License for gambling in Canada - regulation and policy of government

Canada is not a country with a distinctive craving for gambling. It concerns both virtual and land-based casinos. However, their activities became legal in different times. Currently, both types of gambling in Canada are officially allowed.

Conventional casinos began to appear in Canada yet in 1978. Officially, the ban on their work was removed in 1999. Gambling websites are available for use in the country since 2009. Among virtual entertainment, there are slot machines as well. However, some providers may restrict the distribution if they think that video slots involve gambling elements. Sometimes the reason for the ban is explained, sometimes it's not.

Gambling is regulated by three articles of the Criminal Code that do not contain the prohibition on playing for money online. However, in most cases, this leisure activity does not go beyond lotteries but implies an age limit.

Gambling in Canada

Canada is known for its tolerant attitude to many issues, including those in the gambling business. Gambling in Canada since 1999. Around this time, the government issued laws and created Kahnawake Gaming Commission, as well as the gambling commissions in the provinces.

In comparison with other countries with legalized casino gambling Canada cannot be called gambling capital. Yet the gambling there is developed quite successfully.

As for 2016 the following gambling establishments operate in Canada:

  • 114 casino;
  • 12 tracks for horse racing;
  • 1 bookmaker;
  • 8 bingo halls.

Most of the casinos are located in the provinces of Alberta and Ontario – there operate 31 and 32 establishments respectively. The smallest number of them – is in the Yukon, Newfoundland, Labrador and Prince Edward. In each state operates 1 casino.

Gambling laws in Canada

The gambling in Canada is controlled by the enactments 204, 206 and 207 of the Criminal Code. This is the fundamental provisions, which are based on other, more detailed draft legislation at the local provincial level.

  1. Enactment 204 defines the rules for the regulation of horse racing and totalizators on them;
  2. Enactment 206 defines the list of prohibited gambling and actions;
  3. Enactment 207 defines the list of authorized gambling and actions. Thanks to it, each province can create its own lotteries and manage the gambling.

The regulation of the gambling industry depends on the provinces. In the country there are 13 states, and each of them has their own characteristics and laws of gambling.

The peculiarities of the gambling in the provinces of Canada

Since the provincial legislative provisions differ, the gambling business itself is characterized in different ways. In some provinces, people are allowed to play from 18 years and in others – from 19. In some places only the lotteries are authorized, in others – casinos, betting and horse racing.

Below there is a brief description of the gambling business in some Canadian provinces:

  1. Alberta – the age limit is 18 years. There is allowed gambling in the casino, lottery, and betting;
  2. British Columbia – from 19 the casino, betting on horse racing, bingo, lotteries and slot machines. There is a legal portal BCLC – Lottery Corporation of British Columbia;
  3. Labrador – the gambling sites in Canada are available from 19 years. The offline and online lotteries and horse racing are legalized. As for online lotteries, only one, provided by state are allowed;
  4. Manitoba – the age limit is 18 years. In the province are operating casinos, lotteries and betting on horse racing;
  5. Newfoundland – you can play from 19, place bets on horse races. Also, it is allowed to take part in off-line lottery. Online Lottery is only provincial;
  6. Northwest Territories – only 19 years old and only state lottery;
  7. Nova Scotia – the age limit is 19 years. Casino, bookmakers, lotteries, offline-lotteries and state online lotteries;
  8. Ontario – the games are available from 19 years, on the territory of this province are operating casinos, bookmakers, lotteries. The online lottery from the province is permitted;
  9. Prince Edward Island – you can play here from 19 years. An interesting peculiarity – Racine, hybrid of casino and betting on rates. The private and state-owned lottery and online lottery are allowed;
  10. Quebec – the age limit is 18 years. There are operating several online and offline lotteries, poker rooms, casinos and betting on horse racing;
  11. Saskatchewan – the games are allowed from 19 years. The online lottery of the province, as well as off-line lotteries, casinos, bookmakers and Racine are legalized;
  12. Yukon – the gambling is available from 19 years. They allow public and private lottery, as well as non-profit casino.

The history of gambling in Canada

When the discoverers of Canada mastered the local land in the 15th century, they found out that the local tribes played lots of gambling games. These activities were of a great importance in the spiritual and mystical sense. Therefore, the gambling is not new for Canada's land, gambling was in Canada history.

Those pioneers from England brought with them a long-term ban on gambling. English King Richard III in 1380 banned them completely; he realized that his men spent too much time on gambling.

In 1892, the Canadian Criminal Code once again banned them. Then the laws began to soften gradually. Bingo and Raffles were allowed in 1900 for charitable purposes. In 1969, the government realized that the lottery can be a profitable business for the state.

