Alberta Gaming Commission: Sports Betting Ads Are Illegal

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on June 17, 2022 - Last Updated on June 29, 2022
alberta sports betting ads illegal

Gambling advertising is all over the TV and radio. But it’s not just Ontario viewers getting hammered with ads; Alberta residents also see them.

Because of this, the gaming commission is — once again — reminding residents that the Alberta sports betting ads are illegal within the provincial borders.

Steve Lautischer, the vice president of Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis Commission, said:

“It’s illegal for somebody to be offering bets to Albertans that are not regulated.

“The only legal sports bets in the province of Alberta today are either found through what we offer on PlayAlberta.ca or what is offered on Western Canada Lottery Sport Select brand.”

The province did not follow Ontario’s wide-open model and instead offer single-game betting through its PlayAlberta platform instead.

Alberta has gambling advertising concerns

Alberta health specialists are concerned that the overflow of gambling ads could negatively impact youth.

Professor Robert Williams, a clinical psychologist with the University of Lethbridge and the Alberta Gambling Research Institute, is one. He said gaming ads featuring celebrities could lead to increased participation when they come of legal age.

Williams said in a recent interview with the Calgary Eyeopener:

“Endorsements by celebrities does cause the ad and message to be more memorable, and if the endorser is deemed to have positive qualities, this enhances consumers’ perception of the product, including brand loyalty.”

Ontario gambling ads heavily restricted

While Alberta experts have every right to be worried, advertisements for Ontario online gambling are heavily restricted compared to the US.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission imposed significant restrictions in Ontario. According to the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, bonuses and inducements can only appear on an operator’s website:

“Advertising and marketing materials that communicate gambling inducements, bonuses and credits are prohibited, except on an operator’s gaming site and through direct advertising and marketing, after receiving active player consent.”

So, players can only learn about promotions from the sports betting app or website or via direct marketing (if they provide consent).

With the restrictions and nearly 20 online gaming options, Ontarians may find it hard to find a good deal. Previous grey market operators, which already have brand recognition in the province, will have an easier time of it.

Players will also become more familiar with the big brands that can afford pricey TV spots. But that will only benefit heavy-hitters, like BetMGM, FanDuel and DraftKings.

Gambling in Alberta

Players can access online gambling in Alberta through the PlayAlberta platform. Players can access retail sports betting through Western Canada Lottery Corporation’s Sports Select brand.

Alberta plans to expand gambling to two private operators, though likely in more of a service provider role. Alberta may then follow the UK’s gambling ad model, which forbids celebrities, athletes and influences in ad campaigns.

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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina is a Toronto-based online gambling writer who holds a master's degree in journalism. Before joining PlayCanada, she was part of the AskGamblers crew where she reported about the world of online casinos and interviewed numerous iGaming experts. Being in the industry for 5 years, she became an expert in online slots.

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