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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