Survey Of Maru Panelists Reveals Poor Feelings About Online Sports Betting

Written By Matthew Lomon on April 1, 2024
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International market research firm Maru recently surveyed 1,534 of its Canadian panelists to gauge their feelings toward online sports betting. The results, which went public on March 27, revealed this sample of Canucks isn’t too keen on the sector.

Posed with a variety of questions from advertising volume to government oversight and everything in between, the group wasn’t shy in sharing distaste for the current state of Canadian online sports betting. According to the survey, the majority of Canadians believe the online wagering industry is due for a major overhaul.

Before divulging the results, however, it should be noted that the pool of 1,500-plus had ties to Maru coming in. So, the results reflect only those that are already actively engaging with Maru Voice Canada panelists, not a random sample of the entire population.

The results were analyzed by Maru Voice Canada “data collection experts” on Feb. 7 and 8, 2024.

A probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

For context, Maru Voice Canada is a space where interested citizens can sign up to participate in various online surveys.

That all means don’t take the results too seriously. It’s not a reflection of how Canadians feel, but, rather, how some 1,500 of those that interact with Maru Voice Canada feel.

That said, the survey was certainly interesting.

Survey says ad volume, content, and influence all areas for concern

Maru split the results of the survey into nine prompts — six of which focused on advertising.

The first found that 68% of Canadians want current athletes and celebrities banned from sports betting ads. In particular, this view was strongest amongst respondents 55 years and older (76%), middle-income earners (72%), men (71%), the university-plus educated (72%), and those living in Atlantic Canada (85%), Alberta (73%), and Ontario (71%).

By comparison, those least likely to support an ad ban (32%) are the exact opposite of every above category. This group mostly resides in Québec (38%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (37%), and British Columbia (36%).

The next query found that 66% of participants believe sports betting commercials should not appear during game broadcasts and events. This view is strongest, once again, amongst older respondents, men, and those with university-plus educations. However, the survey found higher-income earners ($100,000-plus) to be most agreeable.

Taking things a step further, 59% of respondents are in favour of an immediate, outright ban on sports betting commercials. Multiple groups, including a band of Ontario bishops and the Canadian Mental Health Association have also pushed for a sweeping ban in the past.

This finding introduced the next section, which covered concerns pertaining to young adults and children. Here, three-quarters of Canadians (75%) believe youth and children need protection from sports betting commercials and marketing. In this particular segment, the portion of women (76%) in favour outweighed the number of men (74%).

It appears that fears of young adults going into debt (72%) due to the availability of online sports betting is the driving force behind respondents’ concerns.

The ad-related component of Maru’s questionnaire rounded out with a proposition asking whether Canadians believe sports betting operators are acting responsibly with their ads and marketing. Most participants (62%) said they are not.

Poll finds current regulatory efforts lacking

The current regulatory structure around online sports betting is inadequate, according to the majority of Maru’s survey sample. While not as drastic as previous categories, 53% believe online sports betting requires more government oversight and regulation.

Unfortunately, being in a survey setting, respondents did not have the opportunity to elaborate. For that reason, the rationale for such feelings, along with possible recommendations are not available.

Outside of Ontario, which falls under the purview of iGaming Ontario, all forms of online wagering in the remaining Canadian provinces are regulated by their respective provincial lottery corporation.

Sports betting not a catalyst for sports watching, per survey

The final two questions in the Maru inquiry looked into its participant’s personal sports betting habits. Going by the results so far, it’s no surprise to see said habits were virtually non-existent.

Less than one-quarter of respondents (24%) agreed that the possibility of online sports betting makes them want to watch those sports more often. This query scored well amongst the 18-34 branch of subjects (52%), especially those in Ontario (29%) and BC (27%).

Perhaps the most interesting finding from the report was the very last question, which asked players to divulge their lifetime online sports betting activity. Notably, only one in six (17%) reported having ever wagered money on professional sports through an online betting platform. The survey also never specified whether the platform used was legal or not.

In that same vein, none of the findings clarified the brand of online sports betting its respondents were referring to.

What is clear, however, is that the 1,534 Canadian adults participating in Maru’s research project are not fans of the nation’s online sports betting regime.

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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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