Online Poker Operators are Looming Over the Alberta iGaming Market

All of existing online poker operators in American markets have shown interest applying for Alberta gaming licenses in the near future, with Bally’s Interactive being the latest to join the trend and explore its options.
Online Poker Operators are Looming Over the Alberta iGaming Market
July 09, 2024

The launch of online poker in Alberta now seems imminent, as Canada’s fourth most populous province edges closer to initial poker site launches.

Most recently, lawmakers in Alberta passed legislation that would eventually allow the province to join its liquidity to that of other territories, which would allow Alberta igaming operators to operate in conjunction with those in Ontario or even with the international player pool.

This, along with other favorable factors such as low corporate tax rates, high disposable income levels, and a favorable stance towards online poker as a whole has led some of the top iGaming operators in America to hire lobbyists and start preparing for eventual entry into the new regulated market.

Bally’s Corporation was the most recent to join five other operators in seeking an Alberta igaming license, while BetRivers is likely to seek entry as well once the platform launches in other territories later this year.

Which Operators Are Looking to Enter Alberta?

The news that Alberta will be issuing igaming licenses and potentially allowing online poker liquidity to be shared beyond its borders has caused numerous operators to start circling.

According to PokerFuse, BetMGM Poker, 888poker, GGPoker, PokerStars, and Entain (Bwin, PartyPoker) have all shown varying degrees interest along with the Bally’s Corporation.

This, in total, could result in six different online poker operators eventually launching in a market of less than 5 million people, which could lead to slight oversaturation if the liquidity is not shared with that of Ontario or other territories.

PokerStars and BetMGM have approached the issue by hiring lobbyists from reputable firms to approach Alberta authorities and discuss important issues such as player protection, best practices in regulation of internet gaming, and government revenue opportunities.

GGPoker, on the other hand, has shown some restraint, as the company continues to urge authorities in Ontario and other areas to allow their constituents to re-join the international poker market and continues to accept players from Alberta on its international client at this time.

Considering both PokerStars and GGPoker already operate in Alberta with their international gaming licenses, it could be expected these two brands will capture much of the liquidity in the province if they should launch under local gaming licenses.

888poker and BetRivers Showing Interest

The Alberta igaming market is one that many operators have an interest in and Evoke, the parent company of 888poker, is seemingly among them.

Despite recently dropping its B2C operations in the USA, Evoke has decided to retain its operations in Ontario and now looks set to launch 888poker in Alberta in due time.

Evoke’s Head of Canada, Roi Nadler said: “We are proponents of good regulation that benefits consumers and operators and we look forward to Canada’s other provinces and territories potentially following Ontario’s lead. If that means we get to enjoy the [Calgary] Stampede in July or Mount Royal Park in August, even better!”

One final igaming company that has shown interest in the Alberta market is Rush Street Interactive, as they prepare to launch their new BetRivers Poker in the coming months and are already looking at new states and territories to expand into.

In an earnings call in late 2023, RSI CEO Richard Schwartz mentioned Alberta as one of the markets they are watching over closely along with New York, Illinois, and Maryland.

Indeed, the next couple of years are likely to see developments in igaming in each of these territories, with BetRivers Poker one of the likely brands to look at launching in each, including Alberta.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

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