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April 21, 2022

History of Gambling in Canada

Gambling is believed to originate from ancient times, before written history, with evidence stemming from dice-like samples found by archaeologists. However, it is difficult to say by whom and where the earliest gambling took place.

Learning the history of gambling can help you choose the best online casinos Canada has to offer. So, Conrad A. Brennan, an online casino expert, discussed the history of online gambling in Canada and what the online gambling industry will be like in the future. Learn more about him through his page.

Historic Accomplishments

Gambling in Canada used to be illegal under British rule when Richard III banned all dice games. All dice games were prohibited due to Richard III’s beliefs that his soldiers became distracted and wasted their time on the game.

Then John Cabot discovered a native tribe using sticks to play a game of chance called “Slahal” in 1497. In more recent years, gambling has become widely accepted and has evolved into a multi-billion dollar market.

Here are the historical timeline and developments in the Canadian gambling industry:


John Cabot introduced playing cards and taught natives how to play decks of cards, marking the start of gambling in Canada.


The first-ever horse racing event happened in Quebec City. Captain Prescott won a total of $40 on July 01, 1767.

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Due to religious beliefs and moral issues, lawmakers passed the Criminal Code that banned all types of gambling in the country. But since gambling had already become part of the Canadian culture, this law only gave way to underground dens to operate illegal activities.


Canada’s national government improved and opened Bingo and raffles for charity after seeing the law’s adverse effects.


An amendment to the Criminal Code allowed “pari-mutuel betting,” where all bets are placed together in a pool and are legally used in sports betting like horse racing events.


Fairs and Town exhibitions were allowed to hold gambling events.


The Canadian government began to see the importance and economic effects of gambling in the country and reduced the strictness of their policies. In the same year, Canadians were allowed to participate in lotteries.


This is when all provinces became authorized to release licenses to casinos and regulate gambling in their jurisdictions. The continuous amendment of the law has paved the way for the growth of the multi-billion-dollar industry.


The Montreal Olympics hosted the first lottery in the country.


Sports betting became legal, but single-game wagering did not.


The first commercial land-based casino opened in Winnipeg, Canada.

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VLTs, or video lottery terminals, were introduced to the public. These are video slot machines, but winners are given a coupon that they can redeem for cash instead of coins.


Online gambling in Canada started.

Online Gambling in Canada

According to the Canadian Gaming Association, gaming has become one of the most prominent forms of entertainment in the country. It has also been a significant contributor to the Canadian economy since 1995.

The first entry into the history of online gambling in Canada happened in 1994 when the first online casinos were established. At that time, the graphics and internet connections were terrible, and many were not interested. Kahnawake Gaming Commission in the Mohawk Territory in 1996, a Canadian gaming regulator, became one of the earliest online casino authorities in the world.

Operators use modern technology, improved graphics, and raised bets to attract consumers. Canadians became more interested when British Columbia launched the first-ever provincially operated online casino, PlayNow.com, in 2004, followed by other provinces with new games and modern payment options. As a result, Canada became one of the top 10 biggest gambling countries globally.

The Future

Today, almost every province in Canada has land-based casinos. Online and mobile gambling are also becoming popular, especially among younger gamblers. Recently, the market size of the gambling industry in Canada dropped to 12.54 billion due to the COVID19 pandemic.

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But the future looks bright for both traditional and online gambling. Ontario has recently launched its own new gaming market with online casinos and esports betting sites. iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), is expected to generate $800 million in gross income in 2022.

Land-based casinos are reopening again to the public while service providers of casinos constantly update and improve their games. Both Canadian and foreign operators are expanding their casinos to reach more countries and provide high-quality entertainment to gamblers.


The boom of the gambling industry also opens players up to gambling-related problems and scams. That is why national and local governments are putting more effort into improving and preventing these issues.

The regulatory and gaming authorities are working hard to provide Canadian gamblers with a safe and orderly gambling experience. In that way, all parties will experience the same benefits of gambling in the country.


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