Alberta gaming commission flags up sports betting ads disputing legality

Provinces like Ontario have embraced the federal government’s new gambling regime, allowing single-events sports betting. Alberta, however, continues to object.

  (photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)
(photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)

In the summer of last year, the Canadian federal government made it legal to gamble on single sports events.

Up until then, gamblers had to parlay their bets or wager on more than one event at a time.

Despite the previous law, it’s estimated that Canadians already spent literally billions of dollars each year betting on sports. The new law was put in place to add some regulation to a relatively grey market.

The federal government hoped to keep some of the billions of Canadian dollars that were being spent on single sporting events, within the country’s borders.

However, the law comes with one giant caveat: it allows individual provinces to regulate sports betting as they deem appropriate.

Sports betting regulations were stipulated by each province’s government as it deemed fit. For instance, in Ontario the AGCO had offered licenses to a number of sports betting sites. 

However, when it came to Alberta, the province agreed that all bets would go through its local service, Play Alberta. This is the only monitored gambling website offered to Albertans, where players can enjoy popular no deposit slots, table games, instant scratch cards as well as lottos which can all be found on operators listed on NoDeposit365.

As can be seen, while some provinces, such as Ontario, have embraced the new law and opened their markets to licensed operators, others, such as Alberta are fighting the changes. 

Alberta Warns: Sports Betting Ads are Illegal

Ever since the changes were made to the federal law, viewers have been exposed to flashy ads which introduce them to new online sports betting platforms. Many of these ads feature celebrities such as American actor, Aaron Paul and former Canadian ice hockey player and head coach, Wayne Gretzky. 

But Alberta is making no apologies about being the province to rain on the betting parade.  Its gambling authority, Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) has come out to say that these gaming sites are illegal in the province.

“It's illegal for somebody to be offering bets to Albertans that are not regulated,” notes Steve Lautischer, vice-president of gaming with the AGLC.

“The only legal sports bets in the province of Alberta today are either found through what we offer on or what is offered on Western Canada Lottery Sport Select brand.”

Fears for Public Health

Some public health experts are also worried that a deluge of gambling ads could have a detrimental effect on public health. 

They believe that ads featuring celebrities such as those mentioned above, could negatively influence younger audiences. 

According to Prof. Robert Williams, a clinical psychologist with the University of Lethbridge and the Alberta Gambling Research Institute, ads featuring famous people “tend to promote increased participation of young people when they reach the legal age.”

Provinces such as Alberta may follow the example of the UK which has outright banned the appearance of celebrities, athletes and social media influencers to appear in gambling ads. They believe that these types of marketing ploys are successful in attracting players under the age of 18.

But other experts aren’t as concerned. They believe that if provinces don’t open their markets to operators and create a licensed and regulated regulatory framework, it won’t stop players from betting on sports anyway. If anything, it will put them at risk by playing at unlicensed sites where are they aren’t protected. 

These experts also believe that Alberta and other provinces have robust assistance for anybody with a suspected addiction, and problem gambling resources in Alberta are easily available.

Opportunity to Regulate Canadian Gambling

Proponents of Canada’s new gambling regime believe that its advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Not only do they have the opportunity to bring money back into Canada, they also have a way to control the industry.

According to Ontario MP Chris Bittle, "Canadians have been betting on sports for a long time, but there's been a relic in the Criminal Code that has prevented betting on individual events.”

“We have an opportunity to regulate, control it and take the money out of the hands of organized crime.”

It seems, however, that provinces like Alberta need to reach this realization on their own. Until then, we can expect opposition to any changes.

This article was written in cooperation with