Alberta’s regulated market for online sports betting and casino gaming has been discussed for a few years now, but there has been no news on it for a while now. Stakeholders from the gambling industry were hopeful to get some news on the sector from Alberta Lt.-Gov. Salma Lakhani delivered a speech on Monday, but they were left disappointed.
Currently, Ontario is the only province in Canada to have a regulated internet gambling market for private operators. Meanwhile, in Alberta, the only legal iGaming platform is PlayAlberta and is overseen by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission. But there have been calls by industry leaders for the province to follow Ontario’s steps and open its sector.
Still No Updates
This week, Ms. Lakhani provided the throne speech on behalf of the Daniell Smith government which included the current fight with the federal government over electricity and taxes, the population boom, affordability, and additional support for the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. But there was no word on the province’s iGaming initiative.
Back in July Premier Smith’s mandate letter to Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction, Dale Nally, included working with Indigenous partners to finish developing and implementing Alberta’s online gaming framework with a focus on responsible gambling and provincial and Indigenous revenue generation. The minister said he met with representatives in order to better understand the options for the province.
However, in his response, he did not provide an exact timeline for finalizing and launching the province’s new digital gambling framework. In the meantime, Paul Burns, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association remains optimistic that other provinces will follow Ontario’s example and introduce their own regulated iGaming model.
He believes that more provinces should adopt some kind of regulatory framework as it would be better for everybody. Mr. Burns also pointed out the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and its continued growth despite the existence of 47 licensed iGaming operators in the province and said that there are no more monopolies on internet casinos and sports betting.
New and Updated PlayAlberta
While the gambling industry is waiting on Alberta, in August 2023, the province introduced a revamped PlayAlberta. Some of the new features include player props for all major North American leagues, such as NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA. Players can also expect single-game parlays, additional markets and leagues, additional outright bets, and new promotional options such as boosted odds and parlay multipliers.
The province’s iGaming platform was also targeted by Indigenous groups who have taken the province to court as they claimed that the province violated exclusivity rights. This April a court ruled in favour of the iGaming platform, noting that the commission is eligible to conduct and manage provincial lotteries on behalf of the Government of Alberta.
Source: “No mention of regulated online sports betting and igaming in Alberta throne speech” Gaming News Canada, November 2, 2023