Does the Government Own All the Casinos in Canada?

casinos in canada

There is a lot of confusion surrounding government ownership of casinos in Canada. Many Canadians believe that the government owns all the casinos, while others still think that offshore gambling is illegal in Canada. Neither of these statements are true. In this post we will attempt to clear up some of the confusion regarding government owned casinos and answer some of the most commonly asked questions.

Who Owns All the Casinos in Canada?

In order to fully understand who does own casinos in Canada we need to take a look at the different types of Canadian casino. Basically there are four types of physical land based casino operations in Canada.

  • Government owned & operated
  • Privately owned & operated (including tribal casinos)
  • Government owned & privately operated
  • Not for profit or charitable organizations

It is important to note that government-owned casinos does not mean state owned. Canada is a huge land mass divided up into regions or states, each with their own individual system of government. Each state has their own policies on gambling, and drafts their own laws accordingly.

So, does the government own all the casinos in Canada? No, it does not. However, at a purely state level, the government does have a stake in some of the country’s casino operators.

Government Owned & Operated Casinos in Canada

Regionally licensed and operated casinos can be found predominately in three different provinces, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

All casinos in Quebec are provincially owned and operated by Loto Quebec including the largest casino in Canada Casino de Montreal. Other casinos run by this Loto Quebec include…

  • Casino de Charlevoix
  • Casino du Lac-Leamy
  • Casino du Mont-Tremblant

There are just two casinos in Saskatchewan Casino Moose Jaw and Casino Regina. In Manitoba there also a couple of provincially owned casinos, the Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Station Casino.

Privately Owned & Operated Casinos in Canada

There are a number of privately owned and operated Canadian casinos, including tribal casinos. The biggest operator of tribal casinos is the First Nations Casinos ( also known as Great Spirit Casinos Inc. This company operates casinos on First Nation land in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

First Nations Casinos include…

  • Dakota Dunes Casino (Saskatchewan)
  • Gold Eagle Casino (Saskatchewan)
  • Gold Horse Casino (Saskatchewan)
  • Living Sky Casino (Saskatchewan)
  • Northern Lights Casino (Saskatchewan)
  • Painted Hand Casino (Saskatchewan)
  • South Beach Casino (Manitoba)
  • Aseneskak Casino (Manitoba)

Two of Canada’s biggest casino and gaming hall operators are Gateway Casinos ( and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (

Gateway Casinos own several casinos in British Columbia under the brand name Cascades Casino. They also own the Starlight Casino in Edmonton (formerly Palace Casino), the Grand Villa Casino, Lake City Casino and the Starlight Casino in New Westminster. They also own some of the best casinos in Ontario under the Gateway brand name.

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation operates some of the most visited casinos in Ontario including Casino Woodbine (home of the Woodbine racetrack) and several casinos under the brand name ‘Elements’ including Elements Casino – Brantford, Elements Casino – Flamboro, Elements Casino – Grand River and Elements Casino – Mohawk.

Government Owned & Privately Operated Casinos in Canada

A relatively new development in the Canadian casino scene is government owned and privately operated casinos. The Casino Niagara, Fallsview Casino Resort, both located at Niagara Falls and Caesars Windsor hotel operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG)are all examples of Ontario casinos that fall into this category.

Casino Niagara, Which is a possibly the best casino in the world for tourists boasts 95,000 square-feet of pure gambling fun. Two action-packed floors of slots with over 1,300 slot machines (including more than 350 progressive slots) and video poker machines, and over 40 action-packed card tables, including Blackjack, Mississippi Stud, Roulette and Poker.

Not For Profit or Charitable Organizations

Probably the best known not for profit casino in the world is Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Casino, Dawson City, Yukon.

There are few not for profit or charitable casinos quite like Diamond Tooth Gertie’s. First opened in 1971 by the Klondike Visitors Association, it is Canada’s oldest casino. Don’t be fooled by the moniker though, Diamond Tooth Gertie’s is a fully fledged casino with real money casino games and real live dealers.

It is far from the only one of course. There are two big companies that offer charitable or privately owned casinos in Canada.

Both of these gambling companies operate principally in the territory of Alberta, mainly around Calgary and Edmonton. They all operate under strict regulatory requirements and offer a wide range of games including slots, craps, table games and electronic tables.

These casinos are recognised as charitable casinos because a portion of their profits go to help local and national charities.

Online Casinos in Canada

Offshore gambling is a different story altogether. It is perfectly legal for Canadian citizens to gamble online in Canada. Many of the best casinos for Canadians are based offshore.

Offshore operators are those that are based outside of Canada and offer gambling services to Canadians. The government has no real policy regarding offshore casinos although many do operate under a Kahnawake operators license.

jackpot city casino review

Over 500 Casino Games

T&Cs Apply
1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th Deposit - Match Bonus up to C$ 400 • New customers only • Min deposit C$ 10 • 70x wagering • Terms apply

Plus C$25 Free CFL Bet

T&Cs Apply
New players only. Terms apply, please gamble responsibly. 18+. Minimum deposit: Can$10, Maximum Cashout: Unlimited. Wagering requirements: 35x bonus (restrictions apply). Maximum bet: Can$3.99 or 14% of starting bonus value (lower value applies). Bonus expiration: 21 days

What is a Kahnawake Casino License?

All land based casinos, no matter which state they are in, require a gambling license. Similarly, online casino operators that wish to have a physical presence in Canada, such as servers or marketing department also require a license. Does this mean that it is illegal for Canadians to gamble online with offshore casinos? Absolutely not! Offshore gambling (online gambling) is permitted for Canadian citizens. There are many reputable and licensed offshore casinos that accept Canadian players. In fact, in most cases using overseas gambling operators is 100% the best choice for Canadian Blackjack players, Baccarat players or lovers of slots.

Is a Kahnawake Casino License Legit?

Yes, a Kahnawake casino license is legit. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission ( is a tribal owned regulatory body situated within the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake. It regulates and licenses online casinos, online poker rooms and sportsbooks. KGC also licences several land-based poker rooms in Kahnawake.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is one of the most respected gaming commissions in the world. So, if you’re looking for a safe and reputable online casino to play at, look for a casino that has a license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Can Anybody Operate a Casino in Canada?

No, not everybody can own and operate a casino in Canada. To run a land-based casino in Canada, you must be licensed by the provincial government. The process of obtaining a casino license is complicated and expensive, so it is not something that just anybody can do. Additionally, to operate an online casino in Canada, you must be licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Are State Owned Casinos Immoral?

There is no easy answer to this question. Some people believe that government-owned casinos are immoral, while others do not. It is ultimately up to the individual to decide whether or not they think state-owned casinos are unethical.

Legal Canadian Gambling Age

In order to legally gamble in Canada, you need to be 19 years old, except in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec where it is possible to gamble from the age of 18. The age requirement applies to all forms of gambling including domestic (land based casinos, lotteries, etc) and online gambling websites (both offshore and domestic).

[Download a list of Land Based Casinos in Canada here]