Alberta is one of Canada’s largest prairie provinces and has made the most significant strides in legalizing and regulating gambling. Namely, all forms of gambling in Alberta, including land-based casinos, lotteries, bingo, raffles, sports betting, and others, are overseen by Alberta’s provincial government and the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) Commission.
The fourth-largest Canadian province has assumed the so-called charitable gaming model of regulation. A large part of the proceeds from gambling is directed towards funding thousands of charitable organizations. According to reports by the AGLC, more than $1.4 billion of net gaming income was generated between 2018 and 2019, deposited into the General Revenue Fund, and later used to finance different programs for Albertans.
You can find 28 different brick and mortar casinos scattered across the province, as well as dozens of bingo halls, VLT venues, and lottery kiosks and locations. Charitable groups run bingo, lottery, and raffle events under Class A, B, and C licences by the AGLC and are permitted to host such events three or more times per week. The lottery is operated by the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC), a non-profit organization that also runs lotteries in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Alberta’s minimum gambling age is 18, unlike most other provinces where players need to be over 19 to enjoy gambling.
In this article, we will offer a deep insight into the world of gambling in Alberta, the best casinos, poker rooms, and racetracks, as well as online gambling regulation.
Yes. Under the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act enacted by the provincial government and implemented under the auspices of the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) Commission, online gambling is entirely legal as long as it is enjoyed on regulated and licensed sites. As of October 1st, 2020, the only site where you can play legal online casino games is PlayAlberta.ca, run by the Government of Alberta’s Crown enterprise and commission AGLC.
You must be at least 18 years of age and physically located in Alberta to play at the casino. The platform was created by NeoPollard Interactive and features a wide array of online video slots, table games such as blackjack, baccarat, and roulette, multiple scratch cards, instant-win games, and online keno.
Leading software providers power the games, and new titles are continuously added to the game library at PlayAlberta.ca. The AGLC has established an advisory committee to oversee online gambling development and ensure its coherence with the existing regulations.
All games on the site are playable via mobile devices and desktop, including smartphones and tablets, regardless of their operating systems.
Upon registration and before claiming the welcome bonus, Albertans will be required to submit personal documents to verify their identities and enjoy different casino games.
According to the reports by the AGLC, there are over 25 different land-based casinos and racetracks operated by the country’s leading casino companies. These venues allow players to have a superb casino gaming experience thanks to a broad choice of slots, VLTs, table games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, and other games, as well as off-track race betting opportunities, and more.
Some of the casinos even offer dedicated poker rooms that host daily cash games and weekly Texas Hold’em poker tournaments, along with other variations.
The following is a quick summary of AB’s five most popular casinos and a full rundown of all available casinos in the province.
The River Cree Resort and Casino is one of the biggest and most well-known casinos in the greater Edmonton area and Alberta. It boasts over 60,000 square feet of gaming space, which houses 1,350 slot machines, 10 VLTs, and 40 different tables where the best blackjack, roulette, and poker action can be found. What’s more, a specially designed poker room with 12 tables is your go-to place for both high-stake and low-stake poker games. Visitors can also enjoy first-class gaming machines in the casino’s smoker-friendly Ember room.
Starlight Casino Edmonton is considered to be among the very best in Alberta and one of the most successful casinos owned and operated by the Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd corporation, which is also behind 25 other casinos across Canada. Starlight Casino Edmonton offers 128,000-square feet of gaming and entertainment space with over 750 different slot machines, 32 tables featuring blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette, as well as eight poker tables in an exclusive poker room.
Pure Casino Calgary is one of Calgary’s biggest casinos, thanks to its 57,000 square feet of gaming space. Here, players can find 852 slot machines, 22 VLTs, 26 table games featuring baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, and other games, as well as a poker room open 24/7. The casino is run by the renowned Pure Canadian Gaming company, which operates multiple other successful gaming companies across Canada. Apart from casino gaming, the casino offers the best indoor golf option through an HD Golf Simulator that puts you on the world’s finest courses.
The Grey Eagle Resort and Casino is Calgary’s brand new casino resort located on Tsuut’ina Nation land, a doorway to the Rocky Mountains. The casino features a casino floor spanning 87,000 square feet of space, where 970 slot machines, 40 table games, and a dedicated poker room are situated. There is also a high-limit room mainly designed to meet the needs of high rollers. For accommodation purposes, visitors to the casino can rely on the four-star resort Grey Eagle Resort Hotel teeming with amenities and luxuries.
The Deerfoot Inn & Casino is located on the Deerfoot Trail in the south of Calgary. It is a premium adult entertainment centre with over 800 slot machines, 20+ tables with different casino games, and a 10-table poker room. You can also find a 188-room hotel on the premises with a huge water park and four top-class restaurants.
