British Columbia Gambling Laws

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll navigate through the intricacies of gambling regulations in BC. From the legal age to partake in this thrilling activity to the ins and outs of online betting, we’ve got you covered.

  • Updated: 29.05.2024
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British Columbia Gambling Laws

Our aim is to provide you with clear, accurate information, ensuring you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions in the vibrant gambling landscape of British Columbia.

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History of Gambling Laws in BC

The history of gambling laws in British Columbia reflects a dynamic and evolving relationship between the public’s love for gambling and the government’s responsibility to regulate it. Here’s a brief overview:

Early Days

Gambling has been a part of BC’s social fabric since the late 1800s. Initially, gambling activities were largely unregulated, occurring in saloons and early gaming houses.


Initial Regulation

The first significant regulation came in the early 1900s, as the government sought to curb illegal gambling activities. This period saw the introduction of laws to control and license certain types of gambling.


Lottery Introduction

In the 1970s, the BC government introduced the first provincially run lottery, marking a shift towards state-controlled gambling as a revenue source.

Casino Era

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed the emergence of casinos in BC. This period was marked by the establishment of government bodies to oversee and regulate these new forms of gambling, ensuring they operated within legal and ethical standards.


Online Gambling Expansion

The late 2000s saw a significant change with the introduction of legal online gambling, overseen by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). This move was aimed at offering a regulated and safe online gambling environment to counteract the proliferation of unregulated offshore gambling sites.


Recent Developments

In recent years, there have been further refinements to gambling laws in BC, focusing on enhancing responsible gambling practices, player protection, and ensuring the integrity of gambling activities. This includes the implementation of advanced technologies for age and identity verification, especially in online gambling platforms.

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British Columbia, the thrill of gambling is accessible to adults from the age of 19. This age limit applies uniformly across all forms of legal gambling within the province, including:

It’s important to note that this age requirement is slightly higher than in some other Canadian provinces, where the legal gambling age can be 18. In British Columbia, the government and gambling authorities are strict about enforcing this rule to ensure responsible gambling practices.

By setting the legal gambling age at 19, British Columbia aims to ensure that individuals are mature enough to make informed decisions about gambling, balancing the excitement of the activity with a responsible approach.

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Online gambling is fully legal in British Columbia, offering a wide range of options for residents and visitors alike. Here’s what you need to know:

Provincial Regulation

The BCLC regulates online gambling within the province. Through PlayNow.com, BCLC offers a variety of online casino games, poker, bingo, sports betting, and lottery tickets, ensuring a safe and regulated platform for enthusiasts.


Licensed and Regulated

All online gambling operations on PlayNow.com are conducted under strict regulations to ensure fair play and responsible gambling practices. The revenue generated from these activities is reinvested in various community projects across the province.

Offshore Gambling Sites

While many offshore online gambling sites are accessible to BC residents, they operate outside the purview of Canadian law. It’s important to exercise caution and do thorough research before engaging with these sites.

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Responsible Gambling and Support Resources

British Columbia is committed to promoting healthy gambling habits and provides numerous resources to support this commitment. Here are key aspects and resources for responsible gambling in BC:

Setting Personal Limits

It’s crucial to set personal limits on time and money spent gambling. Platforms like PlayNow.com offer tools to set these limits, ensuring you stay within your comfort zone and budget.


Self-Exclusion Programs

If you need a break from gambling, self-exclusion programs are available. These programs allow you to voluntarily exclude yourself from casinos and online gambling sites for a set period.


Gambling Support BC

This organization offers free and confidential counseling services, both online and in-person, for anyone affected by gambling. Their services include support for gamblers and their families, providing an essential safety net.

GameSense Information Centers

Located in casinos across BC, these centers provide information on how games work, odds of winning, and tips for playing responsibly. Trained staff are available to answer questions and provide support.


24-Hour Helpline

BC residents can access a 24-hour helpline for immediate support, advice, or just someone to talk to about their gambling habits.


Online Resources and Tools

Websites like gamblingsupportbc.ca offer tools, quizzes, and information to help assess and manage gambling habits.

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FAQs about Gambling in BC

Absolutely! Tourists who are of legal gambling age (19 and above) can enjoy all forms of gambling in BC, including casinos, lotteries, and online platforms like PlayNow.com. Just make sure to carry valid ID for age verification.
Generally, gambling winnings are not taxable in Canada, including BC. Whether it's a big win at a casino or a jackpot from a lottery, these winnings are considered windfalls and not subject to tax. However, if you earn interest on your winnings, that interest is taxable.
Yes, it's legal to host a poker game at home, as long as the game is not operated as a business (i.e., no one is making a profit from running the game, including through rake or fees). The game should be limited to a friendly match among acquaintances.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation and other regulatory bodies ensure the fairness of casino games and lotteries through strict licensing and auditing. This includes regular checks on gaming machines and systems to ensure integrity and fair play.
Yes, there are regulations governing the advertising of gambling in BC. Advertisements must not target minors or vulnerable individuals, and must not imply that gambling is an alternative to employment, a financial strategy, or a way to recover from financial losses.
Yes, the self-exclusion program in BC allows you to voluntarily exclude yourself from all gambling facilities, including casinos and online gambling sites, for a predetermined period. This is part of the responsible gambling initiatives to help individuals manage their gambling activities.