Casinos still growing, but lottery, video lottery and horse racing revenues are down

Revenues from government-sponsored gambling in Canada dropped for the first time in 16 years in 2008.

Lotteries, video lotteries and horse racing generated US$13.6 billion last year, down about 7 percent from 2007, according to Statistics Canada.

Henry Pold, senior analyst with Statistics Canada, told Canadian Press that results have varied according to sector. “Casinos are still showing increases. It’s VLTs that have dropped off the last few years. Slot machines are still climbing, but lotteries have been flat for a long time now.”

Bill Rutsey, president of the Canadian Gaming Association, a casino industry trade group, said it’s not surprising that some forms of gambling are declining.

“We’re in a recession. There are hard times in a lot of industries. No industry is completely immune to what’s going on from a global perspective. To see some pullback in some areas of spending, I don’t think that’s totally unexpected.”

Saskatchewan generated the highest average gambling loss per person in 2008 ($825), followed by Alberta and Manitoba.

“The economies in some provinces are doing well so people have a bit more money to spend on frivolous things,” said Pold.

Statistics Canada found 34 percent of the nation’s households with incomes of less than $20,000 gambled and spent an average of $678 last year. While 58 percent of households earning $80,000 or more gambled and spent almost $800.