Alberta will open up regulated online gaming market

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Another province is following Ontario’s lead and opening up the regulated market. On Thursday, Alberta Minister of Service and Red Tape Reduction Dale Nally told an audience at the Canadian Gaming Summit that the province is officially moving forward with plans to open the market.

“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.”

AGLC will not serve as regulator for Alberta market

Currently, the only regulated gaming operator in the province is Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC), which runs the PlayAlberta online gambling brand in the province.

Nally made it clear that AGLC will not be overseeing the regulated operators in the province and acknowledged that operators were understandably wary of sharing data and information with a group that will remain a competitor in the space.

The Ontario model has the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario serve as the regulator but a separate body, iGaming Ontario, conducts and manages gaming operations in the province. Alberta could adopt a similar model to create more of a buffer between AGLC and the independent sportsbook and casino brands.

Nally also said the First Nations in the province will be involved in the marketplace as well. The AGLC already has existing relationships with some First Nations operating land-based casinos in the province.

No timeline on when new Alberta market will launch

The minister did not offer a timeline on when the market will open up, but the legal steps are already in place for Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to move forward. Last month the Alberta legislature passed a bill that confirmed the province’s ability to conduct and manage gaming as they see fit in the province. This opened the door for the province to move towards an open market.

Since then, Nally’s office has been in consultation with all key stakeholders, including the lottery and First Nations. While it seemed inevitable that the opening of the market was coming, Thursday marked the first official confirmation from his office that the province is moving in that direction.