Casino News

Alberta’s Gambling Restart Put On Hold

The recommencing of businesses was on schedule to begin this week or at the start of April in Alberta. However, on Monday, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro stated that the province will be halting the restart of operations for a little while. This comes as bad news for many charitable organizations that heavily rely on gambling funding as the casinos will remain closed for now.

Unfortunately, there will be no charitable gaming nights for the time being. This comes as a big hit to many charity groups who are already heavily scarred by the unprecedented situation. For the 2019-20 year over CA$321 million were raised for charity through the gaming nights, and lack of such funds this year will be felt substantially.

No Charity Nights for Now

As Step 3 of the business restart is put on hold there will be no charitable nights for the time being. Carmen Horpestad, executive director for the LoSeCa Foundation in St. Albert stated that in normal circumstances those charity events accumulate from CA$5,000 to CA$20,000 for their programs. The organization has one charitable night every three years and the next in 2022.

Ms. Horpestad claimed that with the closing down of casino properties and the lack of social gathering events their organization is missing out on tons of funding. She is worried that due to their date being in 2022 pushing back of other dates because of the lockdown restrictions will result in an even longer wait for their foundation.

Spokesperson of the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission Heather Holmen stated that the future of the charitable events is currently unclear. According to her, the Crown agency is waiting on an indication that table games will be able to restart and then the commission will start to reschedule dates and events.

However, there are concerns among the gaming industry about the potential future of these charitable events. Ms. Holmen is alarmed that even if table games recommence in the near future, some organizations might still consider it unsafe to host such an event and it might not have enough volunteers to participate in running the events. She believes there is a number of variables that will determine the course of action for the gaming nights.

September Charity Events

Gambling charity events returned to Alberta with the previous relaunch of table games and businesses as a whole in the province in September 2020. The Crown corporation has held several fund-raising events for local organizations such as Youth Action Rally and the Alberta Youth Parliament. Even for a brief return, the gambling nights events have been a breath of fresh air for the local charitable communities who are in a much-needed state of funds.

Reopening Concerns

There has been a mixed set of emotions regarding the potential reopening of business establishments in Alberta by moving into Phase 3 of the government plan. Besides, the positive impact of reopening of gambling properties on the local economy, some residents are concerned that the restart comes at an inappropriate time since the effects of the unprecedented situation are far from dissolved.

Source: Henderson, Jennifer “Charitable gaming on ice with provincial reopening stalled”, Toronto Star, March 30, 2021