British Columbia is one of the biggest and most populous Canadian provinces. It is also known for having dozens of casinos, several thousand lottery outlets and a wholly regulated online gambling market.
Almost all land-based casinos in British Columbia are run by the province-owned BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corp.) or two of the biggest private gambling companies — Gateway Casino & Entertainment and Great Canadian Gaming. There are also a few First Nation casinos. The minimum gambling age in British Columbia is 19, both in land-based and online casinos.
In this article, we will list some of the best casinos, poker rooms, bingo rooms and racetracks you can find in British Columbia. We will also touch on online gambling regulation in the province and answer some questions regarding gambling taxes.
Online gambling in British Columbia is legal, although you can only legally pursue it through a single website called PlayNow.ca owned and operated by the BCLC. PlayNow is a versatile gambling platform that offers lottery, keno, instant games, casino games, live casino, pools, poker, bingo and sports betting.
Despite it being a province-run website, PlayNow does have a substantial selection of casino games, comparable to some of the world’s biggest online casinos. The same can be said for the site’s poker room, which frequently organises tournaments. However, the site’s sportsbook section lacks some basic betting options and has stringent rules regarding single bets.
There are currently 36 land-based casinos operating across British Columbia. Most of these casinos have hundreds of video slot machines (including video poker games and video lottery terminals), as well as several table games like roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, poker and others. Several casinos also have dedicated poker rooms running Texas Hold’em and other cash games and tournaments.
Below are summaries of the five most popular casinos in BC and a table with information about all of the province’s casinos.
Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby is a 100,000-square-foot casino operated by Gateway Casino & Entertainment Limited. It features an impressive collection of games that includes over 1,300 slot machines, 67 gambling tables and an 11-table poker room. The casino is open 24 hours a day.
Cascades has over 70,000 square feet of gambling space featuring more than 1,000 brand new video slot machines, 28 table games and a poker room with six tables, various poker tournaments and the bad beat jackpot. The casino is operated by Gateway and has a luxury hotel and spa on-site. Just like most major BC casinos, Cascades is open around the clock.
Located on the bank of the Fraser River, Hard Rock is one of the most prominent Vancouver casinos. The casino’s 80,000 square feet of gambling space includes almost 1,000 video slots and various table games. It is also one of a few BC casinos that offers off-track horse race betting. Hard Rock Casino is adjacent to the Executive Plaza Hotel, and it’s open 24 hours a day.
River Rock is a hotel and casino resort in Richmond that entertains its guests with over 1,200 modern video slots and more than 100 tables. It also has a dedicated poker room, a racebook and several high-limit rooms. River Rock Casino Resort is open 24/7f.
Starlight Casino in New Westminster is among the biggest BC casinos with its impressive collection of over 900 video slots and around 45 table games. The casino also has a VIP high-limit room, a great entertainment program and several dining options. The casino is open day and night.
Live poker is very popular in British Columbia, although not every BC casino has a dedicated poker room where you can play against other players. Instead, most of them feature only a few popular poker variants in which you go against the dealer. So, if you’re only interested in live poker, here are some of the top places where you can play exciting cash games and tournaments.
River Rock is often described as the best poker room in the whole of British Columbia. It currently features five tables where you can play $1/$3 Texas Hold’em with buy-ins that start as low as $100. A bad beat jackpot is also available. The room is open every day from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
This is one of the best casinos in the province, and its poker room doesn’t lag behind the other amazing games you can play here. The 12 tables run 24 hours a day and offer no limit Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hi. The available games include 1/3 NL, 2/5 NL, 5/10 NL, 2/2 PLO, 1/3/5 PLO and 5/5 PLO. All players are eligible to win the bad beat jackpot.
Cascades Casino in Langley is another excellent venue for poker fans. The poker room is open day and night and offers six tables. No limit Texas Hold’em is the most popular game, although you can play various games with different limits. The current bad beat jackpot at the casino is worth $500,000.
