Gambling Market Overview in Canada in 2023

With two-thirds of Canadians reportedly gambling in the past 12 months, there is no denying that this is a major industry with a wide range of offerings available to consumers. In fact, according to a recent study by the Canadian Gaming Association, the industry generated over $15 billion in revenue last year and employed over 135,500 people across the country. As such, an understanding of the dynamics and trends of this market is crucial for industry stakeholders, policymakers, and consumers alike. As our Casino Canada team of experts has been following the gambling market for some time and has conducted thorough research, we are uniquely positioned to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of the Canadian gambling industry. This will be one of the key areas of focus in our analysis.

Furthermore, as we move deeper into 2023, the casino industry in Canada will continue to grow and expand. Anyone involved in this market is curious to see how the new developments unravel, from changing laws to the rise of technology. So, our experts will also explore the factors that are likely to shape the industry in the near future.

Introduction

Gambling Market Overview in Canada

First of all, it's important to define the topic of conversation and examine what constitutes gambling. This section also aims to give you a better understanding of the sector, including its growth, regulation, and cultural significance.

Definition of Gambling

Gambling involves placing a bet, wager, or stake on the uncertain outcome of a game or event. It generally involves the possibility of winning a prize or money and is done with the intention to profit.

The definition can vary slightly between provinces and territories, but the basic concept remains consistent.

Brief History of Gambling in Canada

Gambling has a long history in Canada, with early forms including indigenous games of chance and betting on horse races dating back more than 600 years. In the 19th century, lotteries were introduced as a way to fund public works, and horse racing became a popular pastime.

But the first formal casino opened in Winnipeg in 1989. It was Crystal Casino in the Hotel Fort Garry and became the first year-round government-operated casino in the country. Then in 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established to regulate online gambling in Quebec. Canada was one of the first countries to do so.

And the industry has been thriving ever since.

Importance of the Gambling Market in Canada

The Canadian gaming industry is a significant contributor to the country's economy. According to the Canadian Gaming Association, it generates almost $9 billion in annual revenue. The same source reports that the funds generated by the industry are utilized to support various government and community programs and services.

Many Canadians enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment, with some viewing it as a social activity that can be enjoyed with friends or family. And for some celebrity players, it's a source of income.

Comparison to Other Industries

In comparison to gambling's $9 billion and 135,500 jobs, other areas in the entertainment sector generate:

  • $4.3 billion to Canada's GDP and over 55,300 jobs from commercial video game production (source).
  • $12.2 billion and nearly 245,000 jobs from film and television (same source as above).

And while gambling may not be as large as other major industries, such as oil and gas, technology, or finance, the market is still an essential component of the economy. This is not just our expert opinion but a fact that has been recognized by various organizations and publications.

Canadian Gambling Market Overview

Canadian Gambling Market Overview

What is the current state of the Canadian gambling market? As mentioned, it's a multi-billion dollar industry:

At a glance:

How big is the market? In 2021, the gambling industry in Canada was valued at a substantial $12.54 billion (2021, Market size of the gambling sector in Canada from 2011 to 2021 with a forecast for 2022, Statista)
Where is the revenue coming from? In 2020-2021, lottery sales were the primary source of gambling revenue in Canada, surpassing casinos. This may be short-lived, as casino sales are increasing (Stevens, 2020-2021, Gambling in Canada, University of Calgary)
Who's gambling? 18.9 million people have reported gambling in the past year. (Rotermann and Gilmour, 2019, Who gambles and who experiences gambling problems in Canada, Statistics Canada)
How many of them have a problem? 95% of players are considered non-problem gamblers. (Rotermann and Gilmour, 2019, Who gambles and who experiences gambling problems in Canada, Statistics Canada)
What types of games do people play? Slots and bingo are the most popular types of electronic gambling (Can J Psychiatry, 2021, Gambling and Problem Gambling in Canada in 2018: Prevalence and Changes Since 2002, NIH NLM).
Why is the industry growing? The growth of the gaming industry in Canada has been due to the increase in the availability of legal gaming options (2021, Rogers Communications, House of Commons).
How is the industry regulated? In Canada, gambling is regulated by the provincial and territorial governments rather than the federal government (Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46), full text).

While the market has faced some challenges in recent years, it continues to be a significant contributor to the Canadian economy and a source of entertainment for millions of people. Some of the biggest challenges it had to overcome include increased competition from online gambling sites, concerns over gambling addiction, and changing consumer preferences.

