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Alberta Gamblers Biggest Spenders in Canada

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Sep/28/2008
Alberta, Canada

Alberta is widely considered one of the strongest economies in all of Canada, supported by a burgeoning petroleum and tech industry. The per capita GDP in 2007 was by far the highest of any province in Canada at C$74,825. This was 61% higher than the national average of C$46,441 and more than twice that of some of the Atlantic provinces.

Maybe it's the lure of Lady Luck or a byproduct of living in an oil-rich province -- Albertans are gambling their wages more than ever at racetracks, casinos and video lottery terminals, reports Tamara Gignac of the Calgary Herald.

A new Statistics Canada report shows gambling revenues in Canada soared to $13.6 billion in 2007 -- a five fold increase from $2.7 billion in 1992.

Nowhere is that spike more evident than in Alberta. Gamblers here spend an average of $890 a year on everything from scratch tickets to bingo cards, the highest amount in the country and well above the national average of $524.

The findings are indicative of changing demographics and the fact Albertans have higher disposable incomes than gamblers in other parts of Canada, provincial gaming officials said Friday.


"We have a lot of young people working at high-paying jobs and they might choose to spend their evening in a casino or playing VLTs as part of their night's entertainment rather than go bar hopping," said Wes Bellmore, a spokesman for the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission.

"You have the exposure in the province and you have the money."

The influx of young men to Alberta -- lured by oilpatch-related jobs -- is likely a contributor to the spike in gambling spending, Bellmore added.

Calgary is also one of the most gambling-friendly cities in all the country, home to 7 of Alberta's more than 25 casinos.

Interestingly enough, Alberta defies the odds when it comes to gambling, according to the Calgary Sun report.

On the surface, a spike in spending on gambling-related activities would seem to lead to gambling addiction when in fact the opposite is true, according to recent findings from the Alberta Gaming Research Institute.

In 2002, provincial gaming officials put the number of problem gamblers at about five per cent. Today that number is closer to 3.5 per cent.

"Despite the fact that revenues are going up, problem gambling rates have stabilized and have actually gone down a bit," said Robert Williams, a co-ordinator with the Lethbridge-based institute.

Alberta, Canada is also home to the Gambling911.com website, which provides news and information related to the world of gambling odds and prediction markets, much of which is political, financial and sports oriented. (see Gambling911.com profiled on Alberta television)

This month, Gambling911.com began investing heavily in covering the hockey betting market. Along with the casino games and lotteries, Alberta residents love their hockey teams (they have two of them) and they love to bet on the games as well.

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Ean Lamb, Gambling911.com

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