What distinguishes Canada’s high-staking gamblers from the rest?
June 7th, 2023, Oliver Rowe

What distinguishes Canada’s high-staking gamblers from the rest?

Gamblers who stake more than $500 each month make up a fair slice of all monthly gamblers in Canada (excluding lottery-only players) at 15%. In this piece, we examine who these ‘high-staking bettors’ are, their betting preferences and what motivations fuel their betting behaviour.

The demographics

Relative to Canadian gamblers who stake lower amounts each month, the high-staking bettors tend to be more male (64% of high stakers vs 58% of lower stakers) but are a significantly younger cohort with those aged 18-44 making up 66% of the high-staking cohort, but only 45% of lower staking gamblers. Income data though shows very little difference between high and low staking gamblers.

What do they bet on?

High-staking bettors are more likely than lower staking bettors to have bet on every online game type from sports to bingo, in the past month, except lottery. Over a third (36%) of higher stakers have played online slots versus 32% of lower stakers, but the gap is wider when it comes to casino table/card games (28% vs 17%), poker (25% vs 16%), and skill games (22% vs 9%). However the numbers are much closer for both online sports betting (22% vs 21%) and bingo/keno (15% vs 13%).

The story is similar for offline betting where lower stakers only over index for lottery and scratchcards, plus these is little difference when it comes to slots (29% vs 26%).

Which online bookmakers do they use, and how to they select one?

Looking at the online betting sites they use, the most used site is bet365 where 13% of higher stakers say they used it in the past week compared with 9% of lower stakers. When we look across the other major brands we find that the higher stakers over-index on nearly all, except Loto-Quebec. The next top brands for higher stakers are FanDuel (8% vs 4%), DraftKings (8% vs 4%), BetMGM (7% vs 4%), and Jackpot City (7% vs 6%). Almost a quarter of the lower spenders (23%) don’t have an online account.

When it comes to how these high and low stakers pick an online betting provider, having the best odds is the top answer for higher stakers (30% vs 24%) while having an easy to use website/app which is second for higher stakers but top for lower stakers (28% vs 34%). Higher stakers over index the most for wanting a wide selection of slots/games (27% vs 22%), having a wide range of different gambling types available (22% vs 15%) and the best selection of matches/event/sports to bet on (21% vs 14%).

Which sports do they bet on?

High-stakes bettors are more likely to have bet on almost every sport in the past year than lower staking bettors except for hockey (23% vs 26%) and football (NFL/CFL/NCAA) (18% vs 21%).

Sports that strongly over index among higher stakers include Aussie Rules, skiing, speed skating, rugby league and handball but these all draw in low engagement with no more than 6% of higher stakers betting on them. 12% bet on esports dropping to 5% among lower stakers, similar proportions to tennis, boxing and golf.

What fuels their betting choices?

Just under half of high-staking bettors say they only use betting sites that offer loyalty schemes (46%), significantly higher than the third of lower staking bettors (34%). But the attraction towards loyalty schemes does not keep high spenders tethered to one bookmaker – half of them agree they “like to try new gambling/betting sites that I’ve not come across before” (48% vs 29%) and 34% agree they use “specialised websites to get the best odds” compared with only 24% of lower stakers. Generally these are much lower proportions than we see in more mature markets such as the UK and Australia.

High stakers are though no more likely to be tempted by a free bet than lower stakers, with 51% agreeing they look out special promotions offering free bets compared with 48% of lower stakers.

Methodology: Data is taken from YouGov’s Global Gambling Profiles tool which interviewed a representative sample of 1,830 regular gamblers across January, February and March 2023. Fieldwork was completed online and all respondents are members of YouGov’s Canadian panel of survey respondents.