A Brief History of Gambling in Canada: How Did Alberta Play Its Part?

Last Updated: November 20, 2023By Tags: , , ,

Now a very popular pastime for Canadians in all provinces, the history of gambling in Canada is an interesting tale that can be traced back to the First Nations. This blog will explore the country’s fascinating history, including a brief look into how Alberta itself played its part in this historical tale.

How To Stay Safe While Gambling

Before we delve into the exciting history, it’s first important to cover just how to stay safe while gambling online. This is so this pastime can be enjoyed responsibly.

  • Use reputable online casinos, reading reviews beforehand like this BetMGM Casino review.
  • Never play on public wifi and always use strong passwords.
  • Use a virtual credit card for payment to avoid putting your credit cards at high risk.

First Forms of Gambling in Canada

Gambling in Canada can be tracked back for millennia. The people from the First Nations in the country would often gamble on games of chance to settle debts! European settlers then brought their traditions over, introducing horse racing and card games. This arrival marked a notable turning point in Canada’s history; we pinpoint it as introducing several new casino games like blackjack and roulette. So much so were these games deemed exciting that by the 19th century, gambling was widespread in the country. You could find it in homes, on the street and even in taverns. However, the rapid infiltration of gambling into Canadian society worried the Canadian government which in 1892, passed the first laws regulating this past time – and these days, some forms of gambling remain illegal in the country, despite others becoming an imperative part of the Canadian economy.

The Prohibition Era

For many people, gambling became one of the few forms of legal entertainment available in the Prohibition era. After the country banned the sale of alcoholic beverages, many turned to gambling as their new favorite pastime. Countless casinos popped up across the country, with bookmakers betting on everything from boxing matches to horse races. However, this was also a period when many lost their life savings at the casinos, many turning to crime to finance their new habits. For the older generation of Canadians, this era will forever be associated with gambling.

Gambling In Contemporary Canada

The industry grew steadily after the first legal casino opened in Montreal in 1910. Very soon, casinos began operating in all provinces and territories nationwide. These days, gambling is still a very popular activity among Canadians, with Ontarians wagering more on legal casino games than sports betting. You can see Canadian gambling culture in many casinos, online slot games, lottery games and even bingo halls. From the First Nations people using gambling to teach life lessons and settle disputes to the essential role it plays in today’s social and economic climate, the history of gambling in Canada is a very fascinating tale indeed.

Brief History of Gambling In Alberta

The province of Alberta also played its part in the story of gambling in Canada. Below are some of the most important and influential points in the province’s history:

  • A service club established The first not-for-profit casino in Edmonton in 1975.
  • In 1980, Alberta’s first permanent, privately operated charitable casino opened in Calgary. The second was opened in Edmonton in 1981.
  • The first horseracing simulcast was run in 1989 at Calgary’s Trout Springs.
  • In 1994, the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) received funding for problem gambling treatment, research and education.
  • The Boomtown Casino opened permanently in 2000 in Fort McMurray.
  • In 2006, the River Cree Resort and Casino opened on the Enoch Reserve adjacent to the City of Edmonton. It was the first casino to open under the province’s First Nations Gaming Policy. The Alberta government modified policies to allow First Nations charities more flexibility to spend charitable gaming proceeds.

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