According to the latest reports from Alberta, the province is one step closer to the start of its new commercial sports betting market. However, there are indicators that the provincial legislators might gamble on a limited-operator model for the gaming expansion and that as few as two sportsbooks will be able to operate in the regulated market.
Alberta is the fourth largest jurisdiction in Canada and it is the home of two NHL clubs, the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames, and two CFL organizations. That is why gambling experts believe in the potential of its market, however, if the province proceeds with only two operators, it could be quite the gamble.
Faced with Skepticism
The process of finding suitable operators has been entrusted to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission. Now, the Crown agency is expected to start a Request for Proposals which would shed more light on the process. A representative of the AGLC stated that an announcement for the RFP will come shortly, but refused to comment on the model of operations and its nature.
The province’s rumored model is contrasting Ontario’s notion of an open market for private operators, which attracted interest from many gambling giants. However, Alberta’s limited model would leave some of the big names out and thus eliminate the option for competition between operators. Also, if realized, the two-operator market would provide limited variety for gambling and sports fans.
Shareholders from the industry and gamblers are now unhappy with the rumored decision to proceed with a limited operator model for the sports betting market. Currently, Albertans can wager on the regulated Play Alberta and Sport Select by the WCLC, however, some of the bettors are not quite pleased with the latter due to unfavorable pricing and low limits.
Additionally, members of the gambling industry are not quite sure whether the new model would be able to keep away gamblers from pouring million into the gray market, which was one of the main reasons behind the new market. Casinos are also concerned why the province would shut down the chance of accepting more than two gaming brands, and they were hoping for a higher number of around six to eight.
Current Two Legal Options
Shortly after the legalization of single-game wagering, the Province of Alberta launched the first regulated online sports betting platform for the province and its name is Play Alberta. The introduction of the new offering came on September 1, 2021, and its integration was possible with the help of NeoPollard Interactive and Sporting Solutions. Now, gamblers can place their wagers in a safe and regulated environment on numerous types of sports.
The other regulated way for Albertans to place bets on single-game wagering is through the Western Canadian Lottery Corporation’s Sport Select. The new offering was launched on November 1, 2021, and besides Alberta, it is also available in retail lottery locations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the three northern territories. Via this option, bettors can wager on point spread, props, and totals, however, there is CA$100 limit on a wager.
Source: Rybaltowski, Matt “Alberta Regulators Close To Adopting Limited-Operator Model For Sports Betting Market”, Sports Handle, December 9, 2021