Small scale bingo and horse racing were around prior to 1969, but that was the year legal gambling truly came to Manitoba.
In 1969, gaming was first legalized in Canada with Amendments to the Criminal Code made to allow provincial lotteries. Manitoba held its first lottery in 1970. Manitoba joined Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in forming the Western Canada Lottery Foundation in 1974.
In 1980, The Lotteries and Gaming Control Act replaced The Manitoba Lotteries Act, leading to the establishment of the Manitoba Lotteries Gaming Control Commission and the Manitoba Lotteries and Gaming Licensing Board.
By 1983, the Manitoba Lotteries Foundation Act replaced The Lotteries and Gaming Control Act and the regulatory body was streamlined, with the Manitoba Lotteries Foundation replacing the Manitoba Lotteries and Gaming Control Commission and the Manitoba Lotteries and Gaming Licensing Board.
Manitoba Lotteries Foundation takes charge
The Manitoba Lotteries Foundation was responsible for operating all legal gambling in the province.
In 1985, the Canadian Government made the decision that provincial governments had the exclusive right to provide gambling inside provincial borders. The Canadian Criminal Code was amended and provinces that wanted gambling set up regulatory bodies to oversee provincial gambling operations.
Naturally, The Manitoba Lotteries Foundation took over this responsibility in Manitoba.
In 1986, it opened the first permanent Winnipeg-based casino: Casino at the Centre in the Winnipeg Convention Centre. In 1989, The Crystal Casino replaced the Casino at the Centre. Built at Hotel Fort Garry the Crystal Casino is considered to be the first permanent government-owned casino opened in the Western Hemisphere.
In 1991, 1991 Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) gaming was authorized in rural Manitoba licensed bars and lounges. By 1993, VLTs were authorized in Winnipeg as well.
That same year, the Manitoba Lotteries Foundation became a Crown Corporation and was renamed the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation.
The Crystal Casino closed in 1999. In 2002, Manitoba’s primary First Nations casino opened at Opaskwayak Cree Nation. A second First Nations casino began operating in 2005. The South Beach Casino on the Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation was built about 30 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Gambling goes online
In 2011, the government of Manitoba starting making plans to open up an online gambling site.
In 2014, the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission and the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission’s Regulatory Services Division combined to become a single regulatory agency called the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is now the name of the Crown corporation of the Province of Manitoba that distributes and sells liquor, provides commercial gambling operations throughout the province, and regulates Native casinos.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries commercial gambling operations include:
- Club Regent Casino
- McPhillips Station Casino
- A Provincial VLT network supporting the provincial hospitality industry
- Break-open ticket and bingo paper supply
- Western Canada Lottery
- PlayNow.com Manitoba online gambling
Western Canada Lottery
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries sells Western Canada Lottery products through a network of independently-owned lottery retailers.
Lottery products include:
- LOTTO MAX
- LOTTO 6/49
- DAILY GRAND
- SCRATCH ‘N WIN
- SPORT SELECT
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries owns and operates two casinos with a full range of games, lounges, restaurants, and live entertainment. The Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Station Casino are both located in Winnipeg.
Club Regent Casino
Club Regent Casino opened in 1993. It’s gaming floor is split into two main areas. The first area contains a large amount of VLTs slot machines. It is connected to the second area through an Aquarium tunnel. The second area features additional VLTs, slot machines, table games and a live poker room.
McPhillips Station Casino
McPhillips Station Casino also opened in 1993. The casino has over 800 slot machines and table games. There is also bingo and keno games and a live poker poker room.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries also owns and operates the Shark Club sports bar, grill and gaming centre with table games and slots at cityplace in Winnipeg.
First Nation casinos
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries provides regulatory oversight to three operating First Nations casinos in the province.
Aseneskak Casino opened on Opaskwayak Cree Nation land near The Pas in 2002. The casino has struggled and expressed an interest in moving operations to Winnipeg.
South Beach Casino and Resort
South Beach Casino and Resort opened on Brokenhead Ojibway Nation land in 2005, just a half hour from Winnipeg. It is owned by Black River, Bloodvein, Brokenhead, Hollow Water, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi, and Poplar River First Nations.
Sand Hills Casino
Sand Hills Casino opened in June 2014. Profits from this third First Nations casino are meant to be split among 63 Manitoba First Nations. The casino lost $1.3 million in its first year of operations.
Video Lottery Terminal Gaming
Video Lottery Terminal gaming was authorized in rural Manitoba licensed bars and lounges in 1991 and came to Winnipeg in 1993. Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries now operates a network of VLTs located at licensed establishments throughout Manitoba.
A VLT is very similar to a slot machine in a casino. In Manitoba, VLTs feature three types of games. These include:
Spinning Reel: The objective is to match up symbols across the screen.
Poker: various video poker games with wild cards and beat the house double up features.
Keno: Select between 2 to 10 of 80 numbers and try to match up with 20 numbers drawn
In 2012, Manitoba Lotteries partnered with BCLC to provide an online gambling website in Manitoba. The PlayNow online casino site launched in 2013. It remains the only legal and regulated online gambling site in the province.
Of course, there are also several offshore online casino and online poker operations that accept customers from inside the province of Manitoba. While Canadian law prohibits companies from operating online gambling sites on Canadian soil, the act of gambling itself is not illegal.
As a result online casino and online poker operations situated outside of Canada continue to accept Canadian money, operating in what amounts to a legal gray area. Canadians themselves have no fear of gambling on these sites because no one has ever been prosecuted for gambling on one.
Additionally, the the Canadian Federal Government and law enforcement authorities appear happy to leave the offshore casino industry and Canadian gamblers to their own devices.