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By Richard Hayes
21 September 2023

Are Gambling Winnings Taxable in Canada?

If your primary source of income comes from winning games of chance and luck, and if gambling is your passion and even your occupation, then Canada is undeniably one of the most appealing places to reside. So, what makes Canada and its taxation on gambling winnings so attractive to gamblers, particularly professionals? The answer lies in the fact that the vast majority of players in the Great White North are not required to pay any taxes on their hard-earned winnings.

The concept of exempting gambling winnings from taxation predates the existence of Canada itself. It originated in England and stipulates that as long as an individual does not rely solely on gambling winnings for their livelihood or operate gambling businesses, they are exempt from paying taxes on such income. As a result, Canada, which has incorporated fundamental legislation from the UK, rarely imposes taxes on winnings and prizes from various forms of gambling, including sports betting, lotteries, table games, horse racing, casino games, and other contests involving luck and chance.

Do I have to pay taxes on casino winnings?

The casino tax regulations in Canada encompass various rules regarding gambling winnings, although it is unlikely that most individuals are affected by them.

Under the provisions of the Income Tax Act, specifically paragraph 40(2)(f), there is only one requirement that mandates Canadian gamblers to declare and pay taxes on their winnings from games of chance. This obligation applies solely to individuals who engage in gambling as a profession.

It is important to highlight that the distinction between professional and nonprofessional gamblers is determined by the Canadian government based on several crucial factors. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the tax laws pertaining to gambling differ from the legislation outlined in the Criminal Code, which governs the overall operation of the gambling industry throughout Canada.

Amateur Gamers And Professionals

When it comes to determining whether gambling is an occupation or simply a hobby, the Canadian government is very meticulous in distinguishing between professional and non-professional gamblers.

In the eyes of Canadian law, one cannot be classified as a professional gambler solely based on spending a significant amount of time and money at various gambling establishments. Even frequent winnings do not automatically categorize someone as a professional gambler.

In Canada, an individual can be considered a professional gambler if they treat their gambling activities as a business or if they possess professional skills or expertise that they consistently utilize to generate profits. Another crucial factor that may designate a Canadian citizen as a professional in the gambling realm is if winnings from games of chance constitute their sole source of income.

Based on the aforementioned criteria, it is easy to answer the question of whether non-professional gamers need to pay taxes on casino winnings in Canada. Non-professional players who engage in gambling purely for recreational purposes do not have to pay taxes on their winnings, regardless of the amount.

The category of non-professional gamblers is quite broad within the Great White North. It includes compulsive gamblers, casual betting enthusiasts, and organized gambling groups, all of whom are exempt from paying taxes on their gaming winnings. However, it is important to note that non-professional players cannot claim their losses as deductions from their income.

In truth, Canadian law is quite reluctant when it comes to classifying individuals as professional gamblers. This aspect contributes to making Canada an attractive destination for gamers.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employs specific criteria to determine if a taxpayer’s activities can be considered a professional activity or a gambling business. These criteria include the level of organization in the taxpayer’s pursuit of the activity, the presence of specialized skills and knowledge that allow them to reduce the element of chance, and the intention behind their participation in the game (whether it is for enjoyment or profit). However, it is important to note that none of these factors alone can impose a tax obligation on an individual without additional reasoning from the CRA.

Tax Rate on Casino Winnings in Canada

If you are classified by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the tax agency of the Canadian federal government and most provincial and territorial governments, as a professional gambler, your winnings from games of chance and luck will be officially regarded as income. Consequently, these winnings will be subject to taxation in the same manner as any regular job, following the same set of rules.

However, there is one notable exception in the taxation of winnings that appeals to professional gamblers in Canada. The CRA distinguishes between winnings from games such as poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, sports betting, and horse racing, which involve skill to win, and lotteries and other games purely based on luck. While the odds of winning a lottery cannot be influenced besides purchasing more tickets, the CRA considers all lottery winnings as fortune. Therefore, even professional gamblers are exempt from taxation on such funds.

The main advantage of being officially recognized as a professional gambler is the ability to deduct expenses and losses from your income if you treat your gambling activities as a business. In the Great White North, income tax rates are based on net income, allowing significant savings through tax-allowable deductions.

The Difference Between Online and Offline Winning Taxation

According to Canadian law, there is no distinction between winnings from online games of chance and luck and winnings from traditional brick-and-mortar gambling establishments. The Income Tax Act treats both forms of gambling in the same manner, subjecting them to the same regulations and standards.

If you are not a professional gambler and have other sources of income, there is no obligation to pay taxes on your winnings, regardless of whether they were obtained through online gambling or at a physical casino.

Regulations in Provinces and Territories

Every province and territory in Canada has its own set of gambling laws and regulatory bodies overseeing the operations of gambling establishments, including online gambling. However, when it comes to the taxation of gaming winnings, the rules remain consistent across all administrative divisions of the country.

Gambling in Foreign Countries

When Canadian gamblers play outside of Canada, whether they are professional or non-professional players, it is important to be aware that they may be subject to tax obligations on their winnings. For instance, if Canadians engage in gambling activities in the United States, they could potentially face a tax deduction of up to thirty percent on their winnings due to the tax treaty between the US and Canada. Under this treaty, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the tax authority of the United States federal government, is authorized to impose taxes on winnings received by gamers from Canada.


Laws and regulations in Canada, as well as in other countries, undergo regular changes influenced by various factors. It applies to tax laws just as it does to other regulations. If you find yourself uncertain about your tax situation, it is advisable to seek assistance from a tax specialist who can help address any concerns or questions you may have.


Is gambling tax-free in Canada?
Yes, recreational gambling in Canada is tax-free. Whether you win a small amount on slot machines, a substantial sum playing poker, or even a multimillion-dollar jackpot from the lottery, you will not be required to pay any taxes on your winnings if you are gambling for fun. However, taxes may be applicable if your winnings generate interest or when the government deems you a professional gambler.

Do sports gambling winnings incur taxes?
No, recreational or “for fun” players do not have to pay taxes on their sports gambling winnings in Canada. It means you can enjoy placing wagers on various sports markets, including hockey, the NFL, eSports, fantasy sports, and horse racing, without any tax obligations.

Do professional gamblers pay taxes in Canada?
Yes, professional gamblers in Canada are subject to a tax on their earnings. The amount of tax owed depends on the overall profits and typically falls within the range of 15% to 33%. Becoming recognized as a professional gambler in Canada involves meeting certain criteria, so occasional wins on your favourite slot game should not cause concern.

Are gambling losses tax-deductible?
The tax deductibility of gambling losses depends on whether you are a professional gambler or a recreational bettor. Professional gamblers can deduct their gambling losses and claim business expenses such as entry fees and travel costs. However, recreational bettors cannot deduct gambling losses from their taxes. As a result, some Canadian gamblers may attempt to present their gambling activities as professionals to take advantage of these deductions.

Can you claim gambling losses on your taxes?
You can only claim gambling losses on your taxes if you win over $1,200 in the United States and are subject to the 30% withholding rate. In such cases, you can reclaim your losses by obtaining a US tax number and completing a 1040NR form. The taxed winnings will be refunded to you as a tax refund.

Do foreigners pay taxes on gambling winnings?
Yes, non-Canadian visitors who win in Canada are required to pay taxes on their gambling winnings. If you are a US citizen, you must report your Canadian gambling winnings to the IRS when filing your tax return. It is important to note that Canada bases its taxes on residency rather than citizenship, so if you are a foreigner residing in Canada, you may not be liable for gambling taxes. If you are unsure about your tax status, it is advisable to seek legal advice.

Richard Hayes
Richard Hayes

Senior Content Editor