From Retirees to VIPs: Subcultures Among Casino Visitors in Ontario

Joseph Havens

Casino expert

From Retirees to VIPs: Subcultures Among Casino Visitors in Ontario

While everyone is welcome at Canadian casinos, there are a few Ontario casino subcultures that stand out from the crowd. On this page, we’ll be looking at five of the biggest and most distinct groups that are currently visiting Ontario casinos, what they’re looking for, and where they like to gamble. You might find that you fit into one of these groups yourself!

The Enduring Appeal of Ontario as a Gambling Destination

The flags of Canada and Ontario fly together

While hearing the word “gambling” might make you think of Las Vegas or Macau, Ontario provides a gambling experience that’s second to none. From major resorts to hidden gems, from tourist destinations to local favourites, there’s a bit of everything here – and more than enough to satisfy any player.

There’s so much to see in Ontario that you might not be sure where to start. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best Ontario casino destinations to help you get started. On that page, you won’t just find a generic list of resorts, but also tips on picking a casino that’s right for your needs.

What Are Subcultures and How Do They Form?

a diverse range of people in a line taking selfies

A subculture is a group that differentiates itself from the standard or “normal” values and practices of a society. In common society, we might think of groups like hipsters, bikers, or gamers as subcultures – groups that are still a part of that society, but which have their own ideals. These groups are created when individuals who disagree with the dominant standards of a society group together to create their own norms.

When we talk about casinos, we might see the average casino visitor who just wants to have a good time and doesn’t have any particular purpose in mind as the “standard” culture. The Ontario casino subcultures we’ve identified below each have their own norms, ideals, and expectations that stand out from the crowd.

Top Five Subcultures We’ve Encountered in Ontario’s Casinos

Below, you’ll find our top five casino subcultures that we’ve encountered in Ontario. For each one, we’ll explain who they are, the kinds of things they like in a casino trip, and identify a few of the best destinations in Ontario for gamblers who belong to that group.

1. Tourists

A tourist couple

Who are they?

Tourists are visitors from other provinces or other countries who have included a casino trip as a part of their travel plans. Of all the Ontario casino subcultures, this might be the only one that isn’t actually planning their trip around the casino itself!

While this doesn’t mean that tourists don’t gamble, it does mean that their needs are very different from the other groups on this list. Someone visiting due to tourism is likely to spend less time gambling and more time checking out the other amenities at a resort, such as the hotel, restaurants, and retail outlets.

Tourists are also interested in picking casino destinations that are near other things they may want to see during their vacation. That means that casinos near popular tourist attractions are the ones most likely to attract this subculture. Thankfully, many casino developers realize this and built major resorts in tourist centres.

What do they like?

  • Proximity to attractions – First and foremost, tourists are interested in seeing the sights and enjoying their overall holiday experience. Thus, they want casinos that are near the other activities they intend to take part in on their vacation.
  • Lodging and amenities – Tourists aren’t locals, so they need a place to stay. Where better than at a hotel that’s part of a casino resort? Food options are also key, as while a tourist may go exploring for some meals, having options right near their base of operations makes life easier.
  • Affordable gaming options – Tourists aren’t gamblers first and foremost, so while they may stop into the casino for fun, they aren’t going to mingle with the high rollers. Most tourists will enjoy playing low-cost slot machines, simple table games like roulette, and other fun options that won’t break the bank.

Perfect destinations

  • Casino Niagara (Niagara Falls)
  • Fallsview Casino Resort (Niagara Falls)
  • Woodbine Racetrack (Toronto)

2. Seniors and Retirees

An older gentleman plays poker

Who are they?

Seniors and retirees have long been an important subculture for casinos in Ontario and far beyond, being a key demographic for casino operators worldwide. Seniors will usually have plenty of free time, and those that visit casinos often have a fair amount of disposable income, making them reliable regulars.

But since they may be living on fixed incomes from retirement dispersals, seniors generally aren’t looking to play for high stakes or engage in complicated strategic games. Instead, most members of this subculture choose to play for entertainment and social interaction.

For many seniors, that makes slots the game of choice, as they can sit, play casually, and chat with others as their leisure. However, bingo is also a popular option, as this has long been one of the best ways to gamble socially thanks to its slower pace and simple gameplay.

What do they like?

  • Social Games – Bingo and other games where players can socialize and talk to each other while also playing are perfect for this subculture, and make up the main part of their casino experience.
  • Low Stakes Options – Seniors aren’t looking to gamble for the thrill of winning a jackpot (though they certainly won’t turn one down). As this is a social activity, retirees prefer to be able to play for a while without breaking the bank.
  • Loyalty Rewards Programmes – Since this subculture tends to visit the casino fairly regularly, members like to be rewarded for their play, taking advantage of perks like free food and gaming credits.

Perfect destinations

  • Casino Niagara (Niagara Falls)
  • Casino Rama Resort (Orillia)
  • Woodbine Racetrack (Toronto)

3. First Nations Communities

A native Canadian woman viewed from behind

Who are they?

Many Canadians may only think of First Nations gambling as existing since the 1990s, but First Nations casinos began opening, perhaps back as far as the 1970s, when tribes began to operate bingo halls. In reality, indigenous communities in Canada have a long history of gambling as a social and leisure activity deeply rooted in First Nations tradition, just as it has been for many populations worldwide.

While attitudes towards gambling vary widely between the diverse range of indigenous communities in Canada, a few common themes emerge. First Nations members tend to play reasonably frequently, with those in indigenous communities favouring bingo as a social game of choice. Indigenous Canadians are also cognizant of the risk of compulsive and problem gambling, which has become a serious issue in come communities.