The first lottery of this kind was held in 1974, to finance the Olympic Games in Montreal.

The legalization of gambling in Canada

The changes in society that happened in the 70s resulted in a multi-billion growth of the gambling in Canada. In 1989 opened the first commercial casino in Winnipeg. The second opened its doors in 1993 in Montreal.

Then on March 15, 1999, the Canadian government in Ottawa legalized the gambling and allowed the provinces to earn this money and place into budget, opening the Internet or off-line lotteries and casinos.

The state of Quebec, Manitoba and Nova Scotia were first to adopt the legislation.

  • Quebec – the relevant laws adopted in 1978. This is two acts: Act respecting the Société des loteries du Québec and the Act respecting lotteries, publicity contests, and gambling machines;
  • Manitoba – adopted the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation Act in 1993 and the Gaming Control Act in 1996;
  • Nova Scotia – adopted in 1995 an act of Gaming Control Act.

Gambling business in the contemporary Canada

As of 2016, the gambling business in Canada is developing quite successfully. As is was already mentioned, in the country there are 114 casinos, 12 horse tracks, 1 bookmaker and 8 halls for bingo.

The casinos and gambling sites in Canada contain 1776 tables for card games, 220 poker tables, 57,150 slot machines. Many casinos in Canada are as good as American institutions in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Most of casinos are in Ontario. There are 32 gambling establishments, 666 card tables, 26,022 slot machines and video poker rooms.

The most famous casino in Canada

The most famous and large establishments in Canada are the Casino Niagara and the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. They are located next to the same Niagara Falls, in Ontario. The casinos offer their guests a thousand slot machines and hundreds of tables with card games.

The most famous Canadian horse racing track and Racine is a Woodstock Racetrack and Slots. It is also located in Ontario. In its room there are located more than a hundred slot machines.

In addition to Ontario, there are provinces that intensively develop gambling. They are Alberta and Nova Scotia. It is the first state which can boast with concentration of most casinos. The City of Edmonton has 9 casinos, where guests can find more than 200 card tables, 5,400 slots, and video poker.

The taxation of winnings in Canada

Canada also does not collect taxes from the winnings, unless they are a form of salary. The Canadian law characterized earnings from the winning by three things:

  • the presence of specialized skills;
  • the regularity of payments;
  • the expectation of subsequent payments.

That is, the taxes can be charged from professional poker players, and should not be collected from those who play for fun.

Statistics of gambling in Canada

Below you will find the gambling in Canada statistics of establishments during the 2014-2015 years.

There are 136 places where bingo is played. Among them, most of establishments are located in the province of Ontario – 75.

The total number of casinos in Canada is more than 100. An interesting peculiarity: unlike the US, here is the smaller number of Indian tribes which are engaged in the casinos’ work. In the United States, the legalized gambling is only in Indian reservations or in floating casinos.

Canada solves this issue easier. Therefore the Indians here manage smaller casinos. For example, in British Columbia are 17 casinos, only one of them is on the territory of the Indian Reservation. Most of all casinos are located on the territory of the province of Alberta – 24 establishments.

Canada allocates a separate category of gambling establishments – the so-called institutions with Electronic Gaming Machine (EGM). To this group belong, for example, bars, lounge rooms with interactive terminals, bingo halls and slots. Most of these establishments are located in Québec – there are 1854 such establishments. It is worth noting that the vast majority of establishments with EGM are bars.

There are establishments that provide electronic keno. British Columbia boasts of the highest number of points – 3633.

Most of horse tracks are located in Ontario – 87 institutions. Among them are:

  • 66 tv-theater;
  • 17 large tracks;
  • 4 small.

The points for Lotteries are most often found in Ontario – 9820 places where you can buy lottery tickets. The next goes Quebec with 8524 points. The outlets with lottery tickets are the most widespread in Canada. They are found in every province, even in those with the strictest laws.

Most establishments, where you can play poker are in the province of British Columbia. There are located 17 poker rooms.

The establishments strictly dedicated to sports betting are found only in Ontario – two places. In other provinces, there are none at all.

The most gambling province of Canada

According to the final results the first place occupies Quebec – it has 10448 gambling houses and no gambling problems in Canada, from bingo to poker rooms. If we consider that in Quebec there are more than 6 million people, for every 634 people there is one institution.

The second place takes Ontario. The province has 9992 gambling establishments. This means – 1 institution for 1086 people.

The third place – British Columbia – 3818 institutions or 1 institution for 980 people.

Least of all gambling establishments are located in the province of Prince Edward Island – only 214 gambling establishments.

The highest "density" of gambling establishments has Newfoundland and Labrador: one institution for 318 people.

