A lot of us don’t realize the incredibly rich and interesting history Canada has when it comes to casinos. Several casinos, of which there have been many in Canada, have historically been run by indigenous people.


The modern age of casinos has seen something of a gold rush. Recent changes in regulations have allowed for easier online gambling. The industry is worth billions and there is a level of choice that can be overwhelming. CasinosCanada reviews the best online casinos, allowing players to evaluate which has the best game selection as well as appropriate security and usability. 


Early gambling in Canada


Canada is a country that many explorers have found and laid claim to over the years, and in 1497, Italian explorer John Cabot, working for King Henry VII at the time, claimed part of Canada on behalf of the English. 


Indigenous populations still lived there, and when Cabot realized that they had been gambling in rudimentary ways, he banned the practice. The people at the time used things like sticks and stones to play games, and even deerskin from animals to make games. We tend not to have casino games like that anymore.


These were forms of gambling, and one of the games, Slahal, is still played today. Canada fell under the British laws that Richard II had put into practice way back in 1338, meaning that these kinds of games were outlawed under British restrictions.


Eventually, the New World was inundated with a variety of different games. 


The French and Italians who eventually arrived in the country brought a lot more games, and the aboriginal people in Canada were suddenly interested in the gambling scene again. While gambling had never stopped altogether, it was of course much more of an underground activity after it had been outlawed.


Many Europeans brought games with them such as baccarat and roulette, and even shared the rules of blackjack, or “pontoon” as they may have called it. This happened in the 18th and 19th centuries and largely led to a resurgence in the number of people in Canada playing these games. 


A lot of the population of Canada was also now dominated by British and French culture, and both of these countries have a rich history of gambling. 


The ban (and U-turn)


In 1892, the Canadian law, explained in the Canadian Criminal Code, banned Native American gambling, which was what most of the tribes were engaging in, but just eight years later, the laws were relaxed somewhat to allow certain types of bingo and gambling. Throughout the 1900s, the laws would continue to relax, and tribal casinos became an important concept and part of the culture. 


In line with Section 35 (1) of the Constitution Act of Canada 1982, Aboriginal rights were given more protection, and indigenous governments have long held the right to self-govern and therefore regulate their own gambling activities. The laws became complex. 


There are often disputes between native communities and the central government, often relating to issues like policing


This complexity became even more evident as local authorities started to control more of their own rules, and things varied from one location to the next. 


Plenty of the Indian and native casinos that have existed are still in place in Canada, and there are 26 of them still active to this day, many with interesting histories.


The majority of people who come from Native Canadian and Native American backgrounds participate in some form of organized gambling, so it is an important part of the culture.

Modern gambling laws


Modern gambling laws have changed significantly in Canada. Indigenous people still have their rights to self govern but things have been complicated by the fact that there are now many online options for gamblers, as the iGaming laws have come into force in many of Canada’s provinces. For instance, in Ontario, gamblers have access to a wide variety of different casino games, regardless of whether they are from a tribal background or not.


Generally speaking, the gambling laws in Canada are becoming slightly more relaxed and this means that there are more choices outside of the native Canadian casinos.




Very few countries have such a deep history of gambling. The native populations have gambled in one way or another for many hundreds of years, and this is a tradition that is still in place today, though gambling in general is now much more accessible to residents of Canada.