Major Grants

Lottery Winnings and Financial Wellbeing (#89)

Project Approved 2020-21

Dr. Barry Scholnick (Principal Investigator)
Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta
Google Scholar Profile


This proposal examines whether a large (vs. small) lottery win has positive or negative financial impacts on the financial wellbeing of the winners. We will provide evidence on two contrasting hypotheses: (1) that a lottery win will allow the winner to pay down existing debt and improve their financial health; or (2), that a lottery win will create longer term financial harm for the winner because of subsequent overconsumption and/or financial mismanagement. We will provide evidence on these two hypotheses by linking lottery winner data, with data on the winner’s credit records provided by a Canadian Credit Bureau.

Timeframe: January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2024

This project (AGRI Grant #89) is for the same research conducted in AGRI Grant #92.

We use plausibly random wealth windfalls from lottery winnings to simultaneously examine multiple household choices, as reflected in matched employer-employee tax data. First, we show that additional wealth induces individuals to reduce the labor they supply as employees. In addition, we document that individuals invest their new wealth in passive investments rather than entrepreneurial projects. Furthermore, the insignificant or even negative effects on entrepreneurial activity are inconsistent with the hypothesis that financial constraints inhibit entrepreneurship. Overall, our findings indicate that additional wealth leads individuals to reduce their effort, i.e., to “take it easy”.

In this paper, we use comprehensive employer-employee tax record data to study how individuals’ entrepreneurial, labor, and saving choices change when their wealth is unexpectedly increased. To conduct our empirical analysis, we use plausibly exogenous variation in lottery prize amount to shock individuals’ wealth and examine how individuals’ economic decisions change using tax-based administrative data. The lottery data consist of all lottery wins over $1,000 from 2004 to 2021, provided by the lottery corporation of a Canadian province. For each of these lottery wins, working with Statistics Canada, we match the lottery winners to their federal, tax-based, administrative data, which include an employer-employee matched dataset. These administrative data provide us with an annual window into each lottery winner’s economic decisions: whether they choose to start a business, how their businesses fare, how much wage income they earn, how much investment income they receive, etc. Combining the lottery winnings information to the administrative data, we implement a staggered difference-in-differences (DID) empirical methodology to assess the relative effects on individuals’ economic decisions of an additional dollar of wealth.

D’Astous, P. Mikhed, V, Raina, S, and B. Scholnick “Income Shocks and Self-Employment: Evidence from Lottery Wins and Tax Filer Data” Presented at HEC Montreal Seminar 

D’Astous, P. Mikhed, V, Raina, S, and B. Scholnick “Income Shocks and Self-Employment: Evidence from Lottery Wins and Tax Filer Data” Presented at Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Seminar 

D’Astous, P. Mikhed, V, Raina, S, and B. Scholnick “Income Shocks and Self-Employment: Evidence from Lottery Wins and Tax Filer Data” Presented at University of Alberta School of Business Seminar

Giwii-nisidopanmin odaminowin: Gambling and Videogames in the lives of Indigenous Youth in Northwestern Ontario (#90)

Project Approved 2020-21

Dr. Fiona Nicoll (Principal Investigator)
Department of Political Science, University of Alberta
Google Scholar Profile

Dr. Darrel Manitowabi (Co-Principal Investigator)
School of Northern and Community Studies, Laurentian University


Dr. Lori Haskell (Co-Principal Investigator)
Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children, University of Western Ontario

Dr. Kevin Harrigan (Co-Principal Investigator)
Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, University of Waterloo


Giwii-nisidopanmin odaminowin is a three-year intervention with Indigenous youth in Northwestern Ontario to generate academic knowledge about their current involvement in gambling and video gaming and the intersection of the two, as video gaming has been rapidly monetized through micropayments and lootboxes. Through the facilitation of IndigeSpheres to Empowerment, a federally incorporated Indigenous non-profit organization based in Thunder Bay, four academic researchers, an Indigenous youth mentor and three art and bodywork facilitators will conduct interdisciplinary research workshops focused on gambling and video gaming.  This research intervention will: produce new interdisciplinary knowledge of Indigenous video gaming and gambling within a youth-led and driven research program; facilitate Indigenous graduate training with academic experts on gambling and video gaming and trauma; equip Indigenous youth with mentoring to become lifelong learners, within and outside of formal education institutions; and, develop anti-racist practices of knowledge collaboration between youth leaders, researchers and facilitators racialised as Indigenous, black and white Canadians.

Timeframe: January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2024

Giwii-nisidopanmin odaminowin is an Indigenous Youth Participatory Action Research project
focused on videogaming and gambling among Indigenous youth. Central to the project is bridging the gap between mainstream academic research methods and methods adapted to meet the various needs of indigenous communities. Research methods included core workshops with young gamers and gamblers living in Thunder Bay using arts and body-work facilitators, as well as land and culture-based exchanges between Indigenous youth gamers in Northern Ontario and South Australia. 

Cross-cultural engagement involving indigenous youth from Canada and Australia and academic researchers created value because the relationship between academic researchers and youth was reciprocal. On one hand - academic researchers provided mentoring and informed youth about research on gaming and trauma and explained the addictive gambling mechanics - including lootboxes and other ‘pay to play’ features – within many popular videogames. On the other hand - youth researchers led their peers to engage with the original research questions that academic researchers brought to the project.

