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At the beginning of the history of gambling in Canada, gambling was considered a normal part of social life, but then it was banned. This was followed by a slow and long-term trend towards liberalization and decentralization.

Indigenous people took part in various types of gambling long before the arrival of Europeans, who introduced card games. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, various games of cards and dice became popular. However, in 1892 a penal code was created, modeled on the English laws of the time, which prohibited all forms of gambling. An amendment in 1901 allowed gambling if profits went to religious or charitable organizations.

As is often the case, the ban contributed to the spread of underground casinos. Racing bets were widespread despite the ban, as the authorities did not enforce the law. In 1909, race organisers advocated the legalisation of horse racing bets to reduce illegal activities and generate revenue for the state – this led to the legalisation of sweepstakes in 1910.

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In 1969, an amendment was added to the Canadian Penal Code that decriminalized a number of previously prohibited gambling activities. The amendment permitted lotteries and gave the provinces the right to legalize and regulate other gambling activities. This led to a struggle between provincial and federal government agencies for the right to hold lotteries and to receive the proceeds from them into the budget. Eventually, provincial governments won and were granted the exclusive right to hold lotteries in 1985.

They also received exclusive rights to organize gambling activities with slot machines, computers and other video devices. In 1998 the ban on dice was lifted, and since 2009 the provinces have legalised and regulated online gaming.


Online gaming was illegal and had not been regulated in any of the Canadian provinces until 2009. However, this did not prevent Canadians from gambling on offshore sites, which still retain a high level of popularity. Since the legalization of online gambling has grown rapidly and significantly. The statistics will be presented below.

The first province that opened the official online casino for its residents was British Columbia. Thus, in July 2010, it created the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), which launched its first gaming site – PlayNow. Today it is the only legal online gaming platform in British Columbia.

Later that year, Quebec launched its own online gambling platform based on the BCLC model. In 2013, the authorities of Manitoba launched an online gaming platform to attract the $ 37 million that players spend annually on unregulated gambling in the province.

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Today, only licensed individuals or corporations can offer gambling services to Canadians – these are issued by provincial governments. This leads to ambiguity, as it is impossible to determine provincial boundaries on the Internet.

Online operators are only allowed to work in the province where they are licensed. Even provincial governments cannot offer gambling services to residents of another province without agreement between the two bodies.

However, thousands of foreign gambling sites offer their services to Canadians regardless of the laws of the country. The Canadian government regulates only operators, and players are allowed to visit any site.

These offshore sites are often based in areas with clear regulations such as Gibraltar, Cyprus and Malta. As provincial governments do not enforce laws outside their jurisdiction, offshore operators often have easy access to the Canadian market.

A recent attempt by the Quebec government to block foreign gambling platforms was stopped by the Supreme Court of Canada.

A large number of online casino operators obtain gaming licenses from the Kanawake Gaming Commission (KGC), which issues permits for online and land-based casinos and betting offices. This is one of the first online gambling organizations, which was founded in 1996. Since then it has been highly respected in the world of online gambling licensing and regulation.

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KGC is located in Kanawake Moghawkee, near Montreal, and is considered an offshore jurisdiction because of its Indian reservation status. It is unclear whether the federal law applies to the reservation, but the government makes no attempt to infringe on Kanawake’s sovereignty.

Today, Kanawake licenses are in high demand from operators who want access to the Canadian market. The Commission has already issued 50 licenses to companies from different gambling segments. Basic requirements for operators:

  • transparency and safety;
  • quick payments;
  • licensed software;
  • high status in the business community;
  • partnership with independent auditors.

KGC has the right to revoke a license if an operator fails to comply with any or all of the above requirements.

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Kanawake provides 4 types of licenses:

  1. Interactive Gaming License – the right to register 1 hosting in Kanawake.
  2. Client Provider Authorization – the right to conduct gambling activities at online casinos, bookmaker’s offices or poker rooms at Kanawake hosting.
  3. Inter-Jurisdictional Authorization – a secondary license. It is issued to operators who have other permits for gambling business and want to operate in Kanawake.
  4. Key Persons License – A key person license granted to persons who perform the functions of an operator-owner of an SRA license.

The licensing process requires the payment of special fees, some of which may be refunded if the application is rejected. These include:

  • $20-25,000 for processing the application;
  • $15,000 for a comprehensive audit of the applicant company (non-refundable);
  • $10,000 for the first year of the license;
  • $ 5,000 for each key person;
  • $3500 (approximately) for system control;
  • $1,900 for opening a bank account;
  • $1,500 for opening a trading account.

After paying the fees, the operator is not subject to income tax. The first license issued is valid for six months. After that, licenses are issued for a maximum of two years. The servers are managed by Mohawk Internet Technologies (MIT). All necessary information about the licensing process and the casinos operating under Kanawake licenses can be found on the official website.

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The most famous gaming establishments in Canada are Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort (Ontario). They offer players a variety of gambling activities: from slot machines to card games.

Another famous complex in Ontario is Woodstock Racetrack and Slots. There are over 100 slot machines and an opportunity to bet on horse racing. In general, there are more than 100 casinos in the country.


The most popular state gaming resources in Canada:

  •, managed by Loto Quebec. The Quebec State Lottery.
  • PlayNow run by BCLC. The official gaming resource of British Columbia.
  • PlayNow run by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, based on the BCLC website.

Among other online casinos in Canada, the most popular have become:

  • Betway casino. Includes 500+ slots from the best providers, offers large bonuses (up to $ 1500). Registered in the UK.
  • Jackpot City. The Maltese mobile casino, offering 300 slots from the developer Microgaming. Since 2016 operates under license from KGC.
  • Royal Vegas. Online casino with progressive jackpots (from $1 million). Registered in Malta.
  • Gaming Club. 450 games, bonuses at registration (up to $800). Malta Casino, licensed by KGC since 2016.
  • Spin Palace. 450 games, offers large bonuses (up to $1000). Registered in Malta, since 2016 also operates under license from KGC.
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The Canadian gambling market is booming. Canada is home to a large number of people who take part in gaming and generate income from the gaming sector. Revenue and popularity of online gambling has been growing since the emergence of the sector. Provincial governments have the following policy: if you cannot compete with them, join them and try to keep up with the development. British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba have launched their own platforms to gain market share – in their view, this is better than trying to regulate an industry that is difficult to control. KGC’s easy, fast and popular licensing path helps operators enter the Canadian market without problems. Thousands of online operators, especially offshore operators, are already successful in the Canadian market.