Speaking of consumer preferences, the key players are now focused on convenience and accessibility. This trend has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian Gambling Laws

Canadian Gambling Laws

What are the gambling laws in Canada? Gambling is regulated by a combination of federal and provincial laws, with each province having its own set of regulations and oversight bodies. Generally speaking, gambling is legal in Canada with certain restrictions.

Here are a few key laws to be aware of:

  • Criminal Code of Canada: this sets out the rules and gambling regulations in Canada for various types of activities and includes provisions for both legal and illegal gambling.
  • Provincial regulations: e.g., British Columbia and Quebec.
  • Age restrictions: The legal gambling age is 18 or 19, depending on the province or territory. Minors are not allowed to gamble, and operators are required to verify the age of their customers.
  • Anti-money laundering: Operators are required to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. This includes policies and procedures to prevent money laundering and reporting suspicious transactions to authorities.

The province of Quebec is often considered to be the most lenient in terms of gambling regulations. British Columbia and Ontario are also home to many casinos. On the other hand, Alberta and Saskatchewan have a limited number of casinos operating within their borders.

Types of Gambling in Canada

From traditional casino games like offline poker and blackjack to sports betting and online gambling, there are numerous options for those looking to try their luck.

  • Casinos

    Casinos

    This type of gambling is what everyone immediately thinks about when hearing the word. It's only natural because that's where the industry started — slot machines, table games like blackjack, poker, roulette, and baccarat, and other games of chance at a physical location.
  • Lottery

    Lottery

    The lottery in Canada is run by two main organizations: the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation and the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. The ILC operates national lottery games, including Lotto Max, Lotto 6/49, and Daily Grand. These games offer large jackpots and secondary prizes and are drawn weekly. The WCLC operates lottery games in Western Canada, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and includes Western Max, Western 649, and Extra.
  • Horse Racing

    Horse Racing

    As the name suggests, horse racing in Canada involves betting on the outcome of horse races. The major horse racing tracks in the country include Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, which is home to the Canadian Triple Crown races, and the Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  • Sports Betting

    Sports Betting

    Sports bettors have a wide selection of sports to choose from — hockey, football, basketball, and volleyball, as well as more local/niche sports like curling and ringette. The betting can take place at physical sportsbooks (at casinos and sometimes stadiums) and online sports betting websites.
  • Online Gambling

    Online Gambling

    Online casinos aim to mimic the gambling opportunities found at physical casinos, sometimes even offering live dealer games, but these sites tend to fit more games into their selection. That is, of course, because they are not limited by physical space or the need to purchase expensive gaming equipment.

Future Prospects of the Canadian Gambling Market

Future Prospects of the Canadian Gambling Market

The global casino market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12% between 2022 and 2030, and Canada should be in line with this projection. Overall, our experts have pinpointed that the future of the Canadian gambling market looks promising, with several factors playing into its growth potential:

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Amidst lockdowns and social distancing measures, people became accustomed to convenience, such as online shopping and working from home. This newfound appreciation of convenience extended to gambling. The trend has been active ever since because players have become accustomed to instant access and universal accessibility.

Another interesting point is that a lot of people have found themselves with more free time. Plus, gambling was used as a way to cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Growth of Online Gambling

Continuing from the previous point, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the popularity of online gambling, considering more people turned to digital platforms. Physical casinos and betting shops were forced to close or limit their operations. Hence, online gambling activity grew. And once an industry niche establishes itself to the extent that the online gambling market has in Canada, the chances of further growth are very high.

Our team has also found that emerging technologies are pushing the market forward. For example, blockchain makes it possible for players to bet with greater confidence and reduces the risk of fraud. Virtual reality transports players to new worlds, providing a more engaging and entertaining experience. And 5G technology provides faster and more reliable connections.

Legalization of Sports Betting

The legalization of single-event sports betting has opened up a huge new market for operators and increased the overall size of the Canadian gambling market. Previously, many Canadians would place sports bets through illegal or offshore operators. And now, this is an opportunity that may be close to $28 billion within five years of legalization, according to Deloitte.

We talk more about this in the section on the Legalization of Single-Game Sports Betting in Canada.

Increased Regulation of the Gambling Industry

This may sound contradictory to the previous point, but increased regulation is also expected to be a significant factor in the industry's development. What this means is stricter responsible gambling measures, increased reporting requirements for operators, and increased enforcement measures to prevent illegal gambling activities. So, the burden will be on operators.

Because gambling revenues can be associated with illegal activities, like money laundering and organized crime in illicit markets, new laws may indirectly affect the casino industry.

But here is why increased regulation is a good thing for the market: consumer confidence. Players are more likely to play if operators are transparent and accountable.

