2021 Sep 24
Legal Alberta Sports Betting
Sports betting in Alberta has been identified as one of the most promising betting markets in Canada that has the potential for substantial growth.
Gambling in Alberta
Gambling has been in Alberta since the 1920s, where horse betting and bingo turned into lotteries, charitable gambling, and more. The 1980s saw the boom of casinos in the province, starting with the independently-owned Calgary Cash Casino popping up in 1980. In fifteen years, the province saw over 11 casinos open its doors, and to this day, you can find 24 commercial casinos and five First Nations casinos throughout the province.
Currently, the only forms of legal sports betting in Alberta is through the lotteries and gambling commissions, with the existing SportSelect software owned by the WCLC (Western Canada Lottery Commission) and the newly created PlayAlberta sportsbook which is owned by the AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis).
Until now, Alberta sports betting enthusiasts have weighed the pros and cons of an offshore betting site and SportSelect. While SportSelect is regulated in Canada, it simply could not compete with an online sports betting site that offers much better odds, huge bonuses, loyalty programs, and a wider selection of betting options. We expect the SportSelect product to remain consistent, but we expect the new PlayAlberta sportsbook will fill the void.
Legal Sports Betting in Alberta
Now that single-game sports betting is here and legalized, it will be up to provincial governments and gambling regulators in the province to come up with a strategy to roll out the products and license operators.
Currently, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) regulates and licenses all sports betting and casino activity, as well as other gambling functions in the province. The AGLC has long expressed their support for Bill C-218, and it was no surprise they had their PlayAlberta sportsbook ready to launch when the lights turned green.
What Will Alberta Sports Betting Look Like?
AGLC representatives have started offering single-game betting on their existing PlayAlberta product online and in physical venues, however, it is unclear if they will be looking into licensing popular online sportsbook operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel now that Bill C-218 has become law.
There has been no mention of what the future holds for SportSelect and whether the AGLC will continue to offer the Western Canada Lottery Commission’s product alongside their PlayAlberta sports betting platform. It’s expected that the rollout of the product will follow quickly on from the introduction of sports betting in Ontario.
While the SportSelect product is conveniently sold at gas stations, lottery kiosks, and grocery stores, we simply don’t think it stands a chance against PlayAlberta. Unless there are huge improvements by the Western Canada Lottery Corporation to the SportSelect product, we don’t expect it to be a popular option especially if operators start buying up sports betting licenses in Alberta one day.
The only U.S. state that borders Alberta is Montana, and they have had legalized sports betting since May 2019, which allowed the opportunity for Southern Albertans to cross the border and take advantage of single-game betting in-person before Bill C-218 was passed.
Sports Betting Apps in Alberta
While there are no independent sportsbooks available in Alberta, there are no mobile sports betting apps aside from PlayAlberta's. We’ll provide more insight and reviews of the best betting apps as they come available in Alberta.
Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Alberta?
Yes, online sports betting has been technically legal in Alberta since 1985, however there was a ban on single-event sports betting until Bill C-218 was passed in June 2021.
The Criminal Code was updated in 1985, adding a section that made sports betting, bookmaking and other gambling acts illegal. Several years after, in 1992, the Gaming Control Act was put in place which allowed provincial lotteries and gaming commissions like the Western Canada Lottery Commission to regulate multi-leg sports betting through the provincial lottery.
This gave the Western Canada Lottery Commission the ability to provide Alberta residents with the SportSelect Pro-Line offering, which allowed sports betting as long as bet slips had parlay wagers. Parlay wagers are multi-leg bets that link the game outcomes together so that all legs of the bet slip must be correct for a winning ticket.
You could bet on the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers to win on a Saturday night, but you couldn't just bet on one team. Parlays take the odds on the Flames and the Oilers and combine them to make the bet riskier, but ultimately will create an opportunity for a larger payout.
The Canadian government gave sports betting fans an olive branch in 1992. While they weren’t ready to legalize sports betting altogether due to the probability that there could be match-fixing implications, they allowed multi-leg sports betting as it would be difficult to fix two or more matches.
This made it legal to offer SportSelect alongside lottery offerings in grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and other kiosks around the province. The legal gambling age in Alberta is 18 years old for any activity, which is lower than other, more strict provinces.
