Canadian Gambling Report

Many Canadians gamble. Over 70% of Canadians have participated in some form of gambling in the last year and nearly half have bought a lottery ticket. About one-quarter are regular gamblers, playing their favourite game at least once a week. Eight out of ten Canadians who gamble do so for the thrill of winning.

Canadians participate in myriad forms of gambling that may be classified into four main categories. First, there is regulated gambling, including provincial lotteries, bingo, casino games, Sports Select, raffles, pull tickets, video lottery, and horse racing. A second category is informal betting among friends and colleagues: wagering on the outcomes of sports games, playing poker with spare change, bets on trivia contests, joining office sports pools, and betting on the outcome of billiard and dart games. Although not commonly thought of as gambling, these informal activities form part of the Canadian gambling culture. The third category is illegal gambling through bookmakers, illegal card rooms, after hours casinos and internet gambling. Finally, there are some who view speculating on the stock market as a means of gambling. People will invest small amounts of money in stocks they know very little about based on tips they receive about Òsure things, Ó a form of wagering, that is of ten less of an investment and more of a gamble.

Despite the wide availability of gambling options, the majority of Canadians do not seek out gambling opportunities. When asked to describe their gambling behaviour, 57% said they either do not gamble or do not like to gamble. Although the gambling participation data clearly show that many of these respondents DOparticipate in gambling behaviour, they do not express a preference to do so. Only 43% indicate that they enjoy the opportunity to gambleÐnearly equal to the 41% who indicate that they Ònever gamble.ÓThe Public Opinion on Gambling survey measured the extent of participation in both regulated gambling and unregulated gambling.2 Using a total of 19 forms of gambling, the study found that 72% of respondents participated in some form of gambling behaviour in the last 12 months. Considering only regulated forms of gambling (including out-of-country casino), 58% of Canadians have gambled in the last 12 months on at least one form of regulated gambling.

The most popular forms of gambling (in terms of participation rate) are presented in Table 2. Lotteries are the most popular activity: one-half of Canadians (49.6%) have played a lottery in the last year. The least popular forms of gambling include sports tickets (3.1%), horse racing (3.5%) and gambling in card rooms (3.6%).Despite being one of the most significant revenue generators for governments in Canada, video lottery terminals are not highly popular games as only 8.4% of the population participated in this form of gambling in the last year (VLTs are not available in British Columbia and Ontario).

Lotteries / 49.6%
Scratch / tickets 41.5%
Raffles / 32.2%
Casino / 17.1%
Slot machines / 17.0%
Break-open tickets / 11.9%
Bingo / 11.2%
Video lottery terminals / 8.4%
Out-of-country casino / 5.8%
Out-of-province casino / 4.7%
Card rooms / 3.6%
Horse racing / 3.5%
Sport tickets / 3.1%

Card games with friends / 15.3%
Sports pools / 15.0%
Stock speculation / 14.5%
Bets with friends / 11.5%
Games of skill (pool, darts) / 7.3%
Internet 0.4%

2. Respondents who indicated they “never gamble” were coded as “no” on all regulated gambling activity and directly questioned regarding their unregulated gambling activity.