Canadian Online Gambling Market

As technology continues to advance, online gambling platforms are becoming increasingly sophisticated. The result is that they provide users with an experience that rivals and even exceeds that of traditional brick-and-mortar casinos.

Note: We highly recommend delving further into the industry by exploring some of the materials that we came across during our research. Gambling Tech Trends – How emerging technologies are transforming games of chance Part 2: Extended Reality by Deloitte and VR Gambling Market to grow by USD 1.74 billion by Technavio are particularly interesting.

Overview of Canadian Online Gambling

At a glance:

Can you gamble online legally? In 2020, a majority of provinces, specifically 8 out of 10, have opted to establish their own online gambling websites to compensate for the dramatic reduction in revenues (J Gambl Stud, 2021, Gambling in Canada During the COVID Lockdown: Prospective National Survey, NIH NLM).
How much revenue does gambling bring to Canada?

Ontario Lottery and Gaming alone had an impressive casino gaming revenue of close to $2.2 billion, with net profit to the province being over $1.6 billion. 

This suggests that online gambling is a lucrative industry for other provincial governments, as well (2022, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation: Casinos, Lotteries and Internet Gaming, Ministry of Finance).

How common is online gambling among land-based players? 8 in 10 land-based casino players transitioned to online gambling by the third wave of the pandemic. (2022, Centre for the Advancement of Best Practices, Responsible Gambling Council)

Our team has reached a unanimous conclusion that the Canadian online gambling sector is rapidly expanding, which is evidenced by millions of players who engage in various forms of online betting every year. Our analysis indicates that the primary categories of online gambling in Canada are online sports betting, online casino games, and online poker. These services are accessible through numerous licensed online operators that operate within the country's borders as well as abroad.

We've also indicated that Canadian online gambling platforms are subject to rigorous regulations that prioritize player protection. These regulations ensure that online operators comply with strict rules to ensure fair play, prevent gambling addiction, protect minors, and safeguard players' personal and financial data.

Legalization of Online Gambling in Canada

There are no explicit online gambling laws in Canada, but players are free to gamble on sites that are based outside of Canada. As a player, you just need to verify that those sites are licensed and regulated by the relevant authorities in their own jurisdictions.

Another important consideration is how laws may differ from province to province. For example, there was recently big news in Ontario. On April 4, 2022, Canada established its first legal and regulated online gambling market. It's been a long time coming, but this development is finally here and has the potential to shake up the industry in a big way.

Popular Canadian Online Gambling Sites

There is no shortage of best paying online casinos, all with a wide range of games, generous bonuses, and top-notch security. But what are the top Canadian casinos?

Wildz Casino

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Launched in 2019, this relatively young online casino is MGA-licensed and holds software from 14+ well-known and fair gambling brands. Over 1,000+ games available in the Wildz Casino library include not only slots but also other game types, be they RNG or live tables. The site also boasts exclusive software like the Levelz reward slot, fast payments, and more.

Betsafe Casino

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Here comes an experienced operator launched in 2006. The site has both casino and sportsbook sections. Due to MGA regulations and independent testing labs like eCOGRA, the site is totally safe. Over 2,000 games are powered by mighty vendors like Relax Gaming and Yggdrasil. Conveniently, minimum deposit limits for most methods like Interac are C$10.

Party Casino

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With being on the market since 1997, Party Casino boasts not only a range of reputable licences, such as Kahnawake, but also outstanding gambling awards, including EGR Casino of the Year 2017 and EGR Safer Gambling Operator of the Year 2020. Android and iOS users can enjoy the site by using a convenient app or log in through the mobile browser.

Leon Casino

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Since 2007, Leon Casino has been entertaining players with its massive gambling catalogue of 4,500+ games. Kahnawake and Curacao licences combine to control the site’s security, while honours like the Best User Experience Awards 2023 show that players can trust the site. In addition, players can enjoy convenient navigation, free spins, fast payments, and helpful support.

Future Prospects of Canadian Online Gambling

Future Prospects of Canadian Online Gambling

Now, we are pleased to provide our insights on the future prospects of online gambling in Canada:

Increased Competition

Competition drives innovation, with operators seeking to differentiate themselves through new technologies, features, and products.

Once this cycle begins, it reinforces itself. Increased competition creates a market with a wider variety of games, lower minimum bets, and greater accessibility, making gambling more appealing to casual players. This leads to more people trying online gambling, which further fuels the growth of the industry.

Mobile Gambling

The growing popularity of mobile gambling is changing the landscape as we know it. For one, operators will be compelled to invest in mobile technology. The mobile-first approach will also lead to changes in the way that online gambling is marketed and promoted. For example, operators may focus more on mobile-specific promotions and bonuses to attract and retain players.