While Canada has always been a bit of a grey area when it comes to sports betting, where some forms are legal (parlays) and others are not (single-game sports betting), we now have a light at the end of the tunnel for Alberta sports betting fans.
Single event sports betting has been a topic of discussion in Canada for the better part of a decade, and finally, in June 2021, Bill C-218 passed, making single-game wagering legal in Canada. Now, the Alberta Government has the ability to regulate and manage sports betting in the province, through their PlayAlberta software and also have the ability to allow operators to obtain licenses and bring much-needed revenue into the province that was hit with COVID-19 the worst.
Betting on Alberta Sports Teams
The two NHL teams in Alberta have had a huge rivalry since the 1970s, and games between the two teams can be intense, earning the nickname ‘The Battle of Alberta’.
Hockey is one of the biggest sports in Canada and in Alberta, and the Calgary Flames have a pretty substantial fanbase in the province. The Flames franchise was established in 1972 as the Atlanta Flames and moved to Calgary in 1980. Home games are played at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the heart of Calgary – the arena boasting the iconic saddle-shaped roof. The Flames have only one Stanley Cup championship under their belts, hoisting Lord Stanley in the 1988-1989 season. They have two other Stanley Cup Finals appearances, in 1985/1986 and 2003/2004.
The franchise is owned by Calgary Sports and Entertainment, who own other prominent Calgary-based professional teams like the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League and the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
If we head North, we will find the Edmonton Oilers, originally a World Hockey Association team under the name of the Alberta Oilers; upgraded to the NHL in 1979. The Oilers are distinguishable by their brightly coloured orange and blue uniforms, and loyal fans. The Edmonton Oilers have won five Stanley Cups in their time in the National Hockey League, only losing in the Stanley Cup Finals two of their seven appearances. All five Stanley Cup Championships occurred in the 1980’s – 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990 – famously called their ‘dynasty years’ thanks to Wayne Gretzky, Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri. The 1984-1985 Edmonton Oilers were voted as the greatest NHL team of all time recently in 2017. While the Oilers haven’t had much luck in recent years, Team Captain Connor McDavid continues to put up huge numbers for the franchise year after year, yet the team cannot manage to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Until June 2021, the Edmonton-based CFL team was called the Edmonton Eskimos but was renamed the Elks due to the former being culturally insensitive to Indigenous Canadians. The Edmonton Elks were established in 1949 and are currently in the West Division of the CFL. The Elks have fourteen Grey Cup championships, winning three consecutive titles in the mid-1950s and five consecutive titles between 1978 and 1982. The Edmonton Elks lead the Canadian Football League in attendance, proving that Canadian fans love the CFL and love the Edmonton-based team. Like the NHL, the Calgary and Edmonton teams have a rivalry, which makes for an intense match-up each time the two clubs meet.
The Calgary Stampeders are another West Division team in the Canadian Football League with a handful of Grey Cup titles. They are the third-oldest franchise in the CFL, with the active franchise dating back to 1945. The Stampeders have won eight Grey Cup titles, with their most recent in 2018 where they beat the Ottawa Redblacks 27-16.
FC Edmonton (Canadian Premier League)
While there are no Major League Soccer teams in Alberta, there is a Canadian Premier League football club based in Edmonton. The Edmonton team has been a part of the league since its inception in 2019, previously competing in the North American Soccer League. The team’s existence dates back to 2010, playing exhibition soccer matches against teams from the United States and Canada. Now, in the Canadian Premier League, FC Edmonton competes against eight teams from five provinces, to earn a spot in the CPL Finals. The winner of the CPL Finals will receive a berth into the CONCACAF League and earn the opportunity to play against top talent from Central America and the Caribbean.
FC Cavalry (Canadian Premier League)
Based in Calgary, FC Cavalry is one of the newest professional soccer teams in the CPL. In 2019, the team qualified for the CPL Championship by winning the CPLA Spring season, and shocked the CPL community when they beat a Major League Soccer Club – the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. After coming out of the gate extremely hot – we expect big things from this small club – and we expect the Cavalry FC to become a huge favourite in the Calgary community.
