Pandemic Affects Casinos, But Not Lotteries in British Columbia

There is no change in the proportion of residents who bought a lottery ticket over the past 12 months.

Vancouver, BC [November 13, 2020] – While most British Columbians continue to buy lottery tickets in the province, the number of casino visitors has greatly decreased on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of British Columbians, almost three-in-five residents (58%, unchanged since a similar Research Co. poll conducted last year) purchased a lottery ticket over the past 12 months.

British Columbians aged 55 and over are more likely to have bought a lottery ticket (76%) than those aged 35-to-54 (58%) and those aged 18-to-34 (35%). 

Just over half of lottery ticket buyers in the province (51%) say they do not expect to win any prize, up 10 points since 2019. Just over three-in-ten (31%, -7) foresee winning a small prize, while 18% (-3) believe they will win a big prize,

Since March, all casinos in British Columbia have been closed following a directive issued by the Attorney General. Only 20% of British Columbians say they have attended a casino over the past 12 months, down from 36% who reported the same behavior in 2019.

More than half of British Columbians (56%, -5) believe casinos bring tourism dollars and create jobs in the province, while 31% (+4) think these venues increase gambling addiction and lead to more crime and traffic.

“All of the casino visits reported by British Columbians took place in the final two months of 2019 and the first two and a half months of 2020,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “In spite of the evident effect of the pandemic on casino visits, the only type of gambling that has seen a slight increase in users is the website.”

Across the province, 22% of residents say they have visited, up three points since 2019. British Columbians aged 35-to-54 are more likely to be doing this (25%) than those aged 55 and over (22%) and those aged 18-to-34 (19%).

More than two-in-five British Columbians (45%, -3) bought a Scratch & Win ticket over the past 12 months—a proportion that rises to 54% on Vancouver Island and 52% in Northern BC.

As was the case last year, fewer British Columbians relied on for other forms of gambling: playing poker (or other card games) online (9%, -3), placing bets on a sporting event with a friend or relative (8%, -2), through SportsAction (7%, -2) or on a horse race (4%, -1).

Across the province, seven-in-ten British Columbians (71%, +4) think it is the right of the individual to gamble, regardless of the consequences.

In addition, 86% of residents (-2) believe people will continue to find ways to gamble even if it was made illegal, and 64% (-3) want the government to do more to deal with the negative effects of gambling.

Results are based on an online study conducted from October 29 to October 31, 2020, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.