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Interesting Facts about Canada’s Gambling Industry

The art of gambling has been around since the dawn of man.

Historians argue on exact dates, but it’s thought the first act of gambling took place in China around 2300 BC. Since then, gambling has spread worldwide with new games, new inventions, and new ways to play.

That much history comes with its fair share of secrets. Below, we will overview the highlights of the industry in Canada and how it has shaped the country.

History of the Canadian Gambling Industry

Canada is the 8th most popular country for gambling worldwide, but it wasn’t always so player-friendly. In 1892, the newly independent country banned all forms of gambling across the country under the Canadian Criminal Code. 

In 1910, restrictions lightened for the general population with the allowance of horse racing and betting without the need for charity. This gambling ban held fast for eight years until games of luck like raffles and Bingo were made legal, but only for charitable causes. Until 1925 the general public was allowed to take part in raffles and bingo games at state fairs- but everything else remained illegal.

Over 70 years after the initial ban, the legislation was changed to bring lottery games, like slots back to the public. This addition of slots later funded the Olympics in 1974. Finally, in 1985, all forms of gambling bans were revoked, legalizing the casino industry across all the territory. The first land-based casino was opened in 1989 in Winnipeg, shaping the industry into what it is today.

Currently, the gambling industry acts as the largest entertainment industry in Canada, providing over 267,000 jobs nationwide.


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Canada’s Gambling Industry in 2021

The gambling industry is unique, as it has to manage both online and in-person demand. What works for an online casino may not be as popular in physical venues, making it essential for investors to be trend-savvy and consumer-friendly.

Online casinos rely on game variety and style, while physical venues cater to various social needs. These trends are best tracked through popular online magazines, which showcase the entertainment you may soon find touring your gambling venue. Below are the popular highlights of the gambling industry as of 2021.


Land-based Venues

Back when gambling was illegal in Canada, gamers struggled to find in-person areas to play and bet outside of charity drives. Horse racing venues exploded in popularity as the first public location to allow betting and gambling.

This popularity has remained consistent, making horse race tracks a major tourist destination for visitors. About 3.5% (700,000) of Canadian gamblers participate in some form of horse race betting every year.

Popular in-person casino trends rely on physical entertainment. Indie music artists are collaborating with the industry to provide quality music and live shows to lure in crowds. In-person table games remain the major pull for land-based venues, as online casinos struggle to replicate the thrill of live competition.

Online Casinos

The number one source for gambling in Canada is in lotteries and slots, with nearly 20 million participants in 2020. Online casinos are the primary draw for these numbers, as they are easily accessible through browsers and mobile devices. This is very popular among Canadians who can’t make it to an IRL Casino in city hubs.

Though fully legal, online gambling laws in Canada are a bit of a grey area. Canada relies on provincial licensing, meaning every region has its own set of guidelines for gambling licensing. Some provinces like Saskatchewan remain in a legal grey area, only technically allowing acts of online gambling.

The 1883 Magazine helps decode the basic terms and conditions you will find at online casinos. As offshore casinos and online gambling remain the most popular destination for Canadian gamblers, it’s essential to understand the rules of the platform.

Online and offshore gambling remains the most popular destination for gamblers in Canada, even with legal grey areas. With a wide variety of online casinos and bonuses available, Canadians will never lack options when it comes to online gaming.


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Looking to the Future

The casino industry is always looking to the future. Though online casinos are still at the peak of popularity, a new form of virtual casinos is emerging. Virtual Reality Casinos, otherwise known as VR Casinos, have amassed nearly 3 billion investments from the industry worldwide in 2020.

VR Casinos blend the atmosphere of a traditional casino with the ease of access from online casinos. With the help of VR gear, gamers can virtually tour a casino lobby, play games, and even chat with friends right from home. Though it lacks the mobility of online casinos, the sensory thrill of VR Casinos is quickly gaining the interest of investors and gamers alike.

Currently, VR Casinos and VR tech are in their infancy. Only a few VR Casinos are live, and they are only available for systems like the Oculus Rift. It will take time before we see a wider variety of VR Casinos and gear be released. Still, the industry in Canada and worldwide are placing their bets on growing the VR Casino craze.


Canada’s gambling industry is filled with a rich and complex history. It’s inspiring how a country with nearly a 70-year ban on gambling can rise to global online and offline popularity. Even though offshore gambling remains the most popular destination for Canadian gamblers, the charm of in-person venues like horse racing tracks can’t be ignored.

The industry is set to grow exponentially over the next several years, utilizing the popularity of online casinos to craft better content. Investments in VR remain promising as well, hinting at a virtual reality future where the best parts of live and online casinos can blend into one experience.

Whether you prefer to bet on horses or spin a reel from the comfort of your living room, the Canadian gambling industry has a game for you. The industry is evolving fast, so stay tuned in for exciting updates, advancements, and gambling opportunities coming to Canada in the next few years.

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