Online Casinos in Canada
Believe it or not, but online casinos in Canada are big business! Casinos Canada is famous for many things, including maple syrup, hockey, and extreme politeness.
There are numerous Canadian celebrities from Justin Bieber and Ryan Reynolds, to William Shatner and Celine Dion who keep Canada at the forefront of popular culture.
We don’t, however, tend to associate Canadians with gambling!
Yet Canada is actually an industry-leader in online gaming, currently ranked 8th in the world.
It is not just online where gambling contributes a significant sum to the Canadian economy.
The 2020 National Economic Benefits of the Canadian Gaming Industry Key Findings Report states: “The Canadian gaming industry is a large, mature industry that is present in every region of the country and generates significant benefits and activities across the broader Canadian economy.
“In 2017, the industry produced $16.1 billion in gaming win and an additional $1.0 billion in non-gaming revenue (food and beverage, entertainment, accommodations, retail, etc.) for a total of 17.1 billion.”
So why do we tend not to think of Canadians as major players?
Knowing more about the rules and regulations associated with gambling in Canada and understanding a bit about the country’s history with gambling can only be beneficial in attracting potential players.
Here’s everything you need to know about online casinos in Canada.
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History of Online Casinos in Canada
In just about every corner of the world, you will find early records of gambling practices having taken place for centuries, and Canada is no exception.
There is evidence that native Canadians used ‘gaming sticks’ to place bets on contests and outcomes long before European settlers arrived with playing cards.
John Cabot’s voyage to Canada in 1497 brought new games to the Canadian citizens’ attention, with card games such as poker, blackjack, and its Canadian variant ‘Stook’, craps, and barbotte, another dice game, believed to be of Middle Eastern origin.
The Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 – 1899 brought tens of thousands of would-be prospectors from America and across the globe to Canada, changing the cultural and economic landscape forever.
Crucially, many were unable to return home, and were forced to build shelters and entertain themselves through the long cold winters.
During this time, the card game of Faro became popular in Canada, and remained so until poker usurped it as the most popular card game in the 1900’s.
Gambling was still technically illegal in Canada. Though amendments in the 1892 Canadian Criminal Code made provisions for certain gambling activities to take place, such as “pari-mutuel” betting. Where a cut goes to the track, to the horsemen, and the state, whilst winners divide losers’ stakes.
In the 1960’s, charity lotteries became popular. While in 1985, the Canadian Government gave provinces the licence to decide whether or not to allow gambling such as poker and lotteries to take place within their borders.
Canada’s first land-based casino opened in 1989, in Winnipeg, followed in 1993 by Montréal. Over the years, more than 100 casinos have opened all over Canada.
Many provinces also have Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs). These VLTs distribute tokens to winners which are redeemed for cash by the licensees of the premises. The profits generate millions of dollars annually to provincial governments.
Gambling Laws in Canada
Today, most forms of gambling have ostensibly been legalised in Canada, though the laws change depending on the province you are in.
For example, whilst Ontario and Quebec offer a choice of multiple land-based casinos, slot machines, sports betting, and lotteries, Yukon has to make do with just three-day casinos, charitable gambling, and sports betting. However, this is as much to do with population size and demand as it is to do with different attitudes in the provinces’ Governments.
The one constant issue when it comes to online casinos in Canada, is that it is still illegal to run or bet on in Canada according to the Criminal Code of the country. Apart, that is, from one big legal loophole – The Kahnawake native reserve.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
This is where the Canadian gambling laws become even fuzzier. The Kahnawake native reserve is most definitely within Canadian borders and, therefore, you may assume, subject to Canadian gambling laws. However, that is not the case. Instead, it is its own largely autonomous territory and, as such, has its own laws, including for gambling.
In 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established. The KGC has responsibility for monitoring the compliance of the gambling legislation within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake in Quebec. It also grants online poker and casino providers, as well as the sportsbook gaming providers, with valid licenses.
This legal loophole has allowed online casinos in Canada to flourish as a profitable sector.
In fact, today, the servers for some of the world’s most reputable online casinos in Canada are actually based on the reserve so, technically, in Canada. To date, the Commission has issued more than fifty gaming operators with licenses, which in turn represents around 250 or more online gambling sites.
Of course, Canadians aren’t limited to only online casinos in Canada, but the World so long as those operators accept Canadian players.
Online Casinos Outside of Canada
Many UK and European online casinos accept Canadian players and statistics show that Canadian players are spending big money in oversees online casinos: at least $4 billion a year, according to Canada Infolink.
The same report also provided us with another interesting insight: Canada is the only country on the planet where female gamblers use their phones for online gambling more than male mobile-based online gamblers. 55% of all female gamblers do it on their mobile phones.
Responsible Gambling – Online Casinos in Canada
As you might expect from a country famed for the politeness of its citizens and its low crime rates (it is the sixth safest country in the world according to the 2020 World Population Review) incidents of ‘problem gambling’ are rare in Canada.
“Problem gambling rates have not risen since the mid-to-late 1990’s and fall between 0.7 per cent and 1.4 per cent across the country, as more than 98 per cent of Canadians gamble for fun and entertainment.” (The National Economic Benefits of the CGA Key Findings Report)
Perhaps this is due to the attitude Canadians take to gambling, as an entertainment pursuit which has its place but should never encroach on other aspects of daily life.
This attitude is reflected in the 100+ land-based casinos in Canada, which tend to be located in beauty spots, and offer gambling simply as part of a larger experience, rather than the focus.
Perpetuating such an apparently healthy approach to gambling can only be a good thing for the industry, and perhaps other nations should be looking to the Canadians for tips on how to sustain a profitable gambling sector.