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Ottawa-Gatineau is a popular tourist destination for casino fun

One of North America’s strangest two-city metroplexes, Ottawa-Gatineau straddles the Ottawa River to merge two conglomerated cities in two provinces with two mother tongues. This duality inherent in Canada’s combination of New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the Australian Capital Territory is infused throughout Ottawa-Gatineau – even within the casino gaming. A large-scale casino outlet may be found on either side of the Ottawa, and naturally the two are of vastly different style…

On the Gatineau side: The Casino du Lac Leamy

land based casino lac leamy in gatineau Once you’re over the Ottawa into Quebec and into the Casino du Lac Leamy, you know you’re that much closer to the posh gambling parlors of Montreal and Niagara Falls: Large, spacious gaming rooms set amid a spa complex loaded with amenities. The Casino du Lac Leamy isn’t quite the Niagara Fallsview or Casino de Montreal in scope, high life and game selection, but Casino du Lac Leamy is certainly a fantastic gaming place in its own right.

Just check out the outstanding collection of table games, which puts the Lac Leamy. Tables games always open for the playing include baccarat (standard/proper and Punto Banco variations), blackjack, Blackjack Switch, Spanish 21, “Free Bet” Blackjack, three-card poker, two variants of Texas Hold ‘Em, Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Pai Gow, Casino War (yes!), and the extremely rarely-seen High-Card Flush.

And that was just the card table games. Also on the gaming floor of Casino du Lac Leamy are craps, roulette, electronic roulette, Sic Bo, keno, and a “Wheel of Fortune” game.

Aside from *this*, 1,700 slots, a.k.a. machines à sous – now that’s a top-five collection of slot machines among Canadian casinos. That figure is large enough makes the casino able to host regularly-held tournaments, even. And progressive jackpots on some slot machines regularly top $1 million – without the benefit of a slots network.

On the Ottawa side: OLG Slots at Rideau Carleton Raceway, which is morphing…

olg slots at rideau carlton racewayLike so many properties overseen by the Ottawa Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corporation, the Rideau Carleton Raceway is a combination class II gaming casino and horse racing venue – with the OLG Slots brand stamped all over it, naturally.

As of this writing, the venue is still known as OLG Slots at Rideau Carleton Raceway (in Gloucester) and hosts 1,500 slots plus another 75 or so electronic table games including baccarat, roulette, keno and others. Naturally, since this is, you know, a racetrack, pari-mutuel betting is offered on live racing as well as simulcast events. The equestrian aspects of the setup may be staying into the 2020s, but in May 2017, a radical new makeover from a familiar name was announced.

…into the Hard Rock Casino Ottawa

Here come the US-based gambling interests! In 2017, representatives of the OLG announced the a bid to revamp the outlet at the Rideau Carleton Raceway had been won by the seemingly ever-expanding Hard Rock brand.

The renovated venue, to be renamed Hard Rock Casino, will reportedly get a $320 facelift to expand the entire operation in a Las Vegas-style complex incorporating racecourse, hotel, casino, nightlife and restaurants. 

And yes, it’s all part of a much larger plan for Canadian casinos. No less than Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen described the Ottawa deal as a “crucial first step towards a larger strategic vision of our world-class brand’s expansion efforts in Ontario and throughout Canada,” followed by a fierce round of sinister laughter and the throwing of a few more babies into the cauldron for his nightly stew.

The checklist of construction work begins with rebranding OLG Slots into the Hard Rock Casino Ottawa; “dramatic” renovation and redesign of the gaming floor; and refurbishment of the track and grandstand. This would represent phase I of the revitalization, representing the first full 12 months of the project.

hard rock rocksino in gatineau canadaAfter this follows the addition of the standards of the chain: a Hard Rock Hotel, a Hard Rock Live entertainment venue, a Hard Rock Café, a Hard Rock Bar, and a kitsch-dealing Rock Shop – plus another 13,000 square metres of gaming space, more than doubling the current floor space of OLG slots.

Of course, if you’re reading this past 2021 (probably), this is all old news – but currently, we’re on the wrong side of zoning and construction permits.

Playing online in Ottawa-Gatineau

When we discuss online gambling law in the Ottawa-Gatineau Capital Territory, the laws of either Ontario or Quebec will apply, as laws regarding online gambling are written and legislated at the provincial level.

Both Ontario and Quebec laws allow for 100% legal play at government-operated casino websites. In Ottawa, this would be the Ontario-run Play OLG website; in Gatineau, it’s Espace Jeux. (One wonders what happens if a player is connected via mobile and walks over a bridge spanning the river to the other side. Does the casino just, like, kick you out?)

However, both sites have relatively small selections of games and some players can feel psychologically cramped without having the choice to try another online casino venue. Essentially every other casino website operates, under the current law as laid out in the Canadian Criminal Code, in a legal “grey area” under which violators of the law, i.e. casino operators are virtually impossible to prosecute and players may simply thus enjoy the games tax-free.

To play at online casinos from Ottawa-Gatineau or anywhere in Canada, simply choose any website listed on the pages of Casino Canada. All have been independently audited to insure security of transactions and fair play, and all are accepting Canadian players!