It looks like the provincial government of Alberta, the United Conservative Party (UCP), still plans to allow a locally licensed online gambling platform, according to the 2020-21 budget released on February 27. But it doesn’t look like that will likely occur until at least the middle of 2021.
This new delay was revealed in an email from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) spokeswoman Heather Holmen. “The expectation is the operator for the AGLC’s online gambling solution will be chosen by mid-2020, with an anticipated launch of the platform in mid-2021.”
In January 2019, the AGLC said it hoped to choose an operator by June, 2019. They had quietly requested proposals for technology suppliers to provide the digital gaming platform which would have allowed the site to be operational this year.
Legalizing online gambling within the province could be a big revenue source for Alberta. AGLC senior communications officer Chara Goodings explained that over C$358 million ($270 million) was spent by Albertans on online gambling operators with internationally licensed operators.
According to one budget document, the government is predicting that online gambling could help overall gaming revenues reach C$1.47 billion ($1.1 billion) by the year 2022-23. Holmen explained that this additional revenue would be used “toward supporting programs and services that Albertans rely on every day.”
The previous government attempted to pass a bill five years ago but it failed due to concerns about the effects that online gambling could have, and parties involved in this new push are trying to deal with them proactively. “There are no concerns from our end that a new online gambling platform will lead to negative social impacts,” stated Ray Reshke, executive director of the group Problem Gambling Resource Network.