AGLC Launches PlayAlberta for Online Lottery and iGaming

The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission started its process of implementing internet gaming in January 2019. It may have started earlier, but the AGLC tried to keep the initial proposal process out of the public eye.

Now, nearly two years later, the PlayAlberta website went live. It offers online lottery games, including instant tickets, and online slots and table games.

From a Popular Idea…

At the beginning of 2019, only two provinces lacked an online gambling platform: Alberta and Saskatchewan. But for whatever reason, the AGLC chose to explore the possibility of launching a site without any sort of public announcement.

CBC News discovered the plan in January 2019 after finding that the AGLC solicited proposals from igaming operators. The original intent, according to the AGLC, was to gauge interest, but eager responses showed that this wouldn’t be a problem.

The AGLC hoped that providing online gaming options to its residents would stop them from spending money on offshore gaming sites that didn’t pay Canadian taxes or generate revenue for Albertans. ALGC Senior Communications Officer Chara Goodings noted that the provincial regulator wanted to move some of that $358 million in annual revenue to a Canadian-regulated site.

To Preparations for Launch

What the AGLC had hoped would be a six-month process – or something close to it that would allow a 2019 site launch – took the regulator well into 2020.

The funding for the AGLC online gambling solution made it into the 2020-2021 budget in February. At the same time, the AGLC remained in search of an operator. A spokesperson had noted that “contract negotiations and completing our due diligence” took time.

Finally, on June 23, the AGLC announced its selection of NeoPollard Interactive as its online gambling platform. The seven-year agreement includes the integration of the AGLC GameSense responsible gambling program.

When the site is complete, it will offer everything from online casino games to lottery ticket sales, sports betting, online bingo, and online poker. And it will cross-promote with land-based gambling venues in Alberta as possible.

October Launch

The official PlayAlberta.ca online gambling website launched on October 1.

It is open to any player 18 and older, as long as they are physically located within the provincial borders. There is no residency requirement, only a geolocation perimeter.

Players can access the games on desktop computers, tablets, and smart phones. They will need to verify their identity first, though, per standard “know your customer” methods.

AGLC President and CEO Alain Maisonneuve highlighted the responsible gambling aspect of the site as a solid choice for Albertans. “The province’s regulated online gambling website will offer players expanded entertainment options with integrated responsible gambling features and generate revenue to support valuable programs and services Albertans rely on every day.”

Speaking of Responsible Gambling

PlayAlberta integrated the AGLC GameSense program, which promotes healthy gambling behaviour.

GameSense is a program implemented in numerous provinces and tailored to the needs of each one. The Alberta GameSense program focuses on educating the public about how games actually work and their odds, how to ensure gambling remains fun, and how to self-exclude if necessary. The program also provides specific information about the house edge on certain games, the differences between skill-based games and games of chance, and the most common gambling myths.

Most importantly, GameSense offers tools for playing more responsibly and support when needed.

Some of the tips AGLC GameSense offers include:

  • Play for fun, not to make money.
  • Know the odds and rules of a game before playing.
  • Set a budget and abide by it.
  • Don’t chase losses; accept them as a cost of entertainment.
  • Balance gambling with other leisure activities.
  • Take breaks from playing.
  • Set a spending limit before playing.
  • Reach out for help if gambling stops being fun.

Available Games at Launch

While online poker and bingo have yet to make an appearance on PlayAlberta, there are plenty of other games that launched on October 1.

There are 25 slot games thus far. Old standards like Double Diamond Triple Diamond combine with popular branded slots like The Price is Right and 100,000 Pyramid. Players can start competing for as little as $0.01. All games have real-money options and demo play, the latter being free-play samples of the games.

There are only five table games available thus far, but they cover the gamut of player favourites: baccarat, blackjack, video poker, multi-hand blackjack, and roulette. Video poker starts at just $0.10, and the other games show a minimum bet of $1.00.

As for the instant games, there are 11 options with varying themes and bets as low as $0.05. There are also four keno games – two draw variations and two instant keno games. There is also an instant lottery offering under the “lottery” tab.

The AGLC will add more games in the coming months.

 

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen

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