What is The Legal Gambling Age in Canada?

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Gambling is a popular leisure activity in Canada that gamers enjoy both offline and online. It is important to look at Canadian gambling laws and what they say about underage gambling to avoid being on the wrong side of the law.

The legal gambling age in Canada is between 18 to 19 years, depending on the province and the type of gambling activity. Gambling in Canada is regulated by the provincial governments, and since each province has put in place different gambling regulations, the legal age for gambling in Canada varies by territory.
Gambling provides entertainment to gamers who enjoy the idea of winning big.

It is a thrilling activity that involves a lot of excitement and can be a fun way to pass the time and relax. However, gambling may become a problem when underage individuals join the wagon, and it affects them negatively. Gambling as a minor can be a risky business and can lead to one having gambling problems at a young age, such as problems at school, emotional struggles such as anxiety and depression, and money problems. Minors are not fully ready to balance the emotions related to gambling; that is the reason for age restriction when it comes to gambling.

Gambling Laws in Canada as of 2022

The federal Criminal Code is the general statute that regulates all gambling activities in Canada. Section 201 to 206 of the Canadian federal criminal Code states that all types of gambling, lotteries and betting are illegal in the country.

However, there are some limited exceptions, one being pari-mutuel betting on horse racing. Section 204 of the Canadian federal “Code” provides for the exemption.

While the Canadian federal Code is the overarching statute in the country, all provinces have the mandate to enact laws to regulate gambling. The only exception is pari-mutuel betting on horse races, which the federal Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency regulates.

The operation of casinos, ticket lotteries, poker, betting and electronic games constitute gambling unless they are on the list of limited exemptions in the Code. The stipulation holds for both online and land-based gambling activities.

Some activities prohibited by the Canadian federal Code may not qualify as gambling ordinarily. A prize competition may be considered gambling or not, depending on its structure. For instance, if nothing is payable to enter the contest, its hosts are not operating an illegal betting house.

Furthermore, the Canadian federal Code draws a fine line between games of mixed chance and skill, pure skill and pure chance. Overall, all competitions for a prize have to be examined under the stipulations of section 206 to determine if they constitute an illegal lottery.

Games of pure skill or those that do not have any element of chance are not considered illegal under section 206 (1) of the Canadian federal Code. Thus, such games can be provided without seeking the consent of the government or other relevant bodies.

The Supreme Court, the highest court in Canada has recently made it clear that if there is an element of chance in a game, it should be considered a game of mixed chance and skill rather than a game of pure skill. Courts in Canada do not recognize the concept of a dominant factor. Poker is a game of mixed chance and skill because it contains an element of chance which comes from dealing with the cards.

Games of mixed chance and skill alongside games of chance fit in the illegal lotteries category with the exception of when no consideration is paid to take part in, play and win the set prize. However, based on the acceptable interpretation of section 206 of the Canadian federal Code, games of either nature can be structured in a manner to render them legal.

Therefore, the Canadian gambling legislation is regulated by both the provincial and federal governments in Canada. The federal laws are the same for the entire country. However, provincial gambling laws may differ. For instance, in some provinces, the legal gambling age is 18, while in others, it is 19 years.

When is gambling considered a problem for Teenagers in Canada?

Gambling can be considered a problem for teenagers in Canada when they;

1. Frequently spends more funds than planned on gambling.
2. Engages in gambling activities for longer a period than planned.
3. A teenager assigns more time and attention to gambling than other vital responsibilities. For instance, a teenager who is a gambling addict will gamble instead of participating in activities that are helpful in their development as teenagers.
4. They cannot shift their thoughts from gambling.
5. A teenager finds it difficult to cut down or stop their gambling behavior.
6. Borrows money from family or friends to engage in gambling activities.
7. A teenager is performing poorly at school as a result of gambling addiction. Teenagers who have a gambling problem may forgo learning to analyze game odds.

What are the consequences of underage gambling in Canada?

Gambling is fun, but only when done responsibly and wisely. Decision-making by underage individuals is not the same as for adults, particularly when underage gambling addiction is involved. And even when minors do not understand the full impact of their actions, the law hits hard with full power. The enforcement does not look at underage gambling with sympathy, and even a first-timer can be punished to the full extent of the law.
While different provinces in Canada allow gambling, there are rigorous age requirements that must be met. The establishment of online gambling has resulted in more and more minors getting hooked on the idea of winning big. However, an individual who has not attained the legal age for gambling in Canada but chooses to engage in the activity anyway gets a penalty for underage gambling. To make it worse, these charges are placed on the minor’s criminal record.

The penalties associated with underage gambling include fines, community service, probation, suspension of the driver’s license for a given period, and sometimes jail time. Underage gambling becomes even more problematic because it can also affect other people besides the minor. For instance, guardians, parents, and any person with custody of an underage individual who is charged with underage gambling can be charged with a disorderly person’s offense. To avoid such consequences, it is vital to attain the legal gambling age in Canada before engaging in gambling activities.

How can you prevent underage individuals from gambling?

Problem gambling usually begins at an early age, and it is crucial that preventive education also begin as early as possible. Parents and guardians being the people close to children mostly, have a vital role to play in preventing minors from engaging in underage gambling, which can lead to gambling addiction later in life.
Parents should have open conversations with their children about gambling. Gambling should not be a taboo topic, and parents should discuss the dangers of gambling to ensure minors are more informed and better equipped should they be faced with the opportunity to gamble.

Moreover, parents should not expose their children to gambling games at home. The family’s activities and attitudes to gambling can impact the child. If children are exposed to the lottery, sports bets, poker machines, and scratchy cards more frequently, they are more likely to perceive gambling as fun and engage in underage gambling. It is imperative that parents explain to their children that gambling is a form of entertainment, and one has to attain the legal gambling age in Canada to engage in gambling activities.

It is also important to explain how gambling works to minors, especially the low likelihood of winning in the short and long run. It can help to explain the chances of winning by tailoring the language to the maturity of the minor. For instance, use a statement such as “your chance of winning a lottery is one in twenty million, while your chance of being hit by lightning is one in five hundred thousand”. By using such language, you will discourage minors from gambling as they can understand that it is a risky business that involves significant losses, with significantly low chances of winning.

Gaming companies can also help to prevent underage individuals from gambling by ensuring there is age verification, especially for online gaming. The Age verification process checks the gambler’s age before allowing them to engage in gambling. Age verification can be done by checking the individual’s details against a government document, such as a passport, to ensure they are of the required age to gamble.


Gambling is an entertaining activity when done responsibly by adults. However, minors may sometimes find themselves engaging in underage gambling, which can adversely impact their physical and mental health. Minors must understand that gambling is a form of entertainment and not a way of making quick money. Additionally, underage individuals should be enlightened about the financial risks associated with gambling as well as the dangers of underage gambling to help them make sound decisions when it comes to engaging in gambling activities.

1. How can I find help if I have a gambling problem as a teenager?
You can talk to your health professional or look up gambling hotlines where you can speak to a professional about your problem.

2. How can I prevent my teenager from gambling?
You can protect your teenager from gambling by being involved, setting clear rules and consequences, leading by example, and explaining underage gambling risks to them.