PlayAlberta may have to surrender its monopoly on online casino and sports betting as the province looks to follow Ontario's lead

Alberta Becomes The Latest Canadian Province To Consider Sports Betting Privatization

Alberta is moving toward opening up the province’s sports betting marketplace to private operators. On Jan. 31, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) will announce two vendors it chooses for the first phase of an expanded marketplace.

AGLC will select the winners from applications that began arriving on Friday with the Alberta Purchasing Connection (APC). These operators will first get to open retail sportsbooks, with online betting to follow.

In the AGLC announcement about expanding the sports betting marketplace, the agency said this is just the beginning:

“AGLC is working towards retail and online sports betting options with mobile extensions, to be established in 2022. As a first step in this process, AGLC is seeking two proponents to provide some flexibility and options in the first phase, and will consider additional opportunities as the market continues to develop.”

Will AB privatize online casinos?

Alberta’s intention to extend privatization to the mobile sector could provide momentum towards an eventual expansion into online casino gambling. The AGLC announcement includes language similar to that of Ontario online gambling. That province is proceeding toward adding private operators into its iGaming space.

Ontario’s officials are discussing the federal law that permits private operators to join provincial lotteries.

The AGLC announcement did the same on Friday:

“AGLC will continue to monitor other provincial lottery markets while gathering feedback from the Alberta sports betting industry in order to safely expand vendor opportunities in the future. … While this approach supports the goal of expanding the market in the future, it also recognizes the province’s requirement to ‘conduct and manage’ commercial gaming activities set out in the Criminal Code of Canada. Work is ongoing to support these efforts and AGLC will be reaching out to stakeholders to continue expanding access in a safe and legal manner.”

As it stands, Albertans already have access to regulated online sports betting and casino gaming through PlayAlberta. For now, however, this government-operated state holds a monopoly. At issue here is whether the province’s residents will eventually have more than one choice available.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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