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Why is the Betting Industry Taking Off in Canada?

Canada is not the first destination many would consider for casinos and gambling activity. Most people may quickly consider the United States, Macau, or Italy as preferred destinations because these countries have made their gambling industries profitable and attractive. However, Canada is a top contender despite its moderately timid reputation as a haven for gamblers.

Canada’s federal Criminal Code somewhat prohibits gambling in the country. According to federal law, it is illegal for anyone to operate a betting house or be found in one. However, the law grants provinces the right to manage gambling regulations and issue operating licenses. This means gambling is only allowed if a provincial government says so, and the casino adheres to all stipulated rules and regulations. For instance, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission restricts gambling service providers to religious and charitable organizations. On the other hand, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is a lot less restrictive and allows both land-based and online casinos to operate with fewer constraints.

Canada’s gambling industry has experienced significant growth in recent years. For instance, studies show that the average Canadian spends $6.75 monthly on gambling. In addition, the number of casinos nearly doubled from 78 to 147 between 2002 and 2018. Furthermore, Canada generated $2.64 billion in gambling revenue in 2021. Estimates suggest the industry is worth $12 billion and could cross $50 billion over the next ten years.

Several factors contribute to the recorded growth in Canada’s gambling industry. A major one is the gradually easing legislation. For instance, Canada’s federal government passed the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill C-218) in 2021. The bill amended the Criminal Code and removed restrictions preventing people from betting on “any race or fight, or on a single sport event or athletic contest.”

The Canadian government likely introduced and passed Bill C-218 to keep gambling money in the country. Before the bill, many international casinos and gambling providers generated a lot of revenue from Canadian gamblers who were allowed to play without restrictions. The government was aware of this and may have introduced the bill to support local gambling operations and allow players to enjoy betting on sports and local gaming events.

Since Bill C-218 is still relatively new, an accurate forecast of its effects on single sporting events or gambling in general might be tricky. However, Canada could see a considerable boost in gambling revenue as a large chunk of the estimated $10 billion spent on illegal single sport wagers could legally enter official coffers.

Canada’s relatively stable economy is another reason behind the sector’s growth. With a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2 trillion, Canada is the world’s eighth-largest economy. The country owes a lot of its economic growth to multiple factors, including a well-developed service sector and abundant natural resources. Canada is one of the world’s biggest oil producers and was the fourth-largest in 2022, producing more than 3.2 million barrels per day in 2022. In the fourth quarter of 2022, household disposable income rose 3%. Overall, Canada’s economic stability suggests that residents can afford a gambling budget after essential expenses. Unsurprisingly, many studies claim that 75% of all adult Canadians have already spent some money on gambling at least once in their lives.

Canada is also experiencing quite a boom in gambling action because of its online gambling industry. Although international online casinos have been popular among gamblers in Canada for many years, local brands are picking up. More than 19.3 million Canadian gamblers now play actively online, generating revenue of over $1.2 billion in 2021. These online gamblers spend over $4 billion on external online casinos yearly.

Online casinos are easy to access and very convenient. As the industry grows, tech innovation has ensured that gamblers can enjoy betting at some of the newest sites in Canada, with multiple deposit and withdrawal options, great bonuses, and live event streaming. This ease has earned Canada the eighth spot among countries that spend the most money on online gambling. Overall, the iGaming industry in Canada has grown so much that the market projection for 2023 is more than US$840 billion. There also is a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.75% between 2023 and 2027. In 2022, 26.45% of gambling revenue in Canada came from the iGaming sector.

As long as a budding gambling industry exists in Canada, the resultant economic value to playing in online and offline casinos would likely continue to keep the industry afloat. According to the Canadian Gaming Association, the Canadian gambling industry generated $17.1 billion in 2017, including about $1 billion in non-gaming income from entertainment, retail, food, and beverage expenses. The Association also revealed that the sector is responsible for more than $14.6 billion in annual purchases of goods and services. In addition, the industry directly supports more than 180,000 jobs, with $65,000 as the average salary. 

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