Alberta Sports Betting Takes Step Toward Open Market

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Alberta sports betting

Commercial sportsbooks could soon operate in a Canadian province other than Ontario as legislation clearing the way for Alberta sports betting passed the legislature this spring.

Bill 16, or the Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act, received Royal Assent last month. The legislation amends the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act to allow the Alberta government to authorize third-party gambling operators outside of Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, or AGLC.

While the path for commercial operators to offer Canada sports betting in Alberta is open and the timing for more options now would coincide well with the Edmonton Oilers appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, there is no timeline, according to Brandon Aboultaif, press secretary for Service and Red Tape Reduction Minister Dale Nally.

“Going forward, we will determine if there is a need for supporting regulations,” Aboultair wrote in a statement to LSR. “We may have further clarity in this regard following our engagement with First Nations and Alberta’s gaming sector now underway.”

Alberta sports betting plans

The provincial government is reviewing the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act. Earlier this year, Nally said the province was exploring growth opportunities in the Alberta online gambling market.

Aboultaif said meetings with the province’s First Nations began this week and run through July. The regulators are also meeting with casino operators and Racing Entertainment Center operators to determine a path forward.

“We are committed to working with our partners to finish developing and implementing the province’s online gaming strategy, with a focus on responsible gaming and provincial and Indigenous revenue generation,” Aboultaif said. “We recognize that 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.”

Alberta sports betting in action

Like other provinces beyond Ontario, Alberta has live online gaming through the provincial lottery.

AGLC launched PlayAlberta in September 2021, shortly after provinces were allowed to begin offering single-event sports betting.

AGLC issued an RFP in 2021 for commercial operators to expand sports betting, but the process did not advance beyond that step.

Canada markets stagnant

While rumblings of Alberta’s expansion have been around since 2021, Ontario remains the only open commercial online gambling market in Canada. 

It launched its commercial market in April 2022 and phased out its gray-market transition phase in October 2022. The provincial regulators were happy with the results

In Ontario’s second full year of online gambling, its nearly 50 operators took CAD $63 billion (USD $45 billion) in wagers. The second-year handle was a 77% increase compared to the first-year total handle of CAD $35.6 billion (USD $26.5 billion.) 

Photo by AP/Tony Gutierrez