What makes the best Canadian online casino?
Best Online Casinos
“The Best Online Casino in Canada is the trusted casino that suits your style, has the casino games and online slots you love, and takes the banking method you have. It is as simple as that.”
Everything You Want to Know About Canadian Online Casinos
Let’s cut to the chase. You have probably visited a few online casino affiliate websites. What I am about to tell you details everything you could possibly want to know about choosing an online casino from the eyes of a Canadian that has worked for casino affiliates, interacted with the casinos and gambled for a long time both online and off. What I will promise you throughout my entire website is that I will be honest, accurate and transparent.
I am Canadian. No, this is not a Molson commercial. What I want to make clear is that EVERY website you visit that says they are Canadian are not. It is the internet people. Each of the affiliate websites you visit are based out of countries like Malta, Israel, Eastern Europe and, sometimes, the UK. If you want the lowdown on why you can believe I am Canadian, visit my about page. I have worked in this industry for a while and everything you have probably gathered is true. The poor English comes from outsourcing content to anyone that will write for cheap and can stuff some keywords for Google. The horrible casino tables, misinformation and bad links come from big corporations that just pump out websites to try and rank in Google to get your clicks.
I am actually not against some of these websites. After all, great affiliates can get you custom deals that will be better than the offer the casino gives. So, feel free to use them as you see fit. I will try and give you those best deals and the best information. I will also tell you what I won’t do. I actually know a lot about things like blackjack strategies, online slot RTPs and random gambling tips. But this site is about letting you know the best places to play and the top bonuses to get you started. There are a ton of great resources that will let you know about counting cards (not useful for online gambling) and useless tips on how to find the hot slot machine. I am here to give you the tools you need to find that awesome online casino that fits you.
The Online Casino Landscape in Canada
It is actually cool to be an online gambler from Canada. Online casinos actually want our business. In the US, online gambling is mostly forbidden and the UK is overly regulated. That immediately takes away two of the largest markets in the world. What is left for online casino brands? The rest of Europe is not bad and Scandinavian countries are a huge market but Canada is actually a haven for online gambling, and it shows. Nearly any respectable online casino takes Canadian dollars. Not only that, they probably have Canadian specific offers and take great care to offer Canadians banking methods they can actually use. So lets start there. How do you gamble for real money in Canada.
Real Money Casinos in Canada
The one thing that has probably defined the choice for online gambling in Canada more than any other is how the heck do we actually play for real money! I was lucky enough to play early on and could actually use my credit card to deposit funds. But that ended fairly quickly. Luckily the online casinos actually want you to be able to use your money. So for every time things happen like credit cards banning gambling and companies like Skrill and Neteller pulling out of the Canadian market, there is another company that rushes in. You just need to know who it is.
Casino Banking Methods
The big trend right now is Interac. Heck, we all know it right? Well a lot of the top casinos have brought it on board. We detail all the banking methods of each casino and make it easy to sort by payment method, but to cut the chase, you should look for casinos that offer Interac e-transfer or Interac Online, iDebit or Instadebit. Click on those links if you want to know more, but those should pretty much cover you. There is also eCheck, but only the Buffalo Group and Casino Rewards still take that payment method. But it is also a good banking method. There are lesser known types, like ecoPayz and Entropay, and if you already use them then they are perfectly fine.
If by chance you don’t have a bank account or you want to use something more discreet, there is also the option of prepaid cards like Paysafe, Flexepin and Neosurf. Other than what I have mentioned, if you are looking for other ways to get money in to a casino, you should probably stop. Seriously, you do not need to be using your credit card to gamble. Not a good idea for multiple reasons. And I just gave you plenty of ways to get started without it.
CAD Casinos: Use Only Canadian Dollars
Every online casino we list takes Canadian dollars. It is as simple as that. Why? Well you can probably figure it out pretty quickly. Currency exchange fees usually cost around 3% of your deposit or withdrawal. That is a lot of gambling funds to be giving to a middleman. In gambling terms, 3% is the house edge on most slot games and over 2% more than the house edge on casino games like Blackjack. If you want any chance to win money from gambling then you have to start by ensuring you maximize your hard earned cash. The other way to maximize your chance of winning? Take advantage of online casino bonuses.
