A Guide to Canada’s Online Casinos, Bonuses and More
Whilst gambling is now a popular entity all over the world, the practice remains synonymous with some countries more than others.
Take Canada, for example, which despite not being renowned as a particularly progressive gambling jurisdiction continues to cater to a large audience and retains a rich heritage of betting and wagering.
Online Casinos History in Canada
This can be traced back long before Italian explorer John Cabot made his maiden voyage to Canada in 1497, as gambling was already popular amongst the native people. However, Cabot’s arrival brought European influences and decks of playing cards, whereas most native games used sticks and similarly rustic accessories.
Despite this, Canada’s first fully-fledged commercial casino didn’t open until 1989 in Winnipeg, with a second following in Montreal in 1993.
Other provinces have since followed suit, with Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan all operating commercial establishments at the time of writing.
During the last decade or so, Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) have also been commissioned by a number of provincial governments. These are available nationwide, whilst they’re best described as video slot machines that delivers redeemable coupons that can be exchanged for a fixed cash value to lucky winners!
There are now approximately 33,000 of these terminals dotted throughout Canada, and they’ve definitely helped to popularise gambling among a new generation of players.
This brings us neatly on the nation’s iGaming market, which is relatively unusual in terms of the rules and legislation that underpins it (we’ll have a little more on this later). However, there’s a huge demand for online gambling in Canada, whilst remote gameplay is certainly claiming an incrementally larger market share year-on-year.
Of the nationals who wager online at least once a year, 38% claim to have played poker, with a further 26% indulging in casino slots. The latter figure is growing at an exponential rate, however, whilst table games are also likely to supersede poker participation in the next few years.
This is part of a wider global trend, as online video poker continues to lose much of its market share to more diverse and accessible gaming iterations.
An estimated 30% of regular gamblers in Canada also indulge in online sports betting, with this market dominated by both Canadian and American sports.
The most popular sport in this regard is hockey, as natives have grown up with this pastime and can watch seven Canadian teams ply their trade in the National Hockey League.
Both the MLB and the NBA feature Canada teams too, so wagering on these leagues and match-ups is incredibly popular too.
The Canadian Football League (CFL) is also a lucrative betting market, whilst Lacross is a discipline that manages to attract a surprisingly high number of wagers. Elsewhere, Canadians
also have a growing love of soccer, and tend to place a regular number of bets during regular tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup.
We’re going to discuss Canada’s seemingly restrictive iGaming laws below, but natives with a passion for online gambling will have welcomed the recent announcement that the country’s largest province is set to open up online gambling to the private sector.
Ontario’s new Tory government have pledged to wide online gambling options for up to 15 million customers as part of its first budget announcement, in a bid to create a competitive and well-regulated market that delivers significant taxation revenues.
Currently, only one site (PlayOLG.ca) is legally permitted to provide iGaming verticals to players, and this is owned by the province’s government-backed Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).
This represents a major development for the Canadian market, and one help it to become one of the biggest and fastest growing in the world!
Is Online Gambling Legal in Canada?
This may seem like a strange question given all that we’ve covered so far, but it’s fair to say that Canada’s iGaming laws are relatively complex and in need of further scrutiny.
As is the case with bricks-and-mortar casinos, several forms of Internet gambling have been legalised by the Canadian authorities. However, the legislation surrounding restrictions and participation creates several grey areas for players and operators alike, whilst the regulatory outlook is far less progressive than we are used to in the UK.
As we’ve already said, private sector operators are not currently able to operate any online casinos or poker rooms in Canada (although this legislation will change in the near-term). However, operators circumnavigate this by basing themselves on the neighbouring Kahnawake native reserve, which is classed as a territory of Canada and boasts far more relaxed regulatory measures.
At the same time, there’s no law prohibiting players from accessing or wagering through an online casino platform. This is central to the success of the iGaming market in Canada, as it creates a scenario where gamblers are able to access their favourite games and operators are able to provide these in a competitive marketplace.
At the same time, some of Canada’s most trusted offshore companies are licensed by the UKGC and the Malta Gaming Authority, and these multi-national operators are also able to support online casinos in the country.
How do we Review the Top Canadian Casinos?
As a result of Canada’s complex but relatively relaxed regulatory laws, various casino brands can compete for their share of the iGaming marketplace.
At the Gambling Metropolis, we provide a comprehensive review of every single casino in Canada, but how do we structure and present this information? Here’s a brief insight:
Safety and Security:
One of the most important metrics by which any online casino should be judged in security, particularly as these sites will be tasked with processing real-time cash payments. We’ve appraised each Canadian casino to ensure that they offer at least 128-bit SSL encryption, in order to secure your payments and keep your financial data private. We also publish the details of each casino’s licensing agreement, so that you can make sure that you’re dealing with a reputable site.
