• By: Allen Brown

Is Cyrpto Gambling Legal in Ottawa

In Canada, the rules around online gambling vary depending on the province. Some provinces, like Alberta and British Columbia, keep a tight rein, only allowing government-run sites. But Ontario is different. In 2022, it launched the iGaming Ontario market, welcoming private operators to offer a wider range of gaming options, from casinos to sports betting, for residents in Ottawa and the rest of the province.

Meanwhile, the legal status of offshore gambling sites is a bit murky. Ontario has a more lenient approach to gambling regulations compared to Alberta and Manitoba, resulting in a more competitive and welcoming environment for online gamblers and operators. While online gambling is legal in Ottawa, is gambling with cryptocurrencies legal? 

Can You Gamble with Crypto in Ottawa?

Crypto gambling is legal in Canada, including in the city of Ottawa, Ontario. The regulation of online gambling, including crypto gambling, is handled at the provincial level in Canada. Each province, including Ontario, has its own laws and regulations governing online gambling.

In Ontario, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) oversees and regulates online gambling, including the iGaming Ontario market, which allows private operators to offer online casino games and sports betting. While the AGCO regulates online gambling in Ottawa, offshore crypto gambling sites that are not registered with the AGCO can also legally accept players from Ottawa and other parts of the province.


The federal government in Canada does not explicitly prohibit Canadians from accessing and playing on offshore online gambling sites, including those that accept cryptocurrencies. Although this remains a legal grey area, residents from Ottawa can access casinos offering crypto roulette games, online slots, and a wide variety of casino games using Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and more.

The Grey Area of Offshore Betting and Gambling

While Ontario’s regulatory framework governs gaming activities within Ottawa, the situation becomes murkier regarding offshore betting and gambling platforms because of “grey market gambling.” Offshore platforms operate outside the jurisdiction of Ontario’s regulatory authorities, often based in jurisdictions with different legal frameworks for online gambling.

Prior to the regulation of online gambling in Ontario, Canadians were wagering on grey market sites, which offered little protection to consumers. The grey market allowed online gambling funds to flow out of the regulated provincial markets and into unregulated, offshore platforms. Additionally, grey market gambling operations were not subject to Canadian taxation, depriving the government of potential tax revenue that could be generated from a regulated market.

Following the legalization of single-event sports betting in 2021, the Ontario government moved to offer it through the provincial lottery (OLG) and open up the online gambling market to private, regulated operators. While crypto gambling using offshore casinos is completely legal, the existence of unregulated offshore gambling platforms that may accept cryptocurrencies, even though they are not approved by the AGCO, is still a concern. 

Navigating the Risks

Despite the apparent legitimacy of accessing offshore betting and gambling sites, you should proceed with caution. Offshore platforms operate in a legal grey area, exposing players to various risks.

One significant risk is the lack of regulatory oversight. Unlike licensed operators within Ontario, offshore platforms may not adhere to the same standards of player protection, responsible gambling, and fairness. This absence of regulation can leave players vulnerable to unfair gaming practices, delayed or non-existent payouts, and inadequate customer support.

Look for online casinos that are internationally licensed or provincially regulated in Canada. Reputable offshore casinos will display licensing and regulatory oversight information, typically from respected jurisdictions like Malta, Gibraltar, and Curacao. Players should look for offshore casinos audited by independent bodies like eCOGRA to ensure fairness, security, and responsible gambling measures.

Practical Considerations for Players

For Ontario residents considering engaging with offshore betting and gambling platforms, several practical considerations are essential to minimize risks:


  • Do your research: Conduct thorough research on the platform’s reputation, licensing status, and user reviews. Ensure that the platform operates transparently and provides adequate player protections.


  • Exercise Caution: Recognize the inherent risks of offshore gambling and proceed cautiously. Only deposit the cryptocurrency that you can afford to lose, and be mindful of potential red flags such as unreasonably generous bonuses or lack of transparency.


  • Security measures: Protect your personal and financial information when playing crypto poker, slots, or other casino games. Use strong, unique passwords for your casino accounts and consider using additional security measures, such as two-factor authentication.


  • Be aware of tax implications: Winnings from offshore crypto gambling activities may be subject to taxation under Canadian law. Consult with a tax professional to understand your tax obligations and ensure compliance.


Regulatory Framework Surrounding Online Gambling in Ottawa

Online gambling in Ottawa is regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and iGaming Ontario. Before 2022, it was limited to the government-owned Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) website. iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of AGCO, launched a new competitive and regulated online gaming market in 2022. Since then, it has become the first province in Canada to open the online gambling market to private operators.

Private online casino and sports betting operators can apply for licenses from AGCO and iGaming Ontario to offer their services in Ottawa and the rest of the province. These licensed operators must adhere to strict regulations around responsible gambling, consumer protection, and security standards. Legalizing single-event sports betting in 2021 also expanded the online gambling options available to Ontarians. Previously, only parlay bets (multi-game bets) were legal through provincial lottery providers.

While online gambling was technically illegal in Canada before these changes, many Ottowa residents accessed “grey market” offshore gambling sites. The provincial and federal regulatory framework aims to provide a safe, legal alternative and eliminate the grey market. Ontario’s regulatory approach has shifted from a government monopoly to a more open, competitive market while maintaining strict oversight and consumer protection measures.

Tax Implications of Crypto Gambling

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) treats cryptocurrencies as commodities, not legal tender, for tax purposes. This means cryptocurrency transactions are subject to the same tax rules as barter transactions. Gains from the sale or trading of cryptocurrencies are generally considered capital gains, with 50% being taxable as income. Income earned from cryptocurrency-related activities like mining or staking is considered business income and is fully taxable.

Cryptocurrency users in Ottawa, as in the rest of Canada, must keep detailed records of all their cryptocurrency transactions and calculate the value in Canadian dollars to report and pay taxes properly. The CRA provides guidance on the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies, and failure to properly report and pay taxes on cryptocurrency activities can result in penalties and prosecution for tax evasion.

Final Thoughts

Crypto gambling is legal in Ottawa and the rest of Ontario, with the provincial regulator overseeing licensed online gambling operators. Offshore crypto gambling sites can also legally accept players from the province. The federal government in Canada does not explicitly prohibit Canadians from accessing and playing on offshore online gambling sites, including those that accept cryptocurrencies. While cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity in Canada and being adopted by some online casinos, players in Ottawa should always take a cautious approach and select regulated offshore casinos.