How Canadians Started Gambling: First Games – LIFESTYLE BY PS
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How Canadians Started Gambling: First Games

Gambling has been popular around the world for thousands of years, but the gambling we know today is very different from what it was. These days, anyone can log on to a real money casino from the comfort of their own home and play all sorts of online games with $200 dollar no deposit bonus codes. But in the past, gambling was a very different prospect. In this article, we’ll take a look at the origins of gambling in Canada, examining some of the earliest games and seeing how gambling evolved over time.

How Canadians Started Gambling

The Very First Games

The history of gambling is said to go all the way back to the Paleolithic period, also known as the Old Stone Age. But the first real records of gambling are more recent. Historians have found evidence of basic dice games being played in the Mesopotamia region in 3,000 BC, and it is believed that those games are much, much older. But what about in Canada? Well, in Canada, and the Pacific Northwest Coast region, a game known as Slahal, or Lahal, was one of the earliest forms of gambling in the area.

Slahal is a Chinook jargon word. The game was also referred to as "bone game" or "stick game", as well as other names. It's a game that is still played today among some tribes and indigenous peoples, even in this modern age of real money casino gambling and free slot games on your smartphone. The game involves using animal bones and is actually quite a simple guessing game that is relatively easy to understand and quite simple for beginner players to pick up. Here’s how it worked:

In preparation for the game, two pairs of bones are gathered. One pair of the bones is marked with a stripe, while the other is left plain. Traditionally, a set of scoring sticks are also used.

  1. The players are divided into two teams, and they each get half of the scoring sticks to start off.
  2. The four bones are given to one of the teams. Two members of the team with the bones each take a bone - one striped and one plain. They hide the bones in their hands so that the other team can't see. They then sing a song as they pass the bones back and forth between their hands and each other.
  3. The other team then has to guess the position of the plain, unmarked bone. If they choose correctly, they get to take two of the bones for themselves. If they are incorrect, they have to give up a scoring stick.
  4. When the other team has won both of the pairs of bones, they get to conceal them, and the other team has to start guessing.
  5. This continues until one team has no more scoring sticks left, and the team with all the sticks wins.

The Arrival of the English

1497 was a hugely important year in the history of Canada. It was then that the Italian explorer and navigator, John Cabot, landed on the Atlantic coast of Canada and claimed the territory in the name of King Henry VII of England. This was not only a big moment for Canada, but it also impacted gambling in Canada, too. The territory was subject to British law, and one law, in particular, affected some of the earliest gambling games in the area.

How Canadians Started Gambling

It was a law dating all the way back to the 1300s, and it was a law that outlawed many types of dice games. It was actually King Richard III of England who introduced this rule. He felt that his archers at the time were spending too much of their time playing games of chance, and he worried that the games were becoming a serious distraction, as well as a possible safety risk. So, he brought in a law to stop the games from being played, and once Canada came under the control of the English, the same law applied there.

John Cabot Witnesses Early Games of the Natives

These days, card games can be found in any casino. They’re a big part of the best online casino experiences, and they’re popular at all dollar deposit casinos around the world. But the history of card games goes far back before the first casino even opened its doors. Indeed, historians have found evidence to suggest that card games were played around 2,000 years ago in China. One way or another, the idea ended up in Canada, too, and John Cabot saw evidence of this when he arrived.

According to reports at the time, Cabot was said to have witnessed the native tribes playing their own card games. The games were said to be quite basic, not like the games you'd find today at the best online casino sites or any bonus casino apps, but they were still fascinating for the time. In addition, it is said that the games had great emotional and spiritual importance to the people who played them; they really meant something, rather than simply being played for fun or amusement, like a lot of modern casino games.

The First Big Horse Race

These days, when we think about casino games and gambling, horse racing is one of the main things that people like to bet on. Well, it was in the summer of 1767 that the first big horse race gambling event took place on Canadian land. It was held in the Plains of Abraham at Quebec City, and the race was won by a mare named Modesty. The winner got $40 in prize money, which seems small compared to the jackpots of today's best payout online casino games, but was a big sum at the time.

How Canadians Started Gambling

First Race Stats:

  • Date: July 1, 1767;
  • Location: Plains of Abraham Quebec City;
  • Winner: Modesty, ridden by Captain Prescott;
  • Grand Prize: $40.

