In 2020, the world faced a global COVID-19 pandemic which impacted all industries around the world. The hospitality and entertainment sector was also not missed with pandemic restrictions enforcing temporary closures for different types of venues, including gambling and betting outlets.
Now, a new report shares invaluable insight into how the pandemic changed the online gambling sector in Quebec, Canada, which has seen exponential growth recently. The study completed by researchers from Concordia University reveals that for the first full year of the pandemic, between 2020 and 2021, online gambling activities in Quebec increased exponentially.
Overall, 4,500 Quebecers participated in the study that was conducted in 2021 and released only recently. The respondents were asked to share details about their gambling behavior for the last 12 months or the first full year of the pandemic. Sylvia Kairouz, a Concordia professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Research Chair on Gambling, explained that the study uncovered a staggering increase in online gambling activities during the pandemic.
Online Gambling Is Easy to Reach
Not unexpectedly, some of the gamblers that enjoyed land-based activities switched to online gambling when the pandemic hit. However, during the pandemic, there were many new users that engaged in sports betting, as well as online gambling, the new study found.
Keeping in mind the convenience of gambling via a laptop or a mobile phone, four out of 10 respondents admitted they gambled at least once a week. What’s more concerning is that three out of 10 respondents confirmed they gambled several times a week.
The increase in online gambling was the result of multiple factors that were combined. Respondents in the study that increased their gambling admitted that they felt lonely, bored or felt isolated. Some 20% of the participants admitted that they gambled because they wanted to make money, while only 13% said they gambled less during the pandemic.
“There is a push from operators and gambling providers towards sports betting because regulations in Canada have changed.“
Sylvia Kairouz, Concordia professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Research Chair on Gambling
At the same time, the new report revealed that an increase in advertising was observed. This helped push further people to online gambling websites and into sports betting, an activity that has been growing exponentially in Canada, as well as the US.
Besides an uptick in gambling activities, the new study uncovered an increase in self-reported gambling-related issues. Kairouz said that 10 times more people, who gambled online, engaged in self-reporting due to issues related to gambling. She pointed out that the rate of self-reported gambling-related issues was 1.6% in 2018 and skyrocketed to 16% in 2021.