Canadian Online Casino Bonuses
Now we are getting to the meat of what this site is all about. The biggest bonus and most free cash you will ever get at any online casino is the Welcome Bonus. It is what casinos use to entice you in to play. Think of it as a form of advertising. Like all marketing, getting the potential player is the most expensive part of the process. Once you have a player you can focus on giving a great experience and treating the player right to ensure they stay. So many online casino actually project a slight loss from the Welcome Bonus. Which, of course is a good thing for us, the players. The bigger the bonus the better, right? Well, not so quick.
“There are many factors that come in to play when deciding on which casino Welcome Bonus is the best. The size of the bonus relative to how much you want to deposit, the match percentage of the bonus and the wagering requirements that you need to clear before you can cash out. “
Welcome Bonus Sizes and Deposits
Casino welcome bonuses range anywhere from $100 to $3000. The big number looks pretty amazing but realistically, most people aren’t dropping $3000 the first time they sign up to a casino. The more important number for most is the opposite. What is the minimum deposit necessary to trigger the bonus. This is often $10 or $20.
The other thing to consider is over how many deposits that bonus is spread out over. Most casinos show you the entire bonus which can be spread out over up to five deposits. That is not really as interesting as what the first deposit bonus will be.
Importance of the First Deposit Bonus
The first deposit bonus is usually the best. Most casinos offer a 100% match on your deposit giving twice as much to play with when you start. There are some first deposit bonuses that go up to 200% match. The following deposit bonuses are often matched at a lower rate, like 25 to 50% although some casinos do keep it at 100%. We outline the full welcome bonus in each of our casino pages. The other thing that is usually given on the first deposit bonus is Free Spins.
Free Spins for Canadians
For all the Free Spins bonus seekers out there, this is your luck day. Free Spins are another tool in the marketing toolkit to entice new players. It is also the primary driver of affiliates being able to offer a better deal than the casino themselves. Free spins are sometimes given as part of the Welcome Bonus. Deposit a minimum amount to trigger the bonus, get some free bonus cash matching your deposit and they will trow in a few spins on a given slot game as the cherry on the top.
As you can imagine, free spins can only be used on online slot machines. Table games are out. Free spins are a nice perk and they have value as well. Each free spin is usually given a value of between $0.20 and $0.25 which corresponds to the bet that will be automatically entered when you visit the slot game of the offer.
The slot game offered is part of the draw. Fancy yourself some Mega Moolah Progressive jackpot action? Maybe you like Immortal Romance, Starburst or Book of Dead. They are all common slot games for free spins. Some online casinos give you a choice of multiple games. Playtech casinos often allow you to play the entire series of Age of Gods slot games. Some NetEnt casino brands will allow three or four games to choose from.
One thing you will need to know about free spins is that they sometimes have different wagering requirements than the cash portion of the Welcome Bonus. After all, it is not cash you have to match but usually the winnings you get from the spins will have to be wagered. More on wagering in a bit.
Free Spins No Deposit
What do you mean I don’t have to deposit any money in to the casino? That is crazy. Well, they are real. No deposit free spins are the final marketing tool that online casinos have to get you to try out their casino. All you will have to do is register and head over to the slot game and start spinning.
There has to be a catch right? Well the biggest deal with free spins on signup is that the winnings are strictly limited and the wagering can be higher than for other offers. After all, if online casinos just gave money away they would be out of business pretty quick. The good news is that you can actually win money. Casinos do it in hopes you really like their casino and will stay. Again, it is the cost of marketing for them. That is good news to you.
There is one small trick that casinos play with the no deposit free spins and that is you are guaranteed to have to deposit some money to be able to claim the winnings. This is actually done to prevent fraud as all casinos will need personal identification before doing any cash transactions.
Online Casino Wagering
Online Casino Wagering, which some used to call play through, is the amount of times you need bet your bonus in order to release your winnings.
