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Alberta Hosts Two-day Gambling Conference in Banff

In the last days of March 2023, the Alberta Gambling Research Institute held a two-day conference in Banff to talk about the latest development in the industry and more. One of the main topics of discussion was the advancement of the sports betting sector and the following boom of sports wagering ads across the country, which has been a concern for many.

This year’s edition of the meeting included some noteworthy speakers who weighed in on their expertise in the industry. This includes Dr. Andrew Kim, a registered clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Toronto Metropolitan University and Michael Naraine, An Associate Professor of Sport Management at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Highlights from the AGRI Conference

One of the first key highlights from the conference came from the Alberta government, which reported that it would extend AGRI’s funding for three more years. Thus, ensuring that it will be able to resume its important online and traditional gambling research for the foreseeable future and make sure that the province is caught up on the latest trends and advancements.

Another topic of major discussion was Ontario and its recently implemented iGaming market, which led to a boom in gambling advertisements across the country. Mr. Naraine provided a detailed breakdown of the Ontario sector. Meanwhile, Alberta’s regulators were also in attendance getting familiarized with the concept as they explore the possibility of allowing private operators in its market.

Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis CEO Kandice Machado also spoke at the conference, however, she did not give an update on the province’s Request for Applications for two private operators. But she did speak on the bombardment of gambling ads. She noted that people were frustrated with the abundance, as many parents are concerned about children seeing them and consider them normal.

She also stated that as the province is evaluating its options for the future, regulators are mostly worried about how to deal with the abundance of advertisements and celebrity endorsements. Some of the factors the province assesses are how to navigate through a potentially private marketplace while also avoiding these factors and it is looking for a balanced solution.

Ms. Machado also discussed PlayAlberta’s sports betting vertical. She described the topic as one of thin margins, as despite a large number of billions of wagers, the hold is low. In addition to that, the conference heard about the risks of in-play wagering. A study was presented that found that bettors who place in-play wagers are at much higher risk of developing problem gambling.

Ads are an Issue

In the end of 2022, Alberta’s Problem Gambling Resources Network that since the boom of gambling ads more and more people have contacted it seeking help. An expert from the organization Ray Reshke noted that the industry has advanced over the last few decades and that the recent spike in sports betting advertising has certainly added more fuel to problem gambling.