Online gambling continues to grow rapidly around the world, and Canada is one of the countries at the forefront of its massive adoption. The industry generates more than $20 billion in annual revenue, and it continues to grow as more gambling-friendly laws are taken.
Exploring the field of online gambling as a new player can be intimidating if you don't know where and how to start. This guide outlines everything you need to know before you start indulging in gambling entertainment.
Canada has revised its laws several times over the past century, and each time they become more and more favourable to the practice. In the early 20th century, the government imposed stringent regulations that limited gambling to sports only with no option for brick-and-mortar casinos. Additionally, there were restrictions on the kind of bets one could place and the sort of treatment winnings would receive.
It wasn't until the '70s that the Canadian government reviewed the laws and relaxed restrictions by miles. For instance, the federal government gave each province the power to make its own gambling laws and provide permits for casinos within their borders. Over 100 gambling clubs have been built since, most of which are operational to date. These changes caused rapid growth in the niche, and by 1992, the Canadian industry's market value was $3 billion.
When online gambling popped up in the '90s, Canada was among the first countries to recognize the platform's potential. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission launched in 1999 to license internet casinos looking to operate in the region, and it is still operational to date. Each province also has an established licensing body.
Canada's current online gambling laws state that the activity is only legal on websites that operate with valid licenses from the respective jurisdiction. At first glance, this law applies to the provinces where the gaming sites are located. However, it creates a grey area that makes it possible for players to seek gaming services from international casinos as long as they hold legitimate licenses from their countries. This leaves players responsible for determining the best licensing bodies to trust. Prominent institutions only grant licenses to casinos that meet stringent fairness and safety regulations, and they include:
- The UK Gambling Commission;
- The Malta Gaming Authority;
- AAMS Italy;
- Curacao eGaming;
- Alderney Gaming Control Commission.
Finding the Right Casino
With the Canadian gambling market generating among the highest revenue numbers globally, it is no surprise that countless casino operators are looking to capture a market share. This leaves players with the advantage of a vast choice range, but it can also be challenging to determine the best choice.
While every casino promises the most thrilling online gambling experience, many fall short of their claims. Here are some features that separate ideal casinos from the opposite ones.
A casino with a valid license from Canadian or reputable international organizations means that it has been thoroughly vetted and proven to be honest and safe. Licensing information is often at the bottom of the landing page, so be sure to check it.
Having approval stamps from independent RNG testing organizations such as TST, iTech Labs and eCOGRA is an advantage.
Playing in online casinos, especially for real money, usually requires personal information like one's full name, email address, and banking data during account creation and transactions.
Accordingly, choose a gaming site with security measures in place to lock out unauthorized third parties. SSL encryption of at least 128 bits is currently the best security protocol for online casinos and is indicated by an HTTPS:// tag on the site's link.
The games presented at online casinos usually fall into similar categories. However, they are created by different game studios, which makes each game unique. Some software providers excel in the art of game creation, so pay attention to what games are featured in your preferred casino.
The most well-known developers in Canada include NetEnt, Microgaming, Play'n Go, Evolution Gaming, Evoplay, iSoftBet, Yggdrasil Gaming, Big Time Gaming and Endorphina.
Casinos with a lasting impression have a great UI and UX. The best gambling designs are unobstructed and mitigate elements that do not add any function to the destination.
They also facilitate user flow, creating logical and easy-to-follow paths to navigate from one service to another without overthinking. These gambling clubs also have fast load times and high performance.
Download or instant-play
The choice between a download and instant play casinos is down to personal preference. Each option packs its own set of pros and cons. Instant-play casinos are the most popular and run directly on web browsers with no download demands. They are great for saving device storage space.
On the other hand, download casinos need to be installed from the operating system's app store, and they offer easy accessibility to gambling services right off the home screen. Some casinos feature both options, but some come in the no download mode only.
There are about 32 million smartphone users in Canada, and most gamblers use them to access gambling services. Ideal casinos have smartphone users in mind and design designated websites and apps to suit their small screens.
The services accessible on the gadgets are similar to those on the PC versions. Also, they take advantage of native features, such as push notifications, to fit better into the framework of the gadgets.
