In comparison to the UK, Australia, and its neighboring USA, Canada’s gaming habits are unusual. Despite a buoyant land-based industry with at least six major establishments in Calgary and Edmonton, including the long-running Palace Casino in the latter, gambling in the country is more of a prospect than an established industry, with the average gamer playing less than once a month according to June 2016 numbers from Statista.
It looks to be a temporary situation though; the gaming market in the country grew consistently year-on-year from 2012 to 2015, for a total size of just over US$6m. It’s just a drop in the ocean compared to the UK’s £13.8bn (US$17.7bn) industry but the growth of the online sector, more commonly known as iGaming, along with all the accessibility that comes with mobile play, is improving access to games like roulette, poker, and blackjack.
Given the vast distances between many casinos and their potential clientele in Canada, online play is a necessary development – there’s not much native to the vicinity of Cornwall at all, with the combined entertainments venue of Rideau Carlton Raceway in Gloucester (95km), the Casino du Lac-Leamy (108km) over the Ontario/Quebec border, and the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino (15km) beyond the St. Lawrence River about the only gaming houses nearby.
Some of the more popular online brands in the country include Casumo and LeoVegas. To attract players, the former makes use of bonuses like its daily Reel Races, which pits players against each other to see who can win the most from 180 spins, while LeoVegas boasts some of the best slots online (370 of them), including Mega Moolah, a game that paid out almost US$17m to a British soldier recently, a record-breaking sum.
For a first timer, it can be a bit of a chore to sort through all the marketing and promotions so it’s always worth visiting a comparison website to eliminate a lot of the uncertainty. It can make the difference between a $2,000 welcome bonus and a $100 one. Most websites give out free spins on a variety of slot games regardless though. For instance, Party Casino gives Canadian players 50 free goes on its popular Aztec Gold slot when they sign up.
But, accepting the fact that casino is a growing industry in Canada, who is actually logging on to a website or making the trip to Gloucester for the real thing? Increasingly, online players are millennials, with the number of young Canadians playing for money doubling from just 18% of the 18-34 demographic to 32% by 2014. There’s also a fairly even gender split in the country, although men of all ages are more likely to play offline.
The economics of playing at a land-based casino are interesting too. Representing something of a night out for the average Canadian, players spend a median of fifty Canadian dollars per trip on games like blackjack, poker, slots, and roulette – and are just as happy to dip into their pockets for live entertainment at a casino too; again, spending CA$50 per trip on tickets for bands, comedians, and similar acts.
All in all, it’s hard to see the casino industry in Canada trending anywhere but upwards as the end of the decade looms.