Gambling laws in Canada for land based and online
The first formal acknowledgement of gambling in Canada can be dated back to 1892, some 25 years after the country’s official confederation. That year, the Canadian Criminal Code was amended and a comprehensive ban on every form of gambling was put into place; this move acted to reset a state of lawlessness with regard to games of chance, which had been going on since even before Europeans set foot in the territory.
Said illegalization made it possible to establish national guidelines for gambling games, and the country soon began on a fairly typical path to the present day’s much more liberal views on the pastime. Indeed, by 1900, bingo and raffle-type gaming was made legal for charitable purposes; betting on horse racing was legalized in 1910. A relatively odd provision was added in 1925: This made the hosting of games of chance legal anywhere in Canada, but only for temporary events such as seasonal fairs or traveling exhibitions.
The growth of gambling in Canada remained stunted due the restrictive laws until almost 50 years later when, in 1969, the national government made legal the holding of lotteries; the rulers ran the country’s first national lottery in 1974 to raise funds for the upcoming Olympic Games to be held in Montreal in ’76. The same amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code also provided for the establishment of governmentally regulated casinos and, in 1971, the amazingly-named Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall opened for business in Dawson City, Yukon, after the awarding of the first officially-issued license by the federal government; Gertie’s casino is alive and well to this day.
The offerings at Gertie’s from its opening as a casino right through to the mid-1980s was quite a bit different from what folks were getting in Las Vegas, however: Machine-based gaming such as slots and video poker were only legalized in 1985. Naturally, this led to a rush of license application in the ‘80s, followed by a positive explosion in growth in the 1990s: Just over half of all Canadian casinos were formed in this decade.
Online gambling in Canada
Much stickier questions of regulation appeared with the rise of internet gambling. The central government decided not to weigh in on the legality on online casinos in Canada, though a ban was placed on internet casino operators advertising to and accepting players from within the country’s borders. In addition, the governments of Labrador, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island all passed local laws prohibiting online gambling by residents as of 2009, laws in place to the present. Ultimately, however, these laws have proven seriously ineffective thanks to the Criminal Code’s own “Foreign Operators Principle,” which emphasizes that bringing charges against offshore operators is impossible.
British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec were the first provinces to open government-run online casinos available to citizens. By 2014, the Quebec government had sold its website to the Amaya Gaming Group, quite possibly paving the way for European-style regulation and licensure for online casinos in Canada.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Of particular note within the sphere of gambling in Canada is the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Located on Mohawk land just outside of Montreal, the Commission was established in 1996 and, under purveyance of First Nations law, began issuing licenses and hosting operations for online gaming providers in ’99. Over 50 operators run 250-plus online casino and poker websites through Kahnawake, and in 2009, the commission was instrumental in revealing evidence of high-level cheating by (and later closure by the U.S. Department of Justice of) the poker site Ultimate Bet.
Canada-themed slot games online
A bit surprisingly, few specifically Canada-themed slots exist in online versions. While the Yukon itself makes for a popular theme in “bricks-and-mortar” casinos (even beyond Diamond Tooth Bertie’s), the Great White North gets quite a short shrift in online casinos – particularly in comparison to the insane amount of red, white and blue-colored slots inspired by you-know-what-country. We can recommend at least a couple Canadian slots titles to you, one of which is the highly popular Untamed Wolf Pack.
First up is a nice example of an online slot based on Canada’s contribution to the world’s sports schedule, namely good old hockey. The Spartanly-titled Ice Hockey brings all the high-tech and sharp design those in the know expect from the online software developer Playtech. Themed on international hockey, start by choosing the teams – there's Canada and the U.S., of course, but also other world hockey powers including Finland, Sweden, Russia, Germany and the Czech Republic. The visitors' symbols pay left to right, home team pays right to left across the 15 paylines.
The appearance of country-flag symbols landing on reels 1 and 5 award 12 free spins with wins paying both ways. In the standard game, five wilds are worth 10,000x bet on a single spin while a 3x bonus multiplier is given in the “Pass the Puck Bonus” feature.
Wild North meanwhile celebrates the natural beauty of Canada in slots form. Wild North is populated by wildcats, grizzly bears, wolves, moose and owls, all beautifully rendered, but more notable is the inevitable “Northern Lights Bonus Game.” Triggered by landing three or more animated Aurora Borealis symbols, the bonus game is actually seven possible bonuses in one; spin the wheel to discover what treasure you take from this Canadian slot game. No matter what dollars you pay with – US or Canadian (or, for that matter, Australian or New Zealand) – free spins with a bonus multiplier of up to 30x await.