History of Canadian Gambling

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Many countries have a long history of gambling, as this pastime has more or less been around for as long as humans have. Canada, on the other hand, is a relatively new country, having only been officially formed in 1867. What this means is that we can safely say that gambling has been prevalent in Canada since the birth of the country. In fact, we know that it gambling was common in the area even before that, because there are records that state the native population used to play dice games and other gambling games since as early as the fifteenth century.

The British took many forms of gambling with them to Canada, as did other Europeans that first inhabited the country. Gambling was already very common in Europe and had been for many years, so when they moved across to this new and exciting land, they took their favorite games with them. That didn’t go down too well with the government of the time though, because just thirty years into the life of this new country, gambling was banned.

The year that the ban came into effect was 1892, with the Canadian Criminal Code effectively wiping out all forms of gambling overnight. Many gamblers of the time no doubt hoped that this would be a short lived thing and that they would be able to get back to games of dice and cards in no time, but it was far from it. In fact, the same code is often referenced to this day, although not all of it is in operation and a lot of it contradicts the modern Canadian way of life.

The Resurgence of Gambling in Canada

Some forms of gambling were legalized within a fairly short time. 10 years after the ban, for instance, bingo and raffles were legalized, and by 1925, over thirty years after the ban, it became legal to bet on horse races (at the trackside) and fares and events were also allowed to stage certain gambling events.

Lotteries were on the rise during the 1950s and 1960s and in 1969 they legalized them completely, seeing the potential that these had in regards to bringing in extra money for individual states. The first official lottery was held five years later, created to raise funds for the Olympics that were held in Montreal, and going on to raise a great deal more. Lotteries turned out to be a huge boost to the economy, and at the time they became the most popular way to gamble in Canada.

In the decades that followed, slot machines were added to the list of legal forms of gambling, and these began to spring up in many states. It wasn’t until the 1990s when gambling really exploded in Canada though, as the government turned to land-based casinos to bring in extra revenue. It began with the Caesars Windsor Casino in Ontario, which cost close to $500 million to build and was built to rival the glitzy casinos found in the City of Sin. More casinos followed, but none of them rivaled this one, and then the internet age dawned.

Sports books are not legal in Canada and they never have been, but online casinos are widely available and it seems like that will be the way of things for some time. There are some of these that are based in Canada, but it seems that the Canadian government are a little touchy about this, even though they clearly see the potential for the extra tax revenue that such a venture could bring them. The citizens are less hazy about it, they love online casinos and they also can’t get enough of online poker rooms either, with Canadian players dominating sites like PokerStars.

The issue with poker rooms is that they are not legal in the country and they haven’t been for over a hundred years. It seems a little odd that luck-based casino games can be so widely available and legal, whereas games that lean more towards skill are not. The answer doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the government believing that poker is more luck-based than it actually is, and more to do with the fact that poker works in a different way, with the companies that run the games taking a very small cut, as opposed to acting as the bank, meaning that they can’t really be taxed the same way.

It’s all about the money after all, but that’s a good thing. It means that whilst there are fears all over the world for countries making online gambling and/or offline gambling illegal, it doesn’t look like Canada will follow suit. Gambling may be fairly recent to Canada in the grand scheme of things, but it is not part of the heritage of the country and it is something that will surely remain for some time.

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