iGaming and sports betting might be open to all Canadians, but the continuous invasion from illegal sports betting advertisements raises enormous concern - especially in Alberta.
A New Gambling Regime
The regulated market of iGaming and sports betting is open to all Canadians. Ontario has embraced this new gambling regime, while Alberta, on the other hand, has taken a more conservative stance. They rejected an open iGaming market approach for private operators and offered the new single-game betting only through PlayAlbert.ca, for instance.
The Canadian federal government officially lifted the federal ban on single-game sports betting in August 2021, opening its regulated iGaming and sports betting market to all Canadians. However, the regulation of this market is left to individual provinces, which can regulate sports betting as they deem appropriate.
While Ontario is offering licences to numerous operators, Alberta agreed that all bets would go through its local service PlayAlberta.ca. Gambling activities are regulated by the province's Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).
Unfortunately, since the change in federal law, viewers have been exposed to a slew of ads for unregulated online betting and gambling sites.
Steve Lautischer, vice-president of gaming with the AGLC.
"It's illegal for somebody to be offering bets to Albertans that are not regulated"
Alberta refuses to accept and allow this rush of advertising to continue unabated. The primary concern raised by the AGLC is not the loss of licensing fees but the fact that these ads show no concern for minors and seek to entice at-risk players.
Public Health at Risk
Ads promoting illegal gambling are an everyday reality AGLC must deal with, and the biggest concern is that they primarily target minors. In addition, most ads feature celebrities or sports stars and could have a detrimental effect on the young and vulnerable.
With public health at an all-time priority, the key is finding a balance between supply and demand and creating a licensed and regulated framework is the most crucial. Like all other Canadian provinces, Alberta is aware that if they do not come up with a viable solution, Albertans will just turn to the unregulated grey market - unprotected.
Keeping it Within the Borders
Canadians already spend billions of Canadian dollars on online gambling. The new federal law comes with the hope that Canadians will instead spend their CAD on online and single sporting events within the country's borders.
The rising concern over sports betting advertisements has once again reminded Albertans that sports betting ads are illegal in the province.