In western Canada and a pair of tribal casino operators are reportedly suing the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission regulator amid claims that the body’s recently-launched PlayAlberta.com domain is illegal.
According to a Wednesday report from the Calgary Herald newspaper, the provincial agency premiered the mobile-friendly online casino in October so as to offer Albertans the ability to enjoy a range of video slot, instant-win and lottery entertainment in a safe and regulated environment. However, this debut purportedly came at the same time as land-based gaming venues across the jurisdiction were being temporarily shuttered in response to the coronavirus pandemic to leave the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission with an effective monopoly on all things gambling.
Unhappy with this situation and the casino-operating Tsuut’ina Nation and Stoney Nakoda First Nation have now reportedly filed a lawsuit seeking the immediate closure of the PlayAlberta.com domain on grounds that it constitutes an ‘unauthorized entry’ into the Canadian province’s casino and gaming market. The pair are purportedly also contending that the site represents a conflict of interest as the primary mission of the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission is to serve as a regulator rather than an operator.
The Tsuut’ina Nation runs the 84,000 sq ft Grey Eagle Resort and Casino on the southern outskirts of Calgary while the Stoney Nakoda First Nation is responsible for the slightly smaller Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino facility located near the small hamlet of Exshaw. Their application for judicial review filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta moreover reportedly alleges that the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission violated the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act of 2000 in launching its real-money gambling domain as this legislation instituted a moratorium on the licensing of any new casinos in the province.
Roy Whitney (pictured) serves as Chief for the 2,500-member Tsuut’ina Nation and he reportedly declared that the lawsuit is seeking the immediate closure of the domain as well as an order barring the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission from ‘ever implementing or operating any casinos, online or otherwise’. He purportedly furthermore declared that tribal governments across Alberta rely on the revenues brought in by gambling and that sites such as PlayAlberta.com are siphoning off a large portion of these funds.
The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission reportedly earlier estimated that PlayAlberta.com is expected to bring in around $2.97 million this year alone and could well see this annual figure grow to top $119 million by the end of 2026.
Whitney reportedly told the newspaper…
“This action is important to all Albertans that rely upon charity dollars through casino revenues. By entering online gaming, this government is taking away charity dollars that charities rely on. For us, these charity dollars are used to support our health, education, housing and social programs.”