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Canadians expected to wager $210 million on the NHL playoffs

by Responsible Gambling Council | Apr 14, 2014 08:00 AM

18 per cent of adult population intends to place a bet

April 14, 2014 (Toronto, ON) – With the Stanley Cup playoffs looming, a new survey from the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) shows that Canada’s national pastime is fertile ground for Canadians looking to gamble.

Canadians are expected to wager $210 million on the grueling two-month hockey tournament with 18 per cent of the adult population intending to place a bet.

How people plan to bet on hockey this spring

Respondents were asked how they plan to bet during the upcoming NHL playoffs. Here were their responses:

  • Participate in a hockey pool (9 per cent)
  • Bet with friends (6 per cent)
  • Buy sports-based lottery tickets, such as PRO•LINE (5 per cent)
  • Bet online (3 per cent)
  • Bet with a bookie (1 per cent)

Hockey and football: a tale of two countries

Over the last year, NHL hockey was the most popular sport to bet on, with 12 per cent of Canadians reporting they placed a bet. NFL football came in a close second among Canadian sports gamblers at nine per cent. This is in stark contrast to our American neighbours where football is by far the most popular sport to bet on.

Rounding out the Canadian findings for the last 12 months were the Sochi Winter Olympics and the CFL, both at five per cent, Major League Baseball (4 per cent) and NCAA basketball (3 per cent).

The Responsible Gambling Council’s take on all this betting

“Betting on sports is pretty common, and it’s no surprise that hockey is a favourite for Canadians,” says Jon Kelly, CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council. “As we head into the NHL playoffs, we should all remember that it is a type of gambling, and so comes with risks.” In fact, the survey found that eight per cent of Canadians know someone they think might have a problem with sports betting.

More young adults bet on hockey

Betting on hockey is most popular for Canadians aged 18 to 34, with 27 per cent saying they plan to bet on this year’s NHL playoffs. “Research has consistently shown,” Kelly notes, “not only that sports betters tend to be younger, but also that young adults have the highest risk of developing gambling problems.”

Chasing losses

Chasing losses, or gambling more to win back what you lost, is a key sign of a gambling problem. When asked if they have ever kept betting to try to recoup what they lost almost two-in-10 (18 per cent) of the 18 to 34 year-old group said yes. This number is significantly higher than the national average of 12 per cent. For those who believe they can win back losses by betting more, the consequences can be financially and emotionally devastating.

If you or someone you know is chasing losses, it may be time to take a reality check. For information go to stopthechase.ca.


These are some of the findings of poll conducted between March 3 to 7, 2014 on behalf of the Responsible Gambling Council. For this survey, a sample of 1,012 Canadians were surveyed via Ipsos' Canadian online panel. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had Canadian adults in the general population been surveyed. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About RGC

The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to problem gambling prevention. RGC works to reduce gambling risks by creating and delivering innovative awareness and information programs. It also promotes the adoption of improved play safeguards through best practices research, standards development and accreditation. RCG is committed to bringing together all perspectives in the reduction of gambling problems, including those of people with firsthand experience with gambling problems, gaming providers, regulators, policy makers and treatment professionals.

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Terance Brouse
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