Alberta On Track To Become Second Canadian Province To Legalize Online Gambling

Written By Matthew Lomon on February 13, 2024
Scenic photo of Alberta's Banff National Park with the words

A recent trip across the pond suggests Alberta is advancing toward becoming the second Canadian province to legalize online gambling, also known as iGaming.

PlayCanada has confirmed that Dale Nally, Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction, is working on an open, regulated Alberta online gambling  market similar to Ontario’s. Nally’s office emailed a statement that reads:

“Alberta can be a leading hub for iGaming, with a strong emphasis on openness and a free market. We have low corporate taxes, streamlined regulations and high disposable incomes. These conditions will allow us to establish ourselves as a premier destination for the iGaming industry.”

Nally attended last week’s ICE conference in London alongside several of the global online gambling industry’s heaviest hitters. Among the attendees seen sharing intel with Nally was Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey.

The video below obtained from Downey’s X account shows the pair, plus Canadian Gaming Association CEO Paul Burns, discussing the success of the Ontario online casino and sports betting market. Here, Downey shares some insight into the process of developing Ontario’s iGaming framework.

Nally keen on completing key initiative from 2023 Alberta mandate letter

Last July, Nally received a mandate letter from Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. The letter contained 10 initiatives that Smith expects Nally’s ministry to deliver on. Interestingly, the first item on said list involved finalizing Alberta’s online gambling strategy. It reads:

“Working with Indigenous partners, finish developing and implementing Alberta’s online gaming strategy with a focus on responsible gaming and provincial and Indigenous revenue generation.”

Now, six-plus months removed, Nally appears motivated to make good on his duties and bring a regulated, third-party online gambling market to The Energy Province. According to his personal X account, Nally engaged in “insightful discussions” with Downey during the ICE summit.

Online gambling in Alberta not a matter of if, but when

The most recent edition of Gaming News Canada’s weekly rundown offered additional confirmation that Alberta is pursuing an open online gambling sector.

In particular, GNC first obtained the same statement from Nally’s office that PlayCanada later received. That indicates it’s only a matter of time before a competitive iGaming market arrives in Alberta.

While not happening in the immediate future, Burns said this has been the plan in Alberta since the mandate letter. Burns said now that Nally’s office moved through changes to the cannabis sector, he’s clearly focused on regulating online gambling.

The sentiment among other GNC sources was that Alberta would be an attractive market for operators. They specifically cited factors like Canadian player value, which many operators view as high, and lower provincial taxes.

Nally touted the latter at ICE saying that because of low taxes, Albertans have a higher disposable income, and in turn, a higher per capita gambling spend.

Adding to the prospective Alberta market’s appeal would be a regulatory framework that closely follows Ontario’s. The more Alberta’s regulatory standards and technical requirements can mirror Ontario, the better it is for the industry.

This, Burns says, will help facilitate traditional business practices, as well as making new markets more accessible.

Photo by PlayCanada
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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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