Some 31 million Canadians now have the opportunity to play casino games and poker online due to the liberalization of online gambling laws in Canadian provinces. This wasn’t always the case as federal laws against online casino gaming kept the lucrative industry at bay for a while.
As the Internet grew in the 1990s and 2000s, so did the desire for people to utilize online gambling sites. The Canadian federal government actually made it illegal for Canadians to own and operate online gaming sites within the nation’s borders. However, Canadian citizens could gamble online without penalty. Many did so on foreign sites located in the Caribbean, Gibraltar, U.S. or Britain.
As the Internet and online casino gaming grew, Canadian provinces took the lead in lien sing and regulating local online gaming despite federal restrictions. British Columbia allowed the British Columbia Lottery Corporation to operate the first provinicially-based site to operate in Canada. It launched a provincial online gaming site called PlayNow.com. This became the nation’s first legally permitted and regulated online gambling site. Despite the name, the online company’s operations didn’t stop with lottery tickets. It also offered sports betting, bingo, poker and casino gambling.
Quebec joined B.C. by allowing Loto Quebec to begin operations in 2011. This site offers sports betting, poker and casino table gaming action. Following Quebec, the province of Manitoba legalized online casino gaming. Manitoba regulations were similar to those of B.C. Since the three provinces featured similar online gaming corporations, they collected revenue separately. However, the three sites shared poker pools. This allows for larger games and player pools translating in more prize money.
More online casino gaming is on tap for Canadians in 2013. The province of Ontario is about to go casino online in late 2013. This means a majority of Canadians will have access to online gaming through these provincial sites by the end of the year. The Ontario site is expected to offer casino-style games with poker, bingo and sports betting scheduled to start in 2014.
Several of the tinier provinces have said they will not allow online casino gambling sites in their provinces. Most notably the Atlantic Provinces, including Prince Edward Island, Labrador, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have come out against online gaming. That glitch aside, online casino gambling sites are up and running in Canada with more Canadians than ever expected to gamble online in coming years.