Rural Municipalities of Alberta seeks charitable gaming overhaul

RMA says current model unfair to non-profits

The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), the organization that represents the province’s counties and districts, wants Alberta’s charitable gaming model to be formally reviewed.

Alberta charitable organisations can apply for a license to conduct volunteer-run casino events. But the RMA says the current system is unfair to non-profits based in rural communities, which earn considerably less on average than those in cities.

The Calgary Herald reports that casino events run by Calgary organizations receive $42,000 on average per year for hosting a casino event every 20 months while groups in rural areas outside the city get $16,000 on average and have to wait three years between events.

The RMA wants the charitable gaming model reviewed regularly and put forward several recommendations for an overhaul. Those include changes such as one that would pool a portion of the revenue generated in each region and distribute it equally to all regions. The organisation says it would significantly reduce the current revenue gap.

RMA President Paul McLauchlin also says that the problem could be eased if the AGLC’s PlayAlberta site gave a slice of its online gaming revenue to charities.

“There’s an opportunity to make everybody whole if they looked at the online gaming proceeds flowing into the same system as well as potentially bumping it all up,” McLauchlin told the Herald.

How does charitable gaming fit into Alberta gaming plans?

McLauchlin noted the charitable gaming model in Alberta “has been a political issue for a really long time… time goes by and nobody hears anything, so we’ve got to bring it back up again.”

The RMA will send sending a letter to the province this week seeking a formal review.

The issue has resurfaced at a time when Alberta is undergoing a wider assessment of the feasibility of a regulated gaming industry. Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Minister Dale Nally has been tasked with leading a $1 million review of the potential path forward in Wild Rose Country.

Nally’s press secretary Nicky Gocuan told Canadian Gaming Business last month that “the province will engage with traditional casino operators, Racing Entertainment Centre operators, and First Nations starting this year to hear their perspectives on opportunities to expand iGaming in Alberta in a way that makes sense for our province, its market, and Albertans.” There was no indication of how much consultation would take place with charitable gaming organisations.

Gocuan told the Herald that the gaming model has provided more than $383 million to Alberta charitable and religious organizations.

“We recognise there are still more opportunities to strengthen the charitable gaming model and the need to study how we can improve the support of charitable organisations from the rural communities,” Gocuan added.

The minister’s office’s statement added that the province will review AGLC’s operations to assess the potential of increasing contributions to Alberta charities and community facilities.

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