Canadian Home Poker Law

Know the law when it comes to home poker games in your state in Canada

General FAQs

  • Is it legal and safe to use?

    Yes. We do not condone gambling of any form although it’s jolly good fun and if you are going to do it then you may as well make your life easier by using PokerDIY to schedule your games, find other poker players and record your results. You do NOT actually play poker on PokerDIY – think of it like a Poker Facebook – it’s designed to connect poker players.

    And of course, if you are going to gamble, gamble sensibly and use chips, not real money. Check the gambling laws in your country/state to make sure you stay on the right side of the law! Please read our Terms of Use if you are unsure.

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  • Home Poker Game Law Overview

    DISCLAIMER: The following is our layman interpretation of the home poker laws. We have consulted various sources in an attempt to make the home poker laws easier to understand. It should not be taken as legal advice and should be used as a guide only. Gamble at home at your own risk.

    In the United States, about half of all states provide some kind of exemption in gambling laws that allow for home poker games, so long as the players are the only ones profiting from the game, or do not have any written law regarding the matter at all.

    For home poker laws in other countries please post on the Home Poker Law forum so we can help you find out more.

    Most state gambling laws are aimed at the prevention of commercial gambling. That means you can’t open a home poker game and charge $5 at the door, or take a rake from each pot or any player’s chip stack. It has to be an equally profitable game where only the players exchange money.

    Basic Social Gambling Guidelines

    Let us briefly define the guidelines of a “home poker” or “social gambling” experience:

    1. The host, or home owner, may not receive economic gain for hosting the game; only from personal winnings therein.
    2. There can be no advantage to one player over another. All must have an equal opportunity to win.
    3. The poker game must occur in a private setting, like within the home, or a private social club.

    We will now define the home poker laws of each state, in plain English, referencing sources for those who prefer to decipher the language of law writers.

  • Canada Home Poker Law

    Part VII of the Canadian Criminal Code has the laws about gaming, betting, and gambling. Section 197 (sub-sections 1-4) defines the terms used in the Law.

    “Common betting house”: This is where people get together and play games. There is no ‘House’ collecting and paying bets, but rather a group of people playing against each other in some game of skill and chance. The host does not collect and pay bets, nor does the host collect a ‘rake’, as described below.

    “Common gaming house”: This is where people are enabled to conduct gaming against a second party. Take Home Craps, for example, where individual players play against the host, or House. When somebody’s home is used to for somebody to arrange a game where he or she collects and pays bets, it falls under this definition. Some home gamblers refer to a ‘rake’, where the host collects a small percentage of all pots to help pay for hosting expenses. Use of ‘rakes’ also falls under this category.

    “Disorderly house”: A general term used to describe either a common betting house, a common gaming house.

    “Game”: The game itself, complete with rules and conditions.

    “Keeper”: The keeper of the house is the person whose name is on the lease, or is helping the person whose name is on the lease, or is acting on behalf of the person whose name is on the lease.

    “Onus”: If somebody is accused of being the keeper of a disorderly house, it’s their job to convince a court otherwise. Even if the game is only started at one house and finished at another (ie. long game of Trips to Win), that first house is still a disorderly house.

    Section 198 (only one sub-section) outlines what presumptions can be made by the Law when police officers show up at your door under the suspicion that yours is a disorderly house. They are allowed to assume that yours is such a house if one of the following things happen:

    1. The police officer was prevented or delayed from entering your house.
    2. The police officer did not find a game-in-progress, but did find enough gaming equipment (ie. poker chips, Craps tabletop, home roulette wheel, etc.) to make it clear enough.
    3. The police officer did not find a game-in-progress, but did find gaming equipment on the persons of people in the house (i.e. poker chips in everybody’s pockets).
    4. The police officer did not charge you while you were found in the disorderly house, but after the keeper was convicted and it was proven that you were there, you can be charged.

    Section 199 (sub-sections 1-7) outlines the procedure in dealing with a disorderly house.

    Search: The keeper of the disorderly house and anybody in it may be apprehended with or without a warrant, if the officer can prove that it is a disorderly house.
    Property: The court reserves the right to keep and/or dispose of any evidence (ie. gaming equipment) that it finds in the disorderly house.

    Section 201 (only one sub-section) states that the keeper of the disorderly house and everybody found in it can be punished with a maximum sentence of two years. The word of the law does not specify whether or not the stakes of the game would have an influence on the amount of the punishment.

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