Global Pandemic Has Lead to Online Gambling Surge According to Recent Quebec Study

Global Pandemic Has Lead to Online Gambling Surge According to Recent Quebec Study

The Covid-19 pandemic took a devasting toll on many industries while leaving others relatively unscathed. The travel and tourism industries took significant hits due to travel and border restrictions, with many countries enforcing individuals to isolate and remain home. As a result, the internet trade saw increased demand for online services such as shopping, streaming and even online gambling. 

Lockdown enforcement saw numerous land-based gambling venues such as casinos, bingo halls, horseracing tracks, and betting shops forced to close. This shift within the gambling landscape saw experienced and novice players alike flock to online platforms, causing an uptick in gambling activities in Quebec, Canada according to a study completed by researchers from Concordia University.

Unsurprisingly, a number of gamblers who would usually enjoy their hobby at a brick and mortar casino shifted to the online counterpart when Covid-19 was at its peak. Moreover, this trying period also saw an increase in newcomer bettors signing up with operators offering sportsbook and online casino services. Many providers used this deluge of users to their advantage by offering some of the best exclusive no deposit bonuses for Canadians – both to Quebecois as well as those residing in other provinces.

Quebec Study  

The study provided insights into the exponential rise of online gambling activities during the first full year of the pandemic between, 2020 and 2021 in Quebec. Originally conducted in 2021, the study included over 4,500 Quebecers participants who were asked to detail their gambling behaviors during the first full year of the pandemic.

The results indicated a dramatic increase in online gambling activities during the pandemic, according to Concordia professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Research Chair on Gambling, Sylvia Kairouz. While the industry boom was partly due to gamblers looking to online platforms to satisfy their cravings due to the closure of land-based activities.

The study also revealed that the pandemic brought along a wave of new users, dipping their toes into the industry, with sports betting in particular appearing as a popular choice for gamblers. According to Kairouz, changes to the law in Canada allowing people to bet on individual games and elements such as player performance played a role in the uptake of sports betting. 

The undeniable convenience and accessibility of gambling via laptop or mobile phone saw 4 out of ten respondents admit they gambled at least once a week. Additionally, an alarming discovery was made when 3 out of ten respondents confirmed they gambled several times a week. This was due to a number of factors including feeling lonely, bored or isolated during the pandemic. 

Around 20% of the participants stated that they gambled because they wished to increase their income during the tumultuous Covid-19 period, while only 13% said they gambled less during the pandemic. 

The Prevalence of Advertising  

The study also acknowledged an increase in the number of online gambling advertisements during the first year of the pandemic with 88% of gamblers stating that they saw or heard these types of adverts and noticed them more throughout this period. Additionally, another 20% stated that their gambling habits were influenced by advertisements actively pushing people to online gambling websites and sports betting during those 12 months.

Calls for Regulations 

 The increase in gambling activities also brought about unsurprisingly an uptick in self-reported gambling-related issues. The study revealed 10 times more people engaged in self-reporting due to issues related to gambling. In fact, Kairouz stated that the rate of self-reported gambling-related issues skyrocketed to 16% in 2021 in comparison to 1.6% in 2018. Anne Elizabeth Lapointe, executive director of the Maison Jean Lapointe, a semi-private non-profit organization that treats people with addictions, including gambling addiction, stated that she was not surprised by those findings. She confirmed that the situation has changed dramatically since the start of the pandemic with nine out of every 10 people getting treatment there for online gambling struggles. 

The study shed a devastating light on the ongoing issues of problem gambling prompting both  Kairouz and Lapointe to call for more regulations to protect Quebecois. Both stressed the importance of imposing conditions to aid gamblers who may be struggling and limiting the number of advertisements they are exposed to. 

Who knows, it could be time for Canada to follow in Belgium’s footsteps, which made the move to ban gambling advertising across all platforms earlier this month. 

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