Things You Need to Know about Gambling in Canada

Things You Need to Know about Gambling in Canada

When it comes to gambling in North America, the United States gets most of the attention largely due to the fact it’s home to one of the largest gambling destinations in the world. While Las Vegas may be home to some of the world’s most notable casinos, there are still plenty of opportunities to strike it rich in America’s neighbor to the north.

Gambling opportunities are offered in most of Canada’s provinces and territories. While we recommend you don’t attempt to take on a giant bear or moose since that’s a gamble you’re sure to lose, there are a number of physical casinos, online casinos, lotteries, and other bets around the country where you can strike it rich. 

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about gambling in Canada and what gambling options are available in the various provinces and territories around the nation. Just remember to gamble responsibly and save a few loonies (Canadian dollars) for some delicious poutine or maple syrup drenched pancakes.

Brief History of Gambling in Canada

While there have been periods when gambling laws have been quite strict in Canada, things have become much more hassle-free since more lax gambling legislation was passed in the 1970s. Since 1985, Canadian provinces and territories were given the right to oversee gaming activities and gambling opportunities are now offered through various charities, government-licensed private operators, and through the Canadian aboriginal people of the First Nations in places like the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory of Quebec.

Many provinces are now home to land-based casinos, horse racing tracks, government approved sports betting outlets, and their own individual lotteries. The gambling industry as a whole is supervised by the Canadian Gaming Commission, but laws pertaining to gaming activities are enforced by the individual provinces. 

Recent stats show that at least 70-75% of Canadians from across Canada’s ten provinces and three territories gamble in some form every year. While not everyone will win big, as its understandable casinos and other betting agencies are in business to make a profit, a lot of gambling revenue will get filtered back into local Canadian communities.

Each province has a Lotteries Review Committee which invites local residents to attend public meetings. These meetings are designed to decide where some of the revenue raised from gambling will go. Over the years, millions of dollars has been raised for tourism, parks and recreation, environmental protection, arts and cultural organizations, youth organizations, hospitals and health care, education, and scientific and medical research. Money is also used to support the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.

Online Gambling

While there are a number of casinos available throughout Canada, many Canadian residents and visitors are choosing to gamble online through online gaming websites like Canadacasino.ca. Canada’s a big country and not everyone has access to physical casinos. Even those that do live close to notable casinos are moving towards online gambling for the convenience, vast array of games available, user-friendly platforms, great welcome bonus packages for new players, regular special promotions, customer support, and flexible payment options.

Several Canadian provinces run their own online casinos and you can place wagers online through a number of government-approved betting outlets. While the laws around online gambling in Canada are complex and ever-evolving, especially when it comes to gambling via online casinos that are based offshore, there are currently no laws that make gambling online illegal. We should note that other than government and state approved operations, you aren’t protected by Canada’s gambling regulations when gambling online. You can, however, be safe and choose to only gamble with reputable sites that are regulated and licensed through other jurisdictions.

Many online casinos make it easy for Canadians to gamble online, offering deposit and withdrawal options in Canadian dollars. This eliminates the need to deal with currency exchange rates or conversion fees. There are even mobile-friendly online gaming sites available as well as online gambling mobile apps available.

Gambling Options in Canada’s Provinces

Gambling age requirements vary between Canada’s provinces and territories. In most regions, you must be 19 to enter a casino, however in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec you can gamble at 18. This contrasts with the U.S. where most states require you to be 21 years of age (a handful of states allow gambling at 18).

Canada is home to over 100 casinos, many of them being resort-style casinos with live shows, restaurants, and accommodation options. Let’s travel around the country to see what many of its provinces offer in terms of casinos, race tracks, and other gambling opportunities.

Ontario

Ontario is the most populated Canadian province, with roughly 90% of the residents gambling at least once annually. Most residents live within an hour’s drive of a casino or gambling establishment and the province is home to the most casinos in the country. Some casinos are privately-owned while others are government-run charitable locations.

