While the United States has always been seen as the land of the free and a country to which many in the world hoped to someday be able to immigrate to, recent decisions by the government of the United States has created a counter effect with Americans looking at the options of moving abroad. According to recent figures, the amount of American citizens applying for jobs in other countries is at the highest level ever. I personally have received half a dozen emails asking if I could write an article about the process of leaving the United States for more friendly climates with regards to internet gambling. This isn't surprising considering American online gamblers have essentially been ostracized by their government and been made to feel like common criminals. While Europe has embraced online gambling, the United States has declared it illegal and is making every attempt to combat the activity by its citizens.
To date, the United States government has only prosecuted online operators and passed a law to stop the flow of money to offshore casinos, poker sites and sportsbooks, but it seems clear that if the government is given the chance to arrest the gambler himself without major repercussions they would certainly consider it. After all, the original gambling prohibition law created by Jon Kyl sought to impose fines and/or jail time to anyone caught making a bet online in the United States. As well, the powers the U.S. government has awarded themselves under the guise of fighting terrorism are so wide spread, it isn't inconceivable that at some point they may suspend civil liberties and permit the police to search people's homes and computers looking for anything they deem as illegal activity. This may have seemed unimaginable in the past, but prior to now the United States never had anything like the Patriot Act. Regardless, if gambling sites continue to stop taking bets from American customers and choices dwindle, the American bettor could be left out in the cold. And having come this far, what American wants to go back to the days of the local bookie or seedy poker rooms?
Canadian Gambling Laws: For the above reasons (among others), many Americans are looking at their options for residency, and the most enticing place to immigrate to seems to be Canada. This shouldn't be surprising. Canada and the United States share the world's largest common border and have many things in common. They have a similar language, infrastructure, food and restaurants, legal systems, health care systems, telecommunication networks and both countries are each others largest trading partners. Plus, if Americans want to go back home for a visit, a plane ride or even a car trip aren't too far, and it is possible to have dual American and Canadian citizenship. Canadian gambling laws are actually quite straight forward compared to American laws. There is no consensus in the United States whether the wire act applies to the internet and whether it's legal for Americans to bet anywhere except at land based casinos, lotteries and racetracks. But in Canada the median for betting isn't relevant. The laws in Canada look at the type of wagers and who is conducting the wagers. The law isn't interested whether the bet is being done by telephone, computer or whatever means. Plus the law specifies that it applies for bets placed anywhere in the world, so the jurisdiction of the bets is irrelevant too. The law is covered in Section VII of the Canadian Criminal Code and essentially says the following: It is illegal for someone to take wagers, supply gambling information or run pools or lotteries with the following exceptions:
- Pari-mutuel horse racing run under the Ministry of Agriculture is legal
- Lotteries owned by the provincial governments or run by charities are legal
- Private wagers placed between 2 individuals that are not in the betting industry are legal. The amount is irrelevant. So if two friends bet their mortgages on a football game, the bet is legal.
- Betting information provided for media outlets are legal
- Sports pools that do not have a fee attached to them are legal
- Sports betting on single outcomes are illegal but multiple outcomes are ok in a "lottery scheme".
- Casinos owned or commissioned by the provincial governments are legal.
The only grey area with respect to gambling laws in Canada is with native gambling. First Nations groups claim any events that occur on their land is legal since Canadian courts don't rule on native lands, but the governments may argue differently. But actions speak louder than words, so given that many sportsbooks and casinos are running happily on servers in Kahnawake, Quebec with no interference by the federal or provincial governments is indication that the natives may be right.
The lotteries in Canada have sports pools and sports betting and are run by the provincial governments. However, to stay in line with federal laws they require parlays of 2 or more outcomes.