As the Canadian iGaming market has become increasingly competitive, brands have sought to incentivise players by offering them generous welcome bonuses. These often take the form of first deposit matches of 100% or 200%, whilst some operators also throw in some free spins on selected slots. We’ll compare and contrast each company’s real-time welcome offer and break these down on your behalf.
When it comes to making your first deposit, there are now a myriad of options through which you can credit your account. These include tried-and-tested favourites like your Visa debit card, along with e-wallets such as Skrill and Instadebit. The Paysafecard is another safe and secure option for Canadian players, although you should not that the popular e-wallet Neteller is not currently accepted by iGaming operators.
At the Gambling Metropolis, we also review each site’s available withdrawal methods and the average time taken to process transactions. Most importantly, we’re looking for operators that complete quick and efficient payments across credit cards, e-wallets and bank transfers. Most e-wallet providers allow for instantaneous transactions, although withdrawals can take up to 24-hours in some cases.
More than 51% of gamblers have wagered through a mobile device during the last year, and this number is likely to increase further in the future. As a result, operators are now focused on providing an immersive and secure mobile experience to players, either through the form of a responsive, instant play website or a native app. Our reviews focus heavily on each site’s mobile offering and the games’ libraries included.
Customer support is another key focus for our operators, particularly as the iGaming market in Canada becomes increasingly competitive. This should be available through various channels including telephone and email, whilst 24-hour live chat also enables firms to settle user’s queries quickly and efficiently. Most of our Canadian casinos also provide comprehensive FAQs to their players, answering some of the most common questions succinctly.
Established Game Providers:
Each online casino boasts a variable games’ library, with some operators focusing on quality and others offering players access to more than 1,300 titles across several different verticals. We review our sites to see which established software houses provide these games, from household names such as Microgaming and NetEnt to slots specialists Quickspin and live gaming legend Evolution Gaming.
Licensing and Regulations:
We also ensure that the operators featured on our site are fully licensed and accredited, as this way you can rest assured that they’re eligible to operate in the Canadian market. Our online casinos must also comply with the regulations of the markets that they operate in, from minimising restrictions placed on withdrawals to publishing the return-to-player (RTP) rates available through certain games.
Playing with Real Money – What Currencies can you wager with at Canada’s Online Casinos
All online casinos in Canada allow you to play for real money, but which payment methods and currencies are available to natives?
In terms of the latter, the best currency for natives to wager with is Canadian dollars (CAD). After all, this negates the complications associated with currency exchanges, which can eat into your bankroll and cause it to fluctuate over time.
Despite the fact that private sector operators in Canada are currently not permitted to accept Canadian players, the iGaming brands from across the globe offer the CAD as a viable betting currency. This means that you can wager with an overseas operator without being forced to transfer your funds into a different currency.
In terms of payment methods, we’ll already touched on some of the most popular platforms. Here’s a more detailed summary of the deposit and withdrawal methods on offer:
· The Paysafecard
· Visa Debit
· Bank Transfer
These are the most commonly used real money wagering methods in Canada, but you should review each casino independently to see the fully range of payment options available.
Which Casino Games are Available in Canada?
As you’d expect from a gambling jurisdiction that’s open the world, Canada features a number of online games from some of the leading global development teams.
These are available across all major verticals too, from slots and table games to poker iterations and live gambling titles.
Slots: Like most other developed iGaming markets, Canada’s online casinos are dominated by slots. These games drive more than half of the market’s GGY, with popular titles such as Starburst, Gonzo’s Quest, Jungle Jim and the progressive jackpot Mega Moolah all available to Canadian players.
Table Games: Canadian casinos also offer a diverse range of table game iterations, which are based on European and American roulette and blackjack. Multi-wheel roulette is a particularly immersive game that’s available to players, as is Atlantic City Multi-hand and the innovative Dream Catcher.
Live Casino: Online gamblers in Canada also have access to international developers like Evolution Gaming, who provide one of the best live casino experiences imaginable. This means that you can play live roulette, blackjack and baccarat iterations through our sites, alongside real-time poker variations such as Casino Hold ‘em.
Poker: Whilst the popularity of poker is declining in Canada, players can still access a wide range of classic and modern card games online. From cult favourites like Deuces Wild and All American Poker to Aces & Hates, there’s something for everyone when wagering in online Canada.
Popular Casinos Accepting Canadian Players
Ok, we hear you ask, but which of the world’s leading casinos are currently available to players in Canada?
