Home How has the online gambling industry evolved in Canada?

How has the online gambling industry evolved in Canada?

online casino
(© Rawf8 – stock.adobe.com)

The Canadian online gaming industry is a big business today. Gross sales amount to some $31 billion a year and purchases of related services total $14 billion a year.

The development of gaming technology has also contributed to the success of online casinos. The wide variety of different gaming tools, such as smartphones and tablets make the gaming moments easy and high-speed internet connection smoothens the experience.

History of gambling in Canada

Canada has a very long and intriguing history in gambling. Some say gambling started with cards played by explorers who stepped on the new continent. But that obviously was not the case. The origins of gambling most likely lie in the games played with sticks and bones thousands of years ago. These games were created for spiritual and communal purposes.

The rapid growth of computer and internet technology had a huge impact on gambling in the 90’s. First online casinos were published, and that was a start of a new era. In the beginning, not many people owned computers, which limited the number of people gambling online. In addition, another big issue was the lack of regulation – in Canada as well as in other countries. Little by little countries all over the world started to pass laws to be able to regulate the ever-increasing online gambling industry in their own country.

Nowadays gambling is in Canada is extremely popular. Guides such as Bonusninja help people to compare all the different sites on the market, and playing in online casinos is easier and faster than ever before.

Today, nearly all kinds of gambling is legal in Canada. With a big exception – online gambling. The Canadian government won’t issue any licenses for online casinos, and it is illegal to operate an online casino without a license. This, however, does not mean that Canadians could not play. It is very legal for Canadian players to play in online casinos and since Canada itself does not grant licenses, Canadians turn to offshore sites, countries such as Malta, UK and Curacao.

But then there is the grey area. As said, it is illegal to open an online casino in Canada. However, accessing one in Canada is not illegal if the casino is operated offshore. And here comes the cloudy thing: the majority of offshore gambling servers are located in Kahnawake, which is located in the Canadian territory. Which means that you are allowed to operate a casino within Canada – against the laws – but still you are doing it legally. Confused? No wonder.

Established in 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is a regulatory body that regulates and licenses betting and gambling on Mohawk Territory. Kahnawake Mohawks have jurisdiction and sovereignty over their own territory, which also means that they can do their business quite freely, including gambling activities. Today the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has licensed over 50 online casinos, which own some 250 gambling websites.

Online gaming business nowadays

As already said, Canadian online gaming industry is a big business today. The province of Ontario is currently the center of gaming. You can find online lotteries, several casinos and online sports betting. The next biggest major gaming spots are in Toronto, Quebec and British Columbia.

With the evolution of the internet, offshore gambling has increased in Canada and the annual money spent on gambling is steadily over $5 billion. From the players perspective, playing online is much cheaper, easier and more comfortable. From the casino operator’s perspective online is less expensive to establish and maintain and there are no limitations in the number of people the casino can attract.

Developments in iGaming business

According to statistics, more than 100 online casinos are available to players in Canada, and they are all legal. Traditional casino games have got competitors as sports betting and lottery games have entered the market. The development is fast, thanks to the innovative game providers, such as Playtech, NetEnt, Microgaming and Evolution.

For the impatient players, the fast loading of games adds to the excitement as well as the fact that you can play directly in the browser without downloading any applications or games. The speed of deposits and withdrawals is also something to thank for as well as new payment methods such as cryptocurrencies.

There are strong indications that Canadian gaming will continue its growth around the world, and this includes also online gaming. Canada may not be able to beat its southern neighbor but there are very good signs, and the prospects are positive.

Story by Teemu Salminen



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.