Alberta Follows Ontario, Will Officially Open Regulated Online Gambling Market

Written By Matthew Lomon on June 20, 2024
Alberta's Banff National Park. Minister Dale Nally announced at the Canadian Gaming Summit that Alberta will launch an open online gambling market modelled after Ontario's.

Alberta is officially joining Ontario as the second Canadian province to open a regulated online gambling market.

After several months of strong intimation, Alberta Minister of Service and Red Tape Reduction Dale Nally confirmed the news in a statement during Thursday’s Canadian Gaming Summit.

It was here that Nally informed an eager audience of the province’s plan to formally introduce an open market. As expected, Alberta’s iGaming model will mirror that of Ontario’s.

“Let me tell you a little bit about what our gaming site is going to look like,” Nally said. “It’s going to be very similar to Ontario, because we’re following their model.

“As far as I’m concerned, they build the roadmap. We’ll massage it a little bit but it’s been inspired by the experience in Ontario. It’s going to be an open and free market.”

Nally: AGLC will not regulate Alberta market

As part of his announcement, Nally specified that Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis will not be the regulator of Alberta’s new market.

The AGLC currently operates the province’s only regulated online gambling site, the government-run PlayAlberta.

With his decree, Nally apparently agreed with third-party operators, many of whom expressed reservations about sharing sensitive information with an entity that will still stand as a competitor once the market opens.

The decision to open a regulated market was expected. Earlier this month, Alberta lawmakers passed Bill 16, the Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act.

The bill allows Alberta to follow Ontario’s lead and appoint an entirely new regulatory body to oversee the regulated market. While Nally hasn’t confirmed his office’s desired direction, it’s now likely that a separate entity will assume regulatory duties.

What might this look like?

Well, in Ontario, for example, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario holds the title of regulator. However, a subsidiary of the AGCO, known as iGaming Ontario, is responsible for conducting and managing iGaming operations.

This includes granting third-party operators access to the Ontario online casinosports betting, and poker markets.

No timeline for launch, but 2025 still feasible

At no point during his notable trip to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre did Nally comment on a potential timeline for launch.

Previously, it appeared that Alberta’s new online gambling framework was on track for 2025. Although Nally, by not addressing the estimation, neither confirmed nor denied its feasibility.

That said, Nally’s team has been working on the expansion project for quite some time now. In fact, installing an open online gambling market was the featured item on Nally’s 2023 Alberta mandate letter from Premier Danielle Smith.

The minister is now well on his way, as consultations with key stakeholders, including the lottery corporation and First Nations have already begun. Nally specifically said that the latter will be involved in the marketplace.

Months of speculation have finally transformed into action. A regulated online gambling market is officially coming to a second Canadian province.

Photo by Shutterstock
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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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