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Perspectives on Labour and Income


May 2007

  • Net revenue from government-run lotteries, video lottery terminals (VLTs), and casinos rose from $2.7 billion in 1992 to 13.3 billion in 2006.1
  • Net revenue from pari-mutuel betting (horse racing) dropped from $532 million to $387 million over the same period (1992 to 2006).
  • In 2006, lotteries accounted for 25% of all net non-charity gambling revenue, casinos 33%, VLTs 23%, and slot machines not in casinos 19%.
  • Average gambling revenue per person 18 and over in 2005 ranged from $111 in the three territories to $750 in Alberta, with a national average of $513.2
  • Compared with workers in non-gambling industries, those in gambling were more likely to be women (54% versus 47%), paid by the hour (79% versus 65%), and paid less ($18 hourly versus $20) and receiving tips at their job (30% versus 7%).
  • Employment in the gambling industry rose from 11,000 in 1992 to 40,000 in 2006.
  • One in seven women and men living alone reported spending money on casinos, slot machines or VLTs; however, the men spent more than three times as much as the women-$1,396 compared with $434.3
  • Gambling participation and expenditure rates increased with household income. For example, 57% of households with incomes of less than $20,000 gambled in 2005 and spent an average of $491, while equivalent figures for those with incomes of $80,000 or more were 75% and $618.

Table and charts

Net revenue from government-run gambling has increased steadily

Gambling revenues and profits

Characteristics of workers

Gambling outpaced other industries

Characteristics of jobs

Household expenditures on gambling activities

Household expenditure on all gambling activities by income groups, 2005

Data sources and definitions

Labour Force Survey: a monthly household survey that collects information on labour market activity, including detailed occupational and industrial classifications, from all persons 15 years and over.

National Accounts: The quarterly Income and Expenditure Accounts (IEA) is one of several programs constituting the System of National Accounts. The IEA produces detailed annual and quarterly income and expenditure accounts for all sectors of the Canadian economy, namely households, businesses, governments and non-residents.

Survey of Household Spending (SHS): an annual survey that began in 1997 and replaced the Family Expenditure Survey and the Household Facilities and Equipment Survey. The SHS collects data on expenditures, income, household facilities and equipment, and other characteristics of families and individuals living in private households.

Gambling industries: This industry group covers establishments primarily engaged in operating gambling facilities, such as casinos, bingo halls and video gaming terminals; or providing gambling services, such as lotteries and off-track betting. It excludes horse race tracks and hotels, bars and restaurants that have casinos or gambling machines on the premises.

Gambling profit: net income from provincial and territorial government-run lotteries, casinos and VLTs, after prizes and winnings, operating expenses (including wages and salaries), payments to the federal government and other overhead costs are deducted.

Gambling revenue: all money wagered on provincial and territorial government-run lotteries, casinos and VLTs, less prizes and winnings. Gambling revenue generated by and for charities and on Indian reserves is excluded.

Government casino: a government-regulated commercial casino. Permits, licences and regulations for casinos, both charity and government, vary by province. Government casinos, now permitted in several provinces, also vary by the degree of public and private involvement in their operations and management. Some government casinos are run entirely as Crown corporations, while others contract some operations-for example, maintenance, management or services-to the private sector.

Video lottery terminal (VLT): a coin-operated, free-standing, electronic game of chance. Winnings are paid out through receipts that are turned in for cash, as opposed to cash payments from slot machines. Such terminals are regulated by provincial lottery corporations.


  1. Refers to total money wagered on non-charity lotteries, casinos and VLTs, minus prizes and winnings.

  2. Survey of Household Spending (SHS) and National Accounts rankings of provincial expenditures differ, in part because the SHS includes both charity and non-charity gambling activity.

  3. The expenditure figures are not adjusted for any winnings. As well, households consistently under-report the amount of money they spend on gambling. Comparisons with Lottery Corporation figures, for example, have shown that households under-report their government lottery purchases by more than 50%.

Gambling PDF

For further information on any of these data, contact Katherine Marshall, Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at 613-951-6890 or

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