Home Sections Family & Society BC Lottery Corp bets on baby name popularity

BC Lottery Corp bets on baby name popularity

"We are always looking for new and fun bets that capture the interest of BC bettors." ~ BCLC

baby names

Thursday December 28, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 3:25 pm on December 29, 2023]

by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

Again this year, BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) is running a betting game as to which B.C. hospital will welcome the first baby of the new year. They offered that game at the end of 2022 to wager on where the first baby of 2023 would be born.

Same as last year, the current odds for Victoria General Hospital are 11.00, meaning a successful $10 wager will pay out a total of $110. B.C. Women’s Hospital (3.50) is the betting favourite among all 23 hospitals, with the same odds as last year — even though it hasn’t been the home of the first B.C. baby of a new year since 2017.

In 2023, Abbotsford Regional Hospital (12.00) welcomed the first B.C. baby of 2023 at 12:02 am. Odds are up compared to last year when it was pegged at 10.0. Afterall, what are the chances of two years in a row?

first baby, hospital, odds, bclc
Betting odds at PlayNow.com for the birth location of the first baby born in BC in 2024. [Dec 27/23 – BCLC]

Wagering on which of 23 B.C. hospitals will welcome the first B.C. baby of 2024 will be available on PlayNow.com until 6:00 am (PST) on December 31, 2023, and the popular name bets will be available until January 31, 2024.

New game – baby names by gender:

Announced today as being new on PlayNow.com, BCLC says that bettors can also wager on what will be the most popular names for BC babies in 2024. Data on baby name popularity over the years have been issued by BC Vital Statistics for years.

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“The new baby names bet was ideated from our PlayNow Sports team, who are always looking for new and fun bets that capture the interest of BC bettors,” said Matt Lee, External Communications and Government Relations, BCLC in a statement to Island Social Trends. Evidently they feel it’s a good bet for transactional success as the new year approaches.

BCLC has released a glimpse of their current odds on names for newborn girls and boys.

For the girls, the question is: will the Olivia dynasty continue? Olivia (3.00) has been the most popular name for girls in BC for seven of the last eight years according to BC Vital Statistics, losing only once to Emma (5.00) in 2015. Other rising girl names include Charlotte (6.00), Isla (6.00) and Sophia (6.00), which have consistently been in the top seven.

One might question the ethical or good-taste boundaries of betting on the names given to children at birth. One reader on X (Twitter) seems to agree:

not betting, baby names

Name popularity:

emma, baby name, Friends
The name Emma for a girl baby reached the heights of fame in the Friends TV series (Season 8, Episode 24, 2002).
  • Olivia has been a popular name in TV and Hollywood for years — both names of characters and of actors.
  • The name Emma was made famous for being the name for the baby of Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel in the TV series Friends.
  • Charlotte found new popularity after Britain’s Princess Charlotte was born in May 2015; now the fourth most popular girl’s name in BC (2023).
  • Sophia is the name of a social humanoid robot developed by the Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics released in 2016; Sophia means wisdom. 

The most popular BC boy name is more of a debate for 2024. After finishing first for the last two years, in 2022 Liam (5.00) finally relinquished top spot to Noah (4.00), which had been a top 10 name in BC for several years but never held the title of the most popular. Other contenders include Oliver (4.00) and Theodore (8.00)

prince william, princess charlotte, prince louis
The British Royal children at Christmas season 2023 (from left); Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis. [Royal Family / X]
  • Liam is a short form for William, made popular of course by the prominence of British Prince William in public life. Liam is now the 4th most popular boy’s name in BC (in 2023).
  • William’s eldest child is Prince George. The name George has not yet caught on with the same fervor, though it did start increasing in popularity again in BC around 2013 in the year Prince George was born, and is now the 87th most popular boy’s name in 2023 (33rd most popular since records began in 1924). The previous modern peak for the name George was back in 1977.
  • Noah has been a favourite possibly because of the ‘new hope’ factor (saving the world from disaster – as in Noah and the great flood) in this challenged world. In 2023 it’s the top boy’s name in BC.
  • It’s unclear as to the popularity of Oliver as a top pick boy’s name in BC, other than to match the popularity of Olivia.
  • Best guess on the popularity of Theodore… sounds rich and also thoughtful. Also, US President Theodore Roosevelt was a conservationist and naturalist which is in-keeping with our times around environmental concern.

A few years ago the BC Government started reporting names in order by prevalence first (only names that occur five or more times are listed), and not separating them by usual gender assignment (i.e. girls and boys).

