create their own licensed and regulated online casino: PlayNow. This site offered legal online gambling services to players in the province and allowed the authorities to control who used the site and what happened to the money.
However, the creation of this site did not stop Manitoba residents from accessing other gambling websites, websites that are often bigger, better, and have much more to offer the average gambler.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Manitoba?
This is a question that doesn’t have a straightforward answer. The good news is that online gambling is widely available in the province of Manitoba, no adult of a responsible age has been prosecuted for gambling online, and there are a wealth of websites available to players here.
It could be argued that it is not technically legal to play on gambling sites based outside of Manitoba, but at the same time, it’s not technically illegal either. There is nothing in the local or national law that states online gambling is illegal.
Online gambling therefore operates in a grey area, one that is neither illegal or legal, but one that the government fully acknowledges and does not do anything about. Millions of Canadians gamble online every single day and none of them are ever prosecuted—this should tell you all that you need to know about the situation.
Canadian Laws vs US Laws
There are online casinos out there that are regulated in Central and South America and offer their services to players in the United States and other countries. The idea is that they are operating legally because they are regulated within the country they are based, and that US players are allowed to signup because they to are following the laws of that South/Central American country and not the United States.
This is not entirely true though. The US openly prohibits what it describes as “interactive gambling” and an American citizen can get into serious trouble for breaking this law. They may not end up in prison, but they could end up having their bank accounts and web wallets frozen.
It is a different story in Canada, however, and it’s generally accepted that Canadian players can and do (in their millions) play on oversea’s casinos. It’s also worth noting that the regulators that control Canadian casinos are some of the best in the world and have some of the tightest controls in the world, and are not the often questionable regulators that oversee US casinos.
Manitoba Laws vs Casino Laws
As a Manitoba citizen you always need to abide by the laws of the province of Manitoba, whether you’re gambling, shopping, or doing something else entirely. But when you gamble on an online casino based in Europe, you are also obliged to follow the laws of that particular country.
This means that if you gamble on an online casino based in Malta, then you are following the laws of both Malta and Manitoba. In Malta, gambling is legal, regulated, and tightly controlled; in Manitoba, it’s a grey area. Combined, this means that you should not have an issue gambling on such a casino.
This is true of most reputable online casinos, but if you gamble on a casino that is not reputable in a country where gambling is not allowed, then it would be a different story. You won’t necessarily be arrested and charged (although it is possible) but you could be fined or have your accounts frozen or seized.
The irony here is that this would technically apply to anyone playing on an online casino that is based within Manitoba itself but is not regulated by the state. In other words, you have more freedom playing on an online casino that is based in Malta then you do on a casino that is based in Manitoba.
The important thing to consider as a player based in Manitoba is that you are free to play on an overseas online casino providing that casino is reputable and legitimate, and providing you are of legal gambling age.
Online gambling is huge in Canada right now. In fact, it’s one of the biggest gambling countries in the world, with many online casinos created solely to target the Canadian market, and with some of the biggest brands in the world making most of their money in this country. That, in addition to the fact that there is no law against online gambling and the fact that no one has ever been charged for it, should tell you all that you need to know.
So, get to it and gamble freely. In years to come, maybe the laws will change and become a little clearer. Maybe they will go the other way. In any case, this could be the golden age of online gambling in Canada and one that you need to take advantage of.