The expansion of legal sports betting in Canada has finally come to pass thanks to the long-overdue passage of C-218, The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act. On August 27, 2021, Parliament passed the bill, which changes federal law to legalize single-game wagering and allow each province to regulate sports wagering as they see fit. Prior to the passage of C-218 sports betting was not explicitly legal in Canada but it was not explicitly illegal either, resulting in a legal gray area exploited by offshore sportsbooks. Now the confusion has been eliminated and each province is free to legalize, or prohibit, sports betting and regulate it accordingly.

Ontario and British Columbia were first provinces to act on legal sports betting expansion, but Alberta has snuck in with an idea for a market spanning beyond the traditional lottery-based operators. Alberta has Canada’s 4th largest population base (4.5 million residents) and is looking to bring in some competition for the Lottery that has dominated all forms of legal gambling in the province for decades. The sportsbooks that end up coming to the province will be chasing the estimated $100 million annually that Albertans spend with offshore sportsbooks.

Studies have shown Alberta to be a potentially attractive market for wagering providers looking to expand their reach. Alberta is expected to generate online sports betting gross gaming revenue of up to $216.7 million by 2026, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming boutique research firm.

Sports Betting Expansion in Alberta

Now that each province can decide whether to legalize single-game wagering, individual provinces (aside from Ontario) are taking some time to consider the approach that best fits them. Alberta has decided to implement a “limited-operator model” that will allow for as few as two outside commercial sportsbook operators, such as BetMGM and FanDuel, rather than an open-market system that Ontario decided to implement. Those two providers will be competing with Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) Play Alberta platform, which launched September 1, 2021, and Western Canada Lottery Corp.’s SPORT SELECT game which is a retail option available at Alberta lottery retailers.

There are some reservations about the limitation of the industry beyond the Crown-owned Play Alberta. Some of the most successful global sports betting operators will be shut out of the province if the limited-operator model persists. The limited market option put forth by state regulators is far from the open market that most bettors and operators had been hoping for in Alberta.

With the news of the limited market, expect competition for those two licenses to be fierce. Single-game betting will not only expand the types of bets allowed in their market, but will also allow home-grown providers to keep wagering dollars in Alberta. Sports bettors in Alberta will benefit from a huge expansion of wagering opportunities and from companies battling for their gambling dollars. The province itself will benefit from taxing the millions of dollars of legal wagers will stay in the province rather than flowing to unregulated offshore sportsbooks.

Play Alberta

In keeping with Canada’s tradition of having local governments regulate gambling, the Alberta government and its Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) has launched its own online sportsbook,, or as those in the province know it – Play Alberta.

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis has been around in Alberta since 1996 and has been a mainstay in the province with regard to gambling options, from sports betting to casino gaming to lottery-style gaming. After Bill C-218 passed, there was a need to upgrade its offerings, so the decision was made to bring in a reliable online sports betting entity and to expand the Alberta betting menu to include single-game wagering.

Enter Play Alberta, which is powered by Sporting Solutions and by NeoPollard Interactive. It gives the provincial government an online sports betting presence, albeit a slightly underwhelming one for now. All major sports worldwide are available for wagering, and the app and website look very similar to any major American sportsbook aside from the decimal pricing (2.00 instead of +100, for example).

Play Alberta was officially unveiled in the province on October 1, 2020, almost a year prior to the actual legalization of single-game betting. It took until September 1, 2021, before it went live with the inclusion of single-game betting for Alberta users. As for the site itself, is an OK start as the government’s first foray into a complete and wide-ranging mobile sports betting universe. The odds are competitive, though a bit on the high side; the menu of sports is respectable; the platform is visually pleasing; and the overall wagering experience is certainly satisfactory.

Given the potential of serious competition coming Alberta’s way, will have some work to do with their Bonuses, their banking options and the appearance of their overall platform. The additional competition of two new operators in the province will likely force the Crown-run entity to step up its game, beginning with better prices, sooner rather than later.

Potential Competition for Play Alberta

As mentioned, the competition for a legal sports betting license in Alberta is expected to be strong. Many of the operators vying for a license in the Ontario market will attempt to get in on the Alberta scene. Some names that stand out are DraftKings and FanDuel, which already offer their top-tier DFS services in the Alberta market and are leaders in every market they enter. Canadian-born theScore Bet, which has been a mainstay in Canada since 2012, was recently purchased by industry heavyweight Penn Entertainment, could also make a run at coming to the province. Additional potential operators include BetMGM, which recently signed beloved Oilers scorer Connor McDavid as a brand ambassador; Caesars Sportsbook; PointsBet; and Bet365, which has a partnership in Colorado with Century Casinos, owner of several retail casinos in the province.

Whichever two sportsbooks end up in the province will be welcome additions to the Alberta market, and will provide the necessary competition to benefit bettors. Alberta will be a sought-after destination for major global betting providers because of its sizable population of passionate sports fans.

Security of Regulated Sportsbooks

Not unlike any new jurisdiction ready to welcome in an expansive legal sports betting industry, there are familiar questions about the safety of customer deposits and personal information. Rest assured that provincial regulators will impose stringent regulatory rules and safeguards that operators must meet before opening up shop in the province.

Sports betting encryption technology has become an industry of its own the last decade or so. There is no shortage of companies dedicated to keeping the privacy of an individual bettor and their banking information airtight. Additionally, one security breach can spell doom for that company going forward. Future licenses are on the line, and so are a slew of bettors that could become active bettors on their site. Sports betting companies do literally everything they can to protect customer data and financial information from hackers.

