Effective immediately, Albertans can buy lottery tickets online

CALGARY — Lotto Max, Lotto 6/49, Daily Grand, Western Max, Western 6/49 and the Extra tickets are now available for purchase on PlayAlberta.ca, the provincially-owned gambling website.

“Creating new digital purchasing options provides consumer convenience, while continuing to generate revenue that benefits Albertans,” said Kandice Machado, acting president and CEO of Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis in a statement released Friday.

Alberta is a little bit late to the game as British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and the Atlantic provinces have already been offering lottery selections online, including national games like Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49.

AGLC Acting Vice-President of Gaming & Cannabis, Steve Lautischer said it took longer than expected to offer lottery tickets since the Play Alberta site launched last September, but it was to ensure the system could eliminate all glitches.

“It took just a bit of work to collaborate with our partners and western Canada Lottery Corporation which provides us with our lottery and services to get the technology in place and deliver it seamlessly for Albertans,” Lautischer said.

“But now you can buy multiple tickets for multiple draws in advance online or you could just buy a single ticket for that immediate draw, so it’s not unlike subscriptions where you could buy a portfolio of tickets for the future or you could just do a one-off.”

Lautischer added that the website highly encourages Albertans to play the lottery responsibly through its Game Sense portfolio as it continues to expand its services.

The website currently offers slot machines, instant games, and virtual and live dealer table games and AGLC says there are plans to add sports wagering later in 2021.

Play Alberta is only available to people over the age of 18 who are physically located in Alberta. There will be loss, bet and daily session limits in place to reduce the effects of gambling addiction.

In 2019-20, over $1.4 billion in net gaming income was generated for Alberta’s General Revenue Fund, which is used to support government programs and services.

UNFAIR PLAYING FIELD FOR INDEPENDENT RETAILERS

While a new platform to purchase lottery tickets online is welcome news for the convenience of consumers, some independent retailers suggest this will have a very negative impact on their business.

Naima Shahid has owned the A Plus One Convenience Store in southwest Calgary for more than decade and said this change will drive away a large portion of her sales.

I’m going to lose my customers,” she said.

“Because when they buy the lottery from home, they’re not going to come to me and when they come to a buy a lottery ticket, they usually buy drinks, chocolates, candy, gum, or a pack of smokes so I’m actually losing a lot of business if they do the lottery online.”

Shahid added that during lottery draws with large jackpots, her store will sell upwards of $2,000 each day.

“I didn’t hear anything from the AGLC, nothing at all,” she said.

“Instead I’m hearing from my customers slowly that it’s going to be online and it’s easier for them, but what are we gaining out of it? Nothing, because we’re going to be losing a lot of business and then maybe it ends up that we are out of business.”

ONGOING LAWSUIT

In early April, the Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda First Nations applied to shut down the website.

The nations, which each operate casinos that have been shutdown or restricted over the past year, said the AGLC is operating an illegal gambling site.

The claim also alleges a conflict of interest and lack of authority to operate a casino. None of the claims have been tested in court.

“By entering online gaming the government is taking away charity dollars,” said Tsuut’ina Chief Roy Whitney in April. “These charity dollars are used to support our health, education, housing and social programs.”

In response, the AGLC said “as in all Canadian jurisdictions, online gaming is conducted and managed by the provincial authorities in accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada.”

No date has been set for the hearing.

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