AI is also poised to make an impact. More specifically, it's going to bring more personalized gaming experiences and improved security measures. Plus, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide 24/7 customer support will improve customer satisfaction.

Expansion of Online Sports Betting

With the legalization of sports betting in Canada, we're seeing a greater variety of corresponding options for gamblers. Besides, the influx of new gamblers who haven't previously been interested in online gambling is a sizeable market by itself.

The expansion of online sports betting also comes with increased collaboration between operators and sports leagues and teams. This can be beneficial for both operators and players. For instance, operators will get more recognition from sports broadcasts and other media, while players will get exclusive promotions and bonuses.

Sports Betting in Canada

Sports Betting in Canada

With the recent legalization of single-event sports betting, the industry is poised for significant growth and transformation. But first things first: how has sports betting evolved in Canada? Let's consider the history and the evolving landscape of sports betting.

History of Sports Betting in Canada

Sports betting in Canada dates back to the early 1900s, which is when horse racing was the most popular sport. However, sports betting was largely illegal and unregulated until the 1970s, so all the wagers were placed in secret shops or among acquaintances. But then, the Canadian government allowed provinces to operate sports lotteries.

The first government-run sports gambling organization came about in 1975 in Quebec, and it allowed people to bet on football games. Other provinces followed suit and began to offer their own sports lotteries.

In the 1990s, the Canadian government began to take a more active role in regulating sports betting, and in 2018, the Canadian government warmed up to the idea of legalizing single-event sports wagering.

Current State of Sports Betting in Canada

The current state of Canadian betting sites is in flux because the country is adjusting to new legislation. Prior to that, sports betting was largely limited to government-run lotteries and offshore online sportsbooks. Currently, each province has its own regulations for sports betting, and some provinces have more extensive options than others.

Legalization of Single-Game Sports Betting in Canada

In June 2021, Parliament passed a law legalizing single-game sports betting. It's called Bill C-218, or the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act.

The new law allows for single-game bets on a variety of sports and events, including professional and college sports leagues, as well as individual games. The most notable examples of the latter are the Olympics and the World Cup.

Impact of Legalization on the Canadian Sports Betting Market

We are certain that this is not only one of the most progressive gambling laws in Canada but also one of the most important. We expect that it will have a significant impact on the sports betting industry and generate substantial revenue for the government.

Our analysis suggests that the implementation of this new law will create numerous new job opportunities in the industry (take OLG, for example) while also redirecting revenue from offshore sportsbooks and illegal gambling operations back into the Canadian economy. The potential for increased revenue and job creation has already led to an influx of investment. The funds are coming in from licensed operators and technology companies that are eager to capitalize on this new opportunity.

Our team at Casino Canada believes that the amended law will also benefit Canadian consumers. They are enjoying a safer and more secure betting experience, free from the risks associated with unregulated and illegal betting activities.

Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling in Canada

While gambling can be a fun and entertaining activity for many, it can also be a source of addiction and harm to others. In this section, let's talk about the issue of gambling addiction and examine the various measures to promote safe and responsible practices.

Overview of Gambling Addiction in Canada

Gambling addiction involves a strong and persistent urge to gamble. If not addressed, it can lead to serious financial, emotional, and psychological problems for individuals and even their families.

At a glance:

Who's more at risk? Men are more prone to struggling with gambling addiction (Addict Behav Rep., 2016, Gender differences in felt stigma and barriers to help-seeking for problem gambling, NIH NLM).
How many people develop gambling-related problems? Although it only affects a small percentage of the population, more than 300,000 Canadians are at a moderate-to-severe risk of developing gambling-related problems (Rotermann and Gilmour, 2019, Who gambles and who experiences gambling problems in Canada, Statistics Canada).
Does income affect the risk factor? People from lower-income households are less likely to gamble than those from higher-income households. However, those from lower-income backgrounds are more vulnerable to addictive behaviours (Rotermann and Gilmour, 2019, Who gambles and who experiences gambling problems in Canada, Statistics Canada).
How to make the experience safer? Engaging in a wide variety of gambling activities increases the risk. It's better to stick to a lower variety (Gainsbury, Russell, Blaszczynski, Hing, 2015, Greater involvement and diversity of Internet gambling as a risk factor for problem gambling, European Journal of Public Health).

Responsible Gambling programs in Canada

Responsible gambling programs are very important for promoting safe and responsible practices. While you can search for independent non-profits, like St. Leonard's Community Services, there are many affiliated ones. Here are a few programs run by the major gaming commissions in Canada:

These programs aim to balance the economic benefits of gambling with the potential risks. The overall goal is to ensure that the gaming industry operates in a socially responsible manner.

