Gambling is rather wide-spread in Canada, as is also the case in many other countries. In Canada, gambling is somewhat integrated in daily activities. More than two-thirds of Canadians above the age of 15 gambled at least once in a twelve months period. So it comes to no surprise that many Canadians are curious about their fellows’ gambling habits and where they fit in.
Quick Takeouts of Interesting Gambling Statistics for Canada
- About 64% of Canadians aged older than 14 (i.e. 15 and older) gamble at least once within a 12 months period (based on latest public data: 2018).
- Lottery and raffle tickets are the most popular gambling activity among both males and females.
- Casino table games, electronic gambling machines and instant win lottery or online games are also very popular in Canada
- According to Canada Statistics, Canadian households spend an average of C$186 on games of chance, with high income households spending an average of C$256 and lowest-income households spending an average of C$111.
- You will find more interesting statistics about gambling Canadians further below, after some market data.
In Canada, the gambling market is governed by provincial authorities and not by federal law. This is one of the reasons why statistical data on gambling is publically available (if you know where to look). However, this reliable and high quality data often dates back a few years. For example, two of our latest sources from the University of Calgary as well as Statistics Canada were published in 2022, but the underlying usage/demographic data was collected in 2018, and financial data is only available until Q1/2021 (at the time of writing this article).
General gambling market statistics for Canada and its provinces and territories
Gambling is an important factor in the Canadian economy. The availability of gambling opportunities has increased over the last few years, with the most notable progress being the liberalization of online casino operations.
Unfortunately though, the available data does not yet include much of the new online casino usage data, especially with regards to the currents shifts from offline to online gambling, but first effects can already be seen in the financial data for 2020/21 (the fiscal year starts in April of one year and ends end of March the following year).
In the fiscal year before Corona (2019-2020), net revenue from commercial gambling in Canada amounted to almost C$14 Billion, with a net income of about C$ 8 Billion.
In 2020-21, net revenue & net income dropped to around C$7 Billion and C$2.5 Billion respectively, due to the recurring pandemic lockdown measures, which especially affected land-based casinos whilst a jump in online casino growth could already observed (see next table).
From 2021 onwards, financial figures are set to recover in total, also because of the liberalization of the online casino market (and as can already be seen especially in the market for online casinos when looking at the financial reports of online casino operators).
When looking at the different provinces and territories, one can clearly make out four provinces where revenue from gambling is the highest, namely: Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. Ontario leads the pack by far; the other three have similar figures. All four suffered a substantial downturn in revenue in 2020-21. (Internal remark: See Table 1.5 in “Gambling in Canada”).
The sources of Canadas net revenue from gambling
The publically available statistics of Canadian gambling groups the different games into four categories and defines them as follows:
Lottery: Refers to commercial lottery tickets (i.e., inter-provincial lottery games, instant tickets, sports lottery). Most often purchased in-person.
VLT: Refers to video lottery terminal gambling in bars, restaurants and gaming halls.
Online: Refers to online casino-style games provided by a provincial operator. Certain jurisdictions also include ticket lottery products purchased online in this category.
One can see clearly: Net revenue from casino was, until 2020-21, the biggest source of revenue, followed by lottery and VLT. Online casino games have however shown a steady yearly increase for years and then almost doubled in net revenue when people were submitted to the pandemic lockdown measures.
As mentioned above, due to the liberalization of online casino games, pushed forward especially by Ontario, further substantial increases in the online casino market are to be expected regardless of future potential lockdown situations, as online casinos offer a unique experience that is different to land-based casinos.
In 2020-21, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec were leading the field of revenue from online gambling. We expect that Ontario will take the lead as of 2022.
Basic demographic statistics of Canadian players
As mentioned above, the study on Canadian gambling statistics uses data from 2018. This is quite normal, as it takes a long time for data to be processed.
