Promoting economic reconciliation through Alberta's iGaming strategy

5 minute read
27 June 2024

Alberta's gaming landscape is evolving, with online gaming (iGaming) becoming increasingly prominent. The Alberta government, led by the Ministries of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction and Indigenous Relations, is seeking input from stakeholders and Indigenous communities to help shape its iGaming strategy. This engagement aims to develop a strategy that promotes responsible gaming while generating revenue for both provincial and Indigenous stakeholders.[1]



Economic reconciliation through new business opportunities

Exploring business opportunities within Alberta's iGaming market should be of interest to all Alberta First Nations and not just Host First Nation casinos and racing entertainment centres.

Dialogue with Alberta could address how more First Nations can participate in the gaming sector via iGaming and establish revenues to support communities through new grant programs, funding agreements, or uses under the Host First Nation Charitable Casino Policies Handbook. This participation could provide new revenue streams, economic development opportunities, and funding for community projects, ensuring that Indigenous communities are part of the evolving gaming industry.

Participation in the iGaming market should support economic reconciliation by ensuring Indigenous communities are truly integral to Alberta's gaming industry. With a substantial portion of Alberta's online gaming market currently unregulated, establishing a regulatory framework can convert grey-market and/or black-market players to legal platforms, enhancing safety and economic benefits.

What Alberta can learn from online gaming examples across Canada

Highlighting successful examples of Indigenous-operated casinos and other gaming ventures from across Canada could provide the Alberta government with valuable insights and best practices for First Nations entering the iGaming market.

For example, Ontario's recent opening of its iGaming market to private sector participation serves as a significant reference for Alberta. At the 2024 Canadian Gaming Summit, Minister Dale Nally announced Alberta's intention to follow Ontario's model in creating an open, regulated iGaming market. Recent legislation allows private operators to enter the market under the Justice Minister's supervision, addressing concerns about competition and data sharing. Nally emphasized the importance of involving First Nations in the marketplace and building on existing relationships with Host First Nation casinos.

The potential implications of an open iGaming market on Host First Nation casinos need careful assessment, as the growth of the iGaming sector could impact their revenue. Engaging in discussions and providing feedback can help shape the iGaming strategy to mitigate these impacts and ensure the interests of Host First Nation casinos are considered. Identifying strategies to maintain the strength and vibrancy these operations is essential for business sustainability.

By participating in engagement meetings and feedback sessions with the province, Indigenous interests can influence the development of the iGaming strategy. Gowling WLG can assist in preparing comprehensive submissions and facilitating communication with the government.

Legal assistance for Indigenous communities and stakeholders

Gowling WLG is dedicated to supporting Indigenous communities and stakeholders in navigating this initiative. We offer assistance in drafting and formalizing submissions to the Alberta government regarding community interests and potential Indigenous gaming rights. Our expertise can help articulate the unique needs and concerns of First Nations to ensure they are represented.

For further information or assistance, please contact the authors of this article. We are here to help you engage effectively with the government and explore the opportunities that this evolving landscape presents. For more information on Ontario's iGaming market, you can read our previous article here.

Feel free to reach out to our firm for more detailed information or to discuss how we can assist your community in navigating this evolving landscape.


[1] Government of Alberta, iGaming Strategy Engagement, alberta.ca, accessed online on June 24, 2024 at <https://www.alberta.ca/igaming-strategy-engagement>.


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Related   Indigenous Law, Gaming