Most casinos will list their wagering as a factor of the bonus amount. We denote this factor with an “X“. So a typical wagering requirement on a bonus can be between 40x and 50x. At 50x, you will need to wager fifty times your bonus amount. That means if you deposit $10, then you will need to wager $500 worth of bets in order to cash out. What is a wager? Well, it is the amount you bet each time you spin a slot machine or the amount of chips you put on a table. Say you bet $0.25 each time, it can take you a while to reach $500. (2000 spins to be exact:-)
This may sound like a lot but realize you will be probably playing an online slot with a RTP (Return to Player) of 97%. Those are the odds of winning at any given game. That means that for every $100 you bet, you have a probability of losing $3. So theoretically, you could lose on average $15 actual dollars while wagering $500. Since you were given a $10 bonus and perhaps you won some money with that bonus, say $20, you would walk away with $15. This may sound complicated but I just wanted to illustrate that even though betting 50x may sound large, the end result is actually not as bad as it sounds.
Game Wagering Contribution
All games are not created equal. I mean this literally. Because of the difference in RTP of the various games, online casinos do not want you taking advantage of those better odds in order to clear your wagering requirements. So they have come up with an percentage amount that certain games count towards this wagering requirement. A typical game contribution looks like this:
- Online slot games: 100%
- Blackjack, roulette, craps and other table games: 10%
- Live dealer games: 0%
- Restricted slot games (often slot games with progression through levels and/or progressive jackpots): 0%
This does complicate things. What it effectively does is to make you play video slots to clear your wagering requirements. Why, well take the example earlier of a 50x requirement on $10 bonus that needs $500 wagering. If you played blackjack to clear the wagering you would actually need to bet $5000.
So, stick to slot games to clear your wagering requirements
Online Casino Games
This section is going to be pretty quick. As I mentioned way up there, this site is not going to be about telling you how to play games like Blackjack. You probably already know which casino games you want to play and if you don’t, there are tons of dedicated resources on the internet to get you started.
To be honest, casino games aren’t that important to choosing the top online casino in Canada. Wait, what!?!
For sure, the online casino games are what we come for, but all the casinos we list have at least 500 slots and all the table games. So why do we need to detail each one? For instance, every Microgaming casino has nearly all the exact same games. What is important is what Casino Software Providers each of the casinos has on their site and the number of games and tables. That, along with banking methods, is the true difference between casinos.
Online Casino Software Providers
For the most part, online casinos do not make their own casino games or online slots. That is where casino software suppliers come in to play. You have probably already heard of some of the big ones like Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. There are dozens of other ones like Evolution Gaming, who are the experts in Live Dealer Casinos. There is also Play N Go, Betsoft, Quickspin, Thunderkick and Yggdrasil, to name a few more. Some online casinos just have one software provider like Microgaming, while others have dozens of suppliers.
More is better in our minds and since nearly every casino we list has Microgaming, why would you choose a Microgaming-only casino? Because it is your choice is why! Microgaming has 500 games and they may have all the ones you love. So if you want just a Microgaming casino, go nuts. We are not going to rate it any different than a multi-software casino. So I don’t try and take it into consideration for our general casino reviews. I will let you know which providers each casino has and I will let you sort and search for just casinos with any of those providers.
Which casino games a casino has, or doesn’t have, will not determine whether it is the best casino in Canada. Which casino games and software providers you want is all that is important. There will be a top Canadian casino available that has every table game or online slot that you want to play.
Restricted Casino Providers and Games
There is a couple of things you should know about these providers. Some software providers do not allow their games in Canada. This mostly has to do with trying to avoid legal conflicts. For instance, the slots you play at your local bar from IGT are not available. For more information on that, see the Legal Gambling section below.
Casinos also do not have to put all the games up from each provider. They can pick and choose which ones they list on their site so you do have to check to see if they have an individual game you are looking to play. You can be guaranteed all the popular casino games will be covered.