Suitable for Canadian players
The fact that a casino is available to Canadian players does not mean that it is the right option. Most international gaming sites offer services in a broad market without personalizing them for different customers.
If you sign up with such a site, you may find yourself having trouble, such as converting Canadian dollars to an accepted currency such as euros, which incurs additional costs. Choosing a Canadian-centric gambling house makes it easier to access relevant services, such as Canadian currency and sports leagues.
When engaging with a casino's services, you may run into issues, and a reliable client care team is the best option to get around it. Confirm the channels available to contact the team, the most common ones are live chat, email, phone, and social media.
Also, confirm the time it takes to get responses and whether the FAQ section covers commonly asked questions.
The centre of attraction in any casino is undoubtedly the game collection. Gambling games usually fall into different categories depending on their design, gameplay, and pay rules. User-friendly casinos group the games according to their respective classes, and the most popular ones are;
This category is the most popular of all casino games and accounts for a significant portion of sets in almost all gambling houses. Pokies are adored for the simplicity of their gameplay, thousands of options, range of betting limits, massive payouts, and diverse bonus features. Wolf Gold, Book of Dead, Legend of the Ice Dragon, Reactoonz 2, Gonzo's Quest Megaways, Jammin' Jars 2, and Money Train 2 are exciting titles worth a spin.
Roulette is an age-old game that first appeared in the 16th century and has gained even more popularity with the internet revolution. Canadian casinos feature different variations of the game, and they usually fall into three categories:
|Kind of Roulette||Details of the game|
|European Roulette||Plays with a 37-pocket wheel (numbers 1 to 36 and a single zero) and has a house edge of 2.7%|
|American Roulette||Plays with a 38-pocket wheel (numbers 1 to 36, a single zero, and double zero) and has a house edge of 5.36%|
|French Roulette||Has a wheel similar to that of European Roulette but adds the La Partage and En Prison rules, dropping the house edge to 1.35%|
The gameplay in all versions remains the same, requiring players to pick any pocket they think the ball will fall depending on the number, colour, or placement on the table. Popular games in the category include Neon Roulette, Common Draw Roulette, Double Ball Roulette, Rapid Roulette, and Mini Roulette.
Blackjack is also a casino classic and is modified into numerous variations following different rules. However, one rule cuts across all of them – players must have a card value of 21 or close to it to beat the house.
Atlantic City Blackjack, Single Deck Blackjack, Double Exposure, Perfect Pairs, and Multihand Blackjack are popular online Canadian casinos.
Poker is a classic card game requiring players to bet on whether they have the greater hand against other players or the house. Popular options include Five Card Poker, Oasis Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Texas Hold 'em, and Three-Card Draw.
These games come in free and real-money versions that mirror every element. However, the former can only be played using fun credits while the latter activates for cash stakes only.
Bonuses and Promotions
Canadian casinos incentivize players to register and engage with their real money services using bonuses. These incentives are available for new and returning clients, and each casino has unique packages curated for its target audience. Nonetheless, they fall into the following standard categories:
- Match promotions – award a percentage of the deposit up to a specified amount;
- Free spins – grant free rounds in limited or any slot machines. Free spins no wagering bonuses do not have playthrough terms attached to their winnings;
- Free chips – allow free rounds in the table and card games like blackjack, roulette, and poker;
- Cashbacks – give back a percentage of spent deposits, and most cover losses. They are often granted as no wagering casino bonus offers or have a low playthrough term attached;
- High-roller rewards – cater to players that make massive deposits.
- Loyalty programs – reward long-term engagement with their services, mainly through points used to upgrade VIP levels or convert to cash;
- Referral bonuses – activate when players refer others to the casino using a unique link.
- Tournaments – allow players to compete for pooled prizes by achieving set goals, such as activating a bonus features a specific number of times.
These bonuses can be packaged in different ways, such as no deposit, welcome, or reload gifts. Ensure to read through the pegged terms and conditions dictating their claim and use.
There are a lot of facets to explore and enjoy in online Canadian casinos. However, it should be done with moderation since the activity comes with a high risk of addiction.
The pastime can quickly go from a fun indulgence to an unhealthy obsession with dire short-term and long-term consequences. When playing online, pay attention to your habits, and stop as soon as you see yourself losing control.