The Latest Sports Betting Laws In Alberta

Gambling In Alberta

Various forms of gambling have existed in Alberta since the 1920s, when horse racing betting and bingo gave way to modern lottery games and other forms of gambling for good causes.

The first casino in the province, the Calgary Cash Casino, opened in 1980 and was independently run. More than eleven casinos opened in the province within fifteen years, and today there are twenty-four corporate casinos and five First Nations casinos spread around the province. Both the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC) and the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) hold the two sports betting platforms available in Alberta at the moment: SportSelect and PlayAlberta, respectively (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis).

To this point, sports betting fans in Alberta have had to weigh the benefits of using SportSelect against those of using an offshore betting site based on Basketball Insiders breakdown of Alberta sports betting laws, and despite being a legal alternative in Canada, SportSelect was no match for a reputable online sportsbook. Specially one that provided higher odds, bigger bonuses, a loyalty program, and a larger range of wagers.

We anticipate no changes to the SportSelect offering and think the new PlayAlberta sportsbook will more than cover the vacuum.

Legal Betting In Alberta

The onus is now on provincial governments and gaming authorities to have a plan for introducing goods and licensing operators now that single-game sports betting is here and licensed.

Currently, all gaming in Alberta is governed by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission (AGLC), which issues licenses for casinos and sportsbooks. Since the AGLC has always been on record as being in favor of Bill C-218, it came as no surprise that they were ready to go with their PlayAlberta sportsbook the moment the go signal was given.

What Will Alberta Betting Look Like In The Future?

Since the passing of Bill C-218, AGLC officials have begun selling single-game betting on their current PlayAlberta product online and in physical locations; however, it is unknown whether they would investigate licensing famous online sportsbook providers like DraftKings and FanDuel.

A decision on whether to continue offering the Western Canada Lottery Commission’s SportSelect product alongside their PlayAlberta sports betting platform has not been made, nor has any information been provided about its future. After the legalization of sports betting in Ontario, the release of the product is anticipated to occur rapidly thereafter.

We don’t think SportSelect can compete with PlayAlberta, despite the fact that it’s available at more retail locations, including gas stations and grocery store lottery kiosks. We do not anticipate SportSelect to be a popular alternative, especially if operators begin purchasing sports betting licenses in Alberta, unless the Western Canada Lottery Corporation significantly improves the offering.

Since May 2019, residents of Southern Alberta may cross into Montana, the sole U.S. state bordering Alberta, and take advantage of in-person single-game betting prior to the passage of Bill C-218.

Applications For Sportsbooks

Only PlayAlberta’s app is available for mobile sports betting, as there are no other sportsbooks in the province. As new betting apps become accessible in Alberta, we’ll give more in-depth analysis and recommendations.

Is Online Betting Legal In Alberta?

Yes, theoretically speaking, internet sports betting has been permitted in Alberta since 1985. However, until June 2021, single-event sports betting remained prohibited.

In 1985, the Criminal Code was amended to include a new clause that criminalized sports betting, bookmaking, and other forms of gambling. In 1992, the Gaming Control Act was enacted, paving the way for provincial lotteries and gaming commissions such as the Western Canada Lottery Commission to oversee multi-leg sports betting through the provincial lottery.

This permitted the Western Canada Lottery Commission to provide the SportSelect Pro-Line product to Alberta residents, which legalized sports betting so long as wager slips included parlay wagers. To win a parlay bet, the outcomes of each individual game must be right, but the bet itself consists of many legs.

The Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers were both viable betting options on a Saturday night. Betting on the Flames and Oilers as part of a parlay increases the potential reward, but also increases the risk involved in the wager.

In 1992, the Canadian government extended a peace offering to the sports betting community. As a result of the potential for match-fixing, they were hesitant to regulate sports betting in general, but they did approve multi-leg sports betting because it would be impossible to fix three or more matches.

With this change, grocery shops, convenience stores, petrol stations, and other kiosks all around the province can legally sell SportSelect alongside lottery products. Alberta’s minimum age to gamble (in any form) is 18, which is less than the legal age in several other, stricter jurisdictions.

While the legality of sports betting in Canada has always been somewhat hazy, with parlays being permitted but single-game wagering being prohibited, there is now some good news for Albertans who enjoy placing wagers on sporting events, and who knows, we might even see betting enter the music competition category too.

For more than a decade, Canadians have been debating whether to legalize single-game sports betting. In June 2021, their efforts bore fruit when Parliament enacted Bill C-218. The introduction of PlayAlberta has given the Alberta government the tools it needs to oversee sports betting in the province, while also granting licenses to operators and so bringing badly needed money to the area worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Header image by Kaysha on Unsplash

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