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All You Need To Know About Canadian Betting Laws

Canada’s Long And Surprising Relationship With Gambling

Canada is one of the biggest countries, and has one of the largest entertainment sectors, being some of the biggest producers of film, theatre, and music globally. However, one of the biggest industries within Canada’s entertainment sector is that of gambling. 

Gambling has always been around in Canada, and has been subject to a number of legal controversies prior to its legalization in the 1970s, and not to mention that the gambling laws in Canada have gone through a multitude of major changes. 

What were these major changes? And how have they impacted today’s laws on gambling? What was the state of gambling around a hundred or so years ago, and how did they change today? Throughout this article, these points will be highlighted, alongside the fundamental aspects of Canada’s legal system and how it impacts Gambling, and how it reached the point it has reached today, how the industry went from illegality to profitability for the whole country.

The Early Days: The Beginning Of Gambling

There seems to be something deeply rooted in humanity which makes us drawn to the thrill, the adrenaline rush, the sheer excitement of placing a bet on a game. The stakes are high, and it gets one’s blood pumping, and it has been this way for longer than anyone has thought. This was clearly the case in Canada, as gambling was extremely common during the 19th century.

Up until 1892, it was a flourishing period for both bettors and bookmakers, who would travel around the nation to accept bets on events. Even before the Confederation, settlers would wager on a variety of games, including ice hockey and horse racing, customs that still exist today. In Canada, a criminal code was first adopted in 1892, and it forbade all forms of gaming.

The Prohibition Of Legal Gambling In Canada

Up until the 1970s, gambling had been banned, with heavy penalties being imposed onto bookmakers and those who were caught dealing with them. Gambling during this period was highly unregulated and lawless, a gritty endeavor. This is a far cry from the legal sports betting online in Canada which is seen today, where one could bet comfortably on games from the comfort of their own home. Instead, back in the first half of the 20th century, illegal bookmakers would make bets. This made betting during those days more dangerous, as many of these bookmakers were employed by organized crime syndicates who would use gambling, and its illegality, as a source of revenue.

The lawlessness of gambling through illegality allowed these organised crime syndicates to grow exponentially. This continued until the year 1969, when a new dawn for gambling arose.

The Legalization Of Gambling and Sports Betting: 70s And 80s

When the law was rewritten in 1969, gambling was officially allowed for the first time. Because of budgetary constraints, the Canadian government decided to legalize gambling and roll out lotteries, with proceeds going to support nonprofits and the Olympic movement. Business boomed to new heights. 

The Canadian government, unwilling to give up a good thing that was bringing in money quickly, kept making changes to legalize gambling despite the fact that the industry was already generating more revenue than anyone had anticipated. Following a series of amendments, in 1985 gamblers, following in the footsteps of their 19th-century forebears, were finally entitled to wager on national sports. 

The catch was that the only wager allowed was a moneyline wager, and that it had to be part of a two-to-six-leg parlay. However, the majority of Canadians supported the change, and it helped the economy grow even more than it had before.

Digitalization Of Betting: The Safe And Regulated Sports Betting Act

Internet gambling opened a new market. Developers and operators rushed online to take advantage of the new sports betting market. Many of these sports betting sites were launched offshore in nations like Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. This led to the emergence of offshore betting sites, which are now regulated but back then offered Canadians much greater wagers.

Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia began rolling out their own government-issued betting platforms. Citizens would bet over $14 billion annually at this time.

However, the biggest achievement made towards gambling and sports betting legislation was the Safe and Regulated Sports betting act. Of the 14 Million Dollars which were spent on gambling, only 500 Million were spent through governmental outlets.

So, lawmakers intended to boost the amount bet on government sites. After that, parliamentarians tried to pass Bill C-290, which failed in 2015 and 2016.

By July 2021, Bill C-218 had been enacted and went into effect on August 27th. Provinces like Ontario had prepared regulatory agencies like the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario before adoption. 

This bill allowed single-event sports betting, which was one of the most innovative moves which Canada had made in regard to gambling. It revolutionized sports betting in Canada, and government and offshore revenues soared.

This is the current state of Canadian law in regard to gambling, and this bill has revolutionized gambling in Canada. 

Concluding statements

When it comes to Canadian law regarding gambling and betting, the laws are currently some of the most progressive. While many laws around the world are quite tight regarding gambling, Canada actively promotes it, with its legislations evolving day by day to make gambling a fair commodity for any prospective gambler in Canada.

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