All these laws of course apply only to people taking bets. There is nothing in the law that talks about the placing of bets themselves. The only instance where Canadian federal law deems an individual placing a bet in violation of the law is if that person is "found in a common betting house". However, this does not apply if that betting house is a social club. It could perhaps be argued that an online poker room is a common betting house, but to argue that in court would be a stretch and it is highly unlikely any government or police department in Canada would even bother to try and prosecute such a case.
For those reasons, any resident of Canada can wager with offshore sportsbooks or with each other without any fear of arrest and consequently online sportsbooks, casinos and poker rooms operating almost anywhere happily take bets from Canadians. Neteller and other payment processors will accept payment from Canadians and most banks will process credit card deposits. The exception to the rule are Bodog and companies that operate from the Kahnawake reserve. While it may be legal for Canadians to place bets there, it appears the grey area related to native gaming has companies operating from the Kahnawake reserve erring on the side of caution so as not to get the attention of the Canadian government.
Where to live in Canada:
For choices of areas to live in Canada, there are three cities with over a million people, (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) and four cities with over 500,000 residents (Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg). This article will look at those 7 cities. For information on any other Canadian cities, feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toronto is Canada's largest city located on the northern part of Lake Ontario, approximately an hour and a half drive from Buffalo, New York. The city of Toronto has 2.5 million residents and the Greater Toronto Area, which essentially encompasses a 45 minute drive in any direction from the center of the city, has about 6 million people. The climate is pretty much similar to any north-eastern U.S. state, although the precipitation is much less than Western New York. Toronto actually gets less snow each year than does New York City. The city is multiethnic with 3 separate Chinatowns, a large Greek population, a large Portuguese population, a fairly large Spanish population and the city boasts the largest semblance of Italians of any city outside of Italy. While English and French are Canada's official languages, there are very few French speaking people in Toronto. Actually, Chinese and Italian dialects far outpace French. Toronto has a large theatre district similar to Broadway, a vast array of restaurants, numerous hospitals including one of the best children's hospitals in the world, 3 universities, 5 community colleges and major league baseball, hockey and basketball teams. As well, the city has the Toronto Argonauts CFL football team and a newly created major league soccer team. Many American visitors have referred to Toronto as a clean Manhattan. The city's crime rate has gone up considerably of late, although the homicide rate has never exceeded 90 in any year. The predominant industries in Toronto are finance, software engineering, telecommunications, media and medical research. As well being the capital city of Ontario, government and non profit jobs are plentiful. The average price of a house in Toronto was approximately CDN$360,000 in December 2006.
Montreal is Canada's second largest city, located about an hour north of Burlington, Vermont. The city has about 1.5 million residents and the Greater Montreal area has just under 4 million people. Unlike Toronto, Montreal boasts a large French speaking population, although it is possible to get by in Montreal with just English. The city has a very French feel to it and has fairly large Chinese and Italian populations, although they are tiny in comparison to Toronto. The weather is fairly cold in the winter in Montreal and the city gets quite a bit of precipitation. Like Toronto, there are many excellent restaurants, art galleries, 2 universities and a major league hockey team, as well as the Montreal Alouettes Canadian football team. The baseball team moved to Washington 2 years ago. Housing prices in Montreal averaged CDN$220,000 in December 2006. The Indian reservation of Kahnawake where many online casinos and sportsbooks operate from is located just outside of the city. The major industries in Montreal are finance, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, software engineering, telecommunications and transportation.
Vancouver is Canada's third largest city, located about a hundred miles north of Seattle Washington with a population in the Greater Vancouver area of over 2.2 million people. Vancouver has one of the warmest climates in Canada being on the Pacific coast, but like Seattle they get a lot of rain. The city has a very large Asian community encompassing almost 1/3 of the population, and the city is known for its drug problems in the downtown corps. The city instituted the first heroin safe injection site in North America and police generally don't bother prosecuting British Columbia natives for simple possession of marijuana. The city is also the most expensive place to live in Canada with an average housing price over CDN$500,000. The primary industries in Vancouver are finance, lumber and forestry, fishing, transportation, biotechnology and software development. The city only has two major league sports teams, the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL and the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League. Ok, so they actually have one real professional sports team.
