The Evolution of Gambling in Canada

Up to 85 percent of Canadian citizens gamble in one form or another. Most Canadians see gambling as an acceptable form of entertainment. No different from going to the movies or to the mall with some friends, gambling is commonly viewed as recreation in Canada; adults having fun with a chance to win some money. Here’s how the industry has evolved over the years.

Canadian Land-Based Casinos

Canadian flagCanada doesn’t have the same long history of land-based casino gambling as the United States. It wasn’t until 1989 when casino development really began to take off, when the country’s first commercial casino opened in Winnipeg. Today, there are dozens of all types of casinos throughout Canada. Casinos that are full-fledged resorts that offer tourists all the amenities such as the River Rock Casino Resort in British Columbia, and those that only offer slots like the Hippodrome de Montréal. Canada once only allowed gambling to raise money for worthy causes; it now allows gambling in most forms.

The Rise of Online Gambling

Land-based casinos in Canada did not have much of a grace period before Internet gambling began to explode. As with many other countries, some of the laws are a bit murky in reference to online gambling. However, it is perfectly legal to gamble online in Canada. No Canadian citizen has ever been charged with a crime for gambling on the Internet.

The ambiguity arises as to where the actual casinos are based and the laws that apply, whether it be outside of Canada or on native reserves within the country. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Quebec was established in 1996. It regulated and legally operated online casinos but they had to be on Kahnawake land. In 2001, a company that was not part of the Kahnawke Mohawk Nation was charged for operating an online casino in Canada. The power has now been given to the provinces to determine their own course of action. They have the right to license online casinos as they see fit.

Money Transactions

MoneyMoney transactions are customers’ biggest concerns when they gamble online. The methods and ease of depositing and withdrawing money should not be different from making a purchase on Amazon. It has been the biggest hurdle all online companies have faced. It took people years to get comfortable exchanging money in the virtual world.

All legitimate Canadian online casinos offer a multitude of banking options for money transactions. It should not be any more difficult than going to your local bank or ATM. Reputable online casinos have made the exchange of money as secure as if you were in a land-based casino by using 128 Bit encryption, the same as is used in banks.

Game Selection

There was a time when land-based casinos had the advantage of being able to offer games that many online casinos were not able to offer. As technology has increased and game development has expanded, online companies have caught up and even surpassed many traditional casinos. Game selection is no longer a limitation for those who choose to gamble online; it has become another benefit.


The ease of gambling online has allowed the industry to grow. You only need an online connection and an account to gamble. In many cases, these conveniences have hurt land-based casinos. The online industry thrives on its accessibility. The increased competition across the board has benefited the consumer. There are more gambling alternatives with increased incentives than ever before. Land-based casinos offer rewards based on your play, but online casinos will give you money for simply opening an account and depositing money. Some will even match a percentage of your deposit every single time you deposit money into your account on top of cash back for your play.

Slot Machine Payback Percentages

terminator 2 slot - gambling evolutionSlot machines are the industry leaders for every casino. For years, land-based casinos were getting away with low payback percentages on slot machines. Payback percentage is the amount of money that a slot machine takes in versus the amount of money it pays out to customers in winnings.

By the late 1980s, slot machines comprised more than 70 percent of the gaming revenue taken in by traditional casinos. It was not uncommon for machines to be set at a payback rate of 85 to 90 percent. That means casinos were keeping 10 to 15 percent of every dollar put into slot machines. That is a large percentage.

Along came online casinos without the operating costs and overhead, which allowed them to set their slot machines with a much higher payback percentage. Most online slots are in the 95 to 98 percent range. Players are winning more playing online slots than traditional casino slots.

The Future

Online gambling is here to stay, so many countries are scrambling to enact new laws to get their piece of the revenue stream. These laws may affect some of the casino companies, but the future is bright for the individual gambler. The number of gambling outlets is increasing every day. The game selection and incentives are only going to expand. Canadian residents have the luxury of knowing they can fly to a beautiful destination to enjoy a luxurious weekend at a gambling resort, or they can sit on the couch in the comfort of their own home and have the same gambling opportunities.

Canada not only holds the record for the most gold medals in a single Winter Olympics (14), but it also offers some of the greatest gambling opportunities in the world. Canadians should feel secure in knowing they can gamble online or at their favorite land-based casino without fear of breaking the law. Gambling is finally being viewed for what it is, an enjoyable outlet for responsible adults.