The province of Alberta is looking to attract two private sportsbook operators to help conduct and manage online sports betting in the area. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will be in charge of choosing the companies before February, while working with the province’s NHL and CFL teams to expand legal wagering at professional sports venues.
Alberta’s limited move to embrace private sportsbooks contrasts with most Canadian provinces, which have limited sports wagering options to government-run lottery corporations, with Ontario as the exception, as it is planning to establish a competitive market with an unlimited number of licensed operators.
On Friday, AGLC President and CEO, Kandice Machado said the province has posted a negotiated request for proposal on the Alberta Purchasing Connection website aimed at landing two successful companies.
Steve Lautischer, AGLC’s acting vice president of gaming and cannabis, said at a virtual press conference that he hopes to see the application process close at the end of January. “The hope is that the first set of retail sportsbooks are operating later in 2022”.
AGLC launched single-event online sports betting through its PlayAlberta.ca platform on September 1. Machado commented that, by opening retail sports betting up to two properties now, it is possible the the AGLC will be able to bring the service to Alberta earlier in 2022: "If AGLC were to open the market up to all vendors, the process required to bring the service to Albertans would be significantly delayed”.
Alberta is expected to generate online sports betting gross gaming revenue of $163.4 million next year, rising to $216.7 million in 2026, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming boutique research firm.
Canadian provinces have had legal authority to allow single-event sports betting on August 27, after the royal assent of legislation amending the criminal code on June 29. The change removed language that limited Canada’s lawful sports betting markets to wagers spanning multiple events.
The only legal channels for single-event sports betting in Canada have so far been through provincial lottery corporations, such as Ontario’s PROLINE+, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s PlayNow, Loto-Quebec’s Mise-o-jeu, and PlayAlberta.
Ontario had targeted the end of 2021 to launch its highly-anticipated competitive market for private sportsbooks. However, expectations within the industry have shifted to the first quarter of 2022.
The promise of an open, regulated market in Canada’s most populous province has prompted an influx of major foreign-owned sportsbooks. Australia’s PointsBet Holdings and FanDuel, owned by Dublin-based Flutter Entertainment, have each established teams based in Toronto. Boston-based DraftKings has also expressed interest in the Ontario market. In August, U.S. gambling firm Penn National Gaming announced a deal to acquire Toronto-based Score Media and Gaming.