But, while they wait, the provincial crown corporation is preparing to offer Albertans an expanded sports betting menu.
AGLC is “looking forward to the day” Albertans can place new and unique wagers on their favourite sporting events, the agency said yesterday in a release.
Under existing rules, Albertans cannot bet on a single event, like the Canadian Football League (CFL) kickoff or the final week of the Olympic games.
Currently, AGLC expects to launch sports betting in Alberta, including single-event bets on PlayAlberta.ca, before the end of the year. However, the exact date depends on when the feds bring the law into force with an order-in-council.
Here for it from the start
In February, AGLC released a statement in support of the changes proposed to federal sports gambling legislation. At the time, two bills, C-218 and C-13, were making their way through Parliament. On June 29, Bill C-218 reached royal assent after successfully passing through the House and Senate.
“AGLC has supported modernized gambling laws for a number of years,” said Kandice Machado, AGLC’s interim President and CEO.
”Players would be able to choose a game or proposition that gives them greater odds of a successful bet, picking between markets such as the game outcome, point spread or how many shots a player registers.”
In addition to integrating sports wagering into their online offerings in 2021, AGLC intends to work with industry stakeholders to bring sports wagering to destination facilities throughout the province.
The introduction of single-event betting in Alberta is just the latest in a series of changes that started with PlayAlberta.ca’s launch in late 2020.
AGLC opened the online gambling destination to Albertans in October of last year.
“PlayAlberta.ca is another way AGLC is delivering a responsible gambling choice for the benefits of Albertans,” said Alain Maisonneuve, President & CEO at the time.
“The province’s regulated online gambling website will offer players expanded entertainment options with integrated responsible gambling features and generate revenue to support valuable programs and services Albertans rely on every day.”
Since PlayAlberta.ca’s launch, AGLC also introduced online lotto to the site’s slots, instants, virtual, and live gambling.
“AGLC continues to expand entertainment opportunities for Albertans through the introduction of lottery games on Play Alberta,” said Machado. “Creating new digital purchasing options provides consumer convenience while continuing to generate revenue that benefits Albertans.”
At the website’s launch, AGLC noted it was working to ensure PlayAlberta exists to complement land-based casinos in Alberta.
To support their relationships with existing venues, they “established an online gambling advisory committee,” AGLC said. The committee of gaming industry reps will ensure Play Alberta “complements” land-based venues. And Albertans will still have access to a legal and secure website.
How successful that is, however, remains to be seen.
In April, two First Nations near Calgary applied to shut down Play Alberta, claiming the website is an overstep by AGLC.
The Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda First Nations believe Play Alberta is an unauthorized entry into the casino market. And, since the pandemic forced land-based casinos to close, the site became a provincial gambling monopoly.
“The province has closed casinos,” said Brent Dodginghorse, the CEO of Tsuut’ina Nation Gaming. The closures ensure they are the “only option available for those who want to play casino games.”
“We have taken the business risk of building and operating a casino and agreed to share revenue with the province,” he added. “It is in bad faith for the province to do anything with online revenue other than allocating to existing casinos.”
At the time of filing, AGLC’s response to the applications was non-commital.
“Like most jurisdictions in Canada, Alberta has recently started offering online gaming,” said AGLC spokesperson Heather Holmen.
“As in all Canadian jurisdictions, online gaming is conducted and managed by the provincial authorities in accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada. AGLC is not aware of the nature of the judicial review application being brought by the First Nations and is, therefore, unable to comment further.”
PlayCanada reached out numerous times to AGLC and the Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda Nations for comment. At the time of publication, there had been no response.