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Alberta regulators still in talks with sports betting operators

Alberta regulators wanted physical sportsbooks to be operational in the province by the end of 2022, but the agenda appears to be behind schedule.

Alberta’s Gambling, Liquor and Cannabis Commission announced last December that it planned to allow two private operators to conduct sports betting at major professional sports venues in the province. The operator has not yet been announced. Become them.

The request for proposal process was set to close on January 31st, but the deadline was extended to February 14th, giving operators more time to submit their bids. Regulators have been silent since the bidding process ended.

“We are still working on the negotiation process, but we expect to make an announcement this fall. sport handle.

Alberta regulators have made the interesting decision to limit the market to just two private sportsbook operators, at least initially. They said the main advantage of having such a small market is the ability to quickly get a private sports betting service up and running within the state.

“By launching retail sports betting on up to two supporters today, AGLC will be able to offer this service to sports fans in Alberta,” President and CEO Kandice Machado said at a press conference in December. “If AGLC were to open its market to all vendors, the process required to serve Alberta would be significantly delayed.”

With the NFL season already underway and the NBA and NHL regular seasons scheduled to begin next month, regulators are likely to reach their goal of expanding sports betting options for players in the state this year. There is none.

“Imagine the excitement of the Labor Day Classic or the Battle of Alberta on Saturday night. Walk into a licensed sports betting area and bet on who will have the next touchdown or goal. said AGLC Vice President of Gaming and Cannabis Steve Rotischer. At a press conference last December.

The Labor Day Classic pitted the state’s two CFL franchises (Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders) against each other and featured the first two Battles of Alberta (a rivalry game between the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames). . — will be held on October 15th and 29th.

Ahead of the press conference in December, the AGLC held preliminary discussions with four professional sports teams in the aforementioned state about the possibility of setting up sportsbooks at their respective venues. However, there have been no announcements about winning vendor bids yet, so it’s hard to imagine additional sports betting options becoming available before the end of the year.

AGLC’s PlayAlberta website is currently the only legal online sportsbook in the state. SPORT SELECT, operated by Western Canada Lottery Corporation, is also an option for his local sports bettors.

what is the holdup?

Industry observers cite several reasons why the expansion of sports betting options may be delayed.

“There is a lot of interest, but there are a lot of challenges with the RFP,” said an industry source. sport handle“Stakeholders who might be allowed to participate in retail sportsbooks or mobile extensions wanted something else from the government. They could form their own partnerships and compete in the market. We were asking the government to regulate it so that it would increase the number of people in the country, and I have some concerns about that approach.”

The two-operator approach employed by AGLC is unique in Canada. All other states, except Ontario, use government-owned lottery and gaming companies as the sole legal providers of sports betting and currently have no plans for private expansion.

Ontario launched its regulated iGaming and sports betting marketplace on April 4, fully open to private expansion. As of Monday morning, there were 40 online gambling sites in the state, and that number is expected to grow to about 70 by the end of the year. Year.

AGLC has indicated the need for a ‘turnkey’ sports betting system for up to 28 brick-and-mortar casinos, expecting sportsbook operations to be customized to the needs of individual establishments. .

Alberta RFI Sports Betting

While the RFP has been described as “challenging” by interested businesses, there are also significant opportunities for states. Alberta has a population of about 4.5 million, making it her fourth most populous province in Canada. According to a study conducted in 2020, Alberta spends over $100 million (CAD) annually on offshore sports betting websites and daily fantasy sports operators. DraftKings and FanDuel. As in Ontario, new private operators in Alberta will have to contend with existing gray market and rural game companies.

Kambi, the engine that runs many popular US sportsbooks, would be a natural fit for Alberta’s AGLC, according to an industry source. British Columbia Lottery Corporation, which operates the PlayNow online gambling platform in Manitoba and British Columbia and will soon expand to Saskatchewan, is also being considered as a potential bidder.

PointsBet, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel are also rumored to be interested in potential bids, but nothing has confirmed it. However, according to Invest Alberta Corporation, PointBet Canada recognizes that “the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor could become an expansion point for its digital sports betting operations.”

AGLC is one of five state gaming companies that recently formed a coalition against illegal online gambling. The coalition calls on the federal government to work with provincial jurisdictions to protect Canadians from black market operations, and to remove “free” licenses used by illegal operators in all forms of media during national broadcasts. I am protesting the use of advertising tactics. , it says it “blurs the line between locally regulated and illegal gaming sites.”

PlayAlberta recently ran an advertising campaign that used horror movie parodies to highlight that betting with gray market operators is “scary.” Shining.