Canadians spend up to $400M a year; Users access computer servers based in foreign jurisdictions or on Mohawk reserve
Young adults — a key growth sector for Canada's gambling industry — are very interested in such "technology driven" options as online gambling, which is not yet legal in Canada, an industry conference heard yesterday.
Citing a national survey, pollster Allan Gregg told the 2008 Canadian Gaming Summit under way in Montreal that one-third of Canadians say they are gambling less than they did three years ago, while those under 35 years of age are more likely to be gambling more.
"Unfortunately for lottery jurisdictions in Canada, this younger group favors the technology driven gambling options of the future," the chairman of Harris/Decima told about 200 conference participants.
Online sports betting and Web-based poker games are considered acceptable forms of gambling by 56 percent of those 18 to 34 years of age, according to a recent survey of 3,047 Canadians.
Only 20 per cent of those over 55 years of age and only 35 per cent of those over 35 favored online sports betting, Gregg said.
Younger people were also more supportive of interactive online lottery games, buying lottery tickets via a mobile device or playing casino games for money via in-home televisions, according to the 2008 National Gambling Report, which Gregg presented yesterday.
Although current laws prohibit most forms of electronic or Internet gambling in Canada, Canadians spend an estimated $300 million to $400 million a year on online gambling by accessing computer servers based in foreign jurisdictions or on the Mohawk reserve of Kahnawake, Paul Burns, vice-president of the Canadian Gaming Association, said in an interview.
The Mohawk council contends that it has a sovereign right to allow and regulate the computer servers on the reserve that play host to an array of gambling sites.
The council-run Mohawk Internet Technologies is considered one of the global hubs of Internet gambling.
Neither the provincial nor federal governments have forced the issue, apparently fearing confrontation with the Mohawks.
Canada's legal gaming industry — operated by provincial corporations such as Loto-Québec — provides direct employment to almost 136,000 Canadians, according to a study by the Canadian Gaming Association.
The recently released study pegged total revenue from industry activities — including casinos, lotteries, VLTs and pari-mutuel gambling — at just over $15.3 billion in 2006. Governments and charities received almost $8.7 billion of those revenues.
The gambling conference and trade show, expected to draw about 1,200 participants from across North America, wraps up tomorrow.