Canadian Blackjack Live / Online Review

The Dominion of Canada was only 25 years old in 1892 and lacking a Criminal Code when Minister of Justice John Sparrow David Thompson went to work. When Thompson was finished the Code contained 28 major provisions covering every imaginable societal offense. Of particular interest was Section VII that addressed “Disorderly Houses, Gaming and Betting.” Essentially it said that there would be no more gambling in Canada unless you were negotiating odds at a horse track.

That was that for the better part of 80 years until Canada decided to promote Montreal as the site for the upcoming 1976 Olympic Games and the government needed a way to pay for the party. An amendment to the Criminal Code was passed that allowed federal and provincial lotteries to fund “worthwhile activities.” So the governments in Canada ban gambling unless they are doing it themselves. With the coming of online gaming it has become awfully hard to justify the profits from betting going to a deserving beneficiary but no Canadian citizen has yet had a computer confiscated or been led off in handcuffs. As long as you are not operating a casino in Canada all bets are on.

If Canadian punters are still leery about the gray areas in the government statutes the nation’s largest provinces stand ready to take their online bets. PlayNow in British Columbia set up the first government-owned casino in North America in 2010 and Play OLG in Ontario and Espace Jeux in Quebec have followed the lead. All three specifically target residents of their provinces (Espace Jeux is always quick to offer Montreal Canadiens hockey tickets as promotions). Of course with Canadian government-run casinos that is about as elaborate as the come-on promotions get. There simply is no incentive for the casinos to fight for business while they hold the trump card of “the safest place for a Canadian to bet.”

That goes for the limited variety of game choices as well. No Canadian online casino has seen fit to offer a live blackjack experience. So Canuck gamblers who want to play real cards against real dealers and not random number generators will need to seek out games with foreign-based operators. And it is not a simple matter. Take Microgaming casinos for instance. Microgaming established what could be considered the world’s first true online casino in 1994 and helped pioneer the live online casino in 2006. Microgaming is still a major software supplier and currently works with well over 100 licensee casinos.

But Canadian players can not put down money on a Microgaming live casino blackjack table. For its live dealer games Microgaming set up streaming studios in the Philippines, Argentina and, yes, Canada. Since a licensee is free to choose from which location to pull a live stream and a resident of Canada may actually be playing on a perfectly legal table set up in Argentina, Microgaming chose not to entwine themselves with the wide-open-to-any interpretation Canadian statutes and have banned Canadian players altogether. So no Playboy Bunny dealers for Canuck card sharps.

It also did Canadian players no favors that the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake was an early exploiter of Canada’s regulatory netherworld and began licensing online casinos in 1996. The First Nations people have never butted heads with Canadian authorities while aggressively pursuing operators to build a client roster of more than 300 licensees. Whether these casinos are on sovereign land or Canadian soil is a question thus far avoided by authorities.

But Canada is one of the wealthiest nations on the planet with a deep Internet penetration so plenty of live casino operators are out looking for Canadian business. To find a live table Canadian blackjack players should begin by locating the online casinos that permit wagering directly in Canadian dollars. The loonie is valid currency everywhere but there is no reason to incur ever-changing currency exchange fees. Next prepare to bring a bigger bankroll. It costs extra to hire real dealers, set up real blackjack tables and rig the video streaming camera system. So expect higher hand minimums at the table. This does work to the online player’s advantage since only the largest operators can afford to set up live games and thus it is more likely the blackjack is dealt from a reputable operation.

So what’s live out there in the virtual world for Canadian online twenty-one players? The LuckyLive Casino comes straight form center city Dublin, Ireland and the Fitzwilliam Card Club and Casino. The broadcast tables are open to the public for real-time live action. The only Irish pedigree for the Celtic Casino is the luck of the Irish since its games are streamed from a dealer studio in San Jose, Costa Rica. Celtic’s hook is a version of Live Blackjack with Early Payout V2.0. This gives the player an option to take a payout after the initial deal based on the widely accepted basic strategy odds of the outcome. If the Early Payout is rejected the player takes the hand to its win, lose or draw conclusion. The Fairway Casino is another studio in Costa Rica that offers the Early Payout version of the game that will return payouts based on 99.4% of the betting pool.

888 Casino based in Gibraltar is one of the largest online casinos with more than 20 million registered users and openly caters to Canadian players. Canadian dollars are accepted and a special website has been carved out that speaks directly to the Maple Leaf nation; both English and French are supported. Blackjack tables are open in a studio casino in Riga, Latvia and also streaming from the Entwine Casino in the Philippines. Players can pick and choose from a wide range of betting limits just like walking onto a land-based casino floor.

So Canadians can find live blackjack games online that resemble and even take place in land-based casinos. There are cashiers that will accept and make transactions straight away in Canadian dollars. Players can chat with live dealers in English and French. Instead of battling the cold impersonal results of a random number generator the results will be from real cards turned in real time. They just won’t be on Canadian tables.