Residents of Canada, and anyone who has studied the subject of gambling inside the country will know that the regulations differ from province to province. Some regions are relatively enlightened about the situation while others might introduce measures that some would consider to be Draconian.
As far as Alberta is concerned, this province has always been seen as one of the most progressive areas of Canada. Alberta have, essentially seen that gambling can offer increased financial revenue to the region and they have looked to make sure that responsible play exists at the same time.
Gambling Laws in Alberta
Western Canada Lottery Corporation
Formed in 1974, the Western Canada Lottery Corporation is in place to oversee gambling in its six member regions – Alberta, Manitoba, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
In that time, the WCLC has been operating lottery games and providing other gambling activity within those areas since the mid-1970s. Alberta is covered as one of the members and it provides a wide range of gambling options that come directly from this source.
Betting opportunities that come via this source are perfectly legal and it’s also possible for residents of Alberta to use other outlets. Sportsbooks that are based in Canada are available, provided they are fully licensed and regulated and the same principles apply to offshore bookmakers that have chosen to open their facilities to Canadian residents.
Offline Sports Betting in Alberta
Alberta opened a charitable casino back in the 1960s while the first for-profit establishment came along in 1980. It’s an open province to a great extent and that same openness applies to sports betting.
A number of bookmakers are available on track and in other designated areas around Alberta and residents can enjoy a range of different betting options. As we will see when we get to a later section concerning horse racing in the province, many locations serve multiple purposes with casino and general sports betting available.
So, what are the betting markets that residents of Alberta like to get involved with?
One of the strict rules currently in place, as far as Canada is concerned, specifically outlaws the placing of single bets. Players have to form a parlay combination using multiple wagers and this is where the pro-line bet steps in.
A pro-line is a bet made with a minimum of three and a maximum of six selections. When the outcomes are decided, any winning bets will multiply the odds for each pick and the total payout is returned to the bettor. Profits from pro-line bets can, therefore, be impressive but remember that all selections have to win, otherwise the overall stake will be lost.
Canadians also like to get involved with the point spread. In other parts of the world, this is known as handicap betting and that gives us more of a clue as to what to expect.
Ahead of an event, bettors can look at the two teams or players involved and then consider any Point Spread markets that the sportsbooks may have quoted. In effect, they are handicapping one of the two opponents by giving the other party a notional head start.
For example, let’s say we are betting on the NBA or any other basketball match that has attracted a market. The weaker team will carry higher odds in the moneyline market and, while upsets can always happen, we don’t expect them to win. Under the points spread system, that team could be given a ten point head start and, a bet on the favorites would then require the stronger of the two teams to win by 11 points or more.
It may sound like a complex system but this is Alberta’s second favorite betting option, behind the pro line. The point spread is also very versatile as it can be applied to a multitude of team sports including basketball, ice hockey, baseball and soccer. Certain individual sports such as tennis can also attract the point spread option. Once a few bets have been made, even the most inexperienced punter should have no problem with the spread so why not test out the system with some paper bets before committing to financial stakes.
Pools and Props
Prop bets are considered to be a stake on any event which doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on the overall winner of the match. For example, in soccer, punters could take a bet on the number of goals that are scored in the game. We could have four, five, six goals or more but that doesn’t mean that one of the two sides are guaranteed to win or that we will see a draw.
Similarly, a prop bet could apply to points markets in baseball, basketball or American football. Some sportsbooks can even be completely out of left field such as a genuine market in 2020 on whether or not Tiger Woods would step onto the first tee wearing a red shirt.
Referred to in other countries as side bets, as long as the result isn’t affected then the prop is in play. Once again, single prop bets are outlawed in Canada so it’s a case of collecting a series of outcomes and combining them into a parlay.
As for pool betting, this is another popular option for players across Alberta and beyond. The concept is a little similar to lottery betting in the sense that a big prize fund is up for grabs and the players involved all have a chance of scooping the big prizes.
Anyone getting involved in pool betting will pay a fixed price to enter and the prizes are paid to those who have made the most winning selections. One of the best examples of this can be taken from horse racing where the practise is extremely popular.
Let’s say there are seven races on a card on a specific day’s racing. All of those races are eligible to go into the pool. The bettor buys an entry ticket at a price we will set at $5.00 CAD and then they make seven selections from those seven horse races. If all seven of those picks win, a share of the pool will be guaranteed and, it may be that no other player has secured seven wins in which case, all of the prize fund goes to one lucky player.
Seven wins are rare so, it could be that the pool is shared or won outright with six, five or even four selections. The system is widely used around Alberta and more players continue to get on board.
Major Horse Racing Events in Alberta
Canada has a proud horse racing tradition and in the present day, the sport is thriving. This hasn’t always been the case, however, and from 2008 to 2015, horse racing in Alberta went on something of a hiatus.
In the present day, there are four recognised race tracks in the province and these are referred to as Racing Entertainment Centers. This is because there is more to these venues than just horse racing and that’s particularly in evidence at the Century Mile Racetrack and Casino. Clearly, there is the opportunity to get involved in sports betting and also to allow card, slot and table games inside the venue.
Century Mile opened in 2019 and it now hosts the Canadian Derby which it took over from the now closed Northlands Park in Edmonton. Other events to take place here include the Century Casino Oaks and the Northlands Distaff.
The Century Mile Racetrack and Casino is one of just two A-Level racetracks in Alberta. The other is the Century Downs Racetrack and Casino which opened in 2015. Century Downs holds the honor of being the first track to bring live horse racing back to the Province since 2008.
A number of top quality renewals take place here and there is also scope for trotting as well as the classic horse racing meetings. Once again, there is a strong element of casino play involved at Century Downs.
The remaining racetracks in Alberta are Evergreen Park at Grand Prairie and the Rocky Mountain Turf Club at the engagingly named Whoop Up Downs in Lethbridge. Both are busy venues and they host a number of lower grade meetings throughout the calendar year.
Of the many events held across these four race courses, the Canadian Derby is undoubtedly the most prestigious. Founded in 1930, this event is for three year olds and it is run around 10 furlongs of that Century Mile course. When it was incepted, the Canadian Derby was initially held on the Polo Park Racetrack in neighboring Winnipeg, Manitoba.
In 1957, Northlands Park took over and the Canadian Derby has remained in Alberta ever since. It’s great for the province to have such a prestigious race within its borders and the inception of such an impressive venue as Century Mile will surely mean that it stays here for many years to come.
Major Sports Teams in Alberta
Sport is important to residents of Alberta and the region is proud of all its teams. This is an active province for most games, even if the list of professional clubs is a relatively short one.
Many residents are most proud of the Calgary Flames who play in the National Hockey League (NHL). Established in 1980, the Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989 and that remains their greatest achievement to date. The Calgary side also made it to the Stanley Cup FInals in 2004 and they are often competitive in that elite division.
The NHL also boasts the Edmonton Oilers who were formed as the Alberta Oilers back in 1972. The Oilers have yet to win the Stanley Cup but they are firmly established in the Pacific Division.
Other professional sports sides in Alberta play specifically in Canadian divisions. They include FC Edmonton and Cavalry FC who play soccer in the Canadian Premier League. Baseball includes the Edmonton Prospects and a team who go by the brilliant name of the Medicine Hat Mavericks.
Not all sides will have betting markets attached to them but this list shows that many sports are thriving in Alberta. It’s a sports-mad region and fortunately for residents, sports betting is relatively easy to enjoy, right across the region.