How Gaming Has Changed: From Then into Tomorrow

Humans have been fascinated with gambling for just about as long as they’ve been around.

Our earliest archaeological evidence of games of chance is a set of six-sided Mesopotamian dice that date back to around 3000 BCE. But David Schwartz’s book “Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling” suggests people have been engaging in gambling since the Paleolithic period, well before written history.

Of course, a lot has changed over the thousands of years since a stone-ager bet his loincloth his pal couldn’t knock a nest out of a tree with a pebble. And as gambling has evolved, so has our understanding of what it means to balance the thrill of a good wager with a bit of common sense – something we now call responsible gambling.

From the first playing cards invented in the 9th century during China’s Tang dynasty to the advent of online gaming in the late 20th century, our repertoire of risk-taking entertainments has steadily developed, along with the rules governing these games to ensure fairness and transparency for players. Let’s take a look at how gambling has changed over the centuries here in Canada.

History of Gambling in Canada (and Ontario)

Key highlights of gaming history from 3000 BCE to the 21st century.

There’s no firm date marking the first wager made by people living on the land we now call Canada, but you can bet it was long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue – or Vikings visited in their longships, for that matter.

Indigenous groups from the Pacific Northwest have been playing an ancient game called Slahal for thousands of years, according to First Nations’ oral histories, and still play it today. It involves a mix of marked and unmarked pieces that are hidden by one team so that another team must guess their positions.

As folks from overseas created their own settlements and cities, they also imported their culture, including their own forms of gambling. With the world’s first casino established in Italy in 1638 – the infamously snooty Il Ridotto – games such as roulette and blackjack began to make their way into North America during the 17th century.

European horse racing soon became a thing, too. In 1767, soldiers stationed in a garrison in Quebec City held a race on the Heights of Abraham – the first advertised sporting horse race. Ontario wasn’t far behind, with the first commercial horse races taking place in 1793 on a sandy circuit on what is now Toronto Island.

In 1892, the newly created Canadian government banned all forms of gambling, making only minor amendments to the Criminal Code in 1900 to allow charities to run bingos, small raffles, and gambling events to raise funds.

It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that the dial began to move on gambling legislation.

In the 1960s, during the heyday of protests for social liberties, outdated gambling taboos were reconsidered and Canadian provinces were finally given authority to regulate gambling to match the unique interests of their people. This paved the way for Wintario – the first lottery game in Ontario – to launch in 1975.

The 1980s saw further movement, with the legalization of most forms of sports betting in 1985 and the opening of a bricks-and-mortar casino in Manitoba. The first Ontario casino – Caesars Windsor – would open five years later in 1994.

Since then, the main advancements in gambling regulation have been related to the rapid growth of technology and the Internet. Ontarians can buy – and even set up subscriptions for – lottery tickets online via OLG’s Direct Pay service, play digital casino games via OLG.ca, and place sports wagers through PROLINE+.

And in 2022, after another federal amendment, Ontario was finally able to offer players one of the simplest types of sports wagers – single-game betting – through Ontario-based bookmakers. This amendment also allowed the Land O’Lakes to become the first province to launch an open (but regulated) online gaming market, allowing private gaming companies to deliver iGaming products to Ontario residents.

Responsible Gambling Has Come a Long Way, Too

As games of chance have evolved, so, too, has our understanding of human behaviour. We have a better picture of how our brains work, why we enjoy taking risks, how to predict outcomes, and how we react to losing and winning. And we’re using that knowledge to help people play responsibly.

Here are four ways PlaySmart can help you play safe:

  1. My Play Customizer
    Worried you might spend more than you can afford? My Play Customizer gives you the power to set yourself a deposit limit for your account, then set spend limits for casino, lottery, and sports play. It’s a smart way to keep yourself from getting carried away in the heat of the moment, and you get to do it on your own terms.
  2. PlaySmart Game Guides
    Want to learn the ins and outs of your favourite games? PlaySmart is your gambling encyclopedia, providing straightforward information on rules and odds so you can make smart choices and keep having fun.
  3. PlaySmart Tips
    Concerned you might be giving in to your impulses? PlaySmart has tips on how not to cave to peer pressure when wagering on sports, knowing when to cut your losses, and how to approach in-game betting.
  4. My Play History
    Want insights on your wagering patterns? Once you’re registered with OLG.ca you can track your play history and identify any behaviours that may be affecting your fun.

