The Gambling History in Canada: A True Historical Changing of the Cards

Canada is no exception to its historical makings, especially when it comes to gambling and casino online sites. What was once associated with the rich and sophisticated has now become socially acceptable amongst people of all backgrounds. Gambling in Canada has a colourful history of triumph and even a few pitfalls. Yet, it has conquered and overcome.

Profit generated from gambling has been put back into the welfare of Canadians, it has improved communities and promoted better education throughout the country. It is an activity that Canadians are proud of and one that they hold close to their hearts. This is the story of how gambling evolved in Canada.


John Cabot Arrives in Canada

Upon setting foot on what was to become Canada, John Cabot discovered the native people engaging in a variety of different games. The most notable one is called Slahal and is played with bones or sticks. Originally used as an alternative to war, Slahal became a go-to family pastime used for growth, spiritual ritual, and prosperous financial outcomes.

1497 - 1800s

Card Games Provide Entertainment

The European settlement in Canada introduced a conservative undertone to the lax feelings of gambling games amongst the native people. Dice games were illegal thanks to a law from the 1380's in which Richard III thought they were too distracting for his soldiers. This law, however, didn't prevent settlers from playing various, easy-to-transport card games like poker, blackjack, and stook, also known as Canadian 21.


Gambling is Made Illegal in Canada

The Canadian Criminal Code of 1892 effectively banned all types of gambling activity except for horse racing.

1896 - 1899

The Klondike Gold Rush

Upwards of 100,000 prospectors made their way to the Klondike region of the Yukon in north-western Canada to seek out gold. The gambling prohibition did not stop these people from making real money bets. When the prospective gold hunters weren't looking for nuggets they were often found playing Faro, a unique card game with German origin and one which faded soon after the Klondike Gold Rush.


An Amendment to the Gambling Laws is Made

The pari-mutuel amendment was added to the criminal code of 1892 which stated that wagering involves "dividing losers' stakes among the winners with a cut of the bet going to the horsemen, the track and the state." This type of betting became the official form of any horse wagering and was also applied to any games of chance in which all profit made was used for religious or charitable purposes (i.e. raffles and giveaways).


Canada's Gambling Laws are Changed

In 1970, Canada made huge sweeping changes to the current gambling laws. It was a year that will go down in history because provinces were given the complete authority to license and regulate gambling within their regions. This monumental move was very welcoming to Canada's gambling enthusiasts and the public as a whole. It would also bring forth unimaginable innovations in the years to come.

1970 - 1989

Gambling Flourishes

In just under two decades, gambling in Canada went from something that was done behind closed doors to one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Video lottery terminals were introduced to most provincial areas and bingo halls were being developed.


The First Land Based Casino Opens

The first government owned casino in Winnipeg opened up in 1990. People from around Canada made their way to this architectural landsite to ooh and awe at its magnificence and plethora of real money games. In 1993 another land based casino opened in Montreal followed by several more in other areas over the next decade.


Kahnawake Gaming Commission is Set Up

To help organize the casino market in Canada, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established and tasked with creating laws and licensure procedures. This governing body is an emblem for trust and quality not only in Canada, but throughout the world.

2001 - Present

Canada Gambling is Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

By 2001, there were 38,652 Video Lottery Terminals, 31,537 slot machines, 32,932 lottery ticket centres, 1,880 bingo hall permits, 59 land based casinos, and 70 race tracks. By 2003, it was an 11.8 billion dollar industry. It was also around this time in which casino online sites starting growing in popularity. Canadians were thrilled about the ability to sit at home and play their favourite games.

By the late 2000s' gambling went mobile. Casino online games could be played not just at home, but on the go. It was welcomed with so much enthusiasm that operators struggled to keep up with the demand for smartphone apps.

Nowadays, online casinos in Canada are more popular than their land-based counterparts with upwards of 2000 sites in existence. Governments in Montreal and Ottawa have even established their own government operated casinos, eSpaceJeux and PlayOLG. You can be in the most remote areas of the country and find enthusiasts having a go at their favourite slot game or facing off with the infamous blackjack dealer.

The future looks bright for online gambling. As technology rapidly evolves, you can expect to see games more realistic than ever. Perhaps even those which take you into an authentic world of virtual reality.

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