For centuries gambling has been a popular pastime, but in the past couple of decades its growth has been unparalleled. Since the turn of the millennium, Europe has been leading the way when it comes to gambling growth.

However, in recent years North America has begun to catch up as strict gambling laws have been relaxed, allowing the industry to flourish. Whilst the United States as the home to the gambling hub of Las Vegas may steal all the headlines, Canada has more right to call itself the home of gambling in North America.

Read on to find out how and why the Canadian gambling industry is flourishing and why the future is bright for the industry.

Canadian Gambling: The Current State of Play

Las Vegas may post the biggest gambling revenues of any city in North America, but Canadian cities like Quebec and Montreal are not far behind. In the last financial year Quebec’s casino’s posted combined revenues of $963.7 million with Montreal posting similar figures.

However, land-based casinos are no longer the driving force of the gambling industry here in Canada or indeed, anywhere else in the world. The online sector is now one of the major revenue drivers in the Canadian gambling market.

Last year Canada’s total gambling revenues were $2.65 billion and over $1.2 billion of that revenue came from the online sector. However, according to a government survey over $1 billion of potential revenues is being lost by the Canadian gambling industry each year.

The reason for this is the government’s bizarre and confusing stance on online gambling. By law every online gambling provider in Canada must be licensed or run by the provincial government.

As a result of this, the Canadian online gambling market is not nearly as diverse as it should be, causing many players to register with foreign providers for better deals, offers and variety.

If the government were to adopt the same approach as their British counterparts, gambling in this country could well be posting annual revenues closer to $4 billion.

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According to industry statistics, Canadians are spending less money with land-based casinos year on year. Photo: Illustration/Pixabay

Canadian Gambling Habits

Whilst the amount of money leaving the country through online gambling may be startling, it is important to remember that despite this, gambling in Canada is still in pretty good shape.

Per capita Canadians spent $824.68 a year on gambling, which is significantly more than gamblers in the UK and the US. What is more interesting than how much Canadians are spending on gambling is how they are spending their cash.

Money spent in land-based casinos is dropping and was falling even before the chaotic events of 2020 began. Almost all of Canada’s super casinos have been reporting decreases in revenues and profits in recent years as more and more people opt to gamble online.

Alberta provides the perfect example of this trend in action. The latest gambling statistics in the province showed a 24% decrease in land-based casino revenues from 2018 to 2019.

Rather than providing their land-based casinos with a financial stimulus, the Provincial government decided to open their own online casino to fill the void in revenues. Albertan politicians and lawmakers recognised that gamblers in the province were more likely to spend their time gambling with on an online live casino platform than at the table in a land-based casino. This is due to the increase in popularity of online casinos in the country, with more Canadians opting for this method due to the availability and convenience of an online casino site.

What Does the Future Hold For Canadian Gambling?

As has already been discussed, current trends in gambling both here in Canada and across the world highlight the publics desire to gamble online rather than in land-based casinos. Currently the Canadian government is looking to take advantage of this by stepping up their plans to open more provincially licensed online casinos.

However, there are limitations to this approach and as such many are calling for a relaxation on the laws surrounding online gambling in the country. The UK – one of the world’s leading online gambling markets – is often cited as an example of how Canada could run its own gambling industry.

Whilst strict licensing laws regulate the British industry, there are no restrictions on how many companies can offer their services to British gamblers. As a result, British gamblers are spoiled for choice and have no need to seek out offshore providers.

Whilst replicating this approach would be unquestionably beneficial to the Canadian government in reclaiming the 1 billion gambling dollars leaving the country each year, there are no plans afoot to do so. Until then, Canada will continue to not realise its full gambling potential.

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