The Evolution of Sports Betting and Online Gambling in Canada

Casino gaming and sports betting have a long history in Canada. As Europeans settled in Canada, they established the betting laws of the United Kingdom and France in 1774. It’s no surprise that Canada was among the first to accept online gambling too since it was home to some of the earliest forms of gambling. 

Due to the country’s wide distribution of population, lawmakers found it difficult to enforce any laws because of the distance. Canada introduced the first form of legal gambling in 1969. Sports betting also became somewhat a cultural tradition for natives. Following this, Canada became home to some of the most prestigious casinos around the globe.

With the advent of the Internet, many aspects of life have changed, including how we entertain ourselves. While most Canadians nowadays play at online casinos, there is still a strong presence of brick-and-mortar casinos in Canada.

The Canadian Criminal Code and First Gambling Forms

In 1867 and 1892, the betting and gambling laws were set up. A criminal code was added to punish the lawbreakers. All sports except horse racing were banned from sports gambling, which was unexpected and radical.

The Canadian Criminal Code is the first document that mentions gambling in Canada. As a result, it was created during the nineteenth century to restrict gambling, which was unpopular at that time. All forms of gambling were banned until 1969.

Canadian governing bodies realized in 1969 that gambling was something most of their fellow countrymen enjoyed and decided to adjust the Criminal Code. By 1969, the legislation code changed to allow lotteries to profit from charitable donations and operate their businesses. It was the only thing that was necessary for the gambling industry to begin its massive growth on the American continent. Thus, Canadian law allowed provinces to install slot machines all over the country, leaving out sports betting.

The 80s and 90s Changes

Land-based casinos flourished for several decades without having to worry about any competition. Casinos provided tremendous entertainment attractions to Canadians. Things began to change in the 1990s. The rapid growth of computer and Internet technology led to the creation of the first online casinos, marking the start of a new era.

With the arrival of pro-line machines in 1985, sports bets could be made in a parlay format, meaning that gamblers could bet on more than one team to win. Gamblers could place bets online through online betting sites by 1990 since they were able to wager offshore brands.

Online Casinos and Sportsbooks in Canada

At this point in time, Canadian and international online casinos offered only a limited range of casino games due to limited technological solutions. Players didn’t have a many options to choose from like best payout or fast payout online casinos, like we have today. The most common games were poker, roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. However, it was still considered to be groundbreaking at the time.

There was a lack of equipment for this type of gambling to truly demonstrate its potential, which was another big issue. There were not many homes with computers back then, unlike today. Due to this, online casino games were only accessible by a small group of individuals. 

Finally, there was a major problem with the lack of regulation. There are no laws that define this type of business, or any other online business for that matter. This was not only a Canadian problem. Countries across the globe were facing the same problem. Since then, new laws have been passed in every country on the planet for determining the legality of online gaming and betting.

Gambling and Sports Betting Today

The only legal way to bet on single-sport events is now through online sites. Sports betting is not permitted at brick-and-mortar sportsbook establishments. Attempts were made to change this law in 2016, however, no changes were made. 

While it has been more than two decades since the first online casino appeared, Canadian authorities are still trying to regulate gambling activity in their country. Canadian residents can currently visit online casinos if they are licensed offshore sites. Although this is a good solution, the idea of forcing Canadian operators to operate outside Canadian borders is far from ideal.


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