Pre-History of Gambling in Canada

July 1st 1867 is considered the day that Canada was born, however research shows that gambling has been around for far longer than that.  In 1497 John Cabot, a Venetian explorer who was among the second crew to ever reach what is Canada today, discovered a group of natives who enjoyed playing games of chance.  Further research has shown that the natives were playing these games back as far as 6000 BC.  Those early games were primitive in their nature, but the concept remains the same – pitting your wits, skill and strength against a game of chance.

The European colonization of Canada brought with it many settlers.  These settlers travelling throughout Canada brought games from their own countries.  Cards were a popular choice due to their ease of transport as the settlers moved from place to place, and the players enjoyed games of online blackjack, poker and various other games involving dice like Barbotte or Craps.  In 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush brought with it prospectors from all over America.  The game of choice was Faro, which is played with a normal deck of cards, and was enjoyed by the rough prospectors on a nightly basis.  Some losing, some gaining their fortunes on the game.

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The First Prohibition of Gambling in Canada

In 1892 the Canadian Criminal Code was established.  This prohibited gambling of all kinds apart from horse race betting.  It did not take long for the first amendment to the code to be passed however, and by 1900 raffles and bingo were allowed, with the condition that they were for charity. Horse racing continued despite the code because several wealthy businessmen owned and raced horses, so it was often overlooked.  This continued until 1909, when the Moral and Social Reform Council of Canada targeted gambling as an undesirable activity that should be stopped.  The issue went to the law in 1910, but it was easy for promoters of the events to motivate for gambling to be allowed.  They argued that should racing be prohibited it would encourage criminal activity as it would attract a lowly type of gambler rather than the wealthy patrons that currently gambled for entertainment, and this would make it very difficult to control as an industry.  They also argued that the large prizes available to patrons allowed for an improvement in the quality of the horses being bred and trained and that this was essential for Canada to remain on an equal footing in global economy because of the advantages that came with the higher quality of horses being available for use in the military as well as in transport, thus the amendment was passed.

The Next Step In The Right Direction

The next amendment to the code came in 1925, when gambling activities were allowed for the patrons of annual agricultural fairs.  The lawmakers felt that it would encourage the attendance of the events and that this was good for the economy.  The fairs grew in size and popularity to eventually include entertainers, storytellers and games of chance.

Lotteries and Gambling in Canada

In 1969 a further amendment was made to the code allowing government run lotteries in each province.  These lotteries began to generate huge incomes, and just 10 years later, the federal government started its own lottery, and turned the smaller lotteries over to their local governments.

History of the Casino in Canada

Following all the other amendments to the code and the success of the lotteries, the first commercial casino was opened in 1989 in Winnipeg.  Several others have since followed, and the casino industry has evolved into one of the largest industries in Canada.

Digital Progression of Gambling in Canada

As with everything in this digital age, casinos have progressed further to be available online as well as on your devices.  An ever-increasing variety of slot games are now available for you to play in the comfort of your own home or on your mobile device, provided you have an internet connection.

From the natives of Canada playing games of chance with sticks and stones from 6000 BC, to the online casinos of today, the thrill of the game of chance remains a firm favourite.