Although many Albertans can play poker games, not all casinos in the province offer dedicated live poker rooms. However, even those that don’t, offer heads-up poker play where players square off against the dealers. The following are the best casinos with poker rooms in all of Alberta.
River Cree Resort & Casino offers one of the largest poker rooms, not just in Edmonton but all of Alberta. There are 12 tables where the best No Limit and Limit Texas Hold’em and Omaha games are played. The poker room is open from 11:00 AM to 3:00 AM, and players can enjoy both cash games and tournaments.
The poker room at Elbow River used to be open 24/7, but due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19, its working hours are now from 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM from Sunday to Thursday and from 10:00 AM to 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday. The poker room specializes in 4-8, 15-30, and 20-40 Limit Texas Hold’em poker, 4-8 Limit Omaha and 1-2 Pot Limit Omaha played across 14 available tables.
Casino Yellowhead is another Albertan casino that offers a 24/7 poker room packed with top limit and no-limit Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and other poker games. There are 13 tables available for cash games and tournaments regularly hosted by this casino. Due to COVID-19, the poker room had to cut short its working hours on days from Sunday to Wednesday (10:00 AM to 3:00 AM), but on all other days, it remains open 24/7.
The poker room at Casino Edmonton is open 24/7 and offers 12 tables for premium No-Limit Texas Hold’em action. There are multiple weekly tournaments and cash games where you can test your skill against the province’s best poker players.
Deerfoot Inn and Casino is a place where players can engage in daily No-Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha cash games, and No-Limit Texas Hold’em tournaments. There are ten different poker tables and plenty of amenities that the room offers, such as food table service, free WiFi and more.
According to Alberta’s gambling laws, sports betting is entirely legal. However, it is only conducted through the Western Canada Lottery Corporation and is available in the parimutuel form. No single-event sports betting is available, though Alberta is in support of Canada regulating single-game wagering. For now, sports bettors will need rely on the so-called Sports Select group of betting games, such as ProLine, Point Spread, Pool, and Props.
The maximum betting limit is $100 per ticket, and you need to bet a minimum of three games per wager. Online sports betting is still not available in its proper form. Namely, players can compose their tickets on the Sports Select web page, but they need to print the tickets and place their wagers at one of the hundreds of selling points throughout the province.
The Alberta lottery includes such games as Daily Grand, Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 via the Western Canada Lottery Corporation as it is the only company that can run licensed lotteries in Alberta. The lottery proceeds are used to fund multiple programs in Alberta’s communities to improve all residents’ daily lives.
To check if you have a winning ticket, you can use the Ticket Checkers at your local lottery retailer. The WCLC MVP service can also send you the winning numbers of the biggest lotteries via email, or you can use the WCLC Lottery Manager app and its ticket checker feature. Finally, you can either call the Winning Number Lines for the most recent numbers or check them at your local retailers’ bulletin boards.
In case you have the winning numbers, you can collect the winnings in multiple ways. If the payout is up to $100, you can claim the prize at your local lottery ticket retail shop. If the prize is within the $101 to $9,999.99 range, your best bet is to request payment by sending the ticket via mail to WCLC or in-person through Alberta Prize Payout Offices. You need to claim prizes over $10,000 in person.
The Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) commission issues Class A and Class B bingo licences to registered charitable organizations that can run bingo games and raffles three or more times, depending on the type of licence they hold. There are over 20 bingo halls throughout Alberta, and plenty of other charitable organizations run regular bingo draws.
Alberta has six race tracks where you can enjoy the best thoroughbred, chuck wagon, quarter horse, and other horse racing.
Century Downs Racetrack and Casino are one of the elite racetrack venues in Alberta. The racetrack offers 100 days of racing each year. Players can enjoy the best of thoroughbred, standardbred, and quarter horse racing, WPCA chuckwagon racing, and live pari-mutuel betting on all horse races at the track, as well as simulcast off-track betting in the betting lounge.
Century Mile Racetrack offers a mile-long racetrack where live thoroughbred racing occurs on Friday nights at 7:15 PM and Sunday nights at 5:15 PM. The Outdoor Apron and the Finish Line are the two restaurants on the track where players can watch the best of harness and quarter horse racing and betting.
JDA Raceway is a racetrack in the Evergreen Park where players can enjoy top-quality thoroughbred horse racing that takes place on a track measuring 5/8th of a mile. July and August are the busiest months at the JDA Raceway when Horse Racing Alberta takes over the track and hosts many races visitors to the park can bet on.
Online gambling is legal in Alberta only through the PlayAlberta.ca site run by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) commission.
You have to be at least 18 to gamble in Alberta.
Only professional gamblers and poker players who play for a living must pay taxes on their winnings.
Offshore gambling sites belong in the grey area of gambling laws in Alberta. Technically, these sites can’t operate from within Alberta and be advertised there. Still, since they are registered in other countries, Albertans can access them freely without any fear of prosecution.