Support for Individuals with Gambling Addiction

Some individuals may be able to stop gambling on their own. Still, many require support to overcome their addiction successfully:

  • Counselling or therapy to identify the underlying reasons for addiction and manage cravings and triggers
  • Support groups to provide individuals with a sense of community and accountability
  • Family and social support to provide a source of encouragement and motivation
  • Financial counselling to develop a plan to pay off debts
  • Medical or psychiatric treatment to treat co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Lifestyle changes to replace their excessive behaviours with healthier activities

By taking a holistic approach that addresses both the addiction and the underlying issues, individuals can achieve lasting recovery.

Future Prospects for Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling in Canada

Future Prospects for Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling in Canada

Our opinion at Casino Canada is that officials are likely to continue implementing various harm reduction measures in the future. These measures will be designed to promote healthy behaviour and reduce the risks associated with gambling. A few examples are self-exclusion programs, mandatory breaks, and limit-setting tools.

Our analysis also suggests that campaigns aimed at raising public awareness will be important moving forward. This will involve using various channels to disseminate information about the risks of gambling and strategies for managing them effectively.

We anticipate that the use of technology will play a bigger role. For example, mobile apps that offer self-assessment tools and budgeting tips can help with supporting healthy behaviour. Data analytics and artificial intelligence will help identify individuals who are at risk of developing gambling problems.

Gender-Specific Data

Finally, as with many industries, gender plays a significant role. Historically, gambling has been seen as a male-dominated activity, but the gap is closing now. Many stakeholders are seeking to better understand the habits and preferences of different genders, which explains the plethora of data available. Let's dive in.

👫 Male vs Female Gambling Market Stats in Canada

Statistics Canada confirms that men are still more likely to gamble than women — 68.8% of men and 60.4% of women reported gambling in the last year. This difference persists across:

  • age groups (the highest percentage in 45-65 years with 76% men and 68% women),
  • marital status (73% and 61% of those married or in common law relationships),
  • household income (the highest 20% of income is divided as 71% men and 67% women),
  • as well as sexual orientation, racial group, indigenous identity, and immigrant status.

Interestingly, the lowest 20% income band has a 50/50 division in terms of men and women who've participated in gambling in the last year.

💁‍♀️ Favourite Female iGaming Games

Women tend to have their own preferences when it comes to choosing a game. They are more likely to enjoy games of chance, such as slots, bingo, and lotteries. This may be due in part to the fact that these games are generally seen as more social than traditional casino games. They may be more appealing to women who don't feel as comfortable in a male-dominated gambling environment.

Additionally, as many women are beginners, they tend to enjoy the simplicity of these games.

Important note: While statistics have shown that women are more likely to enjoy games of chance, it doesn't mean that they don't also enjoy games that involve skill. The data are simply a reflection of overall trends and preferences in the gambling industry. Every individual, regardless of gender, has their own unique tastes and preferences when it comes to the choice of games.

💁‍♂️ Favourite Male iGaming Games

Men tend to gravitate towards games that require more skill and strategy — poker, blackjack, and sports betting. These games provide a challenge that many men find appealing and can be seen as a way to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise. Additionally, men tend to be more involved in the sports culture, even outside of the betting world.

Again, these are generalizations, and individual preferences may vary.

In Conclusion

We at Casino Canada believe that the Canadian gambling market continues to be a significant player in the entertainment industry, with billions of dollars in revenue generated annually. We're seeing new opportunities for growth and innovation thanks to the rise of online gambling and sports betting. Moreover, the legalization measures have been some of the most important factors contributing to the market's popularity.

One key area we want to highlight is concerns over players' safety and making responsible gambling a growing priority for the industry. But this is another positive side of legalization — increased support and programs aimed at minimizing the potential harms of gambling.

Looking ahead, we anticipate that the market is poised for even further growth, and it's exciting to see what factors will shape the future of the industry. In the meantime, stakeholders and policymakers must remain vigilant, ensuring that the Canadian gambling market remains a safe, enjoyable, and responsible source of entertainment.

Dmitry Rogalchuk
With over 5 years of experience in iGaming, Dmitry Rogalchuk leads a content team at CasinoCanada, ensuring that every article on the CasinoCanada website is informative and engaging for our readers.
Head of Content
The University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia & McGill University degrees, strategic marketing & content leadership expertise, sales strategies development
Expert in:
  • Content Management
  • Latest News in iGaming
  • Gambling Industry Knowledge
Last updated on: 19.03.2024

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