Windows, Mac and Mobile Software Gaming
Here at theultimatesteal.ca I have to say I use Windows and Microsoft Office for all my software and casino testing. That is not to say that you need Windows to play at an online casino, it is just the opposite. Once upon a time you needed to download casino software and Windows was the only game in town. Times have changed but there are still a few casinos that allow you to do it.
Downloading Casino Software to Windows
Students of online casinos will know that The Casino Rewards and Buffalo Partners groups of casinos still have software you can download. That means casinos like Zodiac, Golden Tiger, Captain Cooks and Grand Mondial along with Luckey Nugget, the Gaming Club Casino and a few others still allow you to download the software. This all stemmed from Microgaming, who were one of the first casino software suppliers and they only supported windows.
You do not need to download software. every casino has a instant casino version which is just as good these days as a downloaded version but do not be shocked to see that you have to “Enable Flash” to play a game.
The next stage of casino software was to use Adobe Flash. These were called flash casinos and are still around today. A lot of the original casino games like Thunderstruck, Immortal Romance, and Mega Moolah, all default to flash on your desktop or laptop.
Most of the newer software providers do not make flash games and even the older, established ones make HTML5 based games now so that you do not need Flash to play them. Why? Because we are in the mobile age and phones do not run Flash.
You can play most online slots and casino games these days on any mobile device. Casino software providers support iOS and Android, Chrome and Safari, Windows OS and Blackberry. They do this by using HTML5, a programming code which can be run on any device.
Nearly every online casino has a mobile offering so it is almost not worth mentioning. If you see a Mobile section in a casino review you can be assured it serves no purpose. It is really just a Yes/No question. Either they have it or not. And we don’t recommend any casino that does not.
There are some online casinos that have an overall mobile user experience better than others and we will highlight that. For instance, LeoVegas consistently wins industry awards as Best Mobile Casino.
Online Gambling in Canada
Safe Online Casino Gambling
The only thing that really matters when choosing an online casino is whether it is safe or a scam. Most online casinos these days that you see are relatively safe. Why? Well, if they were a scam, online casino affiliates would not recommend them. Not because of you but because of them. If a casino is a scam they won’t pay out to the online casino affiliate and thus there is absolutely no reason to recommend them. Seriously, there is absolutely no reason for me to recommend to you a casino that is a scam. None.
So I am introducing a trust score. This is not a normal affiliate score as those are entirely fictional. I am going to keep it fairly simple and not something more abstract like some of the big international casino review sites do. Seriously, I am not going to tell you a casino can only get a 10 if they pay me money. That is the primary reason you will see some great casinos rated lowly at those sites. Not because they are bad or are scams, but because they didn’t pay. This would be an example of how casino affiliates are bad. The scoring is simple. If the casino has UKGC (that is the UK licensing) or they have a serious other license like Malta or Gibraltar plus an actual way for players to take recourse if something goes wrong, like eCOGRA, then you get an 8. The final 2 points will come from me, but not me exactly.
The last two points come from actual player reviews and my personal experience from being on the casino affiliate and casino side of the equation. That is not to say it is a freebie. It just means those last two come from industry reputation, longstanding respectability, and to a smaller degree, actual player reviews. I will say it again, this is the internet. All reviews are shady. Sometimes you can tell if a review is real or not but given I have commissioned these fake reviews before for other affiliates, I can see through them fairly quickly. So when I review them, I throw out a lot of crap. I take seriously the ones that are legit and I also take the affiliate slant into play when looking at them. More importantly, those extra two points come when a casino earns trust. That can only come with time and consistently paying out.
Trust Score Breakdown:
- UKGC (UK Gambling Commission) = 8 points
- Malta, Gibraltar, Kawnawake Gaming Licence = 6 points
- Curacoa, Alderney = 4 points
- eCOGRA licensing on top of jurisdiction= +2 points
- Casino operating for 2 years with normal player reviews and payouts = +2 points
So you can see that a UKGC licensed casino that has operated for more than two years with adequate player reviews will receive a 10. A non-UKCG casino with Malta or Gibraltar licensing plus eCOGRA will also have a 10, if they have been around for a while and have decent reviews. Anyone outside of this will not receive more than an 8. Why? Well the UKGC and eCOGRA have the only readily accessible player compliant mechanisms. If something goes wrong you need a way to express the violation. I will explain the final two points in each casino review.