In truth, you can wager at a number of familiar online casinos when in Canada, and we’ve picked out three of the best below!
Rizk Casino: Whilst Rizk Casino may be a relative newcomer to the iGaming market, it has already made its mark on Canadian players. It also boasts a huge games’ library including thrilling slots such as Starburst, Bonanza and Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead.
Dunder Casino: The Dunder Casino is another relative newcomer, and one that offers access to a generous welcome offer and more than 500 high-quality games. These include Zeus God of Thunder, Twin Spin and the progressive Mega Fortune.
LeoVegas Casino: The internationally-renowned LeoVegas Casino in a number of jurisdictions, whilst this platform offers access to more than 1000 games. Most of these are slots, with everything from low-variance titles like Jimi Hendrix to big jackpot games such as Mega Fortune Dreams.
Playing Online Casino Games with a Real Live Dealer
We touched earlier on so-called live casino games, which add a unique dimension to the online gambling experience.
In simple terms, live casino games adhere to the same rules as traditional online titles, with the major difference being that you’ll play against a live and interactive dealer rather than the computer.
This creates a more authentic and immersive gambling experience, and one that’s typically available across popular table games such as blackjack, roulette and baccarat. Most operators
offer live poker and card game iterations too, including iconic titles such as Caribbean Stud Poker.
Your experience will start when you open your chosen live game and see an interactive dealer standing beside a roulette, blackjack or poker table. The casino environment will be incredibly realistic and you’ll be immersed in the action immediately, whilst you’ll find that the pace of your preferred game replicates a bricks-and-mortar casino!
Casino Bonuses and Free Spins
One of the many ways in which online Canadian casinos compete for your custom is to offer a generous welcome bonus, with this type of promotional offer typically taking one of two forms.
An operator may decide to offer a first deposit match, for example, which will typically increase the value of your deposit by 100% or 200%. This offer will typically be capped at a specific value too, whilst the promotion will also be subject to stringent wagering requirements (we’ll have a little more on this later).
LeoVegas is currently offering a generous 100% deposit match up to the value of £400, for example, and by meeting the minimum deposit limit of £10 you’ll trigger a bonus value of £20. The brand has also supplemented this with 100 bonus spins, which can only be used on the popular Book of Dead slot.
This brings us onto the second type of popular bonus option, which sees players rewarded solely free a predetermined number of free spins.
As with the LeoVegas example, you’ll typically find that the number of free slots on offer is capped between 50 and 100, whilst they’re usually restricted to a select number of games. Popular games like the Book of Dead and Starburst are the most commonly selected titles, as they experience a high volume of demand amongst players from across the globe.
What’s a Bonus Wagering Requirement?
We touched earlier on wagering requirements, which refer to the amount that you need to bet in order to release your bonus winnings into your main cash balance.
On average, operators apply wagering requirements of between 30 and 40-times the value of our bonus (or in some instance the sum that you deposited). So, if you made a £10 deposit and received a bonus worth £20, wagering requirements of 35-times mean that you’d need to wager £700 before you could withdraw your winnings.
Online operators offer variable wagering requirements depending on the nature of their bonus offers, and whilst we’ll cover these with our reviews you’ll need to check each individual site before making an informed decision.
The games that you play will count towards your wagering requirements, although each one will have a different value in this respect. Some games don’t count at all towards your wagering requirements, so you’ll need to check this with each individual online casino operator.
The Casino Market in Canada
According to the Canadian Gaming Association, the country’s unregulated gambling market currently generated upwards of $1 billion per annum, with the participation rate of players increasingly significantly from the 8% recorded in 2010.
In fact, close to 30% of online gambling participants have wagered on slot and table games at some point during the last year, whilst a higher percentage of native regularly indulge in virtual sports betting.
These numbers have continued to increase during the last nine years, and there’s no doubt that this trend will continue at pace for the foreseeable future at least.
At the heart of this is the aforementioned decision of Ontario’s Tory government to open up Canada’s iGaming market to more than 15 million players. This will help domestic operators in the private sector to boost market growth, whilst also targeting new players and demographics nationwide.
Online Casinos Gambling Rules and Regulations in Canada
Unlike nations such as the UK, Canada boasts a number of different regulatory bodies and authorities.
These hold jurisdiction in different territories, whilst in most instances there’s a single regulator for all iGaming verticals. In Ontario, for example, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission regulate online casino games and slots, whilst also providing guidance for poker and bingo players.
In most cases, the respective provincial regulator also regulates online sports betting in that region, although betting on horse races is treated as separate and governed by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency.