In recent years, Canadians have wholeheartedly embraced the entertainment options and convenience offered by online casinos.
With public interest growing, local governments took notice—and soon, a new online market called iGaming Ontario launched in Ontario.
Thanks to this official backing, the internet gambling industry has seen massive growth in the last few years. In this article, we’ll look at how many Canadians gamble and how much money the market generates today.
We’ll also review trend forecasts to track whether Canada’s gambling industry is expected to continue its meteoric rise in the future.
Online casinos were first launched in 1994, and the industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the intervening decades. While online gambling attracted the attention of Ontario residents early on, the Canadian Criminal Code initially prohibited locals from enjoying it.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation launched the first online casino in the country in 2010. Under the Canadian Criminal Code, a provincial government could legalize gambling; however, the casino would be restricted to players physically located in the province.
With the immense popularity of Canada’s first online casino and the gradual opening of the market to other providers, web-based casinos spread to other provinces. In particular, Ontario has become a leader in adopting legislation to encourage industry growth.
By the end of 2022, 19.3 million Canadians were actively playing casino games like poker online. In the same year, Canadian gamblers generated more than $3.15 billion in online revenue. Ontario was responsible for most of these gains, recording over $1 billion in internet-based gambling revenue.
Brick-and-mortar casinos have been under mounting pressure thanks to the rampant growth of online gambling. With the combined effects of extreme industry competition and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, these establishments are now pulling out all the stops to attract players to their casinos in person.
Canada’s nearly 90 traditional casinos work hard to incentivize visitors by offering spectacular live shows, unique eateries, and many other entertainment mediums. However, despite these attractions, traditional casinos’ revenue has fallen by more than 24% over the last five years.
Despite fewer people walking through the doors, these casinos still do an excellent job of boosting Canada’s gambling revenue. Alongside lotteries, casinos brought in more than $9 billion in 2021.
Before the pandemic hit global markets, the combined earnings from all forms of gambling in Canada reached $14.97 billion in 2019. After an expected dip in earnings, revenue from online and in-person gambling has been on the rise again since 2023, with the ARPU (average revenue per user) recorded at $220.
In Canada, winners are lucky enough to be exempt from paying taxes on their casino winnings unless they are registered as professional gamblers or they start generating interest from their winnings.
However, gambling operators are not exempt from taxes and must pay hefty amounts to local governments to maintain their licenses. Although exact figures are hard to come by, Ontario charges an annual tax rate of 20%. This is relatively favorable to operators and has been one of the reasons why the province has attracted so many new gambling providers.
Like all markets, the gambling industry’s outlook depends on many external factors, including global economic changes, local costs of living, and individual earnings. All these factors affect the amount of disposable income gamblers are willing to spend.
However, with the support of bodies like iGaming Ontario, industry experts expect the local market, particularly the online gambling sector, to show healthy growth in the coming years. In 2024, the online market alone is expected to reach $4.19 billion in revenue, while the number of players gambling online is forecast to grow to 20.7 million users. Earnings are predicted to increase by 6.84% by 2028, equating to a total online industry revenue of $5.46 billion.
As physical casinos continue to step up their game to bring players through their doors, they are also expected to increase their revenues in the coming years. Overall, the gambling industries in Ontario and Canada appear to have a very bright future for players and casinos alike.