Date: 25.06.2024

by Adam Dworak

Alberta Set to Launch Its Own Regulated Online Gambling Market

Alberta is officially advancing its plans to establish a regulated online gambling market, signaling a significant shift from the current monopoly operated by Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

Embracing a New Model

During the Canadian Gaming Summit, Dale Nally, Alberta’s Minister of Service and Red Tape Reduction, revealed the province’s strategy to model its regulatory framework on Ontario’s successful system.

This plan involves separating the roles of regulator and operator to prevent conflicts of interest, a move that will see the AGLC, which currently runs the Play Alberta online gambling brand, stepping back from directly overseeing new operators.

Structural Innovations

Alberta, home to major cities such as Calgary and Edmonton, is considering adopting a dual-structure similar to that of Ontario. This structure will position the Alcohol and Gaming Commission as the regulator, while a separate entity, akin to iGaming Ontario, will manage gaming operations. Such an arrangement aims to provide a buffer between AGLC and new independent sportsbook and casino brands, enhancing transparency and fairness in the market.

Involvement of First Nations

Nally also highlighted the planned inclusion of First Nations, who already play a significant role in Alberta’s land-based casino industry, in the online space. “It’s going to be very similar to Ontario because we’re following their model. As far as I’m concerned, they build the roadmap. We’ll massage it a little bit, but it’s been inspired by the experience in Ontario. It’s going to be an open and free market,” Nally stated.

Economic Implications and Market Control

The introduction of a competitive online gambling market in Alberta is poised to mirror the economic benefits seen in Ontario, where commercial online gambling has added CA$2.7 billion (US$1.97 million) to the provincial GDP.

Presently, government-owned online platforms under AGLC’s control hold over 45% of the province’s iGaming market share. The remaining 55%, currently dominated by technically illegal operators, represents a substantial untaxed and unregulated segment that the new legal framework aims to correct.

Stakeholder Engagement and Legislative Progress

In preparation for these changes, Nally’s office has engaged with various stakeholders, including lottery and First Nations groups. The recent passage of Bill 16 by the Alberta legislature, affirming the province’s authority to conduct and manage gaming, marks a critical step toward opening the market.

However, a specific timeline for when the new regulations will take effect has not been disclosed.