THIS IS WHY MORE PEOPLE ARE GAMBLING IN ONTARIO THAN EVER BEFORE
In early September I opened my first online gambling account. The experience started off wonderful. I was gifted 100 dollars in on-app credit and it seemed all my sports bets were ‘hitting’; that is, they were making me money.
This ‘honeymoon’ sports gambling phase culminated with me hitting a rather sizable bet towards mid-October. However, after this initial success, it seems I have been on an all-time sports gambling losing streak. I’ve been so bad that I recently decided to stop sports gambling altogether— a decision I found to be distressingly difficult.
When I reflect on it, it’s clear what happened to me after I made my account. I was hooked in by the financial credits and the early success — so hooked that any decision to stop had no appeal. Why would I stop something that’s both entertaining and (sometimes) making me money?
The interesting dimension of my situation is that – among Ontarians – it isn’t an uncommon experience.
In June of 2021, Canada’s federal government passed Bill C-218 — the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act. Essentially, this bill removed Canada’s federal ban on single-event sports betting; a move which made both same-game bets and future bets legal. And while sports betting has always been legal in some capacity in Canada, single-event betting had always been criminal.
For anyone uneducated in sports gambling parlance, there is some language which should be explained. A same-game bet is when a bettor bets on something that will happen during a game, and a future bet is betting on something that will happen outright in the future. For example, a future bet could be betting 50 dollars that Buffalo Bills will win the Super Bowl — a bet I certainly made and recently lost in heartbreaking fashion.
Nevertheless, this move by the Canadian Federal government green-lit the introduction of numerous online sports betting websites in Ontario. In fact, there are now a staggering 27 online sportsbooks which have all been licensed to operate in Ontario.
A combination of both these newly relaxed laws and ready access to online sportsbooks seems to have paved the way for some concern. According to a report by iGaming Ontario (a government agency which monitors gambling in the province), Ontario users placed a cumulative 457 million dollars on online bets between October 1st and December 31st, 2022. This number is notable because it represents a 71% increase in activity over the previous quarter.
This increase is indicative of an unsurprising trend — people like to gamble.
When Ontario had relaxed its laws and licensed more gambling companies, this increase in gambling was inevitable. However, this rapid growth of gambling over the past year in Ontario is itself concerning.
People have criticized Canada’s decision to legalize single-event betting on account of it potentially contributing to a rise in gambling addictions. And while statistics of this nature have yet to be released, I can’t help but feel that the accessibility of gambling will certainly make Canadians more prone to gambling addictions.
I think back to my recent and limited experience with online gambling. Had Bill C-218 never been passed, I probably would have never made an online gambling account. And if I had never made a gambling account, I never would have lost money.
Personally, I would have been better off without it.
This is not to say that people should avoid sports gambling. If users can maintain a healthy relationship with their gambling, then it has the potential to enhance their sports-viewing experiences. However, people should be aware that these new laws could make it easier to develop some unhealthy gambling tendencies.