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Alberta Minister Dale Nally Unveils Plans for Regulated Gaming

Posted on July 3, 2024 | 7:48 am
Minister_Dale_Nally_discusses_Alberta’s_gaming_path

One of the most anticipated speakers at the recent Canadian Gaming Summit was Alberta’s Minister for Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction, Dale Nally. Tasked by Premier Danielle Smith, Nally’s mission is to explore the feasibility of opening Alberta’s regulated online gaming and betting market to commercial operators.

During his address, Nally confirmed that Alberta will pursue an Ontario-style open licensed model. This approach means the market will be regulated by an independent entity, not the provincial crown corporation, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

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Evaluating the Best Model for Alberta

In an exclusive interview with Canadian Gaming Business, Nally delved into Alberta’s gaming market plans. He emphasized that any expanded iGaming model must prioritize the interests of all Albertans, ensuring revenue generation for provincial programs and services and First Nation partners. Nally highlighted the commitment to social responsibility as a fundamental aspect of the policy development process.

“We continue to examine best practices from other jurisdictions, including Ontario,” Nally stated. “We are engaging with traditional casino operators, Racing Entertainment Centre operators, and First Nations in Alberta to understand the potential implications and opportunities presented by an expanded iGaming model. Our meetings with First Nations began in June, and we will continue to assess what kind of model works best for our province throughout this process.”

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Unique Attributes of Alberta's Gaming Market

Nally pointed out that Alberta’s gaming market is distinctive due to several unique factors. The province boasts the youngest population, the highest incomes, and Canada’s most favorable taxation system.

Alberta’s land-based charitable gaming model is also notable. In the fiscal year 2022-23, eligible charitable and religious organizations in Alberta earned $383 million through this model, with First Nations charities receiving $73.3 million. Slot revenues from First Nation casinos contributed $137.9 million to First Nations community initiatives.

“We need to ensure that any steps forward in online gaming complement the successes of our existing land-based gaming model,” Nally added.

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Financial Opportunities and Market Potential

Paul Burns, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, has noted Alberta’s high per-capita spending on gaming. Nally acknowledged this, highlighting the potential financial benefits of a regulated gaming market.

“Currently, the only regulated platform in Alberta is AGLC’s Play Alberta, which captures about 45% of the online gaming market. The rest is dominated by unregulated operators who may not adhere to Alberta’s social responsibility standards,” Nally explained. “By opening our market, we aim to reduce the unregulated market’s size, ensure more money stays within Alberta, and provide Albertans with more consumer choices.”

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Ensuring Integrity in Sports Betting

Addressing concerns about sports betting integrity, especially in light of incidents like Shawn Lemon’s ban from the CFL for betting, Nally underscored the importance of regulating the market to uphold social responsibility.

“Ensuring the integrity of online gambling is crucial. Unregulated gaming sites do not follow Alberta’s social responsibility policies, which are vital for promoting responsible gaming behaviors. Our goal is to have tools and information available to keep gaming fun and responsible,” Nally affirmed. “We are working with Indigenous partners to develop and implement Alberta’s online gaming strategy with a focus on responsible gaming.”

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Appeal to Operators and Future Timeline

Nally highlighted Alberta’s attractive business environment for operators, citing the province’s low taxes and business-friendly policies. Alberta’s general corporate income tax rate is 8%, the lowest in Canada, alongside higher incomes and no provincial sales tax.

“Our strong focus on Red Tape Reduction and eliminating unnecessary processes makes Alberta an appealing market for operators,” Nally noted. “The enthusiasm of Albertans for sports and community support, evidenced by significant 50/50 draws, adds to the appeal.”

Regarding the timeline for launching a regulated online gaming market, Nally revealed that initial discussions with First Nations began in June, with the first round expected to conclude in July. Further engagement with traditional casino and Racing Entertainment Centre operators will occur throughout the summer.

“These conversations will be crucial in shaping our iGaming strategy and developing the final model for Alberta,” Nally concluded.

Source:

Minister Dale Nally discusses Alberta’s gaming path, canadiangamingbusiness.com, June 25, 2024.

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