Who Gambles in Canada? Gambling Stats By Income!

It wasn’t that long ago that we featured an article here at Don’t Quit Your Day Job about gambling in America.  Knowing that 5.566% of our visitors are Canadian (for the record, 70.175% of visits originate from America and .474% are unknown), I figured we should shine our flashlight on the Land of the Loonie.

(For the uninitiated, that’s the currency, not a comment on our northern pals).

Self-Reported Gambling Stats

When we did the American stats, you recall we had single digit participation rates since I was only tracking gambling and lottery winners who reported gambling earnings on their tax returns.  The Canadian statistics are self reported (and the information is compiled by Statistics Canada), and the latest data I could find is from 2009.  The result?  Participation rates well into the double digits.  The only caveat is that Canada actually doesn’t require lottery winners to declare lottery winnings as income – which probably has some behavioral effects not mirrored in Canada’s southern neighbor.  Still, demographically similar Canada (similar to the United States, that is) also seems to show that the label “poor man’s tax” is a misnomer:

Once again, even with a different methodology, we see that gambling is a hobby enjoyed more by the more well off income brackets versus the lower income households.

So now you’ve seen it from two angles – reported income in America, and reported behavior in Canada.  I’ll see if I can dig up some more data on the US side of the border – and please weigh in with anything you can find in the comments!

Readers, do you gamble?  Are you Canadian?  Even if the answer to both questions is no, weigh in in the comments!


  1. says

    Is this just people buying lottery tickets (not gambling at the Casino)?  For the record, I am Canadian and do NOT buy lottery tickets.  Interesting that it is not a tax on the poor, but maybe it’s a tax on the stupid?

    • says

      I think it’s all activities – I don’t know what you all have up there, but some labels are:

      Slot Machines

      • freeby50 says

         Table 4 in the source document also breaks it down into the different categories.  So we can see the numbers specific to ‘government lotteries’, ‘other lotteries, raffles’, ‘casino, slots, VLT’ and ‘bingo’.

        Apparently 58% of all households play the government lottery in Canada and the % rates go up with income. 

        • says

          Yeah – the more I look at the stats in the two countries, the less I like the phrase “poor man’s tax”.

  2. freeby50 says

    If the winnings are tax free then that makes a pretty big difference in the payouts.   I would guess that detail alone could lead to more gambling in Canada compared to the US.

    • says

      Yeah, I agree – but the numbers aren’t directly comparable anyway. The US numbers are “tax returns with reported gambling winnings” while the Canada numbers are “self reported numbers”. I’m not sure it 100% proves it, but our theory about most gambling winnings going unreported seems pretty strong, haha!

  3. freeby50 says

    Where did you get the numbers in the table exactly?   I don’t see those numbers in the report exactly.  Table 5 of the report breaks down the gambling $ and % figures but those don’t match your chart exactly.  

  4. says

    If it includes all forms of gambling, my take is that less affluent people tend to buy lottery tickets and play VLTs, while more affluent people tend to go to the Casino to play poker, blackjack, craps.