Ontario Gambling and Casinos

This site aims to give bettors and casino players from Ontario a knowledge hub for learning everything about gambling laws in their province and exploring their options.

Due to somewhat complicated legal rules regarding gambling, many players from Ontario are left wondering what they can and cannot gamble on.

We’ll cover Ontario’s gambling laws, including the latest changes and the introduction of new legal frameworks, keeping you in the loop. We also frequently update our list of the best online casinos in Ontario, so you’ll always know where to find games and bonuses.

Ontario gambling and the law

The province’s stance on gambling is very liberal. Almost every form of gambling in Ontario is legal in one way or another, but the authorities strictly regulate everything.

These regulations mainly concern online gambling. All legal online gambling options at the moment are condensed on a single website run by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG.ca). This is where you can find casino games, purchase lottery tickets, play instant games and wager on sports.

Knowing that its citizens spend nearly half a billion dollars on offshore sites, the government of Ontario has shown intentions to finally make online gambling legal in the province and allow independent online casinos to operate there.

The latest developments came in the form of a discussion paper released in March of 2021, representing a proposed model for how the province could regulate online casinos. Full-on online gambling could launch in Ontario by the fall of 2021.

This would be a historic leap for gambling in Ontario. While it won’t guarantee that players completely stay away from offshore sites, it will keep a large portion of their spending in the province and stimulate further growth.

When it comes to land-based gambling, things are pretty clear-cut. Commercial casinos with video slots, video poker and table games, and community poker games can operate with the proper license, and so can bingo halls and racetracks. OLG’s sports betting service, called Pro-Line, allows for in-person and online parlay bets.

Here are some of the major rules and facts regarding gambling in Ontario:

  • The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is in charge of regulating the gambling sector in the province.
  • Gambling in Ontario is regulated under the 1992 Gaming Control Act and the 1999 Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act.
  • The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is a government-owned Crown corporation tasked with running the province’s lottery and overseeing the operations of casinos, slot machines, horse racing and charitable gambling.
  • Horse racing venues with on-site and off-track betting, commercial and First Nations casinos, bingo halls and the lottery are all legal in Ontario.
  • Sports betting is legal but limited to the Pro-Line service via OLG. Single-game betting is not allowed.
  • The minimum gambling age for casino visitors in Ontario is 19. You need to be at least 18 to purchase lottery tickets.
Ontario Casinos

Ontario currently has over 70 registered casino establishments scattered around the province, with more expected to open in the upcoming years. These casinos range from large resorts such as Fallsview Casino Resort, which features over 3,000 slots and more than 100 table games, to smaller casinos with just a few hundred games total. Land-based casino gambling is legal in Ontario, overseen by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Casino visitors must be at least 19 years old to enter any casino in the province.

Poker Rooms

Community poker is another very popular form of gambling in Ontario. Casinos can offer a poker room on their premises. However, not every land-based casino in Ontario has one, and only the largest gambling venues have poker rooms with enough tables to host mid- to high-level tournaments. If you visit one of these casinos, you’ll find plenty of Texas Hold’em cash games, as this is the most popular form of poker in Canada.

Sports Betting

Sports betting is legal in Ontario, but it does come with several significant restrictions. First, you can only legally wager on sports in Ontario by using the Pro-Line sports betting service from the Ontario Lottery. Apart from filling out your bet slip at one of the lottery centres, you can also place bets online. However, single-game betting is still not allowed, so you’ll have to place a wager on at least two games per slip. The versatility of betting markets is also not very broad, as only moneyline, point spread and over/under bets are available for most games.

Bingo Halls

Eligible organisations that work under a proper license can conduct real money bingo events, as bingo is considered a lottery game under AGCO rules as long as there is a money prize involved. There are dozens of bingo halls in Ontario, most notably Six Nations Bingo, a venue that can host sessions with hundreds of players. However, bingo is mainly considered a social pastime in the province and is primarily played among seniors and at charitable events. Charity gambling is another legal form of gambling in Ontario.

Horse Racing

The Ontario Racing Commission was formed in 1950 to regulate and oversee horse racing activities in the province, including horse race betting. Even before the establishment of ORC, the province allowed pari-mutuel horse race betting, which was the only form of legal wagering in Canada. Today, there are numerous racetracks in Ontario where you can place bets, together with various gambling facilities where you can try off-track betting. Several racetracks in the province also feature video slot machines, while many are adjacent to large commercial casinos.

Ontario Lottery

Lottery games in Ontario are regulated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., formed in 2000. The provincial lottery offers national games such as Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max, as well as several daily draw games, including Pick 2, Pick 3, Pick 4, Poker Lotto and Wheel of Fortune Lotto. OLG also operates certain land-based casinos, slot machine facilities and bingo halls throughout Ontario. Its official website introduced online gambling services with several options, including slots, table games, poker, bingo and sports wagering. Players can purchase lottery tickets online, as well.

Canada’s laws and Ontario gambling

Canada has been very strict on gambling ever since introducing its first gambling laws. The country’s Criminal Code, enacted in 1892, forbade all forms of gambling on a federal level.

However, over time, Canada became a little more lenient when it came to this activity. Betting on horse races was officially allowed in 1969, the same year that Quebec established a lottery. In 1985, provinces and territories received the green light to decide how they would oversee gambling activities within their borders.

Ontario is one of the most liberal provinces when it comes to gambling and has the highest number of land-based casinos and gambling establishments. Almost all of Ontario’s residents are within a few hours’ drive of a casino.

Apart from being found in almost every casino, video slot machines are pretty common at racetracks. Horse racing is immensely popular here as well, and you can find a racetrack in or around every major city.

Ontario established its lottery in 2000, giving players a choice between several national and local draw games. What’s more, the Ontario Lottery offers sports betting via its Pro-Line service, which allows online betting.

Ontario’s gambling landscape could shift again with the anticipated change to legal online gambling. The provincial government is looking to establish legal frameworks to license independent online casinos and sportsbooks. Still, Ontarians might need to wait a few more months before everything is set in motion.

Ontario Gambling FAQ

Is online gambling legal in Ontario?

You can legally gamble online in Ontario, but only through the official website of the province’s lottery. The site features over 100 games, including video slots, video poker and table games. The site also allows you to purchase lottery tickets and place parlay sports wagers through the Pro-Line service.

Who regulates Ontario gambling?

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario regulates all gambling in the province, both land-based and digital, and reports to the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Does Ontario have a self-exclusion program?

Yes, the OLG offers a self-exclusion program to people looking to restrict their access to gambling in the province. The program features three exclusion options: Charitable Gaming Self-Exclusion (applied to charitable bingo halls and other gaming centres), OLG Self-Exclusion (applied to online gambling through the OLG website), and Gaming Self-Exclusion (applied to all casinos and the OLG website). You can choose to self-exclude for six months, a year or indefinitely.

Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?

In general, no. The law only makes an exception if gambling constitutes a business venture, as is the case with professional poker. Lottery winnings are considered windfalls and are not taxable, either.

Responsible gambling resources

No matter how much fun you’re having, you should always practice gambling with a dose of caution. Gambling addiction is present in Ontario, as it is in other parts of Canada and the world. There are, however, plenty of services in Ontario that help problem gamblers, either through self-exclusion programs or support centres.