A Lottery Triggered a Protracted Period of Growth
As is the case across much of Canada, the modern gaming industry in British Columbia began in 1969. In that year, the federal government changed the Criminal Code to permit both federal and provincial lotteries. Within a few years, this was altered to grant exclusive authority to the provinces, and by 1974, British Columbia had formed the Western Canada Lottery Foundation with Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
This partnership lasted around a decade until the province opted to establish its own organization to manage local lottery draws. Founded in 1985, this organization is currently known as the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and is responsible for overseeing and running nearly all gaming activities in the province.
BC participates in a number of national lotteries, such as Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49, and offers a number of municipal lotteries, such as Lotto BC and BC/49. Over time, Keno and online lottery games have also been added to the mix.
The BCLC is also responsible for managing casinos around the province.
When two concerns met in 1997, casino gambling in British Columbia became a hot-button political issue: the government’s inability to balance its budget despite election pledges, and rising concern that the BCLC was generating less money than any other provincial gaming company in the nation.
When casino gambling was proposed as a solution to both of these problems, there was an enormous political reaction, and the debate over whether casinos were ultimately a constructive step for British Columbia continues to this day. Regardless, the prospect of fresh income prevailed, and the first casino — a defunct riverboat business known as the Royal City Star – was inaugurated in 1999. At that time, BCLC had been granted authority over both slot machines and table games, making it accountable for both resort gaming and provincial lottery products.
In addition to the province’s 17 casinos, there are a number of alternative gambling halls, including commercial bingo halls and “Chances,” a slots and bingo parlor franchise. BCLC controls a total of 36 outlets in a market that most observers now consider completely mature and saturated. The biggest and most well-known of these casinos is the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond, which has 75,000 square feet of gaming area and a huge hotel.
Additionally, horse racing is still available in British Columbia, with five tracks presently in operation. Four tracks host thoroughbred races, while Fraser Downs Racetrack in Surrey has Standardbred races. Some of these facilities, like as the Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, also feature real-money slot machines and other electronic games, transforming them into the increasingly popular “racinos” in North America.
Early adopter of online compliance
Under the aegis of the BCLC, PlayNow.com was established in 2004 to facilitate the online purchasing of a range of lottery items. That would remain the limit of the website for six years, until 2010, when PlayNow was granted permission to also provide casino games. This made the website the first licensed in either Canada or the United States to provide online casino and poker games to people of those countries.
The site has been mostly regarded as a success, and as a result, the BCLC has collaborated with other provinces to offer Internet gaming options in other regions of the nation. Loto-Quebec joined with PlayNow in 2011 to establish Canada’s first interprovincial poker network, marking the first time two provinces have agreed to share player pools (something that has since been done in the United States between Nevada and Delaware, and which several European nations have considered). In 2012, Manitoba Lotteries chose the BCLC and PlayNow.com as the foundation for their own online casino, with a new version of the site now available only to Manitoba gamers.
Today, PlayNow provides poker, bingo, and sports betting activity through your computer or mobile device, in addition to lottery and casino activities. There are games from industry giants like IGT, and many titles are also accessible on mobile devices. There are also promos that pay money to new players, however they often do not offer the kind of massive, attractive matches that are common on many foreign sites.