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Vancouver

While it may not be the largest city in Canada, in some ways, Vancouver may be the country’s most familiar location for many people around the world. The city and the area around it have become one of the biggest film production hubs in the world: many television shows and films have filmed there, making Vancouver the stand-in for so many other North American cities in media, and the forests in the area have represented the wilderness from around the globe and beyond in countless productions. The city itself is quite cosmopolitan, too: about half of the residents here have a first language that is something other than English.

Vancouver is also a wonderful location to be in if you’re a fan of gambling. There are plenty of land-based casinos and other gaming facilities in the area, with another major venue on the way. And even if you don’t want to visit any of those locations, you can enjoy virtually any form of betting you like right from your home, as British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in North America to offer regulated online gambling to those residing in the province.

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Province and City Both Rich in Gaming Options

British Columbia has had a complicated relationship with gambling over the past several decades. When lotteries were first approved by the federal government, BC was happy to jump on the bandwagon, and did so in partnership with several of its neighbors. In 1974, the province joined Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in the creation of the Western Canada Lottery Foundation. That arrangement lasted for just over 10 years, before BC decided to break off and form their own body to regulate their games: the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, which is now betting known as BCLC.

Through the BCLC, residents are able to bet on a wide variety of games offered by the provincial government, from scratch cards to daily drawings and jackpot games. Players in BC can also buy tickets for nationwide drawings with much larger prizes, including Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max. Most of these products can also be purchased online now as well – but we’ll talk more about that when we get into the online casino options available to players here.

Casinos have also become widespread throughout British Columbia, and are under the jurisdiction of the BCLC. The province wasn’t exactly an early adopter of casinos, with the first betting venue – a riverboat named the Royal City Star, which operated in Vancouver but has since closed – opening in 1999. But despite the fact that neither the populace nor the government has ever seemingly been entirely enthusiastic about gambling expansion, BC has quickly become a rather saturated market, with a total of 17 Canadian casinos now operating in the province. In addition, there are many other venues, including slot parlors, racinos, and bingo halls, making it so that most people who live in the province are never so much as an hour car ride away from a resort or other form of brick-and-mortar gaming.

Many of these casinos are rather accessible from Vancouver, either existing in the city itself or elsewhere on the Lower Mainland. Examples include the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, which is the largest casino in all of British Columbia, and the Edgewater Casino, a smaller downtown establishment near BC Place and Rogers Arena.

Horse racing is also quite popular in the Vancouver area, and one of the premier tracks in BC is found in the city itself. The Hastings Racecourse doesn’t host many major races, though it does feature some Grade III events, including the British Columbia Breeders’ Cup Derby. While the course nearly closed at the end of its 2012 season, it continues to operate to this day, earning profits both from wagering on the races and the real money slots available in an adjoining casinos.


BC Leads in Online Regulation

Most Canadians now live in areas where regulated online gambling is available to them. For example, Canadian gamblers can enjoy licensed Ontario online casinos. However, this wasn’t always the case. In the early years of the Internet gaming industry, few jurisdictions actually offered licensing or otherwise oversaw play in their countries or states: it wasn’t until recent years that this became commonplace.

But the government of British Columbia was rather forward thinking in this regard, jumping on the chance to take control of the web-based gaming a bit earlier than most other provinces, states, and countries. In 2004, the BCLC launched PlayNow.com, a site that – at the time – offered lottery ticket sales over the Internet, making it easier than ever for players to participate in drawings from their homes.

But that was just the start for the province. In 2009, PlayNow saw its offering expand dramatically, turning into a fully-fledged online casino. In both cases, this made BC the first jurisdiction in North America to offer regulated versions of these games online, making them something of a trailblazer: there are now eight provinces that have some form of online gambling. For example, Quebec residents can enjoy legal online gambling in Montreal.

Today, PlayNow.com is one of the leading gaming sites in all of Canada. The casino operation utilizes games from companies such as IGT, and there is now a second version of the site that is available to users in Manitoba. There’s also a poker room that shares a player pool with Loto-Quebec, creating yet another first for the BCLC: the resulting network (the aptly named “Canadian Poker Network”) was the first example of two jurisdictions sharing player liquidity in order to bolster traffic at cash game and tournament tables.

Other games are also available through PlayNow. There is sports betting available, though under Canadian law, you may not bet on the outcomes of any one single game: only parlays, prop bets, and futures are available. Bingo, keno, and other games are also offered.

However, while the BCLC has certainly put together an impressive site for users to play on, it is not the only option available if you’re in Vancouver. As in other countries, there are always foreign operators who are happy to welcome Canadians to play on their sites, even if they aren’t strictly allowed to operate in Canada. In fact, many groups have stopped allowing their software to be used in Canada, and quite a few site owners have decided that given the heavy regulation in place, they’d rather not test their luck here.

On the other hand, there are absolutely no laws that would make it illegal for Canadians to play on these sites, making them an intriguing alternative to PlayNow.com. Many of these sites offer promotions that are more lucrative than those on the officially regulated site, and their game selections may be better, depending on your tastes.

Of course, there are reasons why many people decide to play with the BCLC instead. The level of security, trustworthiness, and consumer protection that you get when playing on a site that is overseen by the government of British Columbia is something that’s hard to match anywhere else. And even if you lose, it might make you feel good to know that your money is going to be spent on projects that benefit you or your community, rather than padding the pockets of some executive living on a faraway island.


Vancouver Debates Future Casino Site

Many people feel that the BC casino market has become saturated, and that any new venues would only cannibalize revenues that are currently being collected by the locations already in service. But there’s at least one group that feels differently, and they happen to be the one with all the cards: the BCLC.

In recent months, the Lottery Corporation has begun to float the idea of putting one or two new casinos on the Lower Mainland, potentially even including a venue in the Vancouver area. Both North Vancouver and Delta have expressed interest in at least investigating the possibility of hosting, with Delta even earmarking a potential site already.

All of this is taking place while a new casino is yet to open in downtown Vancouver. Paragon Gaming is in the process of building a $600 million resort that will be known as the Parq Vancouver. The location was originally slated to open in early 2017, but has been pushed back until at least the fall of that year. It’s an open question as to just how much new capacity the Vancouver area can handle, especially since the BCLC has declined to share the analysis that led them to the conclusion that all of these new venues could peacefully coexist.

All of this is happening against a backdrop of tepid public support for gambling as a whole and the Lottery Corporation, which has had a handful of incidents over the past few years that have slowly eroded some of the public’s trust in the organization. Even if the government would be happy to have as much gaming revenue as they can get, local communities might fiercely oppose further expansion.

On the bright side for gamblers, though, it seems that the most likely outcome is that at least this round of expansion will go through. And there’s also the possibility that even single-game sports betting could be approved by the federal government (though that seems less likely now that the Liberals say they will oppose the plan). In the long run, the Vancouver area should still be seeing more betting options rather than less, even if the rapid pace of expansion is likely to slow down in the near future.

Want to know more about online gambling regulation in other countries? Check out our casinos by country page for our full coverage.

**Debug info** Country : Canada Iso Code : CA State : Virginia City : Ashburn Language : en State Code : VA IP : 3.238.112.198

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