Should Alberta Launch its Own Online Casino?

Loto-Québec, the provincial lottery corporation of the Quebec province, launched its online gambling operation called EspaceJeux on December 1st, 2010. Over the last seven years, EspaceJeux has managed to attract around a quarter of all online gamblers in the province and to generate revenues worth over $66 million in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

While there still are players who prefer offshore gambling venues like https://www.vegaspalmscasino.com/, more and more of them are becoming patriots and choose the local option. Their spendings generate income and taxes for their own province instead of flowing outside the country toward operators like the Vegas Palms who are legitimate businesses yet not paying any taxes inside Canada (not that they would have an option to do so).

There are two other state lotteries in Canada that have launched their own online gambling platforms. In British Columbia, the BCLC‘s “PlayNow” (also partly available in Manitoba) has reported $135.5 worth of revenues for the fiscal year 2015-2016, while newcomer PlayOLG, run by the Ontario Lottery Corporation, has reported $49 million in revenues in the same period of time.

While Canada does have an online gambling regulation, it’s very restrictive with international operators. This means that running online casinos is a state monopoly, with no way for an international operator like the above-mentioned Vegas Palms to obtain an operating license (even though these companies would gladly pay licensing fees and taxes on their activity). Except for the above-mentioned provincial lotteries, all have failed to launch their own online gambling operations.

WCLCAlthough Albertans are known to be gambling online (it was said by finance minister Joe Ceci in a 2015 interview), the WCLC seems not to have any intention to give them a local alternative. Which is bad for the economy, bad for the state’s budget, and bad for the players themselves.

In its latest financial report, the Ontario Lottery has detailed what its $3.9 billion revenues are financing in the province – the amount that includes the almost $50 million generated by its online gambling outlet. The bulk of the money is spent on hospitals and other provincial priorities, and the rest is directed toward various charities, problem gambling treatment, and prevention, and toward supporting the province’s athletes. While the amount seems minuscule compared to the big pool of revenues the corporation had, it’s still significant – and it’s money locals would spend anyway on online gambling (which is quite the popular activity in Canada, by the way).

By offering a local alternative, the WCLC could, too, increase its revenues – which, given that provincial lotteries are non-profits, would return to the community in one form or another. If people are playing anyway, then the answer is yes – Alberta should definitely launch its own online gambling platform.

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