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Gambling History in Canada – How It All Started?

Canada Gambling History

3 minutes

Posted by: Ivan

Canada has become a popular country for gambling activities of all kinds. But gambling was not always welcome in the country, and the phenomenon has only recently started to spread across the country.

So, what does the history of gambling in Canada look like? Where did it all start, and how have things developed over the years to get where we are today in terms of poker and casino gaming?

Canada Gambling Roots: The Game of Slahal

Among the many documents that inform us about certain ancient games are those relating to the history of wagering. Slahal, which is a rudimentary stick game, was played by the first Canadian people south of Niagara.

Slahal was also quite popular along the Pacific Northwest, where it was also known as the stickgame, bonegame, or handgame. Some tribes still play it today, and it is traditionally played with the bones of an animal, such as the deer's shin bones.

Players are divided into two teams and there is a set of two bones in play. One team then takes the bones and begins swapping them between the players' hands. While this is in progress, songs are sung, and the opposing team has to concentrate while the exchanges take place.

The team with the bones comes to a stop at the end of the song. The opposition then has to guess where the bones are. To keep the tally, special scoring sticks are used, and this is where the ‘stickgame' name originates from.

Gambling Evolution

It's fascinating to see how Canada's gambling industry has developed and changed over the years.

Back in 1985, gambling was made legal in the country, but it took several years before the gaming sector started to shape into the giant it is today.


Generally speaking, in Canada, gambling is as popular as pretty much anywhere else in the world. As a stable and prosperous country, however, Canada has a reasonable number of individuals with access to disposable income.

A good portion of that income finds its way to various types of gambling, both live and online.

Of course, Canada has also seen a spike in iGaming with the advancement of technology, with more individuals flocking to digital gaming options.

Sports betting is in the lead in terms of popularity, with a particular emphasis on Canadians' favorite sports, such as ice hockey.

Laws and Regulations

Gambling is allowed in one form or another throughout Canada, but each of the ten provinces and three nations' territories has the right to set its own rules.

All casinos, racetracks, lotteries, and other gaming entities must act in accordance with the laws set out by the province or the territory that regulates them.

Depending on where you are in Canada, different forms of gambling may or may not be legal, and different age limits apply.

Gambling Situation in Modern Canada

For a long time, the Canadian gambling industry has been considered one of the fastest-growing entertainment industries.

Today, the gambling revenue stands at C$30 billion a year, which is one of the largest in the world.

The favorable legislative climate, combined with the huge market, has created a perfect scenario for live and online casino operators alike. While Canada may not have always been the friendliest place for gambling activities, today's gaming industry is booming, bringing in a lot of money across the board.

Online Casinos and Poker Rooms

Quality online casinos accepting Canadian players need to adopt English and French while allowing deposits and withdrawals using the Canadian dollar.

Popular e-wallets like Neteller and Skrill are accepted by most Canadian online casinos as well.

The benefit of using an e-wallet is that it isolates your bank account from all the casinos where you play online. Many online casinos offer micro limits, which is one of the major advantages of online play over live casino play.

Those wanting to try their luck with some poker hands also have access to various reputable online rooms offering safe and modern platforms.

Land-Based Gambling Establishments

All brick-and-mortar casinos operating in Canada try to deliver something special, and many new venues have opened in recent years or are currently in the pipeline.

Canadians enjoy gambling, and the land-based gambling venues perfectly complement the online experience.

Playing online is very convenient, but visiting a land-based venue is often more fun and provides something a little different. Of course, it is best to experience both and enjoy what live and online gaming has to offer in all respects.

For their overall casino experience, these impressive establishments could easily compete with the prestigious Las Vegas Casinos and have become, over the years, increasingly popular holiday destinations.

Canada has something to suit every player’s interest. There are impressively large stand-alone casinos. Some establishments incorporate poker rooms, restaurants, bars, and other entertainment options. And, there are smaller gaming venues in picturesque locations that take full advantage of their stunning environments.


You will enjoy a brick-and-mortar casino experience that will keep you coming back for more.  Due to Canada's strict gaming rules, you can rest assured that the establishment you visit will be well regulated and compliant with the highest operating standards.


As you can see, this once-taboo subject within Canada has turned into a multi-billion dollar business. Canada has not only caught up with the rest of the world, but the country has actually edged ahead of the most.

Yes, there are still some stringent laws in place, but that is sometimes a good thing as it helps maintain the control over operators while allowing Canadians to safely enjoy a myriad of gambling options, online and live alike.

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