It is rumoured that gambling in Canada dates back to around 6000BC, but it was only with the arrival of John Cabot in 1497 that it was properly documented. According to his notes on the subject, many of the native tribes from Canada’s past played games of chance. According to Cabot, these games had a profoundly philosophical effect, and were said to garner some of the emotional, spiritual, mental and physical development of these tribe members.
Amendments in Official Gambling Regulations
Later in 1892, under the influence of English rule and the rigid Criminal Code, Canada banned all forms of gambling. This, however, did not last terribly long and by 1900 both bingo and raffles were permitted around the country, especially where any profits were used for charitable or religious purposes. A while after that, horse racing and various other forms of betting were legalised and gained wide popularity amongst many Canadian citizens.
By 1910, the law had been amended and allowed the practise of pari-mutuel betting. This form of gambling, also legal in France from 1894, became, and remains, particularly popular in horse racing and the wagering associated with similar sports.
As time went by the Canadian gambling laws, although amended on occasion, remained relatively unaffected until 1970 when massive changes to the Criminal Code gave many of the provinces authority to regulate the gambling industry in their own sectors as opposed to a blanket system of legality on the issue aimed at the whole country. As is the case with a number of other countries, especially the neighbouring United States of America, these changes in the law have resulted in gambling becoming hugely popular amongst a large portion of the population, which in turn allowed for the production of commercial casinos thus creating a multibillion-dollar industry
The Modern Multibillion Dollar Casino Industry
1989 saw the opening of the very first of these successful casinos in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba and the next, four years later in Montréal. Since then other provinces such as Québec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan have followed suit, and so the industry continues to grow.
Aside from the many permanent casinos around Canada there are also multitudes of other gambling facilities. Video Lottery Terminals or VLTs have proven to be an exceptionally popular technology that generates millions of dollars for provincial governments every year. These provincial governments are now also involved in setting up lotteries that assist many charitable and religious groups in their annual budgetary operations.
Gambling becomes Glamorous
This is a reflection of society’s changing view of gambling over the past century. Gambling is no longer exclusively seen as an immoral or irreligious activity, and government has taken the opportunity to invest their own sanctioned gambling winnings back into society. Also it is no longer considered a back room taboo with connotations of criminality, but holds the allure of a glamorous and sophisticated lifestyle with the added bonus of the potential to win.
Despite a long history of moral judgement and rigid laws, gambling has become recognised as a form of adult entertainment, and is increasingly accessible to most citizens.