Alberta ponders government-run online gambling

Alberta could soon join most provinces in having government-run online gambling sites. If the plan goes ahead, Albertans will be able to play poker or the slot machines from home.

Alberta, Saskatchewan the only provinces yet to offer government gaming sites

Alberta could soon join most provinces in having government-run online gambling sites.

If the plan goes ahead, Albertans will be able to play poker or the slot machines from home.

Bill Robinson, the CEO of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC), spoke with the Calgary Eyeopener's David Gray about the plan to bring government-run online gaming to Alberta.

The AGLC has been looking at introducing online gaming for some time, Robinson said.

He noted that people in Alberta are already on online gaming sites from all over the world.

Albertans spend between $120 million and $150 million on "grey market sites", Robinson said.

It's hard to predict how much revenue online gaming would bring the province, but similar programs in B.C. and Manitoba have been successful, Robinson said.

Under the current system, the Alberta government takes in $1.6 billion each year from government-run casinos, $300 million of which is turned over to charities, he said.

Robinson said the AGLC has a plan to prevent the addition of online gaming from contributing to Alberta's existing gambling addition problem.

"We would put up a voluntary registration program so if you wish to play, you would register in it, and that registration process would allow us to push out social responsibility messagingto clients," he said.

"In order to get the message across, much like in our video lottery terminal program where if you play, you have to play within your means."

There is no clear timeline for the government to introduce the online gaming site, Robinson said. 

It will be up to the Alberta Treasury Board and the ministry of finance to approve the proposal.

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