Ottawa, Ontario is the capital of Canada and is located on the French/English border of Ottawa-Hull. The city has just under 900,000 people and is fully bilingual in English and French. The city is relatively cold in the winter but given that it is home to all the federal politicians, it is always full of hot air. The average price of a house in Ottawa is CDN$260,000 and the major industries in Ottawa are politics, tourism and anything hi tech. In fact, the city has been called "The Silicon Valley of the North."
Alberta has two cities of interest to many Americans in Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary is closer to the U.S. border - just north of Montana. The city has just under a million residents and the politics are very conservative. In the last few elections, every single seat in Alberta went to the most right wing political party. The primary industries in Alberta are oil and beef. The average housing price in Calgary is around CDN$360,000 and is the fastest rising metropolitan area in the country. Edmonton is north of Calgary with about the same population and is the province's capital. Housing prices are substantially cheaper in Edmonton than in Calgary, with the average house in Edmonton costing under $250,000. Edmonton's main industries are oil, technology (including biotechnology), software development and medical research. The climate in both places is relatively cold and snowy in the winter but warm in the summer. The major attraction in Calgary is the Stampede (rodeo) and the Rocky Mountains. In Edmonton, the attraction is a mall similar to the Mall of America. Both cities have a professional hockey team and a CFL football team. The biggest advantages of living in Alberta is that the oil stocks have caused a boom in the province and jobs are plentiful. As well, there is no provincial sales tax in Alberta.
The last city with over 500,000 people is Winnipeg, Manitoba. The city is just north of Minnesota and is extremely flat. You can practically walk from one side of the city to the other without going up or down a hill. Winnipeg is the cheapest city of the ones mentioned to live in with an average housing price at CDN$160,000, but it also has the least activities to do. The only professional sports team is a CFL football team and a European type casino. Other than that, there are movie houses. The city is also bitterly cold in the winter with temperatures in January and February averaging around minus10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other Advantages and Disadvantages to living in Canada:
Some other advantages to living in Canada include:
- Free universal health care for all residents (although it is paid for through taxes)
- Subsidized university fees
- The lower dollar generally buys a bit more than in the United States
Some disadvantages include:
- Longer wait times at hospitals for non emergency procedures
- Substantially higher taxes (both income and sales tax) than in the United States
- Fewer statutory holidays than in the United States
- Lower selection of goods than in the United States
As well, Canada is still a commonwealth. While the Queen of England really has no say in the way Canada conducts its business, in theory the country is still not sovereign the way the United States is. However, some consider that to be both an advantage and disadvantage. Unlike in the United States, it makes passing controversial laws or amendments much tougher.
How to get a work visa and fast track the Immigration Process in Canada:
If you've concluded that Canada is a destination you want to consider moving to, the following are ways that immigrants can have their applications fast tracked. It's easiest to get accepted as an immigrant under the following circumstances:
- If you have a spouse that is a Canadian citizen, Immigration Canada will generally fast track your application. This applies as well to common law and same sex partners.
- If you get transferred from a company with an American office to the same company in Canada, you will get an immediate work visa and have immigration papers fast tracked.
- If you are a skilled worker in high demand areas such as manufacturing, home building, medical etc., Immigration Canada will fast track the application.
- If you are a live in caregiver to elderly or children, Immigration Canada will fast track the application.
- If you are an entrepreneur and plan to set up a small business and create jobs, Immigration Canada will fast track the application.
The Canadian Immigration website www.cic.gc.ca has more tips and an immigration lawyer is always best to help with immigration queries.
Packing up and moving houses is often quite an ordeal, but to leave a country of origin, particularly for people that have families, is almost unimaginable. At some point, however, if the ideology of your government is so vastly different than your own, it is difficult to continue living under that government's rules. The next article will look at the option of immigrating to Britain.