Top 5 Oldest casinos in Canada’s history of gambling

Aside from its natural beauty and enchanting cultural phenomena, Canada offers numerous land-based casinos and integrated resorts. Both locals and tourists enjoy them, whether on vacation or just on a weekend trip. So we couldn’t help but wonder – since when have there been such attractive casinos in Canada? When did it all begin? How many of them they are, and what is the history behind the grandest ones?

In case you’re curious about how many casinos are in Canada at the moment, the answer is “hundreds”. It wasn’t always this way. Decades ago, there were only dozens of facilities operating in the country. And out of these dozens, we’ve chosen the top 5 of the venues that captivated Canadians and visitors alike throughout the 70s and 80s.

 Don't forget to read our full review of this great old casinos:

  1. Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall
  2. Cash Casino
  3. Billy Barker Casino
  4. Treasure Cove casino
  5. Cowboys casino

Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall – 1971 (Dawson City)

old wooden building The oldest casino in Canada is Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall which started operating in the early 70s. The Klondike Visitors Association opened the venue in Dawson City, Yukon, where it proudly still stands today. Known as one of the top destinations in Dawson City, the Diamond Tooth Gertie’s sports an 1898 saloon theme, perfectly fitting if you’re familiar with the area's Klondike Gold Rush history. It is named, of course, after Gertie Lovejoy – one of Dawson's most famous dancers from the Gold Rush era. Boasting a diamond between her two front teeth, she inspired the vaudeville show which takes place at the casino every day.

At Gertie’s, patrons can place wagers, drink alcohol and watch live entertainment in the same room, mesmerized by the acrobatic high kicks performed by Gold Rush Girls accompanying the Klondike queen herself. The casino puts up three shows per night, and offers blackjack, poker, roulette and 60+ slot machines. Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall is open all week long, from May to September. The building in which the casino is located was formerly known as Arctic Brotherhood Hall and was built in 1901, and the house’s revenues are funnelled into historic site preservation funds, local events production and promotion of the Yukon region.

Cash Casino – 1980 (Calgary)

brick building Cash Casino opened its doors in 1980 in Calgary as the first privately owned casino in Alberta. At first, the venue was only allowed to host charitable table games and events with agricultural and religious agendas. Today, Cash Casino has over 500 slot machines. The tables, where one can play blackjack, roulette, baccarat, poker, craps and even Pai Gow, are open from noon to 3 am daily.

Calgary's longest-running free entertainment, the Blackjack beauties, perform each Friday and Saturday. Poker tournaments take place at the Nevada Poker Room, 6 days a week. The casino features two restaurants and a bar – and the Calgary International airport is less than 10 miles away.

Treasure Cove casino - 1986 (Prince George)

The Treasure Cove Casino is located in the heart of Northern British Columbia. The venue spans across 37,000 sq.ft and boasts a Tuscan theme within an impressive architectural complex. The casino has nearly 700 bingo seats (the largest bingo room in the province), over 500 slot machines and a full table pit. You can play Texas Hold’em poker, Progressive Ultimate Hold'em, blackjack, Fortune Pai Gow poker and roulette.

Until recently, Treasure Cove had a 5,500 square-foot show lounge that could seat 180 people and host stand-up comedy or similar events. The casino is currently expanding their show lounge up to 800 seats and turning it into a concert hall. At Treasure Cove Casino, patrons can sign up for Encore rewards cards. These enable them to earn points and redeem them on slot machines and tables.

big brick building

Billy Barker Casino – 1987 (Quesnel)

old brick building When it first opened in 1987, Billy Barker Casino was known as the Royal Casino. Just another charitable casino at the time, it grew to be one of the symbols of historic Quesnel, British Columbia. The casino is family-owned and its recognisable exterior design resembles a luxurious paddlewheel ship. The name came from a miner who founded a town Barkerville in the 19th century, close to Quesnel.  You know, like the ones that used to sail across the Fraser River during the Gold Rush.

The establishment went through extensive remodelling which was carried out from 1999 to 2014. The renovation completely altered the lobby, restaurant and lounge, making them more appealing to high rollers. The complex has a gaming room housing a variety of slots and roulette tables, a hotel, a café & lounge and a showroom. The convention/banquet facility seats 100 people and it’s fitting for seminars and workshops. The venue’s slogan is “old world elegance & modern amenities”, which does describe the place pretty well.

Cowboys casino – 1988 (Calgary)

brick building The history of gambling in Canada hides another gem - Cowboys Casino. It was established in 1988 in Calgary, following the successful years-long operation of Cash Casino. The venue is situated in trendy Victoria Park, quite near to the Calgary Stampede grounds. It expands across 96,000 square feet, housing a gambling floor, an impressive bar, two restaurants and a dance hall. The name kinda gives away the theme of the casino – it’s the cowboys.

Arguably Calgary’s number one gaming location, Cowboys Casino offers 33 tables and 7 different games, over 350 slot machines and a high-limit room. The poker room is open 24/7 and the dealers run Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Pineapple, Limit and No Limit poker. Customers have access to nightly massages, late-night food and free breakfast. The centre bar itself is a thing to behold, a huge open area lounge, even if you don’t want anything to munch on. Many patrons appreciate the heated underground parking, especially in cold Calgary winters!

List with online casinos in Canada

Try yourself in oldest casinos in Canada

Any way you slice it, Canada has always had something to offer to gamblers. Considering how many casinos are in Canada now, it is almost unbelievable how much the industry has grown. Online gambling is getting more and more popular, yet visiting a land-based casino remains a unique experience. It is as authentic as it can get, plus you can combine your gambling adventures with enjoying meals, shopping and seeing shows. A trip to one of Canada’s best casinos can be the vacation of a lifetime. Some of the oldest venues out there are all-rounders, multi-purpose entertainment centres running solely for your pleasure. Ask yourself this – is there a better feeling than celebrating someone’s win with the entire house? Well, yes – when it’s your win!

Lucas Goldberg
Lucas, a seasoned site editor at CasinoCanada, boasts a decade-long journey in the gambling industry with a focus on providing players with meticulous reviews and insights of online games and casinos.
Site Editor
University of Toronto
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Last updated on: 20.02.2024


Which is the oldest casino in Canada?

Officially, the first commercial casino in Canada was founded in 1989 in Winnipeg. The second opened in 1993 in Montréal. However, as you can see from our top 5 list, there were earlier casinos in Canadian territory, the oldest being Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall in Dawson City.

What games can I play at Calgary’s oldest casinos?

The Cash Casino in Calgary offers blackjack, roulette, baccarat, poker, craps and Pai Gow poker, whereas Cowboys Casino has a high-stakes poker room with Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Pineapple, Limit and No Limit tables, as well as 350+ slot machines.

Can I watch a show at any of the oldest casinos in Canada?

Certainly. You can choose to see a vaudeville-inspired dancing show at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall or perhaps see the performance of the famous Blackjack beauties at Cash Casino in Calgary.

Do Canadian oldest casinos offer any loyalty rewards?

Some do, some don’t. Treasure Cove casino in British Columbia gives Encore rewards cards to their patrons. They collect points and redeem them on table games and slots.

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