Statistics Canada
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Monday, August 8, 2005

SPOTLIGHT: Gambling

Upping the ante

THE GAMBLING industry in Canada is getting bigger and bigger, and continues to be extremely profitable for governments, according to the latest figures.

In 2004, Canadians wagered an estimated $12.4 billion on some form of government-run gambling activity. This was 4.5 times the level of $2.7 billion in 1992 and nearly double the $6.8 billion wagered in 1997.

Lotteries accounted for 25% of all net non-charity gambling revenue, casinos 33%, video lottery terminals (VLTs) 23% and slot machines not in casinos, 19%.

In 1992, casinos and VLTs combined represented just 10% of all government gambling revenue.

The surge in the gambling industry began during the 1990s when provincial governments began legalizing permanent casinos and VLTs.

In 2003, around three-quarters of Canadians aged 18 and over reported that they had spent money gambling in the previous year. On average, each spent $477 on gambling, ranging from a low of $101 in the three territories to $647 in Saskatchewan.

Economic output

The growth in gambling revenue has been reflected in the steep increase in economic output and employment in the industry, both of which have far out-paced non-gambling industries.

Between 1992 and 2004, gross domestic product in the gambling industry rose five-fold, while it barely doubled in non-gambling industries. At the same time, employment in gambling more than quadrupled.

With the increase in revenue, profits for provincial governments have also soared. Furthermore, gambling profits as a proportion of total government revenue also jumped.

In 2004, provincial governments made $5.0 billion from gambling, compared with only $3.8 billion in 1997 and $1.7 billion in 1992.

Nationally, gambling profits represented 5.6% of total government revenue in 2003, compared with only 1.9% in 1992. The share was higher than the national average in 2003 in four provinces - Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Alberta recorded the largest growth in gambling profits, while Saskatchewan had the biggest increase in proportion of total revenue.

Between 1992 and 2003, profits from gambling increased 10 times in Alberta to just under $1.3 billion. In 1992, these profits accounted for only 1.6% of Alberta's total revenue. By 2003, this proportion had jumped to 6.9%.

In Saskatchewan, gambling profits accounted for 6.5% of total revenue in 2003, up from only 1.1%.

In Ontario, gambling profits surpassed the $2.0-billion mark in 2003.

Older, better educated

In 2004, the industry employed an estimated 52,000 men and women, compared with 30,000 in 1997.

These workers appeared to be getting older on average, and better educated. Just over one-half were aged 35 and over in 2004, compared with only 42% in 1992. About 17% had a university degree.

Women occupied 51% of jobs in gambling, compared with 47% of jobs in non-gambling industries.

With tips included, the average hourly wage rate of full-time workers was just short of that in other industries. For example, men in full-time gambling jobs earned an average of $20.22 an hour in 2004, slightly less than the average of $21.10 in non-gambling jobs.

For more information, contact Media Relations at (613) 951-4636.

See also  
Majority of households gambled
Fact sheet on gambling (PDF, 120kb)