Sparsely-populated Nova Scotia offers some gambling opportunities and, as you’d expect, these are concentrated in the biggest cities: Halifax and Sydney. As for online gambling, the situation in this province is at a complete standstill, with nary a ripple in the legislative pond on the subject of expanding the casinos frontier in Nova Scotia. For some time to come, it seems Casino Nova Scotia will be a monolithic power over the casinos industry in the province.
Nova Scotia has a couple of casinos for interested players to check out; both were designed by Steelman Partners, and both bear the Casino Nova Scotia brand name. The Casinos Nova Scotia are smaller-scale that those westward in Canada and southward in the U.S., yet are certainly big and popular enough to spawn endless clickbait-y stuff with titles like “Top 10 Halifax Hotels near Casino Nova Scotia.”
This Nova Scotia casino gaming duopoly began humbly, as a side attraction at the Sheraton Hotel Halifax in 1995. From the go, the casino’s owners/operators reckoned that the Sheraton was to be a temporary location for the venue, and a $100 million construction job on permanent digs for the Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax began shortly after the grand opening of the temporary site.
By April 2000, Casino Nova Scotia was open for business – and was immediately doing it briskly. In 2005, due to some consolidation within the Las Vegas-based casino giant Caesars Entertainment, the US interests sold their share of the Casino Nova Scotia gaming operation to Great Canadian Gaming (GCG). That same year, the Casino Nova Scotia in Sydney was opened, with GCG immediately taking over operations.
Since then, the Nova Scotia casino market has been on cruise control, as the Casino Nova Scotia twosome dominates the province’s small gambling landscape. At the Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax, some 650 slot machines and other electronic games are in play alongside 30 table games. In Vegas-style fashion, the Marriott Halifax Harbourfront neighbours the casino. The Casino Nova Scotia in Sydney is located in the Centre 200 and includes a few hundred slots, video poker and electronic games.
In 2017, Casino Nova Scotia and Northside Downs representatives announced a somewhat radical new partnership to allow the simulcast of and wagering on Northside’s horse races at the Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax thanks to agreement from the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency. As the parties involved were already referring to the operation as “off-track betting,” the implication is that this agreement will likely lead to extension of such wagering in the Nova Scotia casino.
An interesting question will be whether Northside Downs ultimately includes casino games on its location. As of this writing in mid-2017, no such gaming is offered, but the agreement with Casino Nova Scotia was explicitly made to beef up lagging profits at the track, a common problem in most of North America in the 21st century.
Like much of Canada in general, the question of internet gambling is in a bit of a legal grey area. Technically speaking, it is perfectly legal for a Canadian citizen or resident to play at internet casinos. Unfortunately and quite unfairly, however, Canadian players ultimately may fall prey to *U.S.* law on the subject.
Since the mid-2000s (and right through to 2018 at least), the prevailing law regarding gambling in the United States calls for banks and other financial institutions to decline the processing of transactions involving known gambling websites. The banks are therefore tasked with playing the part of policeman. What does this have to do with Canadians? Well, such transactions may also be barred if they originate from a Canadian bank which is at least partially-owned by U.S.-based interests; Canada’s eight largest branch banks fall in this category.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC), which oversees and regulates gambling in Nova Scotia, along with New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, has made little progress in establishing government-licensed online casinos for the province.
But hope is hardly lost for those Nova Scotians looking to play at online casinos. Quite a few smaller banks in Canada are nicely laissez-faire when it comes to customer transactions, so if you hold an account with a credit union or community-based bank, you may be in luck.
Additionally, a good number of internet casino sites are accepting Canadian players. In fact, one of the world’s largest hosts of gaming sites is based at the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Quebec. Due to inconsistency in international law – particularly on the part of the U.S. and if only that country could get its, likesay, act together could much of the world move forward with progressive gambling laws – casino websites must self-regulate.
All casino websites with links on Casino Canada have been certified by internationally-recognized independent regulatory bodies, and all accept Nova Scotia players and those from throughout Canada. Check this page for the occasional update on gambling law in Nova Scotia, as the situation hopefully progresses before the 2020s are half-over.