In British Columbia, officials with the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) are in charge with ensuring the integrity of any business, people, physical or digital tool and service relating to the gambling industry. It is also the competent entity to conduct thorough investigations and take measures against gambling allegations or proven wrongdoings through the Gaming Control Act, Gaming Control Regulations and Canada’s Criminal Code.
However, you may be better acquainted with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), which is actually overseen by the GPEB.
BCLC is a provincial Crown corporation that both manages and conducts casinos, bingo halls, and lotteries with the main purpose of generating revenue that would be put to later use towards health care, education and community programs. In turn, BCLC oversees service providers across British Columbia (such as the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation that leases or owns community gambling sites). In total, there are at least 20 service providers and over 48 locations (including River Rock Casino and Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, along many other hotels that offer gambling activities, racetracks, entertainment outlets or food & beverage places) that fall under BCLC and GPEB’s jurisdiction.
How Gambling Works in British Columbia?
The short answer would be “pretty much as in any other location across Canada”. The main prerequisites are that you have to be at least 19 years old, a British Columbia resident, and physically present within its borders to be able to purchase lottery tickets from the website.
Amid all the might of a pretty extensive regularization scheme, how surprised would you be to find out that the province not only rules the gambling domain inside its borders with an iron fist, but it also perfectly set the stage for an online casino of its own? In fact, you shouldn’t be surprised at all. Why go through all the trouble of setting up the rules of the game if not willing to partake, right? Especially with the strong cultural heritage surrounding Canuck gambling. But then again, it’s not mandatory for regulatory bodies to develop and operate a gambling venture of its own. In this lucky case (depending on which side of the border you are), it happened.
There are shortcomings, as well. First of all, the offering is scarce overall and the focus falls primarily on lotteries, poker, keno and some sports. While casino entertainment has been kind of left in the rearview mirror, offshore competition certainly stepped in to fill up the gap, putting British Columbia officials on the spot in regards to a very simple question: “Is it legal to play at anything other than government-owned online casinos?”. And the answer is “YES”. While it is not illegal to engage in gambling activities on foreign websites, players won’t be covered by the British Columbia legal system if anything goes awry. However, as long as the offshore casino is regulated by a trustworthy international entity and the players have touched base with the minimum implications (at the very least), everything should be perfectly fine.
Gambling Proceedings Distribution
Much like in Alberta, the profits generated through gambling return to the community as monetary support for funding key social elements such as health care and education first and foremost. The remainder goes to supporting local economic developments and host communities.
According to the latest Annual Service Plan Report issued by the BCLC, the company amassed C$1.347 billion in net income by the end of 2020. Admittedly, this is $59 million less than the 2018/19 segment, but such a development doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise taking into account the global pandemic that wreaked logistical havoc among all walks of businesses.
On a more humanitarian note, organizations and groups can hold fundraisers in the form of licensed gambling events. Also, British Columbia heavily invests gambling revenue in local NGOs via the Community Gaming Grant directive. The program refers but is not limited to: parent advisory councils, culture, public safety, sport, arts, and human and social service sectors.
Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch’s Recommendations
If one wants to play at an offshore casino, there are currently no legal grounds that can prevent that, nor legal repercussions from it. Make sure the online casino of your choice is properly regulated for your own safety.
On another hand, it’s not like if foreign ventures suddenly up and go there will be no gambling activity left to enjoy within British Columbia. As we’ve discussed before, there is PLayNow (the only government-owned website that delivers a somewhat varied array of such services). There, you can find slots, poker, lottery tickets, bingo, and 50/50 draws.
In terms of physical locations, however, British Columbia has a way broader offering. Depending on your choice of preferred gambling activity, you could visit:
- Thunderbird Show Park
- Casino of the Rockies
- Hard Rock Casino Vancouver
- Cascades Casino Kamloops
- Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino
These are just the top five gambling establishments across British Columbia, though. You can find a detailed list of all such locations within British Columbia on the BCLC official website.