Canada’s Official Lottery

Until 1967 buying a lottery ticket in Canada was illegal. That year the federal Liberal government passed an Omnibus Bill that included a section to legalize the national lottery. The Canadian national lottery operates today with four games: Lotto 6/49, Lotto Max, Daily Grand, and Millionaire Life. These games are administered by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation, a consortium of five regional lottery commissions owned by their respective provincial/territorial governments: Atlantic Lottery Corporation (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland), Loto-Quebec (Quebec), Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (Ontario), and Western Canada Lottery Corporation (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut).

There’s an inextricable human desire to gamble, and that’s one reason why people play lotteries. But there’s a lot more to the story than that. Lotteries, Cohen argues, prey on poor people by dangling the possibility of instant riches in an age of inequality and limited social mobility.

Lottery opponents have argued that they’re morally unconscionable, and they hailed from across the political spectrum and all walks of life. Some of the most vociferous critics, Cohen notes, were devout Protestants who viewed state-sanctioned gambling as inherently immoral.

Others argued that lotteries were simply necessary to raise revenue. And, of course, there’s a truth to that: State governments need money. But whether that money is really going to benefit children or not, and how much the lottery costs people in terms of their own incomes, are all questions worth asking.