The Evolution of Canada’s Gambling Traditions

Canada’s Unique Gambling Traditions

From Horses to Hockey: Canada’s Unique Gambling Traditions

Gambling is undoubtedly one of Canada’s biggest and most popular forms of entertainment today. According to reports, about 75% of Canadians have engaged in gambling activities. Although it only officially became legal over the last two decades, gambling has been a big part of the country’s culture for centuries, dating back to the indigenous people.

Canada’s gambling culture has since evolved from the early days, reflecting the nation’s love for sports like horse racing and hockey. Lottery and casino games. The advent of the digital age also significantly transformed the activity for canucks in several ways. This article will explore Canada’s unique gambling traditions, from its early roots till date. Let’s dive right in!

A Historical Backdrop to Gambling in Canada

Canada’s Unique Gambling Traditions

Gambling has always been a part of the Canadian region, even before the country was formed. In the early days, many indigenous cultures enjoyed games of chance, which had cultural and spiritual significance and helped build community. The earliest mention of gambling can be traced to 1497 when the explorer John Cabot discovered native tribes that enjoyed unique gaming activities using sticks, bones, and their hands.

With the arrival of European settlers in the country, the gambling landscape in Canada started changing. They introduced new games like dice, blackjack, horse racing, dog fighting, etc., quickly gaining popularity among the indigenous people. However, things suddenly took a kind of U-turn in the late 19th century when, in 1892, the Canadian Criminal Code banned all forms of Native American gambling.

But the complete ban didn’t last very long as Canadians’ attitude to gambling began to shift. The legalization of horse racing in the early 1900s marked a new beginning, with the activity becoming one of the country’s first forms of regulated gambling. Soon, the government began to open up to other forms of gambling.


Lottery is undeniably one of the most prominent forms of gambling in Canada. It has also played a significant role in shaping the country’s gambling traditions. After recognizing its profitability potential, the Canadian government amended the Criminal Code in 1969 to allow federal and provincial governments to run lotteries to fund special projects. The first national lottery in Canada, the “Canada Olympic Lottery”, was conducted in 1974 to help raise funds for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Since then, different national and provincial lotteries have sprung up, allowing Canadians to win millions of dollars in jackpot prizes. Besides its potential for big winnings, accessibility is another reason for lottery games’ popularity in Canada. Anyone of legal age can purchase a lottery ticket, select a set of numbers and then wait for results. Some of the most popular lotteries in Canada today include:

  • Lotto 6/49 (National lottery)
  • Lotto Max (National lottery)
  • Daily Grand (National lottery)
  • Quebec 49 (Regional lottery)
  • Atlantic Lottery 49 (Regional lottery)
  • Ontario 49 (Regional lottery), etc.

Online Gambling in Canada

Online Gambling in Canada

Like in any other country, the rapid digitization that occurred at the turn of the millennium has significantly impacted Canada’s gambling scene. With the rise of online casinos and sportsbooks, gambling has become more accessible and flexible than ever, with an even more diverse range of games and betting options.

The laws regarding online gambling in Canada are somewhat complex and vary by province. Many provinces operate online government-controlled casinos and sports betting sites, which are legal and safe. However, there are no restrictions on playing at offshore sites, which most Canucks do. There are several online no deposit bonus casino Canada sites where you can play your favourite games without making an initial deposit.

Canada’s Land-Based Casino Gambling Scene

Besides its enchanting landscapes, Canada has several land-based casinos today, proving its massive gambling scene. These casinos owe their existence to the lifting of the ban on gambling in 1985 after some amendments and special conditions.

1989, the first land-based casino in Canada opened in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Soon after, a second establishment opened in Montreal in 1993, and since then, casinos have been popping up nationwide. Today, Canada is home to some of the best casinos in the world, scattered across different provinces. The country also has some indigenous-run casinos that blend traditional elements with contemporary gaming.

As a result, Canadians quickly developed a passion for different games of chance, from slot machines to roulette, poker, blackjack, etc. Some of the best casinos in the country include:

  • Casino de Montréal (Québec)
  • Casino Niagara (Ontario)
  • Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino (Ontario)
  • River Cree Resort And Casino (Alberta)
  • River Rock Casino Resort (British Columbia), etc.

The Horse Racing Betting Scene in Canada

As one of the oldest sports in the world, horse racing is widely popular in Canada and has a long-standing tradition. One of the first organized horse racing events happened in 1767 on the “Heights of Abraham” in Quebec City. Records say Captain Prescott and a mare named Modesty won this race and a prize of $40. The horse racing tradition has continued since then, gaining immense popularity nationwide.

Unsurprisingly, Canadians quickly embraced gambling on the sport. Today, the country is home to several horse racing tracks, and several significant race events happen yearly. This opens up doors for gamblers in Canada to place all sorts of bets on racing events, from win, place, and show wagers to other exciting ones like exacta, trifecta, superfecta, etc.

The table below shows some of Canada’s most highly anticipated horse racing events that attract betting action from within and outside the country.

Race Events Date Held Racetrack
King’s Plate (formerly Queen’s Plate) August Woodbine Racetrack, Ontario
Prince of Wales Stakes September Fort Erie Racetrack, Ontario.
Breeders’ Stakes October Woodbine Racetrack, Ontario
Woodbine Mile September Woodbine Racetrack, Ontario
Canadian International Stakes October Woodbine Racetrack, Ontario
Canadian Derby August Century Mile Racetrack and Casino, Alberta

Betting on Hockey and Other Sports in Canada

Betting on Hockey and Other Sports in Canada

Sports have always been a part of  from the early days of indigenous activities like Baggataway to modern sports. Therefore, sports betting remains a popular pastime and an integral part of the country’s culture.

Canada’s national sport, ice hockey, is also the most popular in the country. Hence, it is unsurprising that the sport attracts the most betting action among Canadian punters. Today, Canucks bet on everything hockey, including the National Hockey League (NHL), the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), the Kontinental Hockey League, and many others.

Besides hockey, Canadian bettors also wager on other popular mainstream sports, including football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, etc.

Closing Thoughts

Canada has a rich and diverse gambling culture dating back to the early days of the Indigenous people. From the advent of horse racing betting in the 1900s to the rise of lottery games and casinos and the widespread popularity of betting on hockey and other sports, gambling in the country has evolved over the years. Also, the rise of the internet has created new opportunities for Canada’s gambling scene in recent years, resulting in our billion-dollar industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 Important Aspects of the Canadian Real Estate Industry
18 Important Aspects of the Canadian Real Estate Industry

18 Important Aspects of the Canadian Real Estate Industry

When it comes to investment, Canadian real estate has always been a hot topic

iGaming Innovation – How Making Casinos More Social Revolutionized the Industry?
iGaming Innovation - How Making Casinos More Social Revolutionized the Industry

iGaming Innovation – How Making Casinos More Social Revolutionized the Industry?

As befits such a major country on the world stage, the Canadian business sector

You May Also Like