Alberta Official Confirms Plan To Follow Ontario Gaming Model

June 21, 2024
A top Albertan government official confirmed Thursday that the province plans to replicate much of Ontario’s private online gaming model as part of its own gambling overhaul.

A top Albertan government official confirmed Thursday (June 20) that the province plans to replicate much of Ontario’s private online gaming model as part of its own gambling overhaul.

Dale Nally, minister of service and red tape reduction, spoke at the Canadian Gaming Summit and said that Alberta would indeed look to follow Ontario’s lead in establishing an open market for online gaming, as has been speculated for months since remarks made by Nally at the ICE convention in London in February. 

“It's going to look very similar to Ontario, because we're following their model,” Nally said. “As far as I'm concerned, they built the roadmap, and we're working through that now.”

Under the Ontario model, companies can become approved operators by contracting with iGaming Ontario, which conducts and manages online gaming, and offer online sports betting and online casino games. To date, the province has 50 registered operators and 80 approved websites following an April 2022 launch.

“We're probably going to massage it a little bit so it's got a little bit of a spin on Alberta, but really it's being inspired by the experience of it in Ontario and it’s going to be an open and free market for gaming,” Nally said.

Nally, who was given a mandate by Premier Danielle Smith last summer to finalize the province's online gaming reform, gave a spirited pitch during his speech Thursday for operators to come to Alberta, and said that a move by the provincial legislature last month to pass legislation giving his office the ability to conduct and manage gaming was done after hearing feedback from operators concerned about being regulated by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

“We heard loud and clear because of AGLC’s relationship to [online gaming application] PlayAlberta, that companies would not come to Alberta if the conduct-and-manage was done by AGLC,” Nally said.

“The minister will be taking on the iGaming portion of that, so that you can come to Alberta and you can invest in our province, and you won’t have to share your data with AGLC or PlayAlberta; we heard very loud and clear that was important to you, and we’ve delivered on that.”

Nally also said his office had begun to consult with First Nations indigenous peoples to discuss their role in a potential iGaming market, as well as engaging in further consultation with Ontario to learn their best practices.

“Our goal is to have an open, responsible gaming experience that very much emulates the Ontario experience,” he said.

Nally did not give any indication of a timeline, as rumblings spread throughout the conference over the week that Alberta could look to launch as early as the end of 2024.

Amanda Brewer, a gaming consultant and senior executive with the Canadian Gaming Association, said that Nally’s comments regarding the open market and desire to follow Ontario were encouraging.

“Those two things give me a bit of an indication that it’s quite possible that this is a market that could open very quickly,” she said. “We don’t have any dates, I know there’s lots of rumors flying around, but I think it’s something to be celebrated that there has been a political decision in [Premier] Danielle Smith’s government that this is the right thing to do for Albertans.”

“All of the evidence seems to suggest that the government of Alberta wants to move fairly quickly, they would like to see a similar regime in their jurisdiction to the one here in Ontario, and I think that government, we can expect they will push very hard for this calendar year,” said lobbyist Troy Ross, president of TRM Public Affairs.

“Nobody can guarantee that’s going to happen, but I think we’ll see a push to launch a regime in Alberta very quickly.”

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