The world was confronted with a global COVID-19 epidemic in 2020. It impacted all industries. Pandemic restrictions enforced temporary closures of different venues. This included gambling and betting outlets.
A new report provides valuable insight into the impact of the pandemic on the Canadian online gambling industry. This sector has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Concordia University researchers found that online gambling in Quebec increased exponentially during the first year of the pandemic. This was between 2020 and 2021.
The study, which was completed in 2021 and published only recently, involved 4,500 Quebecers. Respondents were asked to provide details about their gambling habits over the past 12 months, or the first year of the pandemic. Sylvia Kairouz (Concordia professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Research Chair on Gambling) explained that there was a dramatic increase in online gambling during the pandemic.
It’s easy to play online gambling
Some gamblers who used to gamble on land were forced to switch to online gambling after the pandemic. The new study revealed that there were many people who gambled online during the pandemic.
Four out of 10 respondents said they gambled at most once per week, keeping in mind that it is easy to play on a computer or mobile phone. It is even more alarming that three of the 10 respondents said they gambled multiple times per week.
Multiple factors combined led to an increase in online gambling. The study found that those who gambled more often felt lonely, bored, or isolated. A quarter of participants said that they gamble because they want to make money. Only 13% admitted that they gambled less during this pandemic.
Operators and gambling providers are pushing towards sports betting, as Canada’s regulations have changed.
Sylvia Kairouz is a Concordia professor in Sociology and Anthropology and holds the Research Chair on Gambling.
The new report also revealed an increase in advertising. This made it easier for people to access online gambling sites and sports betting. The activity has been increasing exponentially in Canada as well as the US.
The new study found an increase in self-reported gambling issues. Kairouz stated that online gamblers reported 10 times more gambling-related issues than those who did not gamble. She noted that self-reported gambling-related problems rose to 16% in 2021 from 1.6% in 2018.