Canadian Gambling Impact on Employment

A measure of the relative strength of these competing arguments is provided by the respondents. The survey asked Canadians to indicate whether they agree or disagree that “gambling has increased overall employment in (province).” On balance, respondents agree that overall employment is up, as 58% agree with this statement (Figure 34). Despite this majority position, this agreement is not particularly strong as only 16% strongly agree. Based on these data, it can be concluded that the positive employment argument has a role in shaping attitudes toward gambling’s acceptability.

Regional variations might reflect the presence or absence of permanent casinos. Because of its service-oriented focus, casino-based gambling can have obvious impacts on the perception of employment benefits. For example, in Ontario and Quebec, the regions with the most prominent casino industries, the strongest support for the increase in jobs argument was recorded (67% and 63% respectively). In the Atlantic region, gambling is not seen as an employment benefit. Only 36% of respondents indicate agreement with the job creation benefits of gambling. With only two permanent Nova Scotia casinos in the Maritime region, the positive employment benefits of gambling may not be highly visible to respondents.

This sentiment also provides further explanation of the anti-gambling responses from Atlantic Canada that permeate the survey. The stronger anti-gambling sentiments in the Atlantic region in part may be due to the failure of respondents to see the positive employment benefits of gambling in their communities. Combined with the negative influence of higher rates of personally knowing a problem gambler and the sensitivity in this region to employment issues, this factor likely produces an overall negative opinion of gambling.

In spite of the perceived positive employment benefits of gambling and the overall acceptability of gambling, Canadians do not want casinos in their own neighbourhoods. To assess Canadians’ comfort with casinos in a close proximity, respondents were asked “if you were given the option, would you be willing to have a casino in your neighbourhood?” Respondents strongly indicate, by nearly a three to one margin (72% to 26%), that they would not. This “not in my backyard” sentiment presents an interesting paradox: although respondents favour access to gambling overall, they do not wish to localize the problems nor benefits associated with gambling to their own communities. As indicated earlier, Canadians feel there are more overall negative than positive impacts of gambling. Given the combined strength of these data, it can be concluded that, on balance, respondents fear the negative impacts of gambling more than they acknowledge the benefits.

FIGURE 34: DO YOU AGREE THAT: “gambling has increased overall employment in (province)”
Strongly Agree – 16%
Somewhat Agree – 42%
Neither – 10%
Somewhat Disagree – 15%
Strongly Disagree – 12%