Following Ontario’s Success, Will iGaming Launch in Alberta?

Ontario legalized online gambling in 2022 and Alberta is set to follow in its footsteps. The province is looking to allow both online gambling and sports betting sooner rather than later. Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction, Dale Nally is leading the initiative to bring these activities to life. He discussed plans to do so at the ICE conference in London in February 2024.

Photo by Kyler Nixon on Unsplash

The province currently offers online gambling, but only through the government-operated platform called PlayAlberta. Locals can also play on overseas-based websites like reputable offshore casinos tested for players in Canada, for benefits like higher betting limits and instant withdrawals of winnings.

However, privately owned local online casinos still aren’t allowed in Alberta. But it looks like this is set to change as Nally’s initiative is taking the right direction.

The government of Alberta’s capital plan and budget for FY2024 shows more funds being allocated to reviewing the Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Act. With $1 million in funding for the review, we could see some massive changes in the province’s approach to iGaming.

Alberta could look up to Ontario, which generated a $2 billion revenue in Q1 of 2023 alone. Not only that, but the province also saw a significant increase in players in its second year. With a total of $63 billion in wagering, the second year was 70% bigger than the first. It’s likely that Ontario will build on this success and see another increase in 2024.

Being the country’s fourth-largest province with a population of 4.7 million, replicating this approach could pay off for Alberta. Nally even sees it as a potential leading iGaming hub of the country.

He said that Alberta’s low corporate tax rates, streamlined regulations, and high incomes make it a perfect destination for iGaming operators. At the ICE London conference, Nally already started pitching to those who might be interested in entering the market once it opens. He said that they would find any framework they develop in the province very favourable.

According to Nally, iGaming arriving in Alberta isn’t a matter of if but when. An official statement from him says that the plan to bring it is already in motion.

He’s been given a mandate by Premier Danielle Smith to build the province’s iGaming strategy together with indigenous partners. They’re focusing on delivering a safe and responsible gambling experience while bringing provincial and indigenous revenue generation.

Nally is also being backed by Ontario’s Attorney General Doug Downey, who joined him during the discussion in London.

A timeline for when locals could see online gambling and sports betting arrive is still unknown. But how will the iGaming landscape in the province look once it unfolds?

It’s likely that Alberta will use Ontario’s approach as a blueprint. This means it’ll put an emphasis on casino and betting apps. Once the necessary steps are taken by the government, locals will see more and more platforms arrive on their mobile devices. This will likely draw many Albertans from brick-and-mortar casinos to the ones on the web.

It’s also interesting to think about what other provinces will follow. British Columbia will hold its provincial elections this October and we’re not likely to see this topic being discussed before that.

The situation in Quebec differs slightly. An organization called Quebec Online Gambling Coalition is already advocating for an Ontario-inspired model. They’re working with GeoComply to deliver data that paints a better picture of Quebecers’ gambling habits. They claim that only 27% of players use Loto-Quebec for online casino games and sports betting. Still, the government of Premier Francois Legault said that they’re happy with the current model. Therefore, it’s unlikely that anything will change before the next elections in October 2026.

With Ontario’s successful approach to iGaming and Alberta climbing aboard, other provinces might eventually start to consider changing their stances. This means the iGaming landscape in Canada will undoubtedly be something to keep an eye on in the future.

Until the changes arrive, Albertans will have to continue gambling the same way they’ve been doing it in recent years. The data suggests that the majority of adults in the province engage in at least one gambling activity per year. In total, they gamble over $23 billion annually.

They do this in brick-and-mortar casinos and PlayAlberta. The only other way they can experience gambling online is by visiting platforms owned by foreign companies. Since they’re not regulated by the Canadian government, these real money online casino sites can accept all players from the country. They also offer swift payments and withdrawals, which makes them even more enticing. Also, these platforms are entirely safe to play on as they’ve been serving players from all across the world for years.

It’s up to Alberta to harness the potential of its gambling market by embracing iGaming. And with everything in motion, it looks like the future is bright with the new era of online gambling and sports betting ready to arrive in Calgary and the rest of Alberta.

 

 

 

About Joel Levy 2585 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography