Why Canada is the real gambler’s paradise

A tale of two gambling countries: Why Canada is the real gambler’s paradise
It’s pretty amazing how the 49th parallel separating Canada from the US is more than a symbolic border. When it comes to online gambling, it separates one school of thought from another.
The school of thought we like? The Canadian online gambling one. As a country, we tend to embrace online gambling. While the US has gone after offshore gambling sites and attempted to shut them down, Canada has learned to live with them. Instead of the mob mentality embraced by the US of eliminating the competition, Canada subscribes to the old “if you can’t beat them, join them” proverb.
Case in point? British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec. In an effort to capitalize on the popularity of online gambling like Internet poker and casino sites, the provinces decided to create their own Internet gambling portals where residents of the province can play on a provincially regulated site.
Ontario, too, is trying to get in the game. The country’s biggest province by population is working on establishing an online presence. It will be run by the OLG, which doesn’t exactly have a stellar history of making players happy (what with their lottery ticket scandals and slot machine payout errors), but at least Canadians have options.
Gambling in Canada is a big bet
So how did we get here? How did we get to the provinces deciding that online gambling is a good thing while so many states to the south of us are totally against it?
Well, it has a lot to do with the gambling market in Canada. It’s big. Actually, big is an understatement. Massive is more appropriate. We’re talking $16 billion big. That’s billion with a B. And that’s not a typo.
While the United States sees gambling as a dirty little secret and, in some states, a horrible sin, Canada sees it as an economic stimulator. In fact, in Canada, gambling is part of the hospitality industry. And with $16 billion in revenue per year, it sits right behind the limited-service restaurant and full-service restaurant industries as a top Canadian revenue generator. Gambling, for the record, is ahead of the hotel and transportation industries.
How Kahnawake changed the game for Canadians
Before you decide you want to be a part of this industry, let’s be clear. It’s illegal to operate an online gambling site in Canada. Technically, only the provinces can do so. That’s why so many gambling providers are based offshore.
But here’s the thing. Many servers for online poker sites and casinos are actually based within Canada’s borders. They’re technically on a Native reserve, but they are in Canada. If you’ve ever searched for an online poker site or casino to play it, you might have noticed the Kahnawake logo plastered at the bottom. That means that many sites are licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. And many sites have their gaming servers based on Native land. Because the federal government doesn’t really want to get in a fight with First Nations, the Canadian government has pretty much respected their sovereignty.
But this is actually bigger than just the government being complacent. Gambling sites have had a pretty big presence in sports and entertainment. Just look at NHL games, which for the longest time featured poker site advertisements along the boards. And you can’t watch a current CFL game without seeing an on-field advertisement for a betting site.
Gambling advertising. In sports arenas. In 2013. In Canada. Contrast that with the US where everyone pulled out of gambling advertising after the fall of the big three online poker sites.
Fewer restrictions, more choice
Canada’s lax stance on online gambling means that Canadians have way more choice for places to gamble than our neighbours to the south. That doesn’t just apply to the online gambling world. Even live casino popularity is growing in record numbers.
The government of Ontario is currently undergoing a modernization program that includes building several new land-based casinos throughout the province. The province already has a number of resort casinos in Niagara and Windsor, plus Native casinos like the big one in Orillia. And they’ve got tons of slots and racetrack sites. But their goal is to satisfy Canadians’ appetites for gaming by building several new casinos.
Sounds great, right? More gambling for Canadians who love to gamble? Let’s be honest, though. They have a hidden agenda. Gambling generates tons of revenue for the province of Ontario, and they use that money to build things like hospitals and do other things to help communities across the province.
Hidden agenda or not, if you ask us, that’s the ultimate win-win situation. We should all be thankful we live in a country that celebrates responsible gambling and believes in gambling freedom. The US should take a look at Canada to discover what liberty really feels like.

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