In 1380, Richard III prohibited dice games, a rule later exported to Canada. His decision was due to concerns over his archers spending far too much time playing dice. He feared it could have a backlash against the area and cause safety breaches amongst his royal confines.
Around 1497, John Cabot was exploring the vast Canadian territory and found several Native populations playing different games of chance. Rather than doing so for reasons of money or gain, the games were important spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.
By 1892, it was well accepted that gambling was a part of Canadian culture. However, this was a time in which religion and stiff morals were weighing on legislators psyche. As a result, every type of gambling was banned. That didn’t stop people from doing something they loved. Rather it opened the doors to underground networks of criminal and mob like activity to start and run illegal dens. In 1900, the government was changing for the better. Bingo and raffles were allowed as long as they were for charity. In 1910, horse racing was deemed legal and in 1925, gambling events could legally take place at fairs and town exhibitions.
As time went on Canucks enjoyed the small availability of legal gambling. In 1969, the government, slightly more liberal than the past, understood the importance and value of lotteries and gambling. And in 1970 all provinces were given the go ahead to license and regulate gambling. The first lottery was announced and finally held in 1974 to raise money for the Montreal Olympics. Provinces adopted their own lotteries and horse betting. It rapidly turned into a multimillion dollar industry throughout the country. In 1989, the first commercial land based casino opened in Winnipeg, Canada. Montreal established their first in 1993 with several other provinces to follow suit.
As of 2001, Canadian provinces were home to:
38,652 Video Lottery Terminals at 8309 locations
31,537 slot machines
32,932 lottery ticket centres
1,880 bingo hall permits
59 permanent casinos
70 race tracks (20 are "racinos" or race tracks with slot machines)
107 betting teletheatres
Now in 2017, casinos are found in just about every Canadian province. They’ve became a landmark and a sight that visitors from throughout the country explore. Gambling continues to be a formidable, respected past time which generation after generation adopt and admire. Rumours of gambling to be made illegal in Canada is mere rumours and nothing more. The likelihood of betting being banned is slim to none. If it we’re to be, there would no doubt be an outcry amongst the citizens.
The latest addition to the history of gambling and casinos is online and mobile gambling. Beginning in the late '90s, Canadians were flocking to internet sites to make a real money bet on. Done in the comfort of your own home, these operators were an instant hit and to this day remain more popular than land based casinos. In fact, you can find some of these original sites such as The Gaming Club here.
With the advent of digital technology, cell phones became smartphones. Casinos introduced games to be played on the go, in the palm of your hand. Although relatively new, these are a sure-fire success with all gamblers. Just imagine what that same Neolithic man would have thought about mobile gambling? Would he have been scared to his wits or thought it was the greatest “tool” ever?
The beautiful thing to history is that it is ever changing and evolving as each day passes. While we can predict what the future will bring, we cannot control it or make it happen. For now, we just enjoy everything on the table – no pun intended, and hope that the future will bring all kinds of really cool things. Think virtual!