Likely to follow Ontario's regulatory model

Canada: Alberta to open regulated online gambling market, expanding beyond AGLC monopoly

Reading time 1:21 min

Alberta is officially moving forward with plans to open its regulated online gambling market, expanding beyond the current monopoly held by Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

Dale Nally, Alberta’s Minister of Service and Red Tape Reduction
, announced the decision at the Canadian Gaming Summit on Thursday. He said AGLC, which operates the Play Alberta online gambling brand, will not oversee the new regulated operators to avoid conflicts of interest.

Home to Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta is considering a regulatory model similar to Ontario’s where the Alcohol and Gaming Commission serves as the regulator, while iGaming Ontario conducts and manages gaming operations separately.

This structure would create a buffer between AGLC and independent sportsbook and casino brands. Nally also stated that First Nations in Alberta, who already operate land-based casinos in the province, will participate in the online marketplace.

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 said.

Since opening the market, commercial online gambling has contributed CA$2.7 billion (US$1.97 million) to Ontario’s GDP, according to recent figures.

The minister did not provide a timeline for the market opening but confirmed that the legal framework is in place. Last month, the Alberta legislature passed Bill 16, which affirms the province’s authority to conduct and manage gaming, paving the way for an open market.

As per estimates from research firm H2 Gambling Capitalgovernment-owned online sports betting and casino gambling sites (as part of AGLC) now control more than 45% of the province's overall iGaming industry in Alberta.

However, that means that approximately 55% of Alberta’s sports betting and online gaming market belong to technically illegal operators, who don't pay taxes and are not subject to local oversight. 

Nally’s office has been consulting with key stakeholders, including the lottery and First Nations. While market opening appeared imminent, Thursday’s announcement marked the first official confirmation from Nally’s office.

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