AGLC Wants to Launch Alberta Online Casino and Poker Site
Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) wants a role in the province’s online gambling action. Officials at Alberta’s gambling regulatory agency issued a request for proposals (RFP) for an experienced contractor to provide online gaming services on behalf of the government agency.
The commission said it wants to provide Alberta citizens with a safe gaming option while remaining relevant.
Angelle Sasseville, the Director of Policy and Communications at Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, said Alberta’s online gambling industry is dominated by foreign companies operating in offshore locations with little accountability. The ALGC commission believes a Canadian organization can provide options with more transparency that are focused on responsible gambling.
Ms. Sasseville said, “The lack of an online gambling presence puts Albertans at risk as offshore, unregulated sites do not provide any tools for responsible play.”
AGLC on Responsible Gambling
With that in mind, the commission issued a RFP to attract bids from providers of gaming solutions. The RFP, which was releaesd on January 17, said, “Offering Albertans access to…an online gambling presence will assist the AGLC in sustaining long-term revenue by providing gaming entertainment through a new channel that ultimately responds to consumer and entertainment trends.”
“The internet site could be effectively used to promote healthy gambling behaviour, educate consumers, and help players manage their own play behaviour through informed choice.”
Some of the funds raised are earmarked for amateur sports, community programs, and other non-profit activities.
Gambling Types Site Will Offer
The AGLC wants to provide a near-comprehensive list of online gaming services: casino games, lottery betting, bingo, and poker. Only sportsbook and racebook betting were left off the list of gambling types the commission wants to sponsor.
Besides regulating alcohol and cannabis sales under the auspices of the Tobacco Tax Act, the AGLC also administers license to all racing entertainment centers at racetracks throughout Alberta.
The organization, which was named the Ministry of Gaming from 1999 to 2006, consists of a board and a corporation. The corporation acts as the operational arm of the AGLC, which has a monopoly over the wholesaling of wine, spirits, and imported beer. It makes a hefty profit from the liquor markup, which are a form of liquor tax when the alcohol is sold to vendors. In all, the AGLC has a $1.4 billion gaming revenue stream, but it feels an online presence will protect its revenues in the long term.
2015 AGLC Financial Troubles
This is not the first time Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis has considered online gambling. Four years ago, the AGLC explored the possibility of launching an online gaming portal when the price of crude oil declined so significantly in 2015. It was thought at the time the AGLC could generate another $75 million a year from online gambling. Those numbers have risen in the four years since.
Meanwhile, AGLC’s possible sources of additional funding from Alberta has gotten less likely. Alberta’s government agencies have looked for alternate sources of revenue after global oil prices plunged. Alberta, with cities like Edmonton and Calgary, is the most populous of Canada’s prairie provinces (4th-most populous in all). The capital of Edmonton is the center of the Canada’s crude oil production, so Alberta was hit particularly hard when the average oil price went from $96.29 in 2014 to $49.49 in 2015.
Angelle Sasseville said it is hard to say how much revenue would be generated by online gambling, because so much happens in a shadow economy. She stated, “Today, over $350M is wagered by Albertans on unregulated gambling websites. However, it is difficult to forecast impacts to revenue at this moment.”
AGLC Online Gaming Services Applications
Sasseville called for potential service providers to submit applications by February 28. The commission will have a decision by June 2019 and hopes to have an online gaming portal launched by 2020. The contract for a service provider will be 7 years in length.
The AGLC spokeswoman said her agency was inspired by similar actions taken by British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba. She said the AGLC commission has studied how state-sponsored online gambling has worked in other countries, as well.
She added, “AGLC has looked at other implementations in Canada and around the world and has seen many different models and implementation approaches.”
Critics of AGLC Online Gambling Site
Critics of government-backed gambling argue that gambling causes harm and the government should not be involved in such practices. The AGLC notes that studies have shown that 98% of the people who gamble do so responsibly. The commission believes the other 2% would do better in a regulated gaming environment, where consumer protections, helplines for problem gamblers and their families, self-exclusion lists, and other responsible gaming measures would be in place.