To date a number of presentations in indigenous and mainstream communities, and at professional research conferences, by academic researchers and by youth researchers have highlighted the processes developed for cross-cultural research and communication. Specific findings include the impact of features designed to encourage gambling on indigenous youth gamers working through personal and intergenerational experiences of trauma. Drawing on multidisciplinary expertise and creative modes of facilitation, the project is producing new, comparative, knowledge about gambling and videogaming, with a specific focus on Indigenous youth. Its objectives include:

  • Expanding the horizons of Indigenous youth videogamers by supporting land-based learning and cultural exchange with Indigenous youth in other parts of the world;
  • Developing and adapting existing academic research approaches to gaming and gambling in response to the issues that Indigenous youth identify as most important for them;
  • Changing the language through which academic researchers classify and talk about the behaviors and identities of Indigenous gamers;
  • Ethically curating diverse forms and media of knowledge gifted to by youth to academic researchers.

Extensive interviews of participants have been recorded and youth and academic researchers are preparing reports variously designed for community and professional audiences. For example, in January, 2024 the IndigeSpheres youth researchers delivered a 21-minute video documentary narrating the journey of their project together.

Youth researchers from IndigeSpheres to Empowerment presented papers at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in October, 2022 as well as to the AGRI annual conference in March-April, 2023. They also produced a poster presentation for the AGRI conference.

Gambling in Canada in the Aftermath of the Pandemic (#91)

Project Approved 2020-21

Dr. Carrie Shaw (Principal Investigator)
Faculty of Health Sciences & Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge
Google Scholar Profile

Dr. Robert J. Williams (Co-Principal Investigator)
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge
Google Scholar Profile


The GCAP project (Gambling in Canada in the Aftermath of the Pandemic project) is intended to follow-up with AGRI National Project (ANP) COVID Panel participants. A large stratified sample of approximately 3500 ANP COVID panel survey participants will be re-assessed on measures including gambling engagement; problem gambling; gambling harms; social demographic characteristics; psychological functioning; and COVID-19 infection history. This assessment period, in conjunction with ANP data, will allow for the longitudinal examination of fluctuations in land-based and online gambling and problem gambling at various stages of the pandemic: pre-pandemic, during lockdown, during early stages of re-opening, and late stages of reopening. Examining, for example, if gambling problems worsened due to migration to online during the lockdown or better due to the forced abstinence, and if those who migrated to online gambling continued to gamble online after re-opening of casinos or if these individuals returned to land-based only gambling.

Timeframe: May 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022

A large and stratified sample of n = 2142 ANP COVID panel survey participants were re-assessed on their level of gambling engagement (types engaged in; time spent, money spent, frequency; land-based or online); problem gambling and gambling-related harms; psychosocial functioning including comorbidities, and COVID-19 infection history in Spring of 2021. This assessment, when combined with previous ANP and COVID waves, allowed for longitudinal examination of fluctuations in land-based and online gambling and problem gambling pre- pandemic, during the lockdown, six-months after the national lockdown and then, with the current data collection, one year after the lockdown (May 2021). This data collection period took place when there were varying responses to pandemic third wave (~April 2021).

During the aftermath of the third wave, there were varying pandemic response measures in place depending on province, with some land-based venues being closed completely and others being open but with physical distancing restrictions. As noted, 2142 participants responded to the survey administered in this wave of data collection (May 2021), this represents a 76.77% retention rate from the prior data collection wave. One manuscript of the gambling activities of this sample has been submitted during this fiscal year, and the results of that study have been accepted for dissemination at the International Conference on Behavioral Addictions (June 2022, Nottingham, UK), and a further examination specific to those who migrated to online gambling during the pandemic period has also been undertaken. In addition, data from the May 2021 collection period – the collection period relevant to this funding - is currently in preparation for reporting in another two manuscript with submission anticipated for fall 2022.

The two priority areas of impact informed by this work are:

  1. Longitudinal follow-up studies: ‘Longitudinal follow up studies – Basic understanding of the gambling behaviors and habits of various age cohorts was identified as being an integral building block for future research.
  2. Internet gambling: ‘The pervasiveness of this relatively recent format has accelerated it to the forefront of research demand. Some research has been completed, much is underway, but it will assuredly remain high on the gambling research agenda.’

Longitudinal Studies: The current study has been able to follow a large cohort across multiple time periods assessing not only the impacts of the pandemic on gambling behaviours, but also, examining shorter periods (6-month intervals) of gambling engagement allowing for a more fine-grained examination of the (in)stability of gambling engagement. Moreover, this study has been able to examine comorbidities of problematic gambling, including other behavioural addictions (e.g., video games), allowing for greater understanding of the complexities associated with problem gambling/gambling disorder development. Some of the results from this study are being disseminated at international conference (ICBA, June, 2022) and two manuscripts are currently under preparation.

Internet gambling: The results of this examination allow for a deeper understanding of the uptake and outcomes of online gambling. Prior to the pandemic, online gambling had been associated with greater problem gambling. When the COVID pandemic response measures restricted and/or prevented land-based gambling concerns increased relating to the migration to online gambling. Heightened risk of problem gambling has been shown among migrators in the research, however, the sequential association between risky gambling and online gambling has not been well established. The current longitudinal investigation on the other hand, has allowed for the disentanglement of the direction of the association between internet gambling engagement and problematic gambling. As pre-pandemic baseline data for this examination is available, it has been possible to clearly delineate those migrated to online gambling during the pandemic from those who had gambled online in previous time periods. Thus, this data allows for the examination of the characteristics and risk levels of those who began gambling on an online platform and the trajectory of their gambling involvement once including internet gambling in their engagement repertoire. Preliminary findings from this analysis are to be presented at conference (AGRI, June, 2022) and a manuscript detailing the findings of this study is currently in preparation.