Any further down the list of licensing and you are taking a bigger risk. It would take a pretty awesome and reliable casino for us to recommend from a licensing jurisdiction outside of this point system and given the amount of casinos you have to choose from that should rank from 8 to 10, there should be no reason to go for a casino that ranks lower.
New Online Casinos
New casinos cannot get a 10 unless they are new casinos from a legit casino group. What does that mean? Well, most new online casinos these days actually come from an established casino group. They simply take on a different theme than their other casinos. Think of it like a skin for your browser or game. It just changes the look and feel of the casino but is actually the same underlying casino experience. The large groups out there are Buffalo Partners, which have casino you may know like Jackpot City, Spin Casino, Gaming Club, and Ruby Fortune; Casino Rewards, which have Zodiac Casino, Grand Mondial, Captain Cooks, Golden Tiger and more; and Genesis, who have a slew of great casinos that include Sloty, Spinit, Vegas Hero, Genesis, and Casino Cruise.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Canada?
As you have probably figured out by now, online gambling in Canada is legal. Some call it a grey area but really it is not. Gambling, in all its forms, is regulated entirely by the provinces. However, the issue of whether gambling at an online casino is legal comes down to jurisdiction. Simply put, no one can be prosecuted for gambling at an online casino that has no physical or substantial presence in Canada. All online casinos that are licensed and operate internationally are therefore unable to be prosecuted.
The only time the Criminal code was used to prosecute an online gambling company was against Starnet Communications International (SCI). It was an American company but run by folks in Vancouver and, more importantly, had servers running the product on Canadian soil. It was this fact that allowed the government to prosecute the company due to it’s substantial ties to Canada.
History of Online Gambling in Canada
John Cabot Explores Canada
Cabot encountered natives that had gambled for hundreds of years using “gaming sticks”. The game is actually called hand stick or stickgame and is a guessing game where “bones” are hidden in the hand by the hiding team and must be guessed by the guessing team. The game is played while the hiding team plays traditional instruments and songs to try and distract the guessing team.
1892 Criminal Code of Canada
The 1892 Criminal Code came into force on Canada Day 1893 and allowed for limited forms of gambling. Based off the English Common law, the part of the code related to gambling was “Offenses against Religion, Morals and Public Convenience”
Racetrack Betting is Legalized
Pari-mutuel betting, where winning gamblers split the losers money and a cut goes to the house and/or government, is legalized for horse tracks. This is the only gambling allowed under law. Race tracks in Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary began taking bets.
Specific Games of Chance made Illegal
Wheel games, dice games, punchboards and table games are explicitly made an offence.
Fairgrounds and Exhibitions Betting Games Allowed
The familiar gambling games seen at fairs and carnivals are legalized.
Social Clubs Gambling Allowed
Legitimate social club patrons are allowed to bet as long as the house does not take a cut.
Lotteries and Charitable Gambling Allowed
Provincial and Federal governments are allowed to expand lotteries and charitable betting is allowed. Carnival games continue to be endorsed. This Criminal Law Amendment Act was introduced by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and became law in 1969.
Provinces Given Rights to Gambling
Provinces given exclusive rights to gambling games and lotteries including “games conducted via a computer, video device, or slot machines”.
First Online Gambling Jurisdiction Created
Antigua and Barbados create the first gaming licencing jurisdiction. Microgaming delivered software and Cryptologic secured transactions leading to the first online casinos being created.
The First Online Casinos are born
Intercasino and Gaming Club are the first two casinos on the internet. It is still disputed which came first. The Kawnawake Gaming Commission is also formed in the native territory outside Montreal.
I am not here to harp on you about responsible gambling. OK, yes I am. Gamble responsibly people! Gambling at an online casino is a great source of entertainment and some good, thrilling times, but we all need to make sure that is all it is. If you feel you may have a problem, even slightly, talk to someone or seek help. Visit our responsible gambling page for more information.