Gambling business in Canada

canadaThe gambling business in Canada is legalized. The industry’s gross revenue is USD 31 billion annually. Compared to 1995, the market volume has increased 3 times.

The gambling business employs over 128,000 employees. Revenues to the government budget and various social programs – up to 9 billion USD annually.

Canadian provinces spend about USD 110 million to protect players from addiction – this includes research, preventive measures and treatment. The percentage of gamblers depending on the province ranges from 0.7 to 1.4 percent of all players.

Gambling legislation

Gambling is legally prohibited in Canada. The Federal Criminal Code of Canada prohibits land and online gambling.

However, Canadian provinces can organize and operate a gambling business. This becomes possible due to “lottery schemes”, which are interpreted very broadly: any games and devices can belong to them. They can be represented by both games of chance and games that require skills. Each province makes its own laws in this industry.

Gaming Regulators

Due to the existing legislative framework, the authorities of the Canadian provinces are both operators and regulators of the gambling business. Legislative acts have a number of similar aspects, which they focus on. These include:

  • protecting society from the unwanted consequences of gambling;
  • responsible game;
  • location and size of gambling establishments;
  • the types and number of games offered;
  • financial control;
  • investigation, security and surveillance of gambling sites.

Horse racing is controlled jointly with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The ministry has a special department for horse racing – the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA). This agency creates the proper legal framework and regulates horse racing throughout the country.

Usually, lottery commissions are created in the provinces – for example, The Western Canada Lottery Corporation, British Columbia Lottery Corporation. In others, the Alcohol and Gambling Commissions become regulators – for example, Manitoba Liquor and Lottery Corporation.

Some provinces outsource some of their regulatory issues to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch in British Columbia.

Conditions for obtaining a license

There is no concept of a license in Canada. Gambling is usually offered by the authorities through Crown corporations. The state works through the Commissions and Corporations mentioned above.

In many provinces, lottery corporations sign agreements with private operators to provide the required services. This contractual framework removes the concept of licenses.

Service providers work with private businesses and government regulators. They supply services, equipment, goods and products. Service providers are required to be registered with provincial regulators.

Each province forms its own conditions and requirements for the issuance of permits and contracts. For example, British Columbia offers four types of permits, which differ in the amount of gambling revenue they offer. The permit is valid for up to 12 months.

Permitted types of gambling

Lottery schemes include a variety of games and gambling products:

  • poker;
  • rates;
  • sports betting;
  • casino games;
  • slot machines;
  • terminals with games;
  • bingo;
  • lottery.

Apart from the provinces themselves, only charitable or religious organizations can offer bingo and lotteries. Charities do not offer slot machines or casino games.

Ontario Legislation

The largest gambling income comes from Ontario – 35% of the total revenue structure of all provinces. The article goes on to look at Ontario law as an illustrative example of how Canadian gambling is regulated.

There are three regulators in the province of Ontario, all of them state-owned:

  • Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (regulator);
  • provincial authorities;
  • Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (operator).

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is a provincial royal institution founded in 1998. The organization regulates alcohol, gambling and horse racing in the province. She also issues licenses for charity lotteries. Previously, there were two regulators: the Liquor License Board of Ontario and the Gaming Control Commission.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is a government agency that operates land-based gambling sites and websites in the province. Previously, there were two gambling operators: The Ontario Casino Corporation (OCC) and the Ontario Lottery Corporation (OLC). The companies merged in 2000.

Gambling in the provinces is governed by laws:

  • Alcohol and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act of 1996;
  • Gaming Control Act 1992;
  • Horse Racing License Act 2015.

All laws have additional provisions on certain aspects of the gambling business.

The situation with the gambling business in Ontario

Government companies have been providing gambling services to residents of the province since 1975. An important part of their mission is to divert revenues towards community goals. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is actively changing its structure and business model, trying to follow the trends.

Ontario players spend 400 million USD annually on unregulated online sites. Most of the revenue comes from slot machines – 88%. Profits decline over time as new casinos open in Michigan, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, etc. near the US border.

Respectively, the provincial government is focusing heavily on modernizing its lottery scheme. Online casinos are being opened, a responsible gambling program is being created specifically for the Internet space. A private gambling service provider will be selected and will be contracted.

Online gambling in the country

Canadian legislation does not make significant distinctions between land-based and online gambling businesses. Provinces offer online games as a variation of their lottery schemes.

Often so-called “legal representatives” are involved in online gambling. Typically, this role is played by the Royal Corporation. Thus, online gambling in Canada is a state monopoly.

At the end of 2014, the Quebec government published a report justifying the need to change the Criminal Code regarding online games. An amendment to the Code should allow provinces to grant online gaming licenses to individuals. In 2016, Quebec banned access to illegal websites.

Most Popular Online Casinos

The provinces receive the most income from the gambling business: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta. Some of the largest and most popular gambling websites in Canada are owned by these provinces. It:

  • LotoQuebec – online platform for the Quebec lottery scheme;
  • BCLC – British Columbia online casino;
  • WCLC is a casino in Western Canada that operates in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Additional contributors are Yukon, Northern Territories and Nunavut.

All sites offer a large selection of lotteries and other gambling games: casinos, sports betting, poker, slot machines.

Popular slot machines in the country

The most popular slot machines in Canada:

  • Nordic Heroes;
  • Cleopatra;
  • Power Hits;
  • Wheel of Fortune;
  • Triple Diamonds.

Nordic Heroes is a 5-reel, 30-payline slot from IGT. The slot has a chance to get free spins, bonus games and a progressive jackpot. As the game progresses, the user advances through the levels.

Cleopatra is a 5 reel IGT slot with 20 pay lines. The device has the opportunity to get free spins with win multipliers.

Power Hits is a 5-reel slot machine from IGT. There is a chance to hit the progressive jackpot by opening one of three bonus games.

Wheel of Fortune is IGT’s 5-reel progressive slot with 720 ways to collect winning combinations. The bonus game gives you the opportunity to get the jackpot.

Triple Diamonds is an IGT slot with 3 reels and 9 pay lines. A jackpot of up to x1199 line bets is available.


Canada’s gambling business has been successfully developing since the 1990s, the market volume is gradually increasing. However, Canadians spend a lot of money on overseas online sites and casinos in the neighboring United States. Therefore, the Canadian authorities are trying to modernize their gambling systems in order to be competitive.

At the same time, Canada has one of the best programs to protect society from the harmful effects of gambling. Therefore, the percentage of addicted players is minimal here.

Gambling business in Canada

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