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Canada’s Gaming Market - Stats and Facts

Canada’s history of gambling is older than Canada itself. In this article, we’ll look at Canada’s love obsession with gaming and give you all the information you need to succeed in the market. 

Prior to the last ice age, inhabitants of the land played a game of sticks and dice called Slahal. The game was not only entertainment but also an important social, spiritual and cultural phenomenon. European settlers later strongly condemned gambling, as dice games were illegal under British public law.

Today, Canadians still love to gamble, the only difference being that new technology has made it much easier. 

There are almost 20 million active Canadian players in online casinos, making Canada the 8th most popular country in the online gambling popularity ranking. According to a Canadian Gaming Association report, the industry provides 135,000 full-time jobs and is worth over $15 billion. Alongside this, gambling revenues totalling $9 billion are annually allocated to finance government and public programs and services.

Lotteries are the most popular form of gambling for Canadians. Canada had approximately 37.59 million inhabitants in 2019 and almost 19 million lottery participants in 2020. The second most popular games are lottery draws (raffles) and scratch cards. 

Casinos are also very popular in Canada, both offline and online. 3.5% of all gambling Canadians play card games, and 3.5% bet on horse racing. Sports betting is also popular.

Online casinos have significantly overtaken physical casinos since 2020, although experts say that even before the pandemic, the revenue of offline establishments was rapidly falling. Based on statistics from the province of Alberta, land-based casino revenues fell 24% in 2018-2019 alone. As a result, the provincial government quickly launched its own online casino to make up for the income shortfall. After that, all other provinces followed Alberta’s example. 

Demographics

Gaming is popular with both sexes in Canada, with 57% of men and 43% of women being regular players. It is interesting to note that female players are slightly more likely to use mobile devices than male players. Here the percentage is 55% and 45%, respectively. As for age, everything is predictable here: people from 18 to 34 years old are more interested in online gambling, this age group makes up 16% of all gamblers. The rest of the age groups are presented in single digits.

It’s important to note that Canada has two official languages: English and French. The latter is most common in the province of Quebec, whose largest city is Montreal with a population of 1.9 million. They take the language seriously and in a French-speaking environment, people do not like to communicate in English. This is worth considering if you are going to promote your offers in the French-speaking provinces.

The capital of Canada is Ottawa, however, with a population of fewer than 1 million people (934 thousand), it often gets overlooked. Toronto and Ontario meanwhile are the most populated cities, with over 15 million people combined. 

Vancouver is one of the most high-tech and developed cities. It is a large city located on the Pacific coast in the province of British Columbia and has a population of 600 thousand inhabitants.

How much revenue does the industry generate?

In 2020, Canada’s gambling revenue was $2.66 billion, of which $1.2 billion came from the online industry. Although at first glance the amount looks impressive, experts argue that the lion’s share of income is simply lost due to a complex regulatory mechanism. 

By law, every online gambling provider in Canada is required to obtain a license from the provincial government in order for its residents to gamble legally. This prevents more widespread online gambling in Canada, which is actively and profitably used by many casinos registered offshore.

According to experts, Canadians’ income from online gambling could grow to $4 billion a year if they resorted to the British model of casino regulation, where everything is much simpler. When it comes to spending, Canadians are quite generous and spend significantly more on online casinos than UK and US players. On average, each player replenishes his deposit by $ 824.68 per year.

The legality of online gambling in Canada

For the most part, all gambling is legal for Canadians. Special regulations apply to online gambling since each province has its own laws. To operate legally, a Canadian online casino must apply for a license from the local government in each province. Today, in theory, it is possible to obtain a legal online casino license in every province except Saskatchewan.

In practice, online gambling licenses can only be obtained in the following provinces: British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Without a special license, online casino sites can only operate locally. You can play outside the borders of your province only if there is a special agreement between the local authorities of specific provinces.

Unlicensed offshore providers fall into a grey area and can operate more or less freely in the country. The fact is that Canadian criminal law can only punish illegal activities in offline casinos. That is, if your casino is not physically located in Canada, you are essentially not liable under Canadian law. Interestingly, unlicensed online casinos are officially banned in Canada, but Canadians themselves are not prohibited from playing in offshore online casinos.

Industry Development Forecast

Due to the spread of COVID-19, physical casinos are being closed in Canada, as in other countries and the trend of going online already looks irreversible. However, it is worth noting that the trend towards the transition to online appeared several years before the pandemic, at least in gambling. Fast, cheap and accessible mobile internet has made online gambling the preferred option for Canadians.

For those who miss the atmosphere of real casinos, technology now enables players to play with a real dealer via video streaming services. VR is still in its infancy, but it is already proving popular and it looks like more and more VR technologies will be introduced into online casino games in the near future.

The Bottom Line

Canada has an ace gaming market and it’s a great place to target if you want to find dedicated players. There are lots of different gaming offers available through our platform, and you’ll be sure to find players in Canada’s vibrant gaming scene.

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