Parq Vancouver has another 24/7 poker room with 11 nine-handed tables run by professional dealers. There are several games with various limits, catering to both casual players and high-roller pros.
Cascades Casino Kamloops has a substantial selection of tables where you can play no limit cash games and participate in occasional tournaments. The chance to win the bad beat jackpot worth $500,000 awaits all players with a qualifying hand. The poker room is open Thursday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to late hours.
Sports betting in British Columbia is legal through the BCLC. The only legal online sportsbook right now is PlayNow.ca. Here, you can wager on the most popular North American sports and several international competitions.
While sports betting is legal in BC, it is also heavily regulated and restricted. The Criminal Code of Canada still prohibits single bets, so the only way to create a betting slip is through parlays. However, some exceptions do exist. PlayNow offers single bets as long as they are composed of parlay outcomes. For example, the correct score bet can be played as a single bet as it involves the bettor guessing the number of points scored by both teams/players.
Sports betting in BC did become a bit more liberal over the last several years, as more and more betting types are allowed.
The lottery is huge in BC. This is evidenced by the fact that there are around 3,500 lottery retailers across the province, and draws are conducted several times a week. There is a wide variety of lotto games you can play, including Extra, BC/49, Canada Lotto 6/49, Lotto Max, Daily Grand, Poker Lotto and Lotto 6/49 Guaranteed Prize Draw.
All prizes up to $2,000 can be claimed at lottery retailers. Prizes between $2,000.01 and $9,999.99 can only be claimed at Lotto Signature Stores in Burnaby and Vancouver, while prizes between $10,000 and $25,000 are claimed by mailing your ticket to the Kamloops Player Service office. For all prizes exceeding $25,000, you should call BCLC customer support at 1-866-815-0222.
The BC lottery is a big part of the province’s revenue. Every year, the BCLC records a net income of over a billion dollars. The money is distributed to public programs and sectors such as education, health care, public safety, infrastructure development, charity support and more.
Bingo is another form of legal gambling in BC. Bingo halls are spread across the province, and they’re a common sight in land-based casinos. Online bingo is available on PlayNow.ca, with the most popular games being Suite 75, Classic Bingo and Foosball.
There are five racing tracks in British Columbia, located in Vancouver, Surrey, Princeton, Vernon and Osoyoos.
Hastings Racecourse was first opened in 1889, and it was initially called East Park. It was city-owned until 2004 when the Great Canadian Gambling Corp. acquired it. Hastings is used for thoroughbred racing and has a flat five-furlong course. Some of the most notable graded events hosted at the Hastings Racecourse include the British Columbia Derby, Ballerina Stakes and BC Premier’s Handicap.
Fraser Downs Racetrack is the only BC racetrack for standardbred racing. It is adjacent to Elements Casino Surrey and features a phenomenal clubhouse with a view of the track. The clubhouse is open 24 hours a day.
Whether you like online or land-based gambling, you can find plenty of options in British Columbia. There are more than two dozen reputable casinos in the province, with the majority located in and around Vancouver. Apart from offering hundreds of slots, these casinos have a great selection of table games, while a few of them also offer live poker, bingo and horse racing.
Online gambling is legal on the official BC gambling website PlayNow.ca, where you can find everything from popular video slots and live casino games to lottery games and sports betting. Of course, the options are somewhat limited, but at least PlayNow is a safe and reliable website that has improved over the years and is expected to keep improving.
Yes, online gambling is legal and regulated by the BCLC. Officially, the only legal gambling site in British Columbia is PlayNow.ca.
Several US states have legalised online gambling in the last several years and allowed independent operators to apply for licences. On the other hand, the only online gambling site in British Columbia is owned and operated by the BCLC, a provincial institution. There is no indication that this will change soon.
The minimum gambling age in British Columbia is 19.
One of the best things about gambling in BC is that you won’t have to pay any taxes on your winnings. Only the winnings made by casino operators and bookmakers are taxable.