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Over 300k Canadians are Prone to Problem Gambling, Finds Study

At the end of last week, Statistic Canada released its new study on gambling behaviour, which came with some slightly concerning news for Canadians. The research discovered that more than 300,000 residents of the country are at severe or moderate risk of developing gambling-related problems. This study was conducted in 2018 and its findings were released last week to the public.

The research is named the 2018 Canadian Community Health Survey, Gambling Rapid Response, and it was officially published last week. It features interviews from over 26,000 participants which are designed for long-term research. The authors of the study believe that it would provide a major baseline and enable monitoring of changes in the industry.

Males are More Likely to Gamble

On Friday, Michelle Rotermann, co-author of the report and senior analyst at the Health Analysis Division of Statistics Canada, noted that changes in the industry after 2018 could lead to an even higher percentage of problem gambling in the country. However, she believes that the findings from the study could provide a solid baseline for long-term research and find changes after 2018.

The study discovered that gambling is more dominant among middle-aged Canadians between the age of 45 to 64 in comparison to other ages. This demographic is 72.3% more like to gamblers in the past year. However, when it comes to why more males suffer from gambling addiction than females the study does not find a concrete reason as to why men develop them more.

Some of the reasons for that may include marketing stigma and lack of social acceptance of gambling by women in the past. Ms. Rotermann added that one more reason for it could be drug and alcohol use, which is more common among men. Female gamblers are fonder of instant lottery tickets or online games than males. However, lottery and raffles were both popular for both male and female respondents in the study.

Also, the researchers discovered that men are three times more likely to place a sports wager and twice likely to place a bet at a casino table than women. The study predicted that sports betting could gain momentum in the industry due to the numerous new developments. And in that case, it advises a priority for both research and policy to determine if the increase in interest in such offerings has a correlation to the emergence of gambling problems.

Increase in Availability is a Factor

Valerie Di Gregorio, manager of Counselling and Treatment at CMHA Thames Valley Addiction & Mental Health Services, London, said that the modernization of the industry and increase of accessibility is also major factor in problem gambling. For instance, last summer, the federal government introduced single-event betting and this April Ontario started its own online and private iGaming and sports wagering market.

According to research by Deloitte, after the legalization of single-event wagering in the country, a projected CA$14 billion of bets would transfer from offshore markets to the legal sectors. The study from last year finds that 84% of the ardent bettors would definitely or probably play other casino games through sports-betting websites.

Source: Zaidi, Deena “300,000 Canadians at ‘severe’ or ‘moderate’ risk of gambling problems”, CTV News, August 12, 2022