Industry Reports

Gambling Canada: Where we are

We’ve seen some interim and provincial reports come out on schedule, but early March is when the bulk of financial information for the previous year becomes available to analysts, stockholders, and the general public in digestible form to varying degrees.

While most of us can simply watch or read the news and get a feeling for the state of the industry, there are others whose business depends on where we’re at and where we’re headed. They follow the numbers and trends more closely.

Analysts Canada casino

If your gut tells you that gambling in the country is a growing industry, you are spot on with that feeling. It’s hard for anyone to miss the stories of Great Canadian Gaming’s coup in winning contracts for casinos that were once run by the OLG and other provincial entities.

The provincial lotteries and Crown Corporations are also doing well in the online end of the business, all in all, with a downward blip in one sector or another here or there.

When all things are equal or favorable in the present, we can take a look at the past to divine, with some level of certainty, what the future will bring.

Professional analysts do it with exacting tools and techniques from data mining to artificial intelligence, but we can come to some of the same conclusions anecdotally simply by looking around us at our friends and workmate’s attitudes toward gambling and by looking at charts.

If we want more precise information we can back up our observations with more precise details.

If you are one of the more than a quarter million people who work in the industry here, of course, you want to know if your job is secure and if there may be room for advancement.

From what we’ve been able to gather, you, or someone you know who works in the industry will probably have job security for the foreseeable future. However, revenues do jump around quite a bit on the land-based end. Mergers and acquisitions, renovations, and a host of other things in addition to the general economy come into play.

For a closer look to back up some of the year on year numbers, Fantini Research breaks the revenues down into segments in their annual Canada Revenue Report.

Look for a new issue in late March or early April this year.

Another good source of information is the Canadian Gaming Association.

A slider graphic on the association’s home page gives us the following, backed up by Statistics Canada, HRT Advisory, and Ipsos surveys and polling to name a few sources:

Wages earned indirectly or directly = $12.5 billion

Gaming revenues outpaced the combined economic impact of the following combined – Movie rentals, books, magazines, and newspapers, drinking places, spectator sports, movie theaters, and performing arts.

Casino Canada revenues

Of the $16 billion in gaming revenues gained in a year, more than half goes to governments and charities with nearly 47% of that returned to provinces, municipalities, and First Nations.

When asked whether they would accept or reject a new casino in their communities, over 70% gave a positive response, while the balance said they would reject or were unsure

When asked whether existing casinos in their communities had created a net negative or net positive impact, nearly 70% answered in the affirmative while about 13% of the people surveyed felt that casinos had a negative impact.

When we look at the numbers BCC is reporting, we see that not only is the online sector growing at a healthy rate, but broader trends are entering into the numbers. Mobile gaming is becoming more and more popular as can be seen in the record gross win for interactive gambling using mobile devices.

I think it’s safe to say we can see these numbers growing without them cannibalizing the land casino industry. Destination travel, entertainment, and big investments in modernizing many facilities in the coming years will ensure that land casino industry stays vibrant and robust.

According to CBC News, Alberta’s revenues have increased for the first time since 2015 with a $4m uptick in 2018, mostly due to VLTs.

The Calgary Herald recently reported that Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) is actively seeking a contractor to run the province’s proposed online gaming portal.

While the move would almost certainly help keep the AGLC’s $1.4b stream of gaming revenue preserved, it is also hoped the site will promote healthy gambling behaviour and educate consumers.

Whether the conclusion is arrived at anecdotally, through cursory research, or by a deep analysis – it seems the economic impact, overall positive perception, governments desire to capture and protect revenues, and Canadians’ appetites to gamble responsibly all point toward a sustainable growing gambling industry at home.