Introduction to Canadian Gambling and Its Studies

Gambling is ubiquitous in Canada. Although it has only been 30 years since the first lotteries were introduced in Canada, there are now over 50 permanent casinos, 21,000 slot machines, 38,000 video lottery terminals, 20,000 annual bingo events, and 44 permanent horse race tracks in Canada. Over the same period, a national debate has emerged over the appropriate level of gambling in our communities. To date, CanadaÕs gambling debate has not been informed by public opinion data. The Canada West FoundationÕs Public Opinion on Gambling survey attempts to fill this void.

The Public Opinion on Gambling survey provides a benchmark of gambling behaviours and attitudes across Canada. The survey findings provide a context for current debate, and can be used to track future changes in gambling opinion and behaviour. Topics explored in the survey include:
1. The gambling patterns of adult Canadians with a focus on frequency of, and motivation for, playing various games.
2. Play of various types of games with a focus on demographic differences among players.
3. The perceptions and attitudes of Canadians towards various gambling issues with a focus on the regional and demographic variations.
4. The perceived impact of gambling upon individuals, communities, charities, and governments.
5. The extent to which Canadians view gambling as a social problem.

The survey findings are presented in two reports. This summary report, intended for a general audience, provides an overview of the key survey findings. The main report presents the data in greater detail, and includes additional analyses looking at population segments, regional variations, types of players by game preference, and types of players by motivation for gambling.

The results and analysis of this study are based on a random sample telephone survey of Canadians 18 years of age or older. Environics West administered the survey instrument to 2,202 respondents in June 1999 on behalf of the Canada West Foundation using a Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) system.

Gambling policy in Canada is provincially regulated; as a result, different policies are in force in each province. Because regulatory policies are most similar within CanadaÕs five lottery regions (BC, Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada)1 these regions were chosen as the basis for sampling. An equal number of respondents were chosen from four of the regions; the three Prairie provinces (hereinafter referred to as the Prairie region) were oversampled due to the greater diversity of gambling policies in that region. Overall, the sample includes 400 interviews from British Columbia, 600 from the Prairies, 400 from Ontario, 400 from Quebec (in both French and English), and 402 from Atlantic Canada. Within the Prairie region, 200 respondents were chosen from each province.

1. Each province operates separate agencies to regulate lottery play and umbrella organizations (Western Canada Lottery Corporation and Atlantic Lottery Corporation) administer lottery services in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada on behalf of those provincial governments. In 1999, Nova Scotia announced its withdrawal from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation by March 2000.