By now, it’s no secret that online casinos are king in Ontario. But what does a key 20-something demographic think? PlayCanada asked three young bettors from Toronto.
The latest revenue numbers from both iGaming Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission are undeniable that online casinos dominate digital gaming in the province But, based on a PlayCanada analysis from earlier this year, published right around the one-year anniversary of regulation, the idea that online casinos rule didn’t exactly ring true for the group of four 20-somethings we spoke to.
Then again, my fellow 20-somethings just love to be different for no rhyme or reason.
Seven months have passed since then, and plenty has changed. So, we thought to give it another shot by bringing in a second group of Gen Z bettors.
Here’s what the trio had to say about their dealings with Ontario online casinos.
Interest blossomed in pre-regulation era
Like many Ontarians, regardless of age, online casino games caught the attention of Callum Stevenson, Dean Roy, and Dave Jones well before the regulated market officially opened.
According to Stevenson, his interest was born out of curiosity more than anything else. Roy’s interest, on the other hand, emerged as a result of environment.
“They were big back when I was in university,” said Roy. “Almost everyone I knew, mostly males, had some sort of offshore account.”
Roy’s recount touches on a key point brought up by last year’s group about social gatherings being conducive to betting activity. Whether it’s at a friend’s house on the weekend or inside a university house with five people, it seems that setting bears significant influence over the wagering habits of 20-somethings.
This was something Jones, whose interest also grew while living in this type of environment, noticed himself. Having played online through grey-market sites, Jones mentioned that when precautions like improved player protection and operator accountability became points of emphasis, the move to a regulated operator was a no-brainer.
“I used to play online casino games before everything opened up, just like everybody else did, but when the legal market opened it just made sense to switch over for all the same reasons.”
Three things 20-somethings look for in a legal wagering site
Being the picky bunch we are, what is it that a group of 20-somethings look for in an online casino?
1. A tried and true experience
According to Roy, three things constitute a genuine tried and true experience: brand familiarity, a user-friendly layout, and his friends’ seal of approval.
“I lean towards the more established sites like FanDuel and bet365, which I find are the easiest to navigate,” said Roy. “All of my buddies are on those sites, so it’s fun to ride some of the boosts they offer and make some cash as a group.”
In true 20-something form, Roy always wants to see his friends succeed.
2. The best promos
After several years of friendship, it’s not surprising to see Stevenson and Roy thinking alike.
Stevenson unwittingly drove home Roy’s point about boosts when sharing what he looks for in an online casino.
“I also look around for the best promos,” he said. “Last year FanDuel had some really nice super boosts, so that’s how I picked that site. They also give you a free $5 every Friday to use on the casino, and that’s something that keeps me going back to them.”
Stevenson, who also plays with BetMGM Ontario online casino and PointsBet Ontario online casino, mentioned these sites also offer strong promotions and bonuses. This is something he said holds great sway when determining which operator to roll with.
3. Deposit and withdrawal flexibility
Keeping up with Stevenson, we learned that an operator’s deposit and withdrawal system carries weight in the selection process. Even something as simple as having the option to move money through his preferred payment method goes a long way.
“The apps I like make it very easy to deposit and withdraw money,” he said. “I like to be able to do it through e-transfer and not deal with any bank statements or long waits.”
Stevenson continued by saying this flexibility enhances the overall experience with a particular platform because there’s no concern for unnecessary headaches caused by finicky payment options.
It may not seem like it, but we still have an eye for the little things.
Discussing the relationship between online casino and sports betting
The group we interviewed in April made it abundantly clear that sports betting is their preferred route.
So, Stevenson, Roy and Jones were asked to break down how they view online casinos in relation to sports wagering. The results showed more of the same.
Jones, who ball-parked his split between the two “95-5” in favour of sports betting, said on occasion he’ll use the online casino to fund his sports betting bankroll.
“Casino is a lot quicker than waiting for a sports bet to finish, so I will sometimes play a roulette hand to double my money and then put together a parlay with any winnings.”
He continued by saying this isn’t a strategy he’d widely recommend, especially without setting a limit on the casino side. But, it’s one he’s seen fairly often and feels comfortable using at times to aid his background in sports.
Both Stevenson and Roy categorized their split 90-10 towards sports betting. The pair also said they use casino winnings to fund their sports betting endeavours.
The former feels he has better odds wagering on sports and that’s why he directs his funds there. The latter, another knowledgeable sports fan, views the general act of wagering in a different light altogether.
“I don’t view gambling as a way to make funds or money to put towards anything,” said Roy. “I just do it to aid in my viewing experience and add another element to the game.”
When presented with numbers showing that online casinos generate more than double the revenue sports betting does in Ontario, all three took pause before responding with some variation of “I had no idea.”
Final words of advice from one 20-something to another
Our second group of conscientious 20-somethings were asked what kind of advice they’d offer new bettors. Each of them came up with something a little different.
Jones stressed the importance of coming in with a plan and sticking to it throughout the gambling session.
“Just understand that it can become problematic if you don’t take precautions,” Jones said. “Obviously, that applies to a lot of things but just like any other similar activity, set limits early and keep tabs as you go.”
Stevenson’s response included three separate lessons that, together, have served him well along the way.
“My advice to anyone getting into gambling is to keep track of your total deposits and withdrawals, explore your options to take advantage of the best promos, and don’t let your emotions make the bets.”
Roy capped off the round of free advice, explaining his relationship with gambling in a way most can relate.
“I look at my gambling allowance as entertainment,” he said. “It’s the same as going to a bar or the movies, or whatever I’m doing on a night where I’m spending money on myself.
“Just be smart about it. Don’t wager any money you can’t afford to spend or wouldn’t spend on yourself otherwise.”
Some wise words from a group of young men who are still two years removed from being old enough to rent a car.