These tools are among the many reasons why PlaySmart has twice been named the Best Overall Responsible Gambling Program by the World Lotteries Association.

They’re also part of the reason why you have an advantage over gamblers throughout history. You have all the information you need to play safe and have fun. If our ancestor who wagered on his friend’s pebble-throwing accuracy had had such knowledge, he might not have lost his loincloth.

White Hat Studios and PokerStars Partner For Online Casino Gaming

White Hat Studios, the U.S. arm of European gambling operator White Hat Gaming, has inked a significant deal with leading online poker operator PokerStars.

This collaboration has brought White Hat’s casino games to PokerStars’ online casino-enabled platforms in regulated online casino markets.

Players in Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia now have access to White Hat Studios’ portfolio of slot games and selected table games.  

Notable titles that are part of this deal include online slot games Peaky Blinders, Masters of Atlantis, and the popular Almighty Buffalo Megaways. Additionally, a selection of table games will also be introduced to PokerStars’ platform.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with PokerStars, a prominent name in the US iGaming market,” said Daniel Lechner, the VP of Sales and Marketing at White Hat Studios

Big Moves in the US Market

The rollout strategy was sequential, with New Jersey and Pennsylvania being the first states to witness the launch of White Hat’s content on PokerStars. This was closely followed by introductions in West Virginia, Connecticut, and finally, Michigan.

White Hat Studios has been proactive in establishing its presence across all U.S regulated online casino markets. The deal with PokerStars is the latest in a series of partnerships that White Hat has entered into.

“The deal exemplifies that the industry’s key players recognize the quality of our content. Having recently gone live across all regulated states, this partnership will further bolster our presence within each,” Lechner said.

Earlier collaborations include tie-ups with national U.S operators betPARX, and Rush Street Interactive.

The most recent partnership was finalized just last week with fellow Europe-based operator and owner of Unibet, Kindred. That saw it complete the set of six regulated markets, as its games became available in West Virginia.

“This latest market entry means we are now active in every regulated state, a remarkable feat, and we are proud of our dedicated and talented team for making it happen,” said White Hat CEO Andy Whitworth at the time.

Future Expansion

White Hat has also signed a deal with Bally’s, providing its Platform Aggregation Module (PAM) technology to help platform developer Kambi’s efforts in improving the struggling Bally Bet sportsbook.

White Hat could be looking to leverage that technology to become a bigger name in the online sports betting space, as it now has an online casino partner in every single legal state market. And, in some cases after this deal, now more than one. That means it will be relying on the number of markets to expand, for its own online casino options to rise.

That could, and probably will happen eventually. But legislation is often slow. Rhode Island was the only state added to the list of regulated online casino markets in the U.S in 2023, and it only gave licenses to two operators. However, one of those was Rhode Island-based Bally’s, with whom White Hat is also (indirectly) working.

Gaming giants form new bodies in push for uniform standards and safeguards – PayNPlayCasinos.bet

PayNPlayCasinos.bet

A host of real-money gambling and gaming businesses have formed the Global Gaming Alliance, a new forum that aims to address shared challenges as the market for real-money, free-to-play and console gaming evolves. 

The GGA brings together real-money operators Entain and DraftKings, Facebook parent Meta, and mobile games developers 89Trillion and Habby to create a fair and sustainable industry. 

The collective has published a white paper, Responsible Gaming is Everyone’s Business, which calls on gaming companies to follow best practices on issues such as diversity, transparency, and player protection. In particular, the white paper highlights a need for greater diversity, more accessible and relatable games for a wider range of players, and controls to ensure play remains sustainable. 

The initiative launches with the gaming sector booming. Quoting third-party figures, the white paper points out that there were an estimated 2.9 billion players worldwide at the end of last year. Revenue for the sector is forecast to surpass $200bn (£148bn/€175bn) by 2023. 

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