In addition, many First Nations gamblers are interested in seeing gaming revenues flow back to their own communities. This makes the subculture particularly likely to visit First Nations casinos and resorts, though indigenous players in urban areas are also likely to visit local venues.

What do they like?

  • Communal Gaming – Many First Nations casino patrons enjoy playing games that have traditionally been social, leisure activities in their communities, with bingo often coming near the top of this list.
  • Economic Impact – For the First Nations subculture, the gaming industry has been a way to drive money into indigenous communities across Canada. Knowing that their gambling dollars is going to help tribal groups is important.
  • Responsible Operators – Research shows that indigenous populations have a significantly higher incidence of problem gambling than Canadians in general. That makes a true commitment to responsible gaming important to this casino subculture.

Perfect destinations

  • Casino Rama Resort (Orillia)
  • Great Blue Heron Casino (Port Perry)
  • Golden Eagle Charitable Casino (Kenora)

4. High Rollers & VIPs

Female celebrity on red carpet

Who are they?

High rollers are the biggest casino spenders out there. These affluent individuals gamble large sums of money on the games of their choice, often including casino classics like baccarat, blackjack, and craps.

This subculture also includes celebrity gamblers – either those who are known for their casino exploits, or famous actors, athletes, and businesspeople who enjoy their time in the casino. If you’re interested in learning about some of the biggest celebrities in the Ontario casino scene, check out our page on the top five gambling personalities in the province.

In exchange for all this high-limit play, members of this Ontario casino subculture expect to be treated like VIPs. Casinos will often ply high rollers with free rooms and food, exclusive gaming areas and lounges, tickets to events, and personalised service from account managers.

What do they like?

  • Privacy and Discretion – High rollers don’t like to sit around with the general casino crowd. They want to play in private or semi-private rooms, VIP lounges, and other areas that allow them to play at their own pace without gawking eyeballs all around them.
  • The Royal Treatment – VIPs and high rollers expect to get rewarded for their play. Casinos that can provide free rooms, food, and event tickets are likely to attract this subculture, while loss back offers are even more attractive to true whales.
  • Baccarat – We can talk all we want about the many games high rollers like to play, but there’s no doubt that baccarat is king right now. If a casino provides a classic, private room for high-stakes baccarat play, the VIPs will come.

Perfect destinations

  • Caesars Windsor (Windsor)
  • Casino Rama Resort (Orillia)

5. Young Professionals & Millennials

A trio of Millenials play a slot machine

Who are they?

While you may think of “Millennials” as referring to a very young demographic, that’s no longer the case. Millennials now range from about 30 years old through their early 40s, and have become a powerful group of young professionals.

They’re also one of the key subcultures visiting Ontario casinos today. While young professionals may enjoy gambling, they’re just as likely to spend time at the clubs, shows, and other nightlight options offered at integrated casino resorts. When they do sit down to play, they’re less likely to play slots and more commonly head to interactive gaming experiences like poker, strategic table games, and other activities they can enjoy with their friends.

Millennials are heading to casinos to be entertained, and gambling is just one factor in that experience. That’s why casinos are paying more and more attention to their non-gaming attractions in an effort to attract younger visitors.

What do they like?

  • Entertainment Options – Bars, restaurants, and nightclubs are all popular among young adults. If a casino wants to attract millennials, having things to do on a regular basis outside of gambling is a must.
  • Special Events – While Millennials aren’t necessarily opposed to gambling, it’s often not enough to get them out to the casino. Concerts, sporting events, and other special shows can provide a reason for young professionals to plan a longer trip that includes time on the gaming floor.
  • Poker Rooms – Younger gamblers are more cognizant of concepts like the house edge, and also want to play with – or against – their friends and strangers. Poker tends to tick all the boxes for many Millennials, while other social games like craps and “stadium-style” electronic table games that allow large groups to play together are also popular in this subculture.

Perfect destinations

  • Fallsview Casino Resort (Niagara Falls)
  • Casino Rama Resort (Orillia)

Online Casino Players: The Newest Subculture?

Woman playing online casino wrapped in Canadian flag

While you might not think of them when talking about Ontario casino destinations, it’s important to discuss online casino players as their own subculture as well. After all, they have very different wants and needs than any of the other groups we’ve discussed here, even though they may play some of the same games.

Those who enjoy playing at casinos online tend to value convenience and game selection, both of which are hallmarks of the online gambling experience. They also put a lot of importance into value itself – taking advantage of bonuses, promotions, and the generally lower house edges found at internet gambling sites.

However, online gamblers also tend to like to play by themselves, meaning members of this “subculture” may never actually play together! Of course, this isn’t entirely true, as live dealer games and some other options have allowed for more interactivity in the online casino space.

In Summary: Join a Subculture, or Start Your Own…

A large group plays roulette

As you can see, there are many Ontario casino subcultures that players may identify with, and each one has its own desires that casino resorts must appeal to if they want to earn business from those players. We hope that this page has given you a better idea of the kinds of players who are visiting Ontario casinos today, and perhaps has even helped you figure out which subculture you belong to, if any.

Of course, you might not know enough about your gambling habits yet to identify with any of these groups. One of the best ways to figure out what appeal to you is by playing online. Check out our picks for the top Ontario online casinos to find a site that’s right for you and get a great bonus in the process. It’ll help you prepare for your first visit to a live casino, and maybe point you in the direction of a subculture that appeals to you!