The Most Unique Things About the Canadian Gambling Market
The second-largest country in the world, Canada is home to over 38 million people as estimated in the first quarter of 2021. Canada has a highly developed economy thanks to its natural resources. Canada is also home to stunning natural wonders that attract tourists from across the globe such as Niagara Falls, Banff National Park, The Cabot Trail, Columbia Icefields, and Gros Morne National Park.
The Canadian gambling market is another highly developed industry in the country. Since 2016, the gambling industry in the country has been constantly growing to reach its peak in 2019. According to official reports, the country’s gambling market reached a value of US$14.7 billion in 2019. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Canadian gambling market’s value declined in 2020 to reach US$14.08 billion which is still quite impressive.
History of Gambling in Canada
The history of gambling activities in Canada goes back to 1497. At the time, playing cards was quite popular. John Cabot and his crew reached Canadian East Coast that year in June and they brought with them the practice of playing cards. However, many years before he and his crew came to Canada, the indigenous people of Canada played a game called Slahal that used bones and sticks. European settlement led to a more conservative attitude in the country towards gambling.
In British common law, almost all dice games were completely illegal. Back in the 1380s, Richard III decided to ban gambling games as he believed they distracted his soldiers. The country’s very first criminal law followed these rules. The ban on gambling games was lifted in 1999 when a new amendment stroke down that decades-old law.
Many gambling activities in the country were legal until the late 1950s. At the time, smaller gambling establishments operated in the country illegally while the very first legal commercial casino opened its doors in 1939 in Winnipeg. Four years later, Montreal got his commercial casino. Not so long ago, illegal gambling activities dominated the scene in Canada. Before the 1970s, most gambling activities were not legal.
This started to change in the late 1970s when several gambling activities that were previously outlawed were finally made legal and widely accessible to average Canadian residents. Another big step was taken back in 1985 when the Canadian government gave the right to Canadian territories and provinces to offer and monitor different gambling activities including lotteries, charitable gaming, and slots.
However, illegal gambling was still very much part of the country’s gambling scene and this has resulted in a bigger burden for law enforcement forces in all bigger cities and provinces. Before 2010, the Canadian Criminal Code adjusted some of the offenses related to illegal gambling activities so today, they carry a prison term of up to five years. The Canadian Criminal Code deals with the illegal offering of games of chance and lotteries, all sorts of fraudulent activities, as well as illegal pool-selling and bookmaking.
Canada Gambling Laws
Today, gambling laws in Canada prohibit unlicensed operators from offering gambling activities. As mentioned in the previous section, the Canadian federal government gave all provinces and territories the right to manage their own gambling laws and regulations back in 1985. At the same time, the Canadian Criminal Code stayed the same with the same regulations. If you want to know more, you can check the local laws here.
According to the Canadian Criminal Code, it is considered illegal to operate a gambling venue but online gambling venues are not mentioned at all. Therefore, it is unclear whether online gambling venues fall under this Criminal Code regulation. In Section 203, the Criminal Code prohibits Canadian residents from placing real money wagers in gambling venues on behalf of anybody else. In Section 205, the Criminal Code suggests that everyone related to offering games of chance and lotteries illegally can be prosecuted,
In Section 207, the Criminal Code permits Canadian provincial governments to manage charitable gambling organizations and lotteries if licensed. Back in 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established and it is responsible for monitoring all gambling activities within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake including both land-based and online gambling activities. Companies like MuchBetter have made legal gambling in Canada much easier for the customers. Gambling is extremely popular in Canada with almost 20 million Canadians engaging in those activities and this is what makes the Canadian gambling market one of the most profitable and thriving in the world.
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