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History Of Gambling In Canada

history of gambling in Canada
The history of gambling in Canada: Where it's been and where it's going
history of gambling in Canada
The history of gambling in Canada: Where it’s been and where it’s going

The history of gambling in Canada: Where it’s been and where it’s going as the pastime is now one of the biggest sources of entertainment. 

Did you know, about 75% of the Canadian population is involved in some form of gambling? It comes as no surprise that casinos are one of the primary sources of entertainment in the country.

Are you interested in knowing how gambling became so popular in Canada? The history of gambling in Canada is pretty interesting.

Earlier, gambling was not even welcomed in the county. However, now there are countless casinos, both online and offline, across Canada.

So, where did it all start? How did the perspective change? Brace yourselves as we dive deep into Canadian history and learn everything about gambling in the country.

First Traces

Way back in 1380, when Canada was not even an independent country, Richard III banned dice games. 

He was concerned about archers wasting too much time playing dice, leading to safety breaches in his royal confines. Soon enough, this rule made its way into the Canadian region.

In 1497, when John Cabot was exploring the Canadian territory, he observed different forms of gambling.

The Native populations were playing games of chance, but not for the sake of enjoyment. These games held spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental importance.

The tribes, of course, indulged in very primitive forms of the game. They are not even close to the traditional gambling games we see today.

As Cabot learned more about the situation, he recovered proof that gambling had been prevalent since the year 6000 B.C. However, it wasn’t about dice and cards back then. 

While the concept of gambling was pretty similar, the means were a little different, involving sticks and stones.

The Initial Ban

By 1892, gambling had become an integral part of the Canadian culture. Around the same time, religious beliefs were pretty stringent, and the stiff morals had an influence on the minds of the legislators.

Consequently, gambling was prohibited in the country. The Canadian Criminal Code banned all kinds of gambling activities since they were considered inappropriate.

However, this move quickly backfired. Soon underground networks were promoting mob-like activities, running illegal dens.

The Changing Legal Status

As time went by, the government made some improvements to the situation by allowing certain activities.

The first official gambling event was held in 1767—253 years ago—in Quebec City. It was a horse racing event that attracted plenty of people to join.The first official gambling event was held in 1767—253 years ago—in Quebec City. It was a horse racing event that attracted plenty of people to join.

By 1910, horse racing was legalized, and people were allowed to bet on it.

Another 15 years later, in 1925, the restrictions eased out a little. Fairs and exhibitions could now legally host gambling events.

A Breath Of Fresh Air

When the Liberal Party was once again elected in 1969, under the leadership of Prime Miniter Pierre Trudeau, the House of Commons passed the gambling bill.

Trudeau was formerly the Minister of Justice and had been lobbying to amend some parts of the Criminal Code, including gambling.

The government had started to let go of some of the rules, and gambling was no longer wholly prohibited. The bill delegated competence in all gambling-related matters from federal authorities to Provincial Regulatory Authorities.

A new wave began when lotteries were approved in 1969. By 1970, all of the provinces were allowed to license and regulate gambling activities. Moreover, the government saw potential in lotteries and decided to leverage them.

In 1973, the Canadian Federal Government started the Olympic Lottery Corporation for the upcoming Montreal Summer Olympics in 1976. From there on, there were significant changes in how people and the government viewed gambling.

The Emergence Of Land-Based Casinos

In 1985, the Canadian government passed another landmark law, enabling gambling to move to federal jurisdiction from the state jurisdiction.

As a result, hundreds of land-based casinos popped up across the country. The new law was a major relief to casino owners that wanted to establish their casinos in various provinces.

The first commercial casino opened in 1989 in Winnipeg. Since then, there have been no more bans, and the gambling industry has managed to thrive in Canada.

Every province has its own laws for gambling. In some provinces, the state even owns casinos, whereas, in others, there’s private ownership.

Online Gambling In Canada

Like almost every other activity, gambling also found its place in the online world. The earliest record of online gaming can be traced back to 1996.

Initially, there was only one official digital gambling platform, offering a very limited selection of digital casino games. Nevertheless, it quickly rose to success.

During the same year, several more online casinos launched, changing the face of the online gambling industry in Canada. 

One of the most popular online casinos from that time is InterCasino, an operational website even now. Since then, many casino operators got into the industry with innovative and modern look. You can visit here the top Canadian online casino resource to explore more casino operators in the recent years.

It was also within this year that the first-ever online gambling regulator was spotted on the Canadian gambling scene.

The Mohawk Territory Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which is also operational to this date, supervised and regulated all casino and gambling-related activities.

The Transition To Online Gambling

At first, the idea of playing online was not readily accepted by players, especially in regards to casinos.

It took gamblers a while to get used to the habit of launching browsers instead of simply walking into land-based casinos.

Once people got used to the idea, there was no turning back. The digital casino industry in Canada witnessed a boom in just a few years, with countless users signing up to play slots online.

After 2000, several famous land-based casino venues started launching their digital versions, doing their bit in establishing what is perhaps one of the world’s most prolific industries.

Closing Notes

The history of gambling in Canada has seen its fair share of ups and downs. However, now the graph only seems to be moving up.

Reportedly, the Canadian gambling revenue is close to $16 billion at present. That figure alone is enough to prove the popularity of the activity across the country.

With time, the number of online casinos has significantly multiplied, and today you can start gambling from the comfort of your home via one of the countless platforms available.

Did you enjoy this history lesson? It sums up pretty much everything you need to know about the history of gambling in Canada!