Edmonton

Finance Minister Joe Ceci cool to Alberta getting into online gambling

Although Alberta is seeking ways to diversify its revenues in the face of low oil prices, the province’s finance minister is cool to the idea of getting into online gambling.

Province not ready to roll dice on online gambling, despite revenue crunch

British Columbia collected $109.1 million in revenue from online gambling in 2014-15 (BCLC)

Though Alberta wants to diversify its revenue streams due to low oil prices, the province's finance minister is cool to the idea of getting into online gambling. 

"It's not a policy issue that I'm fully briefed on, want to bring forward or consider bringing forward at this time," Joe Ceci said in a year-end interview with CBC News.

"I think I need to see the positives and negatives of what that might mean for Albertans before I deal with that policy issue. So, still under review."

In February, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission sought bids from companies eager to provide online gaming to Alberta. At the time, AGLC CEO Bill Robinson said Alberta was missing out on about $100 million in revenue a year.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says he isn't interested in having Alberta move into online gambling. (CBC )
An AGLC spokeswoman confirmed that a report was completed and sent to the minister.  

Ceci said people are already gaming online but he's not convinced the financial benefits for the province would outweigh the public risks.

"I understand that argument," he said. "I think there's a downside potentially as well, and so I fully understand what those implications are. I'm not signed up."

In British Columbia, e-gaming generated $109.1 million in revenue in 2014-15, an increase of $18.1 million over the previous fiscal year.

Net income from e-gaming is lumped in with lottery ticket sales. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation reported net income from e-gaming and lottery tickets was $304 million last year.

The Ontario Lottery Corporation launched an online gaming site in January. Ontario hopes to see an additional $375 million in profits from online gaming over the next five years.

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