Notable casinos include Caesars in Windsor as well as Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara which can both be found in Niagara Falls. Ontario is also home to the largest First Nations casino in Canada which is jointly owned by the Chippewas of Rama First Nation and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Ontario is home to one of North America’s largest lottery networks and you’ll find more slots here than anywhere else in Canada. Enjoy Horseracing at tracks like Fort Erie Race Track, Flamboro Downs, and Woodbine Racetrack.

Quebec

This predominantly French-speaking province is home to Canada’s largest casino which has become one of Quebec’s top attractions. Situated on Notre Dame Island, the giant Casino De Montreal is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ll also find the stunningly beautiful Casino de Charlevoix located in Pointe-au-Pic which sits adjacent to the very fancy Fairmont Manoir Richelieu hotel. The hotel is home to a health club, golf course, and several outdoor pools. During summer you can enjoy biking and golfing, while winter offers the chance for dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. There are an additional 7 casinos in the province along with the Hippodrome de Quebec horse racing track.

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Photo By: Mario Hains/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Novia Scotia

Nova Scotia is home to two government owned casinos operating under the brand Casino Nova Scotia. The main casino is a $100-million Vegas-like facility situated along downtown Halifax’s waterfront. The casino is home to 650 slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and a six-table poker room. The smaller sister casino is located in Sydney on Cape Breton Island which features less than half the number of slots. It does, however, offer up roulette, blackjack, and Texas hold’em much like its larger sister. The province’s horse racing tracks include Inverness Raceway, Northside Downs, and Truro Raceway.

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British Columbia

There are more than a dozen casinos within British Columbia, the largest gaming space being offered at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver with its 80,000 square feet of gaming space. Up for grabs are roughly 1,000 slot machines and 70 table games including blackjack, baccarat, and craps. The casino offers a number of great restaurants including Asylum and the Neptune Chinese Kitchen.

Richmond’s River Rock Casino Resort is the largest casino overall in British Columbia and the only AAA Four Diamond Casino Resort in Western Canada. It receives an average of 10,000 visitors per day and has held previous British Columbia Poker Championships and the Johnny Chan Poker Championship.

St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is a Native-owned casino that was converted from the old Kootenay Indian Residential School. Set amongst the Canadian Rockies, the casino is owned by both the Samson Cree Nation and Chippewas of Rama First Nation.

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Manitoba

Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital and largest city, is home to two government-owned casinos. Club Regent Casino gives off a Mesoamerican vibe with its exterior palm trees and Aztec-themed interior design. The casino is home to abundant VLT machines and slot machines as well as a table games area which can be reached by walking through an exotic saltwater fish aquarium.  The more contemporary-looking McPhillips Station Casino offers up slots and bingo along with two great restaurants. Head to Assiniboia Downs for some Thoroughbred and Standardbred race action.

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New Brunswick

New Brunswick was the first province to introduce video lottery terminals. The province is home to a single casino named Casino New Brunswick which can be found in Moncton. The casino celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and offers up slots, poker, and a variety of table games. It also regularly hosts notable music acts.

New Brunswick’s only approved harness racing track is found in Saint John at the Exhibition Park Raceway. Seasonal races begin in May and include the Milton Downey Stakes, the Dawn Bremner Memorial, the Maritimer Stake, and the Walter Dale Memorial which is the oldest free-for-all race in Canada.

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Alberta

There are a number of casinos in Alberta including some which split their profits with various charities throughout the region. Some casinos are government run while others are operated by the First Nations. The first native-owned casino in the province was the River Cree Resort & Casino and it continues to offer up one of Alberta’s largest casinos. There are well over 1,300 slot machines along with daily and weekly poker tournaments. The casino also offers free shuttle service to the gigantic West Edmonton Mall. Horse racing can be found at Alberta Downs, Century Downs, and Northlands Park.

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Author: Michael Jerrard

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