Overview of Gambling in Ontario, Canada

Ontario's population of close to 15,000,000 makes it an attractive jurisdiction for different types of gaming. In fact, if it were a US state, its population would rank fifth behind New York.

Ontario Gambling Regulations

Gambling in Ontario, like in all Canadian provinces, is mainly regulated at the provincial level. However, each province must work within the scope of the Criminal Code of Canada. Pari-mutuel horse racing is regulated federally by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, making it an exception. Single event sports betting is prohibited in Canada. However, a Bill by the Federal Government to allow single event sports has been presented in late 2020 to amend the Criminal Code.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is a provincial Crown corporation responsible for charitable gaming, lotteries, commercial casinos, Aboriginal (First Nations) casinos and slot machines located at horseracing tracks. The Criminal Code of Canada does not allow private casino operators to manage or conduct gaming activities or businesses.

The OLG is responsible for the running of Ontario's lottery. Several tickets are sold in Ontario, including Ontario 49, Lottario, Lotto 649, Daily Keno, Pick 2, Pick 3, and Pick 4. Additionally, the province offers instant scratch games and sports betting under the brand Pro-Line, Point-Spread and Pro Picks. The minimum age to purchase a lottery ticket in Ontario is 18 and over. These can be bought at one of the thousands of lottery terminals at authorized retailers throughout the province. These can be found at kiosks, convenience stores, pharmacies and other locations.

The OLG also operates a licensed and regulated casino Ontario online site. It holds a monopoly on iGaming in the province of Ontario. Here, Canadians can find a limited selection of blackjack, instant gaming, slots, video poker, table games and jackpot games. Offshore gambling, including online casinos, daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sportsbooks accepting Ontario online casino players, is a legal grey area. Limitations to the OLG's offering have driven Canadians to offshore online casino sites offering a better product. Still, there has been a general reluctance for provinces, including Ontario, to block offshore operators.

To avoid breaking any explicit Canadian gambling laws, some online casinos have located their servers in the autonomous Mohawk Territory located in Québec. This is considered offshore for legal purposes and is regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Southern Ontario has three Aboriginal (First Nations) casinos, only one of which is a full casino, in the province. Depending on the casino, Ontarians can find bingo, dozens of table games, including poker tables and 100s or 1,000s of slots.

Other forms of gambling laws Ontario, including casinos, pari-mutuel betting and OLG slots at racetracks, are available to Canadians 19 and over. There are 27 gaming facilities, including one under construction, in Ontario managed by the OLG. The Crown Corporation may engage third-party operators to help with the day-to-day running of the casinos. The facilities include casinos, or OLG operated slots located on racetracks.

Have a look through our Ontario casinos list for some of the top casinos in the province.

Casino Rama

Casino Rama is located in Rama, North of Toronto, and has been operational since July 1996. It is a First Nations casino situated on 2,500 acres of Chippewa land, North of Toronto.

The casino is owned jointly by the OLG and the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. It is operated by Gateway Casinos, which operates 23 casinos in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

The casino offers 67 gaming tables, 10 of which are poker tables and over 2,200 slot machines. Among the table games are Touch Bet Roulette, 3 Card Poker, craps, Squeeze Baccarat and blackjack. It is the only First Nations commercial casino in Ontario, while the other two are charity casinos only.

Here are some highlights of the casino that we bet you didn't know:

  • Casino Rama Resort is a unique tourist destination, offering a hotel & spa and entertainment centre. Famous entertainers like Michael Bolton, Tony Bennett and Melissa Etheridge have been hosted there.

  • Casino Rama also has the distinction of being the largest First Nations casino in Canada.

  • It is magically located in the picturesque setting of Ontario's 'Lake Country' off Lake Couchiching.

Casino Rama also runs a 'My Clubs Rewards' 5-tier programme. Here, players can collect points that can be used at any number of locations operated by Gateway casinos. Players can enjoy more rewards and prizes simply by playing and having fun. Rewards may include free play time, dining offers, a complimentary stay at the hotel, access to special events and exclusive promotions.

Woodbine Casino

Woodbine Casino is a racetrack casino (racino) located in Toronto, Ontario and owned by the Woodbine Entertainment Group. The racetrack began in 1956 and was remodelled in 1993, now offering three thoroughbred racecourses. Aside from guest enhancements, the facility offers 24/7 gaming with optional valet parking.

