Sports betting fans and gaming enthusiasts in the province of Alberta now enjoy access to a growing number of land-based casinos to go along with long established paper-based lottery and sports betting games.
In addition to thousands of Video Lottery terminals (VLTs) located in privately owned bars across the province, gaming and sports betting enthusiasts can also take advantage of a vast number of online gaming, poker and sports betting sites that are operated offshore.
Unlike other Canadian provinces, land-based casino facilities in Alberta are privately owned and operated. However, all gaming and sports betting in Alberta is strictly controlled by the Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission, which licenses and regulates all casino facilities, as well as licences for lottery retailers and VLT operators.
Gaming Laws in Alberta
In the province of Alberta, gaming and sports betting activities must be conducted in accordance with the province’s Gaming and Liquor Act, which was most recently revised in 2013.
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) was formed in 1995 to replace a number of regulatory bodies including the Alberta Gaming Commission, Alberta Lotteries and the Gaming Control Branch. The AGLC enforces the Gaming and Liquor Act through licensing and oversight of retailers and gaming establishments, including privately-owned land-based casinos, bingo halls, charitable gaming licences, and First Nations-owned and operated casino facilities.
Western Canada Lottery Corporation
Established in 1974, the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC) is a non-profit organization that operates lottery and gaming activities on behalf of a number of Canadian provincial and territorial governments, including Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut.
Acting as a regional marketing arm of the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation, which operates lottery games across Canada, the WCLC works in conjunction with the AGLC to offer popular lottery games, including Lotto 649 and Lotto Max, and paper-based sports betting games, including PRO-LINE.
Sports Betting in Alberta
The AGLC and WCLC currently operate sports betting games in the province of Alberta under the following brand names: PRO-LINE, Point-Spread, Pro-Picks Pools and Pro-Picks Props.
PRO-LINE is an odds-based sports betting game that allows players to predict outcomes on three-to six-event parlays. All selections must be correct for the parlay to be declared a winner. The minimum wager is $2, while the maximum wager on a PRO-LINE ticket is $100.
With Point-Spread, players can predict the outcome of two to 12 sporting events, selecting a visitor or home win. Each game selected is handicapped with a point spread. Sports available to wager on include professional and college football, professional and college basketball, baseball and hockey.
Pro-Picks Pools & Props
Pro-Picks Pools is a card-based game where the player wagers on the outcome of specific game or player/team props as outlined in a Pro-Picks selection sheet. A selection sheet contains between 10 and 12 selections. The cost to play Pro-Picks Pools is $5 per selection sheet, with the player or players with the most correct selections sharing a prize pool equal to 60% of total wagers.
Pro-Picks Props is an odds-based sports betting game that allows players to parlay between three and six player/team props selections. The minimum wager is $2 and the maximum wager is $100.
There is a daily limit of $250 that can be played on sports betting games at any single retailer in Alberta, severely limiting action for sports betting high rollers.
No Single Team Sports Betting
Since single-team sports betting is illegal under Canada’s criminal code, AGLC and WCLC offer no single-team sports betting games. AGLC and WCLC’s parlay offerings also offer significantly poorer odds compared to online sportsbook options operated off-shore, with the house edge on PRO-LINE wagers pegged at a whopping 38.65% in 2011, compared with single digits for online sportsbooks.
Poker and Casino in Alberta
While AGLC enforces gaming laws, controls licensing and regulates lottery and gaming operations, land-based casinos in Alberta are largely privately owned and operated. There are currently 24 land-based casinos in operation across Alberta, including five casinos owned and operated by First Nations, which are based on reserve land and are subject to the same regulation and conditions of operation as off-reserve establishments.
In addition, 21 bingo facilities are in operation across Alberta, which are independently operated, with most owned by non-profit associations.
Racing Entertainment Centres are in operation at five racetracks across Alberta. While racing licences are controlled by Horse Racing Alberta, AGLC holds responsibility for licensing and regulation of Racing Entertainment Centres.
Poker rooms are available at a number of land-based casinos across Alberta. Eligible charities can also seek licensing from AGLC to conduct casino events, including poker tournaments, at licensed facilities.
Other Gaming Options in Alberta
While AGLC strictly controls gaming operations in the province of Alberta, gaming and sports betting fans still enjoy many alternatives to some of AGLC’s and WCLC’s limited options.
Not unlike other Canadian provinces, online sportsbooks such as Bodog, Bet365 and 5Dimes have a growing customer base in Alberta. Established for many years, and known for their superior customer service and the availability of a wide variety of betting options with competitive odds, the online sportsbooks represent the biggest competition to Alberta’s limited, paper-based sports betting offerings.
In addition, since they operate offshore, online sportsbooks can offer single-game betting options not available to sports betting fans playing PRO-LINE, as well as betting lines that change in real time and are in line with major land-based sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
Major online sportsbooks like Bodog and Bet365 also provide players with a complete online casino experience and online poker rooms, which are not available from WCLC or AGLC-licensed operators. In addition, comprehensive coverage of horse racing is offered through many online sportsbooks, with action available both at many Canadian racetracks as well as major racetracks around the world.