How Much Do Ontario Residents in Canada Spend on Gambling?

Gambling is both legal and popular in Canada. While the COVID-19 pandemic hit land-based casinos severely, they have mostly recovered across all provinces, but the trend of online gambling is slowly overtaking them. 

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As of writing this, Canada ranks eighth in the world in terms of people’s gambling expenditures. The country has over 19.3 million active online gamblers, spends over $4 billion on offshore gambling annually, and generates $16 billion from local casinos.

But how about gambling in Ontario? The East-Central province is famous for its casinos, but is gambling there that much more widespread than in the rest of the country? How much do Ontario residents spend on gambling, how much of it is online, how much is in person, and what are some of the other relevant statistics you should know? Let’s find out!

How Much Do Ontario Residents Spend on Gambling as a Whole?

The percentage of Ontarians who regularly spend money on gambling is not much different from the country’s averages. As of the end of 2022, about 7.13 million Ontarians aged 15 or older reported gambling regularly, for a total percentage of 62.2% (67.2% for men and 57.5% for women). That is compared to Quebec’s 69% and 50% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Of course, reports vary depending on which study or survey you are looking at, when it was made, what it included, and so on. However, according to most sources, Ontario’s numbers are more or less on par with the rest of the country. 

Another thing worth noting is that while 62.2% might seem like a very high percentage of the population, in most cases, people are betting recreationally and with small sums. According to most studies – which have remained quite consistent on this issue over the past several decades – only about 2% of Ontarians have actual gambling problems or addictions. Therefore, even though more than half of Ontarians engage in gambling activities such as lotteries, sports betting, or iGaming, very few of them experience any financial problems as a result.

According to reports, only about 3% of people spend more than $100 a month on any type of gambling. Another 14% say they spend between $20 and $100, and the remaining 43% say they spend between $1 and $20. This makes for an average of $6.75 spent on gambling per month per person. What’s more, these numbers are consistent across all provinces.

Expenditure of Ontario Residents on Land-Based Casinos

As of the end of 2023, Ontario has 28 official casinos and over 70 gaming establishments. Across all of them, there are over 23,750 slot machines. That’s more than a third of the 67,000 or so slot machines in Canada as a whole. For reference, Alberta and British Columbia have about 13,700 slot machines each. 

This makes it seem like Ontario residents spend much more time gambling in land-based casinos than other Canadians. However, the clientele of many of those casinos tends to be Americans and other tourists, evidenced by the fact that most Ontarians do not spend more than $6.50 to $7 a month on gambling. 

Overall, while the province is moving quickly toward online gambling, brick-and-mortar casinos are still quite common and popular in Ontario, especially among tourists. 

How Much Do Ontarians Spend on Online Gambling?

Ontario was the first Canadian province to launch a regulated iGaming market in 2022. Of course, sports betting and other forms of online gambling existed before that. However, since the launch of the new iGaming Ontario (iGO) market, the numbers just keep rising. 

Sports betting is still immensely popular in the province, as it was before 2022, but horseracing betting, for example, is much more prevalent in Ontario than it is in other provinces ($832 million in annual revenue in 2019 compared to Alberta’s $106 million and British Columbia’s $142 million). 

Ever since the launch of the iGO market, however, other forms of online gambling have been overperforming significantly. As of the end of Q3 2023, the revenue of the iGO market was $1.4 billion, with 78% of that generated by online casinos. The other 22% was shared between poker and sports betting. Those numbers, however, exclude revenues from the Ontario Lottery.

Overall, the sheer convenience of online gambling is convincing many Ontarians to either make the switch from land-based casinos to online ones, or (in the majority of cases) it’s just attracting new players. Not only is online gambling easier to get into, but it requires no commuting, is private, and is available 24/7. The sheer variety offered by online casino games, like those found on the regulated casinos listed here, is also unparalleled compared to even the best brick-and-mortar casinos. 

The Gambling Situation

There seem to be two ways to look at “the gambling situation” in Ontario. On one hand, about 73% of people surveyed in Ontario and across Canada as a whole believe that problems related to gambling are worsening. On the other hand, the percentage of people with actual gambling problems has stayed rather consistent at around 2% over the years. Therefore, even though approximately 62.2% of Ontarians are engaging in gambling activities, the average expenditure per person remains around $6 to $7 a month – hardly a problem of epidemic proportions.

Kellee Maize Team

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