The Canadian province of Alberta plans to have its new online gambling operation set up before the year is through.
Finance Minister Robin Campbell made the announcement on Wednesday at the spring convention of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties. Alberta is one of only two Canadian provinces not yet offering online gambling services through its provincial gambling monopoly, the other being Saskatchewan (which is supremely ironic, given that Saskatchewan is where a certain Calvin Ayre was born).
Alberta’s path toward online gambling is moving at breakneck speed, particularly in comparison with Ontario, which took years to bring its action online. It was only in January that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) announced the concept was “actively under review.” By February, the AGLC had opened a tender for online gambling turnkey technology providers, who were given just a month to submit their applications.
The pace of progress isn’t sitting well with opposition politicians, who aren’t buying Campbell’s assertions that online gambling will only happen if the province “decide[s] to go that route.” The Calgary Herald quoted Liberal party leader David Swann saying the proposal “certainly hasn’t been presented to us in the legislature and presented to the public. It sounds like it is a fait accompli, which is unsettling in the least.”
The province is hoping to capture at least some of the estimated $150m Albertans currently spend with internationally licensed online gambling sites. As for what the province intends to do with its new revenue stream, Campbell said at least part of the proceeds would go to rural charities, which currently receive around $20k from operations at rural casinos, compared to $80k for charities working in city casinos. Campbell said online gambling revenue would help “equalize” these payments.