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The Lotteries of Canada

Published on: 05/11/2013

Europe has had a long and interesting history with lotteries and gambling. The 17th century saw a growth in liberalization and government sanctified gambling in the major cities of Italy – primarily Rome and Venice. From these areas gambling laws and practices radiated out like ripples in a pond. Canada was of course uninfluenced by these developments. Early settlers imported some of their European practices, but it was largely left up to the country to develop its own rules and regulations as regards gambling.

For many years all kinds of gambling were officially illegal – the authorities tacitly allowed many gaming houses to operate, as they appeased the population. Official lotteries though had always been forbidden, and it was not until 1967 that sweepstakes and lotteries where finally permitted. The Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced a number of radical changes to the gaming laws, and soon the provinces and states of Canada were permitted to have a degree of autonomy. The next big change occurred on December 23rd 1969, when, for the very first time in the country’s history, an amendment to Canada’s Criminal Code formally granted provincial governments the right to operate and regulate their own lotteries.

The corporation of Loto-Québec was wisely constructed to “to oversee the activities surrounding games of skill and chance and also to reduce organized crime’s control over these activities.” This public corporation was specifically designed to regulate and control the new and uncertain industries, which the amendment to the criminal code had created. It was decided on the outset that whatever profits the corporation earned would be distributed back into the community, to benefit numerous philanthropic and general causes.

It wasn’t until 1970 that Canada’s very first lottery ticket went on sale. It had certainly been a long wait, but the population immediately took to Inter-Loto, as it was called. The door had now been opened of course (some staunch detractors said it was Pandora’s box which had been opened) for numerous other lotteries to be formed. The Western Canada Lottery Corporation, or WCLC, was founded in Winnipeg in 1974. It was intended as a zero profit institution, and its catchment area was Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Its primary purpose was to “effectively to manage, conduct and operate all lottery and gaming-related transactions as agent for its Members,” which included Nunavut, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories.

The Atlantic Lottery was founded two years later, in 1976. Its purpose was to regulate lotteries in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Labrador. This lottery, like many of the others, was slow to find its way, and cater to its specific demographic. Unlike European lotteries, these new games had no previous indigenous models to work from. They had, through trial and error, to work out which style of game appealed to and was congenial for the local population. Initially there was just a single game put out by the Atlantic lottery, but they soon diversified, producing scratch cards, and mid week lotteries. Eventually they constructed online lotteries and casinos, which were every bit as good as those found in Europe. The company grew rapidly, and now has a workforce of more than 600 people.

There were many projects undertaken by the Canadian Federal Government to recoup the exorbitant expenditure of the 1976 Summer Olympics. On result of this was the “Olympic Lottery.” This actually ran for several years, and was a huge success. It later morphed into Lotto Canada. In 1982 there was the introduction of the country’s very first nationwide “choose your own numbers” style of lottery, which is running to this very day.

Published on: 05/11/2013 © Bet Bind