The most popular game in Canada

The most common of all are interactive terminals and electronic gaming machines (EGM). Most of these machines are in Ontario – 22198.

Other games include:

  1. Machines with lottery tickets – are found only in Ontario;
  2. Electronic bingo;
  3. Electronic and offline card tables;
  4. Online games.

British Columbia can boast of the largest number of electronic bingo machines – 4069.

The largest number of electronic and offline card tables are in Ontario – 1101.

We should also talk about online games. They are permitted in not all provinces. For example, online gambling in Alberta, Canada is not available. It is also forbidden in Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Other provinces consider it to be legalized.

The concept of online gaming in Canada includes:

  • Instant scratch cards;
  • Lottery;
  • Bingo;
  • Slots Casino;
  • Board games;
  • Ingenious;
  • Poker;
  • Sports betting;
  • Video Poker.

Each province has a set of allowed online gambling games. For example, in British Columbia, only ingenious is banned. In Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are allowed to play only scratch cards, lottery, and bingo.

Most of all charitable gambling licenses has Alberta – 15 055. It should be noted that the number of such licenses usually include only those organizations whose income from sales is above USD 10 000. The exception is Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Manitoba.

Income in the Canada's budget from gambling

The annual income in the budget of the whole country is USD 13,674,359 000. Prizes are paid from the revenue.

Most of all income receives Ontario – USD 4,682,322 000. The smallest income has Prince Edward Island (USD 44,824,000). The lion's share of revenue comes from the EGM – this category includes slots, interactive terminals, video poker.

Online gambling business in Canada

The online gambling in Canada sticks to the same enactments of the Criminal Code. Now it isn’t said there that the online gambling is prohibited. The gambling should be punished for only for minors, or if the gambler’s actions violates rules of those enactments.

Thus, the online casinos are permitted in Canada, although in most provinces you can play only in state-owned lotteries in the Internet. However, there was no that someone went to prison or payed a fine for online games.

The history of online gambling in Canada

The internet sites with gambling games had been banned in Canada until 2009. The Canadians, however, played in a variety of off-shore casinos, and the law didn’t punish for that.

The strictest ban in the history of Canadian online gambling was only in 2007 – when on the Reservation Kahnawake Mohawk was imposed a fine of USD 2 million, and its server with the online casinos and poker rooms were recognized illegal. After paying the fine the Reservation continued to be engaged in gambling. Servers also were recovered and they are operating now.

The history of online gambling in the Canadian provinces

The province of British Columbia in July 2010 opened formal online casinos to their residents. Thus, it became the first Canadian province to legalize online gambling. In 2011, the provincial government launched a poker room.

In December 2010 Quebec introduced the online poker site and the site with the games in the casino style.

In January 2013 Manitoba legalized online casino. All lottery companies of mentioned states who opened poker rooms united in one network. Due to this the players from different provinces can play at one table online.

Nowadays, online gambling in most Canadian provinces is legalized partially: the online lottery from the government is authorized. In some provinces the private online lotteries are conducted. Other online gambling activities aren’t considered to be legal, while offline they are readily available from 18 or 19 years.

Slot machines in Canada

The dual situation with online gambling business does not stop Canadians from playing online. We present a list of online casinos with slot machines, which are very popular among the Canadians and about which you may find with gambling in Canada wiki:

  1. Betway casino – more than 500 slots from Microgaming, a bonus up to 1500 USD;
  2. Jackpot City – mobile casino, more than 300 slots by Microgaming;
  3. Royal Vegas – slots with progressive jackpots, more than USD 1 million;
  4. Gaming Club – more than 450 different games, a bonus in USD 800 for registration;
  5. Spin Palace – more than 450 different games, a bonus up to 1000 USD.

The most popular slot machines in Canada

  • Mega Moolah – progressive slot with the opportunity to win a multi-million dollar prize;
  • Tomb Raider – five-drum video slot dedicated to the famous Lara Croft, contains multipliers and bonus games with big payouts;
  • Gladiator – five-drum slot with 30 paylines, on the theme of ancient Rome and the gladiators. Three bonus games, free spins and multiplier with wild symbols;
  • The Dark Knight – five-reel slot dedicated to Batman. In has 243 ways to win, bonus games, progressive jackpot;
  • Avalon – five-reel slot with two wild symbols, multipliers, and different opportunities to win up to 30 000 coins.


The gambling business in Canada is an example of successful cooperation between the authorities and the operators of the casino. Thanks to the gambling establishments the provinces receive a good income in the budget. The players can easily meet their needs without fear of restrictions. As a result, Canada has a very low percentage of people with gambling addiction.

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