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Can you gamble online in BC?

Online gambling is a popular activity for many British Columbians, but the legality of online gambling in BC is a complex issue. British Columbia has a mix of regulated and unregulated online gambling options available to residents. While some forms of online gambling are explicitly illegal, others operate in legal grey areas not directly addressed by legislation. This article will examine the laws and regulations surrounding online gambling in BC to help readers understand what is allowed and what risks they may face when gambling online from within the province.

Is online gambling legal in British Columbia?

There is no straightforward answer to the broad question of whether online gambling is legal in British Columbia. Certain forms of online gambling are explicitly banned under Section 207 of the Canadian Criminal Code. This includes online casino games, online poker, online sports betting and other similar activities operated by offshore gambling sites. However, provincial governments have the power to regulate and authorize other forms of gambling that are not covered by the Criminal Code.

British Columbia has taken a selective approach to online gambling regulation. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) operates regulated online gambling sites under provincial oversight. offers online casino games, online poker, online bingo and online sports betting to BC residents age 19 and older. Since these options are provincially regulated, they are legal.

At the same time, BC residents can also access offshore online casinos, poker sites and sportsbooks that are not provincially regulated and operate illegally under federal law. Although illegal, these unregulated gambling sites still accept customers from British Columbia due to lack of enforcement. This creates a contradictory legal environment surrounding online gambling.

Legal online gambling in BC

– – Operated by BCLC, offers casino games, poker, bingo and sports betting legally to BC residents 19+.

– Other provincially-licensed gambling sites – BC has the power to regulate other online gambling if desired under the Criminal Code.

Illegal online gambling in BC

– Offshore online casinos – Unregulated casino sites located outside Canada are illegal but may still accept BC players.

– Offshore online sportsbooks – It is illegal to bet on single sports events on unregulated sites.

– Unlicensed poker sites – Only BCLC-operated poker is legal; other real money poker sites are illegal.

Can you get in trouble for gambling online in BC?

While gambling on illegal offshore websites does violate federal law, individual Canadian citizens are rarely charged for online gambling offenses. It is the operators of unlicensed gambling sites located outside the country who bear the brunt of any enforcement actions and legal consequences. There are currently no laws that allow Canadian provincial governments to prosecute residents just for accessing offshore gambling sites.

That said, there are still risks associated with using illegal online gambling sites as a player based in BC:

– No consumer protections or oversight from offshore sites – you’re at the mercy of potentially unethical operators.

– Payments could potentially be disrupted – banks may block transactions if they detect illegal gambling.

– Accounts could be frozen – operators may lock accounts and refuse withdrawals if they suspect prohibited use.

– Activity tracking concerns – offshore sites may not protect privacy and usage data.

– Tax evasion concerns – winnings from illegal sites are still taxable income in Canada.

While prosecutions are unlikely, those who gamble on unregulated sites should understand the inherent risks of using illegal operators with no accountability or consumer protections. Avoiding detection from banks, tax agencies and other authorities may prove challenging as well.

What online gambling options are available to BC residents?

British Columbians have access to the following regulated and unregulated online gambling options:

Legal BC online gambling sites

– – Casino games, poker, sports betting and other products regulated by BCLC.

– Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max – Buy BC lottery tickets online.

– BCLC online bingo – Electronic versions of traditional bingo games.

– Licensed horse racing betting – Online access to pari-mutuel horse race betting overseen by provincial racing commissions.

Illegal offshore online gambling sites

– Online casino games – Popular casino games like slots, blackjack, roulette offered by offshore operators.

– Online poker – Unregulated poker sites like PokerStars still serve the BC market.

– Sports betting – Offshore sportsbooks take bets on all sports, not just parlay wagers.

– eSports betting – Real money betting on competitive video gaming offered by unlicensed sites.

– Other niche games – Keno, bingo, virtual sports and other gambling activities available via offshore operators.

While convenient, unregulated offshore gambling sites also come with significant risks that make BCLC-operated or land-based casinos safer options for BC residents who wish to gamble online.

Are offshore online gambling sites rigged or fair?

The biggest concern surrounding offshore online casinos, sportsbooks and poker sites accessed by British Columbians is whether the games are fair and the operators can be trusted. Unlike, which is overseen by BCLC and strictly regulated by the province, these unlicensed offshore operators are entirely unaccountable.

This gives offshore gambling sites greater opportunity to rig games against players or outright scam customers by refusing to pay out winnings. There have certainly been instances of popular offshore sites engaging in these unethical practices. However, many reputable offshore operators understand the importance of integrity and go to great lengths to prove their games and betting offerings are fair.

Still, with zero regulatory oversight, offshore sites’ claims of fairness and ethical conduct can’t truly be verified. Players have little recourse against wrongdoing except public pressure and word-of-mouth. So it ultimately requires a leap of faith that an unregulated offshore operator isn’t rigging the deck against you as a player. Those uncomfortable with that risk should stick to legal, regulated options like and avoid potential problems.

What are the odds and payout percentages on offshore sites?

One way reputable offshore gambling sites try to prove they operate fairly is by publicly posting the theoretical payout rates and odds for their games. However, without a regulator auditing these figures for accuracy, they still can’t be fully trusted. Here are some common claimed payout and betting odds:

Online casino game odds

– Slots – 90%+ average theoretical payout percentage.

– Roulette – 94-97% RTP depending on version. Favorable odds on outside bets.

– Blackjack – 99%+ RTP with perfect basic strategy. House edge from 0.5% to over 2% usually.