Casino Woodbine is home to over 3,500 slot machines, over 100 table games, over 220 electronic table games, and over 100 dealer assist stadium gaming. Fans of poker can find variants that include Mississippi Stud Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride and 3 Card Poker. The casino also offers Squeeze Midi-Baccarat, Mini-Baccarat, 21+3 Blackjack, Free Bet Blackjack, Blazing7s Blackjack Progressive and American Roulette.

Canadian high rollers can also find exclusive VIP High Limit Rooms, including 244 slot machines and 38 table games. There are a few remarkable highlights that make the racetrack casino an attraction:

  • It is famous for hosting 'The Queen's Plate' and the Breeders Crown.

  • Visitors can also enjoy a free rewards program that may include Atlantis Bahamas Vacation Packages.

  • Visitors from out of town can use a complimentary shuttle bus departing from Toronto's Pearson International airport as well as several hotels in the vicinity.

Casino Ajax

Casino Ajax is an entertainment complex offering gaming, casual dining, stadium gaming and over 900 slot machines. It is located at Ajax Downs, a Quarter Horse race track, in Ajax, east of Toronto. It opened its doors in 1969 as Picov Downs but changed its name to Casino Ajax in 2006 after adding a slot machine facility.

Besides slots, the casino also offers e-tables, including baccarat, sic-bo and MiniStart Roulette. An exclusive feature of Casino Ajax is that players can earn points through a 'Winner's Circle Rewards' program just by playing their favourite games. What is interesting about the casino rewards is that they can be pretty extensive. Some of the potential rewards and benefits: cashback bonus redeemable for cash, monthly cashback points, comp points earned by playing, special access to slot tournaments and gifts, exclusive mail & email offers or event invites.

The casino is operated by One Toronto Gaming, a partnership between Brookfield Business Partners L.P. and Great Canadian Gaming Corporation.

Besides some great gaming, visitors to Casino Ajax can expect to find some other features that make it worthy of a visit:

  • The casino is in the vicinity of a waterfront trail with parks, grasslands and forests.

  • Off-track simulcast betting where players can view the race on over 70 screens, including a 'Jumbotron' for close-ups.

  • Free parking with a complimentary shuttle from the parking lot and a complimentary coat check.

Great Blue Heron Casino

Great Blue Heron Casino is located on Scugog Island, east of Port Perry, Ontario. It is an 84 km drive northeast of Toronto. The casino and surrounding territory belong to the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. It consisted of a 650-seat bingo hall when constructed in 1997, which was removed in 1999. Canadian visitors will find 550+ slot machines and 60+ table games: Texas Hold 'em Bonus Poker, Mini-Baccarat, 3 & 4 Card Poker, Pai Gow Poker, Let it Ride Poker, Spanish 21, roulette and blackjack.

The casino is operated by a partnership between Casinos Austria, Sonco Gaming, and the Steiner family. The partnership is called the Great Blue Heron Gaming Company. Slots are managed by the OLG, while table games are managed by the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation non-profit charitable organization.

There are some reasons why you might want to place the Great Blue Heron Casino at the top of your wish list:

  • In July 2020, renovation work was completed, which added 100 hotel rooms and 20,000 ft.² to house additional slots and tables.

  • A 500 seat entertainment centre was added, making the Great Blue Heron Casino one of the more modern casinos and entertainment centres in Ontario.

  • Situated on a breathtaking artificial island created by a dam that flooded the surrounding land in 1834.

Elements Casino Mohawk

Elements Casino Mohawk is another commercial casino operated by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. Located just a short drive from Toronto in Milton, Ontario, the casino is open 24/7. It has over 1,500 slots, based on a range of themes, including African, Aztec, nature, China, diamonds, Ancient Egypt, fantasy, fruits, adventure and more.

The casino also offers video poker machines as well as 60 live table games in addition to e-tables. Some tables include progressive jackpots for the chance of even bigger wins: roulette, blackjack, Free Bet Blackjack, EZ Baccarat, Limit & No Limit Texas Hold 'em Poker, High Card Flush, Mississippi Stud, 3 Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold 'em, craps and Spanish 21.

The casino is sure to appeal to a broad audience with something for everyone:

  • It offers private gaming rooms for high rollers where minimum bets start at $500.

  • Has a wide selection of penny and two-cent machines for conservative players.

  • Conveniently located a short drive from Toronto.

One of the great things about Elements Casino Mohawk is the 4-tier Elements Rewards program. Players can earn points simply by playing. Your tier determines the level of priority service you receive at all four Elements Casino locations.