Does Canada Have a Gambling Problem? Not Really.

Does Canada Have a Gambling Problem? Not Really.

While the debate surrounding legal gambling, both online and offline, swirls in the US, Canadians have long enjoyed access to legal gambling in some form or another. 

Yet, in each of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories, ‘legal gambling’ takes a very different form. The regulations across each of these areas vary wildly. 

What this means in practice is that while gambling is legal, all casinos, racetracks, lotteries, sportsbooks and any other types of gambling organisations – as well as the legal gambling age – vary according to their governing province or territory. 

Here’s how that looks in practice. 

Legal Gambling by Canadian Province

It is very simple to go online and sign up to the multitude of online casinos operating in the Canadian market. Many have been operating for over 20 years and have established themselves as honest and reputable. Here’s what you need to know about where you can legally gamble online across Canada. 

British Columbia

BC is a pretty great place to be if you’re a gambling fan – almost everything, gambling-wise – is legal here: playing at a brick and mortar casino, the lottery, horse betting and even playing online casino are legal – except you have to be 19 years old to do so. It seems pretty liberal, in BC, and like the province is happy for its residents to gamble legally. 

Quebec

Quebec is home to four brick and mortar casinos, set in the gorgeous countryside, and stacked to the rafters with all kinds of casino games. Online gambling is also legal in Quebec, and the legal gambling age is 18. We think that the scenery, the slots and more really suggest a healthy attitude towards gambling. 

Ontario

Online gambling is legal in Ontario, and you’ll also find slot machines at race tracks, making them into smaller types of land-based casinos. The legal gambling age here is 19. Interestingly, a portion of gambling revenues are invested back into the province’s communities, thanks to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation. We think that really suggests a healthy attitude towards gambling, especially as it actually (and directly) helps the local community. 

Alberta

Both land-based and online gambling is legal in Alberta, although you’ll find that online casino sites are mostly operated by offshore operators, although these are regulated internationally. Otherwise, Alberta is home to 20 land-based casinos, 5 of which are reservation-based, and 15 are commercials. The legal gambling age in Alberta is 18. While this seems to be a slightly less healthy attitude towards gambling – the offshore operators, particularly – as long as these are regulated, they don’t seem to suggest a gambling issue. 

Nova Scotia 

Both land-based and online gambling is legal in Canada’s second-smallest province, and the legal gambling age is 19. However, one small catch for Nova Scotians, is that their online gambling activities are limited solely to ALC.ca websites. This doesn’t really suggest a gambling issue but could be slightly annoying for residents of Nova Scotia! 

Saskatchewan

With 9 brick and mortar casinos, this province has legalised slots, table games and poker, as well as the lottery. The legal gambling age here is 19. It seems like Saskatchewan has a very healthy attitude to gambling. 

Manitoba

Manitoba has a range of online gambling sites available to residents, and that includes mobile gaming options too. Lotteries, bingo and brick and mortar gambling is also legal. The gambling age here is 18 and we think this is too suggests a healthy attitude towards all forms of gambling. 

New Brunswick

New Brunswick seems to have a very healthy attitude towards legal gambling: it’s host to 2 land-based casinos, and online gambling is also legal. NB is also host to legal lotteries, horse racing and charitable gaming. The legal gambling age is 19. 

Prince Edward Island

Perhaps unsurprisingly, as Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island has some of the lowest gambling rates in the nation – which could be seen as a healthier attitude towards gambling. Yet, despite this, there are a lot of legal gambling options: online casinos, two land-based casinos and sports betting. The legal gambling age is 19. 

Newfoundland and Labrador

Here’s where the plot thickens. While online gambling is legal in this province, the physical gambling available is altogether a smaller choice. There’s one land-based casino, and a ‘tracino’ – a racetrack with a few casino games. The legal gambling age here is 19. Although this might suggest an issue with gambling in general, we think it’s more down to the size of the population and their lack of interest gambling activities. 

Funny old adage but rings true.

So, Does Canada have a Gambling Problem? 

While gambling can lead to addiction, it seems that, no, Canada doesn’t have a gambling problem, with a lot of choices available to Canadian residents across the provinces. 

While some of the provinces have fewer options for legal gambling – both online and offline – it’s usually as a result of low resident interest. 

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