For fans of teams in sports-crazy Alberta, the world has been a different place since 2021. In the time after the passage of Parliament Bill C-218, single-game sports betting has become a possibility for anyone wishing to put some money on the Flames, the Oilers, or any other popular team in the province.
However, sports betting is still in its infancy in Alberta. There is only a single option available to Albertans – the online sportsbook app PlayAlberta – which is owned and operated by the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). Both retail sportsbooks and a commercial market remain future developments in the province.
It’s critical that you know about your options, however sparse or expansive they are. So, use this page as your one-stop resource for all things sports betting in Alberta.
- Alberta sports betting at a glance
- Favourite Teams to Bet in Alberta
- Will Alberta allow other sportsbooks soon?
- PlayAlberta.ca Review
- Advantages of betting online in Alberta
- Sports betting in other provinces
- Alberta responsible gambling resources
- Alberta sports betting FAQ
Alberta sports betting at a glance
Online sports betting has been available to Albertans since September 2021. Here are some of the nuts and bolts associated with legal sports betting activities available in the province.
|Is online sports betting legal in Alberta?||Yes. Online sports betting has been legal in Alberta since 2021.|
|Who is allowed to play in Alberta?||Anyone over the age of 18.|
|Do I have to be in Alberta to play?||Yes. You must be physically inside the borders of Alberta in order to play.|
|Do I have to live in Alberta to play?||No. So long as you are of age and inside the province, you are eligible to play.|
|Are there any bets I cannot make?||There are no specific prohibitions, although the selection at PlayAlberta is a bit limited.|
|What sportsbook apps are available in Alberta?||Only PlayAlberta, the app operated by the provincial lottery, is legal and available for your wagers.|
Favourite Teams to Bet in Alberta
If you’re interested in specific teams, rather than a complete overview of the sports betting market in Alberta, you might want to check out our team pages for Alberta’s favourite squads. There is more specific information for those groups through the following links:
Will Alberta allow other sportsbooks soon?
It’s hard to say. According to previous statements from the ALGC, multiple sportsbooks should have been available by now. However, PlayAlberta remains the only site in town at present.
There are indications that Albertan authorities were considering a move towards open sports betting since December 2021. In that month, the ALGC put forth an RFP to solicit bids for retail sports wagering locations. The move also portended the introduction of mobile sports betting components into the province under the licenses of approved vendors.
The ALGC indicated that it favoured a cautious approach to a free-for-all. Reports suggest that regulators wanted only to allow two companies to begin service. The agency would then fine-tune before offering more opportunities to outside vendors.
Alberta’s population proved a worthy target for most major operators, who flooded the ALGC with a deluge of proposals. Reports from regulators also mentioned that the agency expected competing sportsbooks to open in Alberta sometime in 2022. Obviously, these debuts never came to pass.
At this point, it is unclear what the timeframe for a debut or the parties involved may be. Regulators have issued no new statements on the matter in quite some time. However, as more information becomes available, we will update this page accordingly.
Usually, we’d run you through all the different app choices you have available to you. However, since PlayAlberta is the only game in town, we’ll simply review the things you’ll find on the site.
- Best feature: Live betting options
- App ratings: N/A – both iOS and Android can access mobile-optimized site through their browsers.
- Launch date: Sept. 1, 2021
Types of wagers on PlayAlberta
All of the standard wagers that you’d find on most sportsbook apps are available through the PlayAlberta site. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced sports bettor, these are the types of bets you’ll find in Alberta:
The first group of bets is always available on PlayAlberta. When and if the province moves toward a competitive market, rest assured that the new books to launch will have these types of wagers, too.
- Point spreads – The point spread, one of the most common types of sports bets, relies upon the margin of victory to determine its outcome. PlayAlberta estimates the eventual margin (commonly called the “line,” and not to be confused with the moneyline), and you bet whether the favourite will exceed the estimate (“beat” the spread) or the underdog will lose by fewer points than the estimate or win outright (“cover” the spread).
- Moneylines – Moneylines are simple bets that care only about which player or team wins the contest. The manner in which they do so is immaterial to the determination of the wager. The only sticking point for bettors – especially beginners – is the American odds format that moneylines use to describe their payout ratios.
- Totals – Totals are extremely common wagers. However, their name may be unfamiliar because they are more often called the over/under, which is – in fact – the name of the sportsbook’s estimate. The book estimates the combined point total that two teams will generate during a game, regardless of the allotment of points. Bettors then decide whether the actual total will be higher than the estimate (the “over”) or lower than the estimate (the “under”).
- Propositions – Propositions, or prop bets, are wagers that ask bettors to put their money where their mouths are. In other words, a prop bet will pose a question to you, and you will use your wager to answer. Usually, prop bets query about whether or not a particular statistical milestone will come to pass during the game. However, you may also see prop bets that have a multiple choice answer, and you bet about the proposed statistical achievement.
- Futures – Futures are probably the most romantic of wagers, as they ask players to select which team will be the eventual winner of a season of play, either in terms of their record or, more often, the league champion. Futures may also have similar choices about end-of-season awards for individual players. Finally, futures are the bet of choice for tournaments, as picking the winner of March Madness or a PGA Tour event is a bet that even casual fans can understand.
- Parlays – Parlays take multiple wagers and smash them into one massive conglomerated bet. Each wager inside a parlay is called a “leg,” and bettors may choose any number of legs above 2 that they like. In practice, most sportsbooks only allow a maximum of 15 legs or so, but PlayAlberta does