Will Alberta be Next Province to join the Canada Online Gambling Market?
It’s January—a month that calls for inherent introspect and change. We all do it. Many of us vow to eat healthier, get more exercise, or work towards a better position of employment. Resolutions aren’t just for individuals, though,. The province of Alberta, Canada is looking to make some constructive changes, too, promoting the salubrity of its gaming revenue.
For a while now, Alberta’s government has shown interest in the provincial regulation of online gambling. Up until recently, interest is all it was. Now, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) is taking steps to get the ball rolling. If successful, Saskatchewan would be the only province in Canada that does not offer any form of internet-based gambling (lottery, casino, poker, sports, racing, etc.)
AGLC Seeks Partner for Online Gambling
To be successful in today’s modern age of business, it takes collaboration between entities with the right ingenuity in their respective fields. In this case, it takes the AGLC to handle legal authorization and monetization. But they need a partner adept in running the business and technology side of internet gambling operations.
Last week, CBC News unearthed a quietly distributed Request for Proposal from the AGLC, seeking interest from such worthy partners. Regulators are looking for a development partner who can piece together a program with which residents of Alberta can access real money gambling options via desktop and mobile.
What Happens in Alberta, Stays in Alberta
Why does Alberta suddenly see the need for a self-regulated online gambling presence? Because the AGLC estimates that $358 million is being wagered offshore via online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks. That’s $358 million in revenue that is not flowing back through the provincial revenue system.
An Albertan’s gambling losses simply flow out of the country, instead of being funneled back into local communities and projects. By developing a provincial gaming website and encouraging Alberta’s adult gamblers to do their gaming here, instead of with overseas websites, the province makes more money. It’s that simple.
But that’s not the reason they’re highlighting. In fact, they weren’t highlighting anything until CBC got hold of the story. Now that it’s out in the open, AGLC spokeswoman Chara Goodings says safety and player protections are their top priority.
“We estimate about $358 million is spent annually by Albertans on unregulated, unprotected gambling sites,” Goodings tells CBC News.
“It’s not about promoting more” gambling, she adds. “This is about providing a safe place for them to gamble, then we can make sure they’re getting the proper messaging and have the tools there to help support them.”
Canada Online Gambling – Here and There
Like most Canadian provinces, the AGLC doesn’t like to comment on the legal status of offshore online gambling. For that, CBC News turns to Paul Burns, head of the Canadian Gaming Association, who offers his educated wisdom on the subject of what is and is not a violation of federal or provincial law.
As many of you know, offshore iGaming is not illegal in Canada, but rather something most industry insiders consider a ‘grey area‘ of the law. Mr. Burns agrees.
“Offerings coming from licences through provincial gaming corporations are the clearly legal route in Canada,” says Burns. “Where the grey area has come in Canada law is the offshore sites. They are not regulated in Canada.”
That fact does not make them illegal, but it does create problems for provincial governments. “They don’t pay taxes”, explains Burns, and that’s “a real concern,” for provinces like Alberta, seeking to monetize Canada’s online gambling population.