Alberta Aims to Emulate Ontario’s Online Gambling Privatization Model

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Online gambling privatization is in Albertans’ future, as the province seeks to become Canada’s second to provide its residents with multiple legal options. The new marketplace will emulate Ontario’s iGaming model and allow private companies to compete with the government-run PlayAlberta. Alberta legislator Dale Nally revealed the plan on June 20.

Matthew Lomon of PlayCanada broke the news about the announcement from Nally, Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction (SARTR) minister.

Lomon quoted Nally’s statement that day at the Canadian Gaming Summit.

Nally said:

Let me tell you a little bit about what our gaming site is going to look like. 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.

Lomon noted that while Albertans were expecting a 2025 launch of a privatized iGaming marketplace, Nally did not provide a launch timeline update on June 20 at the Toronto conference. However, he did say First Nations operators would be included from the beginning, according to PlayCanada.

Lomon wrote:

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

AGLC oversees PlayAlberta, so regulating its competition may be a conflict of interest. As a result, a different entity will likely govern the private marketplace.

Bonus and PlayCanada are Catena Media publications.

Ontario’s Online Gambling Privatization

If Alberta matches Ontario’s online gambling model, it will be more restrictive for private operators than any iGaming marketplace in the US. However, some state regulators have started emulating a few of the Ontario marketing and advertising standards.

Private online casino and sports betting operators launch on April 4, 2022. It soon faced a legal challenge from the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke, asserting that the model violated federal laws, which require provincial governments to “conduct and manage” all gambling. That took a year and a half to resolve, but ultimately the courts affirmed the Ontario model’s legality.

From the beginning, Ontario’s regulators outlawed private online gambling operator language that had been pervasive in American ads. Even mentioning the restricted words got many operators and their affiliate marketers in legal trouble. On Feb. 28, 2024, regulators banned operators from including athletes in their marketing and advertising.

Meanwhile, Alberta may have another challenge.

The western province won’t provide as large a marketplace as Ontario’s. Alberta is home to a mere 4.8 million residents, while Ontario is Canada’s most populous province at 16 million.

Marketplace sizes often impact operator interest. In the US, smaller states like West Virginia attract fewer brands, and certain products—like online poker—can take longer to arrive.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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