Horse Racing in Alberta
If you prefer betting on horses and are looking to place a few horse betting wagers in Alberta, there are a few great racetracks that offer on-site betting as well as off-track betting on major American races. Most of the excitement of betting on horse racing is getting to watch the races live, and you can do so at any of the following Alberta racetracks:
| Name|| City|| On-site Horse Betting?|
|Century Downs Racetrack and Casino||Balzac, AB|| Yes|
|Century Mile Racetrack and Casino||Leduc, AB|| Yes|
|Evergreen Park||Grand Prairie, AB|| No|
|Millarville Racetrack||Millarville, AB||No|
|Rocky Mountain Turf Club||Lethbridge, AB|| Yes|
|The Track on 2 Horse Racing and Event Center||Lacombe, AB|| Yes|
Casino Betting in Alberta
Alberta is home to some of the oldest casinos in Canada, and to this day, the establishments still get lots of love. As one of the wealthiest provinces in Canada, there is plenty of disposable income, and usually, those with disposable income enjoy heading to a casino to bet a few dollars on their favourite games.
There’s a great selection of casinos in Alberta located all around the province. They offer slots, table games, entertainment and more.
| Casino|| City|
| Canadian National Exhibition Casino|| Toronto|
|Century Downs Racetrack and Casino||Balzac, AB|
|Casino Calgary||Calgary, AB|
|Cash Casino Place||Calgary, AB|
|Deerfoot Inn and Casino||Calgary, AB|
|Elbow River Casino||Calgary, AB|
|Century Casino Calgary Inc.||Calgary, AB|
|Cowboys Casino||Calgary, AB|
|Camrose Resort Casino||Camrose, AB|
|Baccarat Casino||Edmonton, AB|
|Casino Edmonton||Edmonton, AB|
|Casino Yellowhead||Edmonton, AB|
|Century Casino||Edmonton, AB|
|Century Mile Racetrack and Casino||Edmonton, AB|
|Grand Villa Casino Edmonton||Edmonton, AB|
|Starlight Casino Edmonton||Edmonton, AB|
|Boomtown Casino||Fort McMurray, AB|
|Evergreen Park||Grand Prairie, AB|
|Great Northern Casino||Grand Prairie, AB|
|Casino Lethbridge||Lethbridge, AB|
|Rocky Mountain Turf Club||Lethbridge, AB|
|Copper Coulee Casino||Medicine Hat, AB|
|Cash Casino Red Deer||Red Deer, AB|
|Jackpot Casino||Red Deer, AB|
|Century Casino St. Albert||St. Albert, AB|
There are also five First Nation casinos in Alberta that are located on reserve land, owned directly by Indigenous groups. Much of the revenue from these casinos go toward charitable and religious programs within the First Nations community.
| Casino|| City|
|Grey Eagle Casino owned by TsuuT’ina First Nations||Calgary, AB|
|Casino Dene owned by Cold Lake First Nation||Cold Lake, AB|
|River Cree Resort and Casino owned by Enoch Cree Nation||Enoch, AB|
|Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino owned by Stoney Nakoda First Nation||Morley, AB|
|Eagle River Casino and Travel Plaza owned by Alexis Sioux Nation||Whitecourt, AB|
In terms of online casinos in Alberta, we’ve discussed the PlayAlberta site that is regulated by the AGLC, which will be the main sports betting offering in Alberta. They currently offer casino games through GameSense software, which is a reputable and fair gaming platform. The money gambled on PlayAlberta goes directly back into the community through the Alberta General Revenue Fund to support programs for Alberta residents.
Strategy and Tips
Yes, sports betting in Alberta is completely legal and you can place a wager at any regulated sports betting site or venue.
The minimum age to bet on sports in Alberta is 18 years old. Alberta's age of majority is one year less than most other provinces.
There are 24 commercial casinos and five First Nations casinos in the province of Alberta. Several of the horse racing tracks are combined as casinos as well to have a great selection of land-based casino game play in the province.
Yes, thanks to Bill C-218 passing the Senate in June 2021 and launching in August 2021, single event sports betting is now legal in Alberta, making all sports betting activity available.
Currently the first and only sportsbook available in Alberta is their lottery-owned PlayAlberta sportsbook. We are unsure whether there will be independent operators at this time.
"I'm an avid sports fan and content creator from Nova Scotia, Canada. I have over 14 years of experience in the gambling space, specifically in the sports betting industry specializing in sportsbook reviews and sports betting educational content."
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