Casinos, racetracks, lotteries and other gaming organizations all must follow the laws as laid out by their governing province or territory. Where you are in Canada determines what type of gambling is legal or not and at what age you must be to participate.
Types of Gambling
The types of legalized gambling offered in Canada range from commercial casino operations and racetracks to smaller bingo halls, Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), slot machines, and ticket lotteries.
All legal gambling is regulated by the provinces and territories and therefore the available types of gambling differ across the country.
A certain amount of illegal gambling goes on in Canada by way of private betting houses, non-government-regulated video gaming and lottery machines, and online gambling, which poses an ongoing challenge to Canadian authorities.
Casino gambling is probably the form of gambling that most appeals to visitors to Canada.
More than 100 casinos operate across Canada, though none in the following three provinces: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland & Labrador.
Some of Canada's casinos, like the one at the sumptuous Manoir Richelieu or at Mont-Tremblant - both in Quebec - are in picturesque parts of the country and lure visitors for much more than the prospect of winning (or losing) money. Others, like the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, the Montreal Casino or Caesars in Windsor, Ontario, are big splashy, Vegas-style operations with live shows, restaurants, and shopping.
The age requirement for getting into casinos in Canada corresponds to the drinking age and varies by province or territory.
You must be 19 to enter a casino everywhere in Canada except Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec where the admissible age is 18.
This age requirement similarly applies to entrance to the restaurants and theatres within casinos.
Destination and Resort Casinos
Canada has many destinations and resort-style casinos that are particularly popular with visitors. Many of these casinos have on-site accommodation, restaurants, shopping, live shows, and picturesque locations.
Ontario has the most casinos at more than 25 and four of these are resorts.
- Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara, both in Niagara Falls; Casino Rama in Orillia about an hour and a half north of Toronto; and Caesars in Windsor, just across the border from Detroit.
- Lake City Casino in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, close to wineries and golf courses.
- St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is set in the Rocky Mountains.
- River Rock Casino Resort is a sprawling complex full of all the indulgences in Richmond, B.C.
- The casino at the Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix, Quebec is about as gorgeous as a casino gets in this historic riverside hotel.
First Nations Casinos
A number of Canada's casinos are operated by First Nations tribes on First Nations reserves and are open to the public. One of the biggest is Casino Rama in Orillia - north of Toronto in Ontario - where visitors flock to try their luck at the tables or slots as well as to see live performances by big-name acts that have included Jerry Seinfeld, Carrie Underwood, and Diana Ross.
A Brief History of Gambling in Canada
Once a relatively benevolent past time, gambling in Canada has become a more accepted and integral leisure and recreational activity. Today, under regulations of the provincial and territorial governments, gambling options are available through charities, private operators licensed by the government, and through the Canadian aboriginal people of the First Nations.
Gambling's widespread acceptance in Canada began in 1969 when the Criminal Code was changed to allow the provinces and territories to raise funds for worthwhile causes through regulated lotteries. For example, the Montreal Olympics received funding from such lotteries. Today, lotteries are big money makers for Canada's provincial and territorial governments, and government regulated gambling has grown to include ticket lotteries, horse racing, charitable gaming (including bingo), casino-style gambling, video lottery terminals (VLTs) - though not all these forms of gambling are available everywhere in Canada.