Alberta explores the potential expansion of a regulated iGaming market
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Alberta explores the potential expansion of a regulated iGaming market

The province of Alberta has been eyeing the possibility of expanding their online gaming and sports betting market, with plans to begin discussions with industry stakeholders later this year

Following the release of Alberta’s 2024-2025 budget in which $1 million was set aside for iGaming and the assessment of a potential regulated iGaming framework, the province announced their intention to begin consultations with stakeholders in the very near future. 

Despite no formal announcement with regards to a solid time frame of the necessary steps required to begin this process, the Government of Alberta appears to be very committed to the idea of the expansion of a regulated iGaming market in the province. 

Prior to the new amendments that have been recently integrated, the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act of Alberta had last been updated in December of 2022

Alberta Government Pledges $1 million for Online Gambling 

Alberta’s 2024-2025 budget revealed plans to modernize the province’s iGaming structure and framework, detailing the following statement: 

“$1 million in 2024-25 will support a review of Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act and supporting Regulation, with the objectives of reducing the regulatory burden on business and finding ways to increase contributions to Alberta charities and community facilities.” 

The total budget for this period resulted in a $73.2 billion spending plan for the province, including more detailed plans about the government’s intention to create a potential competitive iGaming market in Alberta.  

Later on in this article, we will delve further into how Alberta’s intentions towards online gambling in the province follows a similar line of thought to that taken by Ontario 2 years ago. 

Today, Ontario is the only province in Canada where operators such as bet365, FanDuel, and DraftKings can legally offer their online gaming and sports betting services to Canadian players. 

The allocated $1 million budget towards iGaming might make the idea of an expansion in Alberta more than a hypothetical scenario.  

Ultimately, however, the outcome of this decision could boil down to the $1 million legislative and regulatory review that was promised by Alberta’s fiscal plan for the year. 

If that is the case, the date that would correspond to the end of that fiscal year is March 31st, 2025

PlayAlberta, the province’s only government-owned iGaming platform 

During last year, the Alberta Court of Appeal stood by PlayAlberta and condoned its right to be the only iGaming operator in the province.  

This year, however, things have changed, as the support from various influential proponents of this regulated expansion have made their voices heard. 

For the moment, PlayAlberta remains the only government-owned iGaming platform in the province, a platform that is fully managed by the Alberta, Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC)

The AGLC describes PlayAlberta as follows: 

“Play Alberta is the only regulated online gambling website in the province. All revenue generated through Play Alberta goes directly back into Alberta's General Revenue Fund to support programs and services that Albertans rely on every day.” 

For this reason, the current legal sports betting market in Alberta is firmly set in a monopolized set-up.  

One might recall that the iGaming structure of Ontario, prior to April 4th, 2022, followed a very similar structure to the one currently held by Alberta. In fact, a comparison can be made between the two provinces, with Alberta seeking to follow in Ontario’s footsteps

With good reason, Ontario has been massively successful since opening up its regulated online gaming and sports betting market in 2022

We must admit that it is very easy to see why a great deal of influential figures in Alberta have been huge proponents for the potential expansion of a regulated iGaming market in Ontario. 

This is especially the case in light of the way in which the province of Ontario has garnered approximately $2.5 billion in revenue in its second year alone.  

In addition to this, Ontario has managed to yield hundreds of millions of dollars from gaming in tax revenue alone during the first 2 years since its initial launch. 

Alberta looks towards Ontario as a model of success 

The total population of the province of Alberta currently stands at 4.7 million people, making it the fourth-largest province in all of Canada. 

In addition to this, Alberta houses some very popular sports teams, including the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames NHL franchises

Those who are in favor of a provincial regulated market validate their stance by stating that opening a province’s doors to third-party online gaming and sports betting operators can only bring significant revenue for that province. 

With regards to this, Dale Nally, the Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction, commented on the way in which Alberta’s “low corporate taxes, streamlined regulations, and high disposable income” are all huge factors in Alberta’s favor, and all together make the province a very ideal location for a regulated iGaming destination

Ultimately, however, there are many reasons why comparing the current regulated iGaming market in Ontario with a hypothetical iGaming market in Alberta is impossible, chief of which is that it is not necessarily the case that Alberta would adopt the exact same framework as Ontario. 

It must be said, however, that there are several large companies in the Canadian iGaming market that have publicly expressed that, if Alberta expands its reach to third-party operators, they see a big opportunity for themselves in the province. 

In line with this, Sam Swanell, the CEO at PointsBet, stated the following during a call for analysts and investors: 

“Alberta, British Columbia seem to be probably at the head of the list to legalize in the next couple of years and provide a natural expansion to that TAM.” 

Comments made with regards to this potential expansion 

With regards to the government’s plans to hold discussions with various iGaming stakeholders later this year, a spokesperson for Dale Nally made the following statement: 

“The province will engage with traditional casino operators, Racing Entertainment Centre operators, and First Nations starting this year to hear their perspectives on opportunities to expand iGaming in Alberta in a way that makes sense for our province, its market, and Albertans. 

“Alberta’s government is committed to working with all partners to finish developing and implementing Alberta’s online gaming strategy, with a focus on responsible gaming. It is important that any expansion of Alberta’s iGaming strategy is done in a way that makes sense for our unique gaming market and serves the interests of all Albertans.” 

In addition to this, the document that delineates the business plan for 2024-27 of the Ministry of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction emphasizes that it is “further committed to developing and implementing Alberta’s online gaming strategy, with a focus on responsible gaming and provincial and Indigenous revenue generation.” 

Danielle Smith, Alberta’s Premier, had sent a mandate letter to Nally back in July 2023 in which she emphasized that the Minister must work with First Nations casinos to “finish developing and implementing Alberta’s online gaming strategy with a focus on responsible gaming and provincial and indigenous revenue generation.” 

As a direct reaction to this, the wording of Alberta’s 2024-25 budget also makes it clear that one of the ministry's main objectives is to “work with Indigenous partners and stakeholders to advance the development of an online gaming strategy for Alberta.”   

More about the Alberta, Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) 

The Alberta, Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) is “the Government of Alberta's Crown commercial enterprise and agency that oversees the gaming, liquor and cannabis industries in Alberta.” 

When it comes to the gaming structure in the province, “AGLC maintains the integrity of gaming activities, while maximizing the financial return to the programs and services that support Albertans.” 

With regards to the modernization of the iGaming practices in the province of Alberta, the AGLC referred to the following statement: 

“For nearly 25 years, AGLC has been recognized as a regulatory leader in Alberta’s gaming, liquor and now cannabis industries. AGLC continues to seek stakeholder feedback and implement improvements to ensure policies are meeting industry’s needs. 

“AGLC’s continued dedication to reviewing and updating policies demonstrates our deep commitment to a modern regulatory environment that supports consumer choice, innovation and economic growth. See below for a list of AGLC’s modernization achievements over recent years.” 

In addition to this, the AGLC states the following: 

“AGLC continues to modernize regulations and processes while providing consumer choice and generating revenue that benefits Albertans. Gaming, liquor and cannabis revenues support public initiatives such as healthcare, education, community development and youth programs.” 

About the authorMelanie Cazenave
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A specialist in online casinos, she also loves proofreading. With her, it's impossible for mistakes to slip through the cracks. A true lover of letters, she binds articles and retouches them to make them as perfect as possible.

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