Canada has evolved land based gambling structures, with almost all forms of land based gambling being legal today. But this was not always so. In 1892 prohibition was imposed on all forms of gambling. Over a hundred years this was slowly but almost completely relaxed. In 1900 raffles and bingo were permitted for charitable purposes. In 1910 betting on horse racing became legal. A big step was taken in 1985 when gaming machines were legalized. Commercial casinos were established soon thereafter.
However, online gambling is less than 20 years old world wide and Canadian online casinos are facing an evolving environment with respect to government policy. Neither the Canadian national government nor the provincial governments issue licenses to private operators to run Canadian online casinos. This does not imply that there are no Canadian online casinos. There are other mechanisms available through which online casino products are offered to Canadian citizens.
One is through the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, just outside of Montreal. It is one of the reserved territories for the native Indian tribes and enjoys administration independent from the government of Canada. Through the establishment of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory has become one of the premier regulatory authorities for online gambling, including online casinos and online poker rooms. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission has issued licenses to a large number of Canadian online casinos and also to online casinos offering services to players in other parts of the world. The commission ensures that the Canadian online casinos follow its strict guidelines and offer fair, competitive and user friendly gambling services.
The current interpretation of Canadian law is that there is no bar in Canadian citizens gambling at online casinos hosted outside Canada. Hence there are a large number of Canadian online casinos that have been licensed by jurisdictions like Antigua, Malta, Gibraltar and Curacao that have fine tuned their offering to suit players from Canada. Canadian citizens can freely deposit funds at these online casinos and withdraw their winnings from games like slot machines, roulette, blackjack and video poker.
For quite some time the provincial governments in Canada have been aware of the benefits that can be derived from offering online casino services. This would generate much needed revenue and also offer a secure environment for wagering to Canadian citizens. Most provincial governments operate lotteries through organizations that are owned by them. In July 2010 British Columbia took the plunge and its British Columbia Lottery Corporation launched an online casino PlayNow.com. In a sense PlayNow.com became the first Canadian online casino. It offers the complete range of online casino products and services. In December 2010, Espacejeux.com became the second Canadian online casino to go live. It has been promoted by the province of Quebec and is operated by Lotto Quebec. Some other Canadian provinces have taken steps in this direction and more Canadian online casinos are expected to be launched soon.
Whatever the basis of the Canadian online casinos, they offer services useful to Canadian players. The foremost of these is that the players can deposit and wager in Canadian dollars and also withdraw their winnings in their own currency. The other specific services offered by Canadian online casinos include local deposit options, bonuses and promotions suited to Canadian players and special customer support services like toll free telephone numbers.