Ontario is probably the best province for gamblers in all of Canada. In fact, the recent increase in the number of race tracks, casinos, casino cruises and online gambling activity makes it one of the best regions in all of North America. Even Europeans and Australians, who historically have never had an issue with legal gambling, are travelling to this province to get in on the action.
But where do you stand as a local? In this guide we’ll tell you all about the gambling do’s and do not’s (or rather the “can’s” and “cannot’s”) in Ontario, while also taking a closer look at the legal gambling age and how it applies to international travel.
Gambling Age in Ontario
The gambling age in all Canadian provinces is the same as the drinking age: 18. However, this doesn’t apply to all forms of gambling, which is where things get a bit confusing. At 18 years of age an Ontarian is allowed to play lottery games and some other games offered by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, but they are not allowed to enter casinos or to play slot machines.
To do this, you need to be 19 years old. But even that is not quite the end of the story, because then you have the online casino industry, which operates on different international laws.
If you want to gamble on a European based online casino, such as the one linked at the top of this page (which is where most Canadians play these days) then you technically only need to be 18, but may face some hurdles when it comes to depositing from or withdrawing into a Canadian bank account.
It’s all very complicated and convoluted, but the easiest way to look at it is as follows: if you are 18 then you can play lottery games and other games, but to stay on the safe side, you should leave your offline and online casino activity until you turn 19.
Gambling Overseas as a Canadian
International law can be confusing at times. Did you know, for instance, that if you are prescribed opiate-based painkillers in Canada, the US, UK, or many other countries, and you carry these painkillers with you to Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Middle-Eastern countries, you can actually be charged with possession of a schedule 1 substance? This is true even if you have a prescription, and it’s not just the Middle-East, if you travel to Greece you could face similar issues.
It’s no wonder then that Canadian citizens are so concerned about breaking international laws, but where gambling is concerned, the issue is a little more black and white. To put it simply, if you are travelling to a country where the gambling laws are more relaxed (such as the UK, where people as young as 16 can buy lottery tickets) then simply act as if you were a citizen of that country.
In other words, if you are 17 and you visit the UK, then you’re free to buy scratch cards and lottery tickets because you’re in a country that allows it. You can also take your cell phone with you and log into a gambling site that you also play back in Canada, although in this case you would need to be at least 18.
If, however, you visit a country where gambling is tightly controlled, the matter can be a little more contentious. Firstly, you won’t be able to purchase lottery tickets or enter casinos unless you have reached the age required in that country. So, just because you’re 19 in Canada and can play in casinos, doesn’t mean you can do the same in the US (where you need to be 21).
Where online gambling is concerned, it’s all a case of whether you can access your casino account or not. If so, and if you are not transferring any money to a non-Canadian account or depositing from a non-Canadian account, then you should be okay. Assuming, that is, that you can actually access the site, as it may be blocked.
What Happens to Underage Gamblers?
There are very few repercussions for underage gamblers, if any. They are rarely the ones punished, as it’s the establishments that allow them access and sell them tickets that end up with their heads on the chopping block. In Ontario, anyone caught selling lottery tickets to an underage player can receive a sizeable fine, and if this practice is repeated then they may also have their license taken away from them.
There are around 11,000 licensed retailers of official lottery tickets and scratch cards in the province, so the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation don’t mind losing one of them in order to set an example. It’s a similar story with casinos and race tracks.
There is actually very little reason why an underage gambler would want to break this law, especially where lotteries are concerned. If an underage person buys a lottery ticket and then wins the jackpot, or any other major prize for that matter, then they will need to prove their age before they can claim it. If they are found to be underage, then they won’t receive a dime.
And what’s the point of playing the lottery if you know you can’t claim the jackpot?
It’s a little less clear cut where casinos and race tracks are concerned, but even then there is still a chance that the punter will be asked to prove their age upon handing over their winning ticket, at which point they may be refused their winnings.
Best Places to Gamble as an 18 or 19 Year Old
If you have just come of age and are looking for the best places to gamble, then checkout the online casino linked at the top of this page. You need to be 18 years old in order to signup, and when you do you will join ranks with millions of other Canadians who have signed up to similar European-based casinos. This particular casino actually does most of its business in Canada and has a large base of Canadian players, so you will be in good company.
You can also drop by one of the many casinos littering the Ontarian landscape. These can be more expensive as they don’t have the micro stakes or welcome bonuses you will find in online casinos, but it’s good to sample their wares every once in a while—especially if they’re offering free drinks and snacks!