BC Lottery Corporation has made the gender delineation quite clear in their betting process.

newsmakers, 2023, ist
Newsmakers of 2023 [Island Social Trends]

Top baby names in BC:

Baby names have been pretty consistent over the past few years in BC, with Olivia and Oliver in the top ranks.

mbc, mapleline, logo
MapleLine Business Centre in Langford, BC: short-run printing, laminating, mailout support.
  • In 2023 the top names for girls in BC have been: Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Charlotte and Isla, immediately followed by Ava, Amelia, Chloe, Hazel and Lily. Further down the list are Victoria (77th), Margot (88th), Sarah (98th), Celine (134th), Brooke (206th), and Taylor (264th). The top girl’s name of all years recorded in BC (since 1924) is Jennifer, followed by Sarah, Patricia and Mary.
  • The top names of newborn boys in BC in 2023 have been: Noah, Oliver, Theodore, Liam and Jack, followed by Ethan, Leo, Lucas, Owen and Henry. The top boy’s name of all years recorded in BC (since 1924) is Robert, followed by David, Michael and James.

In 2022, Noah rose to the top name (usually for a boy), with Olivia coming in second, followed by Oliver, Liam, Theodore, Jack, Emma, Lucas, Leo and Sofia, according to the Vital Statistics Agency’s preliminary figures for 2022 (to December 8).

sd62, kindergarten, 2024, registration

In 2021, Olivia was the front-runner for the most popular name for babies born in BC. That esd followed by Liam, Noah, Jack, Emma, Benjamin, Theodore, Oliver and Charlotte. All of that from BC Vital Statistics Agency preliminary figures for January 1 to December 15, 2021.

Only names that occur five or more times are listed. Stats on baby names are maintained by BC Vital Statistics: Most popular baby names | Baby Names in BC – sort by year

mitzi dean, mla, constituency, ad

BCLC underwrites social & education costs:

As B.C.’s only legal gambling website, BCLC says that it’s PlayNow.com is the only site whose profits benefit British Columbians through investments in things like healthcare, education and community programs. Those are among the largest line items in the provincial budget. Budget 2024 will be presented on February 22, 2024.

Players can visit PlayNow.com to learn how to set time and money limits as well as the other online tools available to encourage what BCLC calls healthy play. For further information, visit GameSense.com.

Government lotteries have been a significant provincial revenue stream in Canada since the mid 1970s. In 2021, the lottery sales of provincial and territorial lotteries in Canada (excluding Québec) reached approximately $8.26 billion.

Being born first in 2024:

capricorn, sun sign
Capricorn is the 10th sign of the zodiac (December 22 – January 20).

Babies born in winter at the first of the calendar year are almost always arriving during a heightened respiratory season of infection by flu, RSV and now COVID.

Firstborn babies of the calendar year are Capricorn by astrological sun sign (disposed to roles of social authority). Being born on the first of the month implies an opportunity for leadership.

Fewer babies during pandemic:

Up to December 18 of this year 2023, there were 37,650 babies registered as born in BC. At that point in 2022 (on December 8) BC Health had reported 37,801 babies had been born in BC year-to-date and had reached 41,833 by year-end.

The 2022 BC tally of 41,833 was below the 42,783 babies born in BC in 2021, and 42,413 born in this province in 2020. Cost of living load and the social impacts of the pandemic (at its peak in 2020 and 2021) likely played into the lower 2022 natural birth rate.

YearBirths in BC
202336,702 (to Dec 1, 2023) | 37,650 (to Dec 18, 2023)
Source: Vital Statistics BCTable by: Island Social Trends
Births in the Province of British Columbia, Canada [2017-2023]

newborn, baby
New births on the decline for now six years in a row.

In pre-pandemic years, the number of babies born in BC was higher: 43,878 in 2019, 44,050 in 2018, and 45,045 in 2017. In those years the economy was relatively stable if not fully robust.

Meanwhile, in-migration to BC has been on the upswing. In 2021 and 2022 the population increase in BC has been referred to by Premier Eby as 250,000 and recently the Minister of Education and Child Care mentioned 325,000 as the population increase over three years.

Government has said in the past that natural replacement of the population is expected to reach net zero by 2030 and the overall population is aging, which is why immigration of new residents is a government policy to help support the economy.

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Island Social Trends is a professional news service that covers news of the west shore, south Vancouver Island, BC and national issues.

Island Social Trends launched entirely online at islandsocialtrends.ca in mid-2020, in the footsteps of its predecessor publications MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013) and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). The new Island Social Trends print edition will launch in 2024.

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Mary P Brooke, Editor, Island Social Trends

Editor and publisher: Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | ARCHIVES:  HEALTHVANCOUVER ISLAND

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