Casino History in Canada

Like many countries, Canada has a history when it comes to gambling and, more specifically, casino gaming. And, over the years, the picture has changed a ridiculous amount. From gambling with animal bones to now playing online, gaming is a multi-billion dollar empire, and Canadian casinos and residents are right in the mix.

So, if we’re to take things right back to the beginning, we need to travel thousands of years to where the indigenous people used animal bones to compete in a game called Slahal, which is still played today. It’s a game of chance, and it kick-started gambling in Canada.

You could argue that the next instance of casino and gaming history in Canada came in 1338 because this was when Richard III decided to ban dice games in England. And this came into force in 1497 when John Cabot came along and secured Canada as territory for England. Believe it or not, dice games were only unbanned in the country in 1999.

Staying in the year 1947, John Cabot arriving to secure Canada for England was a huge moment, as he saw that native tribes were playing card games. Of course, the card games then and now, it’s like night and day, but you could suggest that this is the time when casino gaming’s seeds were first sown in a significant way.

In 1767, the first horse racing event took place in Quebec City. And while this isn’t what you’d call casino gaming, it was the first public gambling event. It also set the scene for what was to come.

Fast-forward quite a number of years to the 1900s, and in 1910 things changed quite dramatically as an amendment was made that allowed for pari-mutuel bets to occur, with further adjustments happening from then until 1970 then again, you could say things altered in a dramatic fashion.

In 1970, the laws allowed provinces to enforce their own gambling laws, which really was the birthplace of what is now a multi-billion dollar industry. After decades of not much really happening, things started to change quickly, with sports betting being made legal in 1985.

And finally, in 1989, the first land-based casino in Canada was opened. The first venue came to fruition in Winnipeg, and four years later, the second sprung up in Montreal. This started a domino effect, as more states began to appreciate the popularity of land-based casinos, with most going on to build them.

Of course, the final step came when the Internet arrived on the scene and changed the game completely. Online roulette table games are arguably just as popular as actual tables at your most frequented land-based casino, but it’s the convenience the former provides. And they’re available on demand and on mobile, 24/7. It’s where the casino industry currently is in Canada in the modern era, but again, you could also say it’s another starting point, as there is undoubtedly plenty more to come.


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