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Gambling Laws: Canada vs USA


Gambling Laws – Canada and the USA share a border, but they have many differences, especially in the stance they both take on gambling and how it is regulated.

It is widely viewed that the gambling laws within both countries are quite strict, in part due to both state and federal laws having to be adhered to. The stance however is way more liberal in both countries than it has been in the past. Historically gambling was completely illegal in the USA and the Federal Wire Act of 1961 meant that it was illegal across many states, however some started to introduce their own laws. For example, casinos became legal on riverboats in states such as Iowa, Louisiana and Illinois. In Canada the turning point was in the 1970s, which saw a reformation of the criminal code which meant that provinces throughout the country were able to govern themselves in terms of gambling laws and to determine what was permitted.

In terms of gambling laws the countries went in completely different directions with the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, brought into play by President George W Bush. This law came at a time when online poker in the USA was really experiencing a boom and it looked to stop any gambling organization from accepting payment from a person via a bet that involved the use of the internet. On the other hand Canada started to thrive in terms of online gaming and some territories actually even started to open their own online casinos. Currently Canadians can enjoy PartyCasino, Diamond7 as well as other major brands.


2018 saw the US Supreme Court make a ruling that endorsed a 2014 state ruling with New Jersey, that allowed sports betting in casinos and at horse racing tracks. At the same time the Court also struck down a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting. This is now paving the way for sports betting to be legalized throughout the country.

In conjunction with Canada’s criminal code governments are allowed to run lotteries but are not allowed to sanction wagers on single sporting events. It is believed though than Canada will follow in the footsteps of the USA in the next couple of years and legalise sports betting in an attempt to safeguard casino jobs and prevent money being lost to the USA.

It looks as though the future could possibly see change within the USA though in terms of online gambling. Certain states such as Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have started to put laws in place to legalise online gambling and some now allow players to gamble with the use of offshore services. It really does make sense that the USA follow the lead of Canada and look to offer widespread legalisation of online gambling, as the online gambling market is just continuing to grow and there are many opportunities to allow citizens to gamble in a regulated market.

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