A Nationwide Ban

Today, it’s easy to log on to a no-deposit bonus casino in Canada and play some games, but there was a time when attitudes towards gambling were much more strict. In the 19th century, for example, the vast majority of gambling in Canada was outlawed entirely. You couldn’t set up a casino or play casino games, nor could you bet on sports or other events. This was mainly due to social and religious attitudes at the time, and legislators were under pressure to preserve the status quo and prevent society from developing any gambling habits.

However, in reality, people were still gambling at the time. They were just doing it illegally, underground and in dark corners of the cities. The same was true all over the world, as many other countries had gambling bans at the time, but small underground gambling clubs were formed to allow people to indulge in the pleasures of games of chance and sports betting. It was clear that something had to change, and change finally did come as the new century arrived.

Changes to Gambling Laws

The 20th century heralded a new age for Canadian gambling, with some major developments in terms of the legal situation:

  • Charity - In 1900, the government began making some changes. The first change was to allow bingo and raffle events, as long as they were in aid of charity.
  • Racing - In 1910, another huge development came, as horse race betting and "pari-mutuel" betting were allowed.
  • Licenses - Later in the century, in the 1970s, provinces around Canada were given permission to start licensing and regulating gambling among their citizens.

These changes completely transformed the shape of gambling in the country. As time went on and the laws were loosened, people began to enjoy the likes of card and dice games more than ever. And with time, attitudes toward gambling also began to soften, and this led to more easing of the rules and more freedoms across the country. It wasn’t too soon after that the first casino locations around Canada started to open up, giving players places to go to enjoy their favourite games.

A Table of Key Milestones

The table below shows some of the key milestones of gambling history in Canada, from the early days right up to the modern era. It shows how gambling in the country has changed so much over the years, leading up to today’s world of online casino games, real money slots, and countless Canadians all looking for the best online casino with the most exciting no deposit bonus and free spins promos:



Pre-European settlement

Native tribes around the Pacific Northwest played their own games of chances, including Slahal.

14th century

Richard III introduces a ban on dice games, which comes into action when the English claim the territory.


John Cabot arrives on Canadian soil and witnesses the locals playing some basic games of chance involving cards.


The first horse racing gambling event is held.

19th century

A total gambling ban comes into action across the whole of the country.


Bingo games and raffles are allowed in aid of charity.


Horse racing is made legal.


Gambling becomes legal in certain places, like town exhibitions and fairs.


The lottery is approved.


Provinces are allowed to make their own regulations regarding gambling.


The first commercial casino establishments begin to open up their doors.


The first online casino starts operations.

Modern Day

Many online casino sites operate across the country, offering mobile slots, casino bonus promotions, live games, and more.

It’s clearly been a long and interesting journey for casinos in Canada, and with new apps and sites popping up all the time and the industry evolving even further, this is a story with much more left to be written. Those who are interested in modern-day casino games in Canada can use sites like Newcasinos-ca to learn about the best sites to play at. Newcasinos-ca can help you quickly and easily compare casino sites across Canada and find the latest sites, as well as the best promos and offers for you to take advantage of. It can also help you find casinos based on a range of filters, like PayPal casinos or casinos with NetEnt games.

Expansion Into a Gigantic Industry

In 1985, sports betting became legal in Canada, and a lot of the restrictions around casino games had eased, as well. So, it was during this decade that several of Canada's oldest casinos first opened their doors. Casinos popped up in places like Winnipeg, Dawson City, Prince George, and Calgary. With names like Cash Casino, Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall, and Crystal Casino, these locations quickly started to draw in some big crowds, and it didn’t take long for the casino industry in Canada to start evolving and expanding.

In the years that followed, more and more casinos opened up. Gambling became more accessible for Canadians, and the culture and attitudes of people towards gambling and casino games also changed in a lot of big ways. What had once been outlawed and shunned now became a huge part of the country’s culture, and a very valuable industry, too. And then, in the 90s, the first online casinos started to operate, giving players even more fun ways to enjoy their favourite games like:

  • Virtual online slots
  • Blackjack
  • Poker
  • Roulette
  • Craps

And today, with the diversity of games that can be enjoyed online, it is no wonder that more and more people are now flocking to try their luck in these digital casinos. From slots and video poker to table games and live dealer tables, there is something for everyone to enjoy in an online casino. And with the added convenience of being able to play from the comfort of your own home, the gambling industry improves day by day. Who knows what technology will bring us in the future of gambling?