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During the pandemic, many land-based establishments were forced out of business by the tough containment measures. Considering that many revenue-potent companies were primarily invested in brick and mortar operations, the lockdown created a massive economic disruption that will take some time to mitigate.
However, the recent surge in online businesses now promises the revival of fallen brick-and-mortar enterprises. For certain industries, it is proving to be more reachable and profitable than land-based ones.
In October last year, Alberta launched its first regulated online casino, which would help recover some of the revenues and charity donations lost due to the closing of brick-and-mortar casinos. However, its operation has faced heavy opposition from casino-owner tribes who feel threatened by the existence of a regulator competitor business.
Residents of the province welcomed the idea, seeing it as a worthy alternative to the closed casinos. However, the Tsuut’ina and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation want the court to ban its operation, claiming that it was established irregularly.
The Tsuut’ina, who run the Grey Eagle casino southwest Calgary, and the Stoney First Nation, who operate the Stoney and Nakoda Resort and Casino west of the city, issued a lawsuit at the Queen’s Bench Court of Alberta.
Playalberta.ca was established by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (ALGC). It offers a range of games, including slots, instant-win lotteries, and casino table games.
According to the lawsuit, the ALGC had gone overboard by establishing an online casino instead of abiding by their purpose of regulating gambling activities.
The two tribes consider this a breach of the Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Act, which forbids the ALGC from licensing its business. If the ALGC did not authorize itself, then it would be operating an unlicensed casino. Canada is not the only country struggling with regulations for online gambling. At True Blue Casino we are always looking out for our customers and keeping them informed of all the updated rules and regulations in Australia.
The pandemic led to the closure of casinos across Alberta for months, which has led to a significant loss of revenue and charity money. Considering that the Play Alberta casino is now the only one allowed to operate, punters have no choice.
According to Chief Clifford Poucette, a representative of Nakoda’s Wesley band, the operation has had unfair impacts on the side of charities depending upon land-based casinos.
Almost 80% of their charity money caters to health, housing, infrastructure, and education. However, the charities are now out of capacity to help their people.
According to the Tsuut’ina Gaming CEO, Brent Dodging Horse, the AGLC had gone beyond its duty as a moderator of gaming, liquor and cannabis businesses in the province to establish a competitor business.
They have also ensured that they are the only business operating during the pandemic, which is unethical.
Nevertheless, the AGLC formed an advisory committee consisting of representatives of Alberta’s gaming industry during the launch of Play Alberta. The committee would oversee a healthy relationship between the AGLC and the rest of the gambling industry.
However, Brent felt that Play Alberta had broken relationships and agreements between them and former provincial governments.
Like many other Canadian provinces, online gaming was illegal in Alberta. However, with the Criminal Code of Canada leaving the duty of controlling online gaming to the provincial authorities, AGLC could legalize Play Alberta.
About 4% of Alberta’s budget comes from gambling revenue. However, the province is still in battle with problematic gambling, accounting for almost half of this revenue.
The tribal operators claim to have aired their concerns to the provincial government, which they assume were ignored because their casinos remained closed. However, the AGLC claims that they haven’t responded because they have not reviewed the complaints.
According to the AGLC, Play Alberta was expected to generate $3.74 million in revenue in 2021.
They complained that the province should allocate these online revenues to casinos, as they had also agreed to share theirs despite risking to establish the premises.
They also wanted the court to prohibit the AGLC from ever establishing another gambling business.
However, the AGLC claims to be operating within legal requirements and would not repudiate without a struggle.
The AGLC estimates that Playalberta will reach profitability of $150 million in 5 years, which is far below the $350 million casinos contribute to charities yearly. However, considering that casinos will remain closed or capacity-limited for the foreseeable future, online gambling could help recover part of the lost revenues and charity funding.
We can only wait and see how the dispute unfolds to gauge whether Alberta enters a new era of liberalized online gaming or not.
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