Popular Sports Teams in Alberta

The most popular teams in Alberta are the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers of the NHL and the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks of the Canadian Football League (CFL). Each of Alberta’s professional teams enjoys immense support throughout the province and all are considered staples of their communities.

Like the rest of Canada, Alberta has its share of non-provincial sports team fans. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have supporters across the country, including Alberta. Leafs and Habs games are circled on the calendars of Flames and Oilers fans, along with the hated Vancouver Canucks and division rivals Seattle, LA, and Vegas.

The CFL’s Labour Day Classic between the Stampeders and Elks is always a huge draw for sportsbooks in the province. The annual CFL matchup is a summertime staple for Alberta sports fans and will take on some extra intrigue with the added legal sports betting angle.

The “Battle of Alberta,” the eight-game Regular Season series between the Flames and Oilers, could also provide a wagering bonanza for provincial sportsbooks. Few things bring out as much emotion for Alberta sports bettors as a Saturday Night contest between the province’s two beloved NHL franchises.

Albertans will likely also be in on Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors single-game betting opportunities. Each are “Canada’s Team” in their respective sports and have a broad fanbase not only in Ontario but in Alberta and across the country.

Unlike other provinces in Canada, Alberta does not border an American state with a professional sports team. The NFL is very popular in Alberta and throughout Canada, and the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings will likely pop up as one of the most supported south-of-the-border teams for Albertans to wager on, though many Seattle Seahawks games are on local cable television, with Seattle technically being the closest large American city to the province.

Placing a Legal Sports Bet in Alberta

Legal sports betting in Alberta is open to anyone 18 years of age and older. This is a perk for residents of Alberta – the legal age in most other provinces is 19. In order to use the Play Alberta sportsbook, bettors will need to submit proof of Alberta residency. Outsiders cannot use the sportsbook, which is a lot different than the rules in the United States and even Ontario. It remains to be seen whether the two outside operators will also have a residency requirement. This is something to keep an eye on.

In order to sign up for an account, you will need to hand over some information, including your name, address, email address, and date of birth. This information sharing is standard among all sportsbooks because they need to verify your identity before you can open an account. Provincial security regulations will ensure that your personal information will be kept secure.

Retail Sports Betting in Alberta

The Alberta gambling scene may be more robust in Alberta than any other province. Thirty or so retail casinos operate in the province, a few of which are run by some heavyweight names within the North American gambling market. Alberta retail casinos, which offer traditional slots, table games and entertainment options would no doubt like to offer sports betting, but as of now it is unknown whether they will be allowed to do so.

Right now, the only retail sports betting option is the Sport Select sportsbook operated by the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. Sport Select is available at any business that offers lottery gaming, which includes thousands of locations across the province. Sport Select is almost worse than no retail option at all because of its terrible pricing (1.7/-142 and even 1.5/-200 are common spread prices as opposed to the standard 1.90/-110 offered by most sportsbooks) and very low $100 wagering limits.

Retail casinos in Alberta include:

Calgary Casinos:

Edmonton Casinos:

Additional Alberta Casinos:

More on Legalization of Sports Betting in Canada

Legal sports betting in Canada and in Alberta has been taking place for decades through provincial lotteries but has included just parlays of three legs or more. What had been missing was the opportunity to bet on one game at a time, like the Super Bowl or Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. That changed during the summer of 2021 when the idea of legalizing single-game betting really started to gain momentum. Bill C-218 was born and was quickly passed with overwhelming support.

Prior to that, Canadian sports bettors were limited to a somewhat complicated lottery-run parlay betting model. These bets have high payouts but can be difficult to win. There were also offshore options that took not only business away from Canadian outlets but kept provinces from benefitting from potential tax revenue generated from single-game wagering.

Bill C-218 represents a serious modernization of Canada’s legal sports betting platform and will give each province, similar to each state in the US, the chance to determine just which sports betting model serves them best. There is the “limited-market” option which combines the lottery and just a few competing providers like the Alberta proposal or a more open-market model in which many sports betting companies compete for customers, similar to what Ontario has enacted. Still other provinces will choose to do nothing at all.

Bill C-218 was first proposed in the Canadian House of Commons in February 2021, was debated there and easily passed June 23, 2021, by a 57-20 vote. It received Royal Assent from the Chief Justice of Canada on June 29, 2021 and became law of the land August 27, 2021. The measure had broad support across Canada from sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, all of which have been benefiting from a complete, legal sports betting model in the US since 2018. The CFL, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and the provincial lotteries also supported the measure, as did individual lawmakers who saw a potential new source of revenue for their jurisdictions.

Final Thoughts on Alberta Sports Betting

C-218 has allowed the Canadian legal sports betting industry to travel light-years from the previously underwhelming parlay-only wagering system. Alberta seems to be taking a measured approach in its early stages. Hopes are that their “limited-model” will eventually grow into a more substantial, competitive model.

As it stands, Albertans are able to bet on a single game, their bet-type options have grown significantly, and competition for their wagering dollars is on the way. Soon enough we will hear which two sportsbooks will be making their debut in what is expected to be a bustling Alberta market.

The 4.5 million residents of the province have seen their legal sports betting options expand and upgraded. At the very least, Alberta bettors will benefit from the modernization of an industry that has been a boon for jurisdictions south of their border. Alberta citizens can expect from their upgraded and modernized legal sports betting industry an enhancement of their overall sports viewing experience, job creation and contributions to needy provincial and local tax coffers, which is good news for fans of sports betting in the province and elsewhere.