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Alberta to follow Ontario roadmap in launching commercial online gambling market

| By Richard Mulligan
Alberta’s administration is to follow fellow Canadian province Ontario’s blueprint by launching a regulated online gambling market.

Alberta, which includes the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, would open up its market in line with Ontario’s launch in 2022. Commercial online gambling has since contributed CA$2.7bn (US$1.97m) to Ontario’s GDP, according to figures released this week.

Dale Nally, Alberta’s minister of service and red tape reduction, confirmed the province’s broad plans during a session at a conference in Toronto on Thursday. He was speaking just weeks after Alberta’s legislature passed Bill 16, which simplifies the expansion of the province’s gambling sector.

While not setting out a specific timeline, Nally confirmed that online betting and gambling will be expanded beyond the current Play Alberta monopoly, which is operated by Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

An independent administrator for the commercial market would be created in the province along the lines of iGaming Ontario, which is separate to Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

Nally also said the First Nations in the province, who have interests in the land-based casino market, will be involved in the online marketplace.

Nally said: “It’s going to be very similar to Ontario. We’re following their model as they built 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.”

What Bill 16 means for Alberta online gambling

Bill 16 is the recently passed legislation that allows for gambling to be expanded in line with a number of commitments to reducing red tape. The bill recognises that the provincial government has the authority to conduct and manage gaming in the province as well as AGLC.

Minister Nally has been directed by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to explore new potential avenues for online gaming and sports betting in the province.

PlayAlberta, developed by NeoPollard Interactive, was launched by AGLC in October 2020. Last year, AGLC announced a long-term partnership with NeoPollard’s BtoBet to assist in growth and improvement for the website’s sportsbook. In 2022-23, CA$1.5bn in net gaming income was generated for the province’s general revenue fund from all provincial gaming activities.

A report by Deloitte published in June revealed Ontario’s online gambling market hit or almost reached many of Deloitte’s year-five projections within its second year (April 2023 to April 2024), with the market (excluding the state-backed lottery operator) contributing CA$2.7bn (US$1.97m) to GDP and sustaining almost 15,000 full time equivalent jobs in the province.

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