Manitoba Casinos and Gambling
Manitoba is a wild and wonderful place. It is the fifth-most populated Canadian province, home to about 1.3 million. The geography features prairies, forests, mountains, rivers and lakes with more than 80 provincial parks protecting some of the area’s wilderness. The capital, Winnipeg is home to two casinos, a racing and entertainment center and various community bingo halls. The Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries (MBLL) operates video lottery terminals (VLTs) in hotels, restaurants, bars, lounges, and legion halls throughout the province with the greatest concentration of more than 430 machines in the Winnipeg area.
The province covers some 649,950 km2 (250,950 sq mi) of which over 101,000 km2 is covered in water. Located in the longitudinal center of Canada, and is bordered to the south by the US states of Minnesota and North Dakota – to the north and northeast by Nunavut and Northwest Territories and by Ontario and Saskatchewan to the east and west.
Most of the casinos in the province are First Nation casinos. The Crown corporation, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, owns and operates two properties in Winnipeg; Club Regent and McPhillips Station. The Manitoba Jockey Club signed a new 12-year video lottery terminal (VLT) agreement for Assiniboia Downs in 2014. The jockey club also signed a deal with the Peguis First Nation for a hotel at the site. The race track is privately owned and is the only commercial track overseen by the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission.
The MBLL works in concert with Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC) which serves the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Three territories are also associate members; Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
MBLL launched an online casino, poker, sports, bingo, and lottery site for Manitobans in January 2013 modeled after British Columbia’s PlayNow dot com. However, game selection is rather limited when compared to the free-market offerings of many other online casinos with offshore licenses. Some reports indicate that theoretical return to player percentages (RTP) may be lower at the government site as well. We were unable to confirm that assertion with a sampling of a few games. We did find online versions of 95% RTP while VLTs on land return 92% under WCLC rules in some provinces.
Manitoba Gambling Law
The province of Manitoba is mostly free to set their own rules and laws regarding gambling. The federal criminal code is more of a patchwork of antiquated rules. The Criminal Code (Canada) prohibits providers with servers or businesses located in Canada from providing games that aren’t authorized through provincial legislation. The legislation controlling gambling in Manitoba is The Liquor and Gaming Control Act which is overseen and enforced by Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba. However, the law does not seem to apply to players and no unauthorized open market casinos that we are aware of are based in Canada and serving Canadians.
No player has ever been prosecuted for playing online to the best of our knowledge – it would appear that the law simply doesn’t provide for that. However, two things you may want to consider are that revenues from offshore casinos do not go back to the community unless you win and spread your new-found wealth around, and not all online casinos are trustworthy. All listed here are properly vetted and licensed in their originating jurisdiction, so the greatest consideration may be that player losses do not go municipalities or First Nations causes.
The Casinos of Manitoba
First Nations peoples operate four casinos and two entertainment centers in Manitoba. The First Nations who own the properties are in partnership for the common good. Except for the Swan Lake gaming centers and Sand Hills Casino which are owned and operated by the Swan Lake First Nation and the Niichi Gaming & Leisure Centre run by the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, the others are partnerships between several nations. The Aseneskak Casino is owned by six nations, they are the Chemawawin Cree, Misipawistik Cree, Mosakahiken Cree, Opaskwayak Cree, Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation, and Sapotaweyak Cree Nation. South Beach Casino & Resort is owned by seven nations; Black River, Bloodvein, Brokenhead, Hollow Water, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi, and Poplar River First Nations.
Following is a list of First Nations casinos in Manitoba:
- Aseneskak Casino – Opaskwayak
- Niichi Gaming & Leisure Centre – Ginew
- South Beach Casino & Resort – Scanterbury
- Sand Hills Casino – Carberry
- Swan Lake Gaming Centre – Swan Lake
- Swan Lake Gaming Centre – Headingley
Casinos attributable to the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries are known as “The Casinos of Winnipeg”. They are McPhillips Station and Club Regent. McPhillips Station features a hotel and convention center along with about 800 machines, more than 40 table games, and a poker room along with valet parking, a restaurant, and lounge. McPhillips Station opened in 1993. Club Regent offers slot machines, bingo and table games including roulette, blackjack, baccarat and Pai Gow. The poker room is open until 3 am with slots 24 hours on weekends. Table games shut down from 6 am until 10 am on the weekends. The Shark Club is a modern gaming and entertainment center located in the downtown area of Winnipeg near the library with slots, tables, and concerts.
Following is a list of commercial casinos in Manitoba:
- McPhillips Station Casino – McPhillips Street, Winnipeg
- Club Regent Casino – Regent Ave W, Winnipeg
- Shark Club Gaming Centre – Downtown Winnipeg
The Assiniboia Downs Gaming and Event Center features live horse racing, simulcasting and 140 VLTs that are available year-round from 9 am to 2 am daily. Like many horse racing venues, fine dining is available and some facilities can be rented for meetings, banquets, and parties.
The Manitoba Jockey Club (MJC) is a non-profit who have been running the facilities since 1993 to ensure the viability of live horse racing in the province. The organization also supports several charities and civic organizations.
In addition to virtually unlimited outdoor opportunities in Manitoba, the province maintains a vibrant gaming scene. And while the casinos of Winnipeg may be the biggest, South Beach Casino & Resort in Scanterbury offers players about 600 machines and half a dozen gaming tables along with a poker room, restaurants and lounges, and nearly 100 hotel rooms and suites.
Scattered throughout the province are hundreds of VLTs providing video slots, keno, and poker, and retail lottery outlets are almost everywhere. No matter where or how you play, some of the revenues go to support charitable and other programs and provide jobs.