Alberta passes bill opening potential door for gambling expansion

Bill 16 includes an amendment on conducting and managing gaming

It’s official: Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis is not the only entity that can conduct and manage gaming in the province.

The Alberta legislature has passed a bill that recognises that the provincial government has the authority to conduct and manage gaming in the province as well as AGLC.

Bill 16, titled the Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act and consisting of amendments to the provincial Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act passed by vote and then received final approval in the Alberta legislature over the last couple of weeks.

Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Minister Dale Nally’s press secretary Nicky Gocuan confirmed to Canadian Gaming Business in an email that “specific amendments clarifying ministerial authority over gaming came into effect with Royal Assent.”

In essence, it legally clears the path for the government to allow chosen and licensed third-party operators to offer gaming services and products in Wild Rose Country alongside the AGLC’s PlayAlberta online sportsbook and casino, which the commission operates on behalf of the government.

The legislation comes amid the ongoing provincial government’s review of the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act.

Nally has been directed by Premier Danielle Smith to explore new potential avenues for online gaming and sports betting in the province. Bill 16 confirms that the government would have the authority to decide how to manage an expansion of Alberta’s gaming market.

“Going forward, we will meet with all 47 First Nations and with the six First Nation casino operators,” added Gocuan. “We look forward to meeting soon and gathering their feedback on iGaming.

“As part of our policy development process, and our move towards a more open regulated online gaming market, Alberta’s government will continue to examine best practices from other jurisdictions, including Ontario.”

Stakeholders assess Alberta at SBC Summit North America

The legislative tweak is the latest official update from Alberta on the progress of its gaming review. After the province devoted $1 million in its budget to review the feasibility of revamping the Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Act to open up the online gaming market, Nally’s office told Canadian Gaming Business last month that the province will engage with not only First Nations but also casino and racetrack operators and other stakeholders this year.

At the recent SBC Summit North America, Rush Street Interactive’s Managing Director of Canada, Bruce Caughill claimed that Alberta will soon create a separate conduct-and-manage agency to oversee iGaming, similar to Ontario’s establishment of the iGaming Ontario government agency to work in tandem with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

All signs seem to point towards a 2025 launch being possible.

“There’s a desire in the Alberta government to make this happen yesterday,” Caughill added at the Summit. “There’s a long way to go still.”

Nally said at ICE London in February that Alberta’s population, low corporate taxes and high disposable incomes prime it to be a “premier” hub for iGaming. But Nally’s office has stressed to CGB on multiple occasions including in its most recent email that Alberta’s iGaming strategy must “make sense for our unique gaming market and serve the interests of all Albertans.”

Canadian Gaming Association President Paul Burns added on the Summit panel that Alberta has had some of the highest per-capita spending on gambling in Canada for many years. Any operators entering the province to compete with the AGLC would have “a very robust gaming marketplace” at their fingertips.

You might also like