– Baccarat – 98.94% RTP on Player and Banker bets. Higher house edge on side bets.

– Video poker – 99%+ RTP with optimal strategy. Varies by pay table.

Online sportsbook betting odds

– Moneyline odds – Vary by event, usually set competitively with regulated markets.

– Point spread – Attempt to split action evenly between both sides.

– Totals (over/under) – Lines aim for even wagering distribution.

– Props and futures – Odds adjusted according to betting market activity.

Online poker

– Ring games – Rake of 5% or less of pot size.

– Tournaments – 10-20% rake on buy-ins plus entry fee.

– Sit & Go’s – 10-15% rake based on buy-in levels.

The marketing value of publicizing favorable odds leads most large offshore gambling operators to offer competitive betting lines and payout rates. But with ambiguity surrounding true probabilities, players should proceed with caution.

What are the best online casinos that serve BC?

Choosing reputable, trustworthy online casinos is critical when selecting from offshore operators that aren’t provincially regulated. Here are some of the most well-regarded offshore online casinos available to BC residents:

– Betway – Popular mainstream casino with over 500 slots and games. Widely trusted brand.

– Spin Casino – Quality casino with hundreds of machines, video poker, table games and live dealer options. Part of the respected Spin Palace Group.

– Royal Vegas – Long-running Microgaming online casino open to BC players with CA$1,200 welcome bonus.

– Ruby Fortune – Nearly 300 slots and classic table game options. CA$750 signup bonus for new Canadian players.

– Jackpot City – Over 300 high-quality games, including popular progressives. CA$1,600 in welcome bonuses available.

– 888 – Established brand offering over 170 slots, blackjack, roulette, video poker and live dealer gaming. CA$88 free play and 100% match bonus up to $1,500.

Sticking to reputable, mainstream online casinos with a long track record and positive player feedback maximizes your chances of having a fair, ethical experience. But no site is beyond risks.

What are the best online sports betting sites for Canadians?

When looking for a quality unregulated online sportsbook catering to BC sports bettors, these trusted international brands stand out:

– Betway – Licensed in Malta and Kahnawake. Competitive odds on major sports. Wide range of prop bets.

– Bet365 – UK-licensed book with comprehensive sports coverage and live in-game betting options.

– Bodog – Long-running Canada-facing sports betting brand with unique props, futures and parlay offerings.

– Pinnacle – Known for having some of the sharpest odds due to high betting limits and VIP focus.

– Unibet – Popular European sportsbook with extensive betting markets and partial cash-out option.

– LeoVegas – Award-winning mobile betting app. Strong soccer/football odds plus emerging sports.

– 22Bet – Feature-packed sportsbook with 100+ payment options tailored for international markets.

While any unregulated sportsbook ultimately carries risks, these well-funded mainstream sites have solid reputations and tend to offer fair odds and betting markets to customers around the world, including those based in BC.

Are online poker sites legal for BC residents?

Most online poker sites are not provincially regulated and are therefore illegal according to the federal Criminal Code. This includes international poker sites like PokerStars, Partypoker and GG Poker that all continue to offer real money games to BC residents. While individual players are very rarely if ever targeted for legal violations, these sites do violate Canadian gambling laws.

The only legal option for BC poker players is PlayNow Poker, which is licensed and regulated by the provincial government’s BCLC. PlayNow hosts ring games and poker tournaments open to BC residents age 19 and up. However, traffic is lower than major international sites, so serious poker players tend to use the illegal but more competitive offshore options.

There is ongoing lobbying to regulate online poker in BC and approve sites like PokerStars to legally serve the Canadian market. But for now, most online poker remains technically illegal aside from PlayNow’s provincially approved offerings. Those who play on major international sites assume the very minor risk this currently entails.

Is it legal to use Bitcoin or cryptocurrency for online gambling in BC?

The rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin poses new challenges for regulating online gambling. While it’s illegal to gamble on unregulated sites, cryptocurrencies allow players to easily circumvent traditional payment blocking methods used to deter access to unauthorized sites.

This regulatory mismatch has led to a surge in BC residents using Bitcoin and other digital currencies for deposits and withdrawals at offshore online casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms. It provides a convenient loophole around the stricter banking controls surrounding CAD transactions to these sites.

While convenient, using Bitcoin does not make unregulated online gambling formally legal in BC. But given the challenges policing cryptocurrency use, individual residents are realistically at very low risk of facing any penalties for using Bitcoin to gamble online, even on illegal sites. From a practical perspective, Bitcoin effectively enables unrestricted access for British Columbians to traditional “banned” gambling sites.


In summary, online gambling exists in a legal grey zone for BC residents. While offshore online casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms violate federal law, individuals face essentially zero risk of trouble for accessing these unregulated sites. Provincially-approved online gambling via PlayNow provides legal options for key verticals like casino games, sports betting and poker.

British Columbians can enjoy a range of regulated and unregulated online gambling options with minimal concern. But sticking to reputable, trusted offshore brands is still advised to avoid potential fairness or payment issues. Those uncomfortable with any degree of risk should restrict themselves to only use PlayNow and avoid unapproved sites entirely. With knowledge of the complex legal landscape surrounding the issue, BC residents can now make informed decisions on Internet wagering based on their personal risk tolerance.


Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch –

BCLC PlayNow –

Criminal Code of Canada –

Guide to Online Gambling in BC –

Bitcoin Gambling Guide for Canadians –