Overview of Gambling in Nova Scotia, Canada

Nova Scotia is one of four maritime provinces on Canada's east coast, with an estimated population of 980,000 as of Q1 2021. This puts it virtually tied for the fifth-most populous province in Canada, next to New Brunswick. Besides 13,000 km of Atlantic coastline, whale watching, and delicious lobster, gambling has become a favourite pastime of many Nova Scotians.

Gambling regulation in Nova Scotia

The Gaming Control Act of Nova Scotia was created in 1994-95 and has been periodically amended. It was enacted to establish the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission and Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. The latter is a Crown corporation that falls under the responsibility of the Gaming Control Commission. The Act established a framework for managing and regulating casinos, lotteries and video lottery terminals (VLTs).

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) is tasked with operating video lottery and lottery ticket businesses on behalf of the four maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Newfoundland & Labrador. The Crown corporations of each of these provinces are shareholders in the ALC.

The ALC's product offering includes instant games, lottery draws, video lottery, sports betting and online gaming at the alc.ca platform. The ALC is a shareholding of NSGC, which exerts influence over its direction. Tickets can be purchased in Nova Scotia at 1,000+ retail locations.

The ALC has 100+ instant games with top prizes, typically ranging from $20,000 to $3,000,000. Ticket prices can vary from $1/$2 to $30.

Lottery draws are a daily occurrence, depending on the brand. ALC draws include Daily Grand, Atlantic 49, Salsa Bingo, Hit or Miss, Poker Lotto, Bucko, Lotto 4 and Keno Atlantic. The ALC works with the ILC (Interprovincial Lottery Corporation) to provide Nova Scotians with Canada-wide lotteries like Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max.

Video lottery terminals (VLTs) are located at close to 270 establishments with liquor licenses. These include restaurants and bars all over Nova Scotia and the other Atlantic provinces. They are made up of 'reel games' and Keno and generally have an RTP of 93%, with a few exceptions.

Sports betting is available under the Pro-Line banner of the alc.ca platform. Nova Scotians can find markets on spreads, pools, props and over-under on professional leagues (hockey, basketball, baseball, et cetera) and events.

The alc.ca is the only licensed and regulated online casino in the province of Nova Scotia. It offers a limited selection of online slots (approx. 48) from the developer IGT plus four progressive jackpot slots from the same developer. Casino table games against virtual dealers are also available in a limited variety, including baccarat, roulette, poker, craps, blackjack and a video poker game.

Although there are no First Nation casinos in Nova Scotia, there are two licensed and regulated land-based casinos. Casino Nova Scotia is located in Halifax, while Casino Nova Scotia Sydney is situated on the east coast of Cape Breton Island. Both casinos are owned and operated by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which also operates casinos in other provinces. Online gambling has adversely impacted the performance of the two commercial casinos over the last decade.

Pari-mutuel wagering falls under the remit of The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It is responsible for regulating and supervising pari-mutuel wagering in Canada. Truro Raceway is the largest harness racing track in Nova Scotia for off-track betting. Inverness Raceway and Northside Downs or the two other racetracks in the province.

Charity gaming by religious organizations and charities is permissible in several forms subject to a permit. These include ticket raffles, chance lottery licences (including casino events), bingo, lotteries and break open tickets.

Casino Nova Scotia

Casino Nova Scotia is located at a $100 million facility located at the beautiful Halifax waterfront. It is owned and operated by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. Before October 2005, it was owned by Caesar's. The casino offers over 500 slots and 29 table games; Ultimate Texas Hold 'em, blackjack (with optional King's Bounty side bet), Blackjack Switch, Double Zero Roulette, Let it Ride Bonus Poker, mini-baccarat, craps and roulette. Poker games are enjoyed from a 6 table poker room.

Games are only part of the experience at the casino, as visitors will soon discover:

  • The casino hosts top-notch entertainment events, musical performances and great food.

  • Off-track (including satellite) betting on horse races worldwide is available.

  • Casino Nova Scotia Players Club is a four-tier membership program allowing players to earn free gifts, weekly ballots (for cash and prizes), free parking, $9.99 daily buffets, points redeemable for food, and more!

The casino offers an excellent dining experience at both the 3Sixty Lounge or the 3Sixty Buffet.

Casino Nova Scotia Sydney

Casino Nova Scotia Sydney began operations on August 1, 1995, and is the sister casino of Casino Nova Scotia. It, too, is owned and operated by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. This casino has 270 slot machines accepting bets ranging from one penny to $25. Familiar games include roulette, blackjack, Let it Ride, Texas Hold 'em and Ultimate Texas Hold 'em. The casino has some additional noteworthy highlights:

  • It offers excellent buffet food for $9.99, including a Friday roast beef buffet or Saturday buffet of stuffing, sweet & sour meatballs, roast turkey or baked ham.

  • Players Club membership benefits: free gifts, special pricing at the Celtic Junction Bar & Grill, weekly promotions, cashback points, ballots for prizes and monthly packages.

  • Visitors can find the largest TV screen in Sydney to watch sports games in the casino's Ceilidh Room.

The casino floor was only recently renovated to give the casino a fresh appearance.