In Canada, 64.5% of persons aged 15 and older, gambled at least once in the 12 months prior to being surveyed (i.e. in the “past year”). In numbers, this equates to 18,885,900 Canadians. Split up into male and female, the figures were 68.8% and 60.4%. In total therefore, males gambled slightly more than females.
Unfortunately, no overall data is available that further breaks down the “past-year gamblers” into the categories “less than monthly”, “1 to 3 times per months” and “1 or more times per week”. This data is only available in combination with specified types of gambling, see corresponding table further below.
When looking at age groups, statistics showed that persons in the following age groups gambled at least once in the last 12 months:
- Age group 15 to 24: 64.6%
- Age group 25 to 44:64.6%
- Age group 45 to 64:72.3%
- Age group 65 or older:65.4%
For the age group 15 to 24, females and males were more or less equally represented. For all other age groups, there were slightly more males than female gambler.
Interesting stats for selected Canadian provinces and/or regions
When looking at Canadian gamblers by province, Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest percentage of gamblers (74.6%) and British Columbia had the lowest percentage (59.0%); the rest are more or less equally spread between those two figures.
In real numbers, Ontario has the most past-year gamblers (7.1 Million), followed by Quebec (4.7 Million) as well as British Columbia (2.3 Million) and Alberta (2.2 Million).
Interestingly, the province with the closest female to male ratio of past-year gambler is New Brunswick, which sports 71.9% female and 72.4% male past year gamblers.
Other interesting statistics to look at is the difference in spending between provinces and regions. As mentioned much further above, in 2019, Canadian households spent an average of C$186 per year on games of chance. I.e. this includes all household, i.e. also persons who don’t gamble. So, in theory, if one takes into account that about 2/3 of Canadian actually gamble in a 12-months-period, the average spending is more like C$290 [186/0.64].
Leaving the data as it is (but putting probable numbers in brackets with a question mark): the region with the highest average spending per household is Manitoba with C$326 (C$509?) per year. The lowest average spending happens in British Columbia with C$119 (C$178?). And the region with the highest percentage of past-year gamblers, Newfoundland and Labrador, also has one of the highest average spending on games of chance: C$310 (C$484) per year.
Games preference of Canadian players
So what type of games do Canadians like to play?
Well, lottery and raffle tickets are by far the most wide-spread type of gambling in Canada: 51.8% of past-year gamblers.
This is followed by instant lottery tickets and instant online games, with a share of 33.0%.
Electronic gambling machines (online or in person) such as slot machines, Video Lottery Terminals, electronic blackjack, electronic roulette or video poker, are played and enjoyed by 12.6% of past year gamers (i.e. about 2.4 Million gamers... and that was in 2018!).
Casino table games (online or in person, any location) were played by 7.5% of past-year games (that’s another 1.4 Million players, in 2018 already).
Gambling activities such as sports betting is also popular, with 7.9% of past year gamers.
Of all the past-year gamers, 42.4% participated in one type of gambling, 36.0% in two types of gambling, 13.5% in three types of gambling and 8.1% in four or more types of gambling. (Note: the relevant section in the table below is confusing, as it shows percentages of total population and not percentage of past-year gamers, as it does under the heading “Type of gambling”.)
So what games do males and females prefer, respectively?
We already know that males generally tend to gamble more than females.
Interestingly, when it comes to electronic gambling machines (online or in person) such as slot machines, Video Lottery Terminals, electronic blackjack, electronic roulette or video poker, females and males are more or less on par.
Casino table games (online or in person, any location) seem to be preferred more by males than by females (but don’t forget, this is data from 2018, before the boost in online casino games).
Besides, females take the lead in instant win lottery or online games, which is very similar to playing online slots.
So there you have it
If, especially as a Canadian, you ever wondered, for example, how many other people gamble, what type of gambling they partake in and how much money they spend on average, then you were able to “take a peek”. For future stats articles, it will be interesting to include iGaming stats after 2021, especially for online casinos, when reliable data becomes available.