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Gambling Regulation and Licensing in Alberta (Canada) 2019

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Warning: This material is for reference only. It is not an advertisement and is not legal advice. To clarify the information, we recommend you contact the authorized bodies or organizations of your state.

Alberta province is located in the southwestern part of Canada. It is a great place to live and a popular tourist destination with its clean, modern cities and picturesque nature.

But Alberta is also a good place for gambling. If you live, work in Alberta or travel around the province, then you have the opportunity to enjoy games in both offline and online casinos, and our guide to gambling in the province will help you find what you need.

Brief information about gambling in the province

  • Casino availability: offline – yes (offline gambling is especially developed in the largest city of the province – Calgary); online – yes
  • Minimum age of players: 18
  • Player assistance and support services:
  • Regulator’s contact details – for more information or if you want to file a complaint.
  • Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission Helpline, phone 1-866-332-2322 (if you feel that the game has become a problem or turned into an illness)
  • Self-Exclusion Program (AGLC), phone 780-447-7582 or 1-877-436-6336 (if you want to temporarily or permanently quit the game)
  • Service Alberta – for filing complaints about the violation of your consumer rights
  • GameSense – a resource with useful information and helpful links for the players.

1. Alberta’s gambling laws

Alberta1.1. The main gambling law in Alberta is Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act, which was adopted on the basis of the province’s authority to regulate and organize gambling on its territory, subject to the requirements of federal legislation of Canada (more information on gambling regulation in Canada).

According to Gaming, the Liquor and Cannabis Act, Alberta uses a model of “charitable casinos” – that is, gambling can be conducted only by charitable or religious organizations. The law also provides for the creation of a government lottery company.

Private companies cannot be gambling operators. Thus, licenses are not issued to individuals. However, private companies can be suppliers of software and services for legal casino owners (charitable/religious organizations or government companies), and thus cooperate with them. To do this, individuals and companies need to obtain a special permit – registration.

In addition, individuals who work in the gaming industry must also be properly registered.

1.2 Consumer Protection Act – do not forget about your consumer rights and remember that any casino is a service provider, which means it should respect your rights.

Please note: A description of the basic rights of consumers is given in the Consumer Bill of Rights – we recommend that you always have this useful document at hand.

You can use Service Alberta – a dedicated online resource to submit your complaint or claim and contact the relevant body.

Brief information about the history of gambling

You can find more information on the history of gambling in the province on the Alberta Gaming Research Institute website.

  • Until 1967 – gambling games were common among traveling carnival shows at agricultural fairs and often represented a mixture of competitions in some skills (for example, throwing darts)
  • 1967 – the first temporary casino was opened during the annual Klondike Days fair at the Edmonton Fairgrounds. That casino was active for a week.
  • From 1969 to 1974, only large casinos that were sponsored by agricultural fairs were allowed.
  • 1975 – 1980 – distribution of temporary charitable casinos.
  • 1981 – 1990 – the creation of permanent charitable casinos. The first permanent, private charity casinos were opened in Calgary (1980 – Cash Casino) and in Edmonton (1981 – Casino ABS).
  • From 1990 to 2008, casinos were being developed and expanded in Alberta. In particular, legal casinos were actively appearing in reservations (First nation casinos)
  • In 2008, AGLC introduced a moratorium on issuing new licenses for casinos and the Racing Entertainment Center (REC). In 2015, this moratorium was extended indefinitely.
  • To date, Alberta does not have its own online gambling operator. However, the provincial authorities report intentions to establish it and to enter the iGaming market. Certainly, this will be a new stage in the development of Alberta’s gambling.

2. Regulator

In Alberta, a special body has been created that provides licensing and control of gambling establishments, as well as information and assistance to players – Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC).

If you have questions or complaints about the casino, you can also contact the AGLC.

3. Casinos in Alberta: what offers are available to players

A. Provincial operators

In Alberta, you can find a lot of offline casinos. They are located in many cities and even villages. Of course, most gambling establishments are concentrated in Calgary, Edmonton, and their surroundings, for example, in the small hamlet of Balzac.

Licenses: as already mentioned, licenses for gambling in Alberta are issued only to charitable or religious organizations. Therefore you will not find private commercial operators here. Private companies can only act as suppliers of equipment or services necessary for conducting gambling and must be registered with AGLC.

Alberta does not have a special register of licenses and registrations that could be used for online checking. However, you can find the list of licensed casinos in Alberta, which is posted on the official website of AGLC.

Unfortunately, Alberta doesn’t have its own online gambling operator (registered in Alberta), but there is evidence that the Alberta government is trying to correct this situation and we may soon see an online option provided by a provincial operator.

However, now in Alberta, you can find many online casinos, provided foreign online operators, which we will mention later.

B. Online casinos with licenses in foreign jurisdictions

While living in Alberta or visiting the province, you can freely play online gambling games operated by licensees of foreign jurisdictions.

Are such casinos legal in terms of the laws of Canada and Alberta? They are in the “gray zone” of Canadian regulation – the laws do not stipulate that their activities are prohibited or allowed.

Over the years, the provincial authorities (like the federal authorities) have not taken any measures to ban private online operators and restrict access to their sites. Therefore, at the moment, these sites are not prohibited. In addition, there are illustrative practical examples, which speak in favor of the legality of foreign online operators.

In any case, participation in online gambling is not an offense on the part of the player.

Licenses: foreign operators must be licensed by a foreign jurisdiction in which gambling is legal. Most often these are licenses of smaller European states, for example Malta or the Isle of Man. A license obtained in the United Kingdom is recognized as authoritative one.

Can you trust such operators? Yes, you can, since many countries place very high demands on their license applicants. But of course, you can not trust everyone. As with any industry, there are great deals from reliable companies; but there are also those that should be avoided. Therefore, before you make a choice and start the game, always verify the casino and its operator. Recommendations on how to verify the casino and how to choose the foreign online casino can be found below.

C. Online casino with Kahnawake license

Kahnawake is one of the Mohawk reservations located in Quebec. It is also one of the recognized world jurisdictions for obtaining a casino license. Kahnawake licensed operators also belong to a “gray zone” of Canadian law.

The legality of Kahnawake licenses and the legality of online operators based on such licenses have never been challenged by the provincial or federal authorities. Therefore, the participation of Kahnawake licensees in online gambling is completely legitimate.

Licenses: Kahnawake has its own gambling regulator, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KWG), which issues licenses. It also deals with the resolution of players’ claims and their disputes with operators.

The list of licenses (permits) issued by KWG with the name of the operator and licensed sites can be checked on the regulator’s website in a special section.

Learn more about gambling regulation in Kahnawake, KWG licenses and how to verify them.

4. How to check the legality of the casino?

Below you will find a brief recommendation on how to check the casino’s legality. In our article, you can find out why the casino check should be carried out, how to do it, and what information you can obtain. Also on our site, you can find information about licensing companies in different countries and how to check casino licensees of specific jurisdictions.

The recommendations are:

  • #1

    Check licenses;

  • #2

    Check the system of payments – the timing of payments, how and where your funds are stored, what payment systems are used, how payments are protected;

  • #3

    Check the security of your personal data – the privacy policy of the operator and its right to process your personal data;

  • #4

    Check the company that owns the site and its location (registration) – information about the company must be posted on the site (usually it is displayed in the same place as the license information). Further, we recommend that you check the validity of the company and information about it by using special international or national services;

  • #5

    Check ways of resolving claims and disputes – the best casinos will provide you with an option for alternative (out-of-court) resolution of claims and disputes, which will be faster and more convenient than regular court proceedings;

  • #6

    Check software certification by specialized testing organizations;

  • #7

    Check the casino’s social responsibility – legit operators do not want to squeeze the last penny out of you and leave a “scorched earth” behind themselves. Reliable casinos should always give you the opportunity to restrict your access to the game or completely eliminate it (Alberta also has its own Self-Exclusion Program).

In addition, operators provide support services to players and participate in various social non-commercial programs related to gambling problems. All of this information is posted by operators on the site (usually at the bottom or on the sidebar) and/or in their T&C. Trust only responsible casinos.

Please note: We recommend that you additionally check all specified information posted on the operator’s website. This applies in particular to licenses that can be checked using special registries maintained by the jurisdictions that have issued those licenses.

Please note: When choosing a foreign operator, always take into account the place of licensing and the location (registration) of the company owning the casino – all disputes and complaints against the casino will be resolved in the jurisdictions of their owners and according to the rules established in these jurisdictions.

In the case of Kahnawake, the dispute may be resolved by the KWG, that is, within Canada, but in the case of legal disputes, you will most likely have to somehow appeal to foreign jurisdictions.

5. Deposits and payments in online casinos

The methods of transactions in online casinos in Alberta do not differ from those generally accepted in Canada.

6. Conclusion

So, in Alberta, you can find many options to gamble online, but do not ever forget that a good game starts with the right choice of casino. Play smart and play responsibly.

James Taylor

If you need help choosing a casino – you can refer to our rating of the best online casinos that give players excellent options and are provided by the reliable and responsible operators.

Brief information about the province

  • Population: 4.3 million
  • The capital is Edmonton. The largest city is Calgary.
  • Calgary is one of the cleanest cities in the world.
  • The most popular tourist places are Banff and Jasper national parks (according to official data for 2018, Banff was visited by more than 4 million people, Jasper – about 2.5 million people), and the Rocky Mountains.

How to travel around the province:

  • Airports: There are 2 international airports (in Edmonton and Calgary) and many regional airports, such as Grand Prairie, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, and Red Deer. Therefore, you can easily travel around Alberta by plane. You can buy tickets using many online services such as cheapflights or cheapoair.
  • Railway: Alberta has more than 9000 km of the operating railway. Northern Alberta Railways (NAR) provides rail transportation throughout the province. You can buy tickets at sales offices or online.
  • It is also convenient to drive around Alberta by car – there is over 180,000 km of highways and roads, of which almost 50,000 km are paved roads. For safe and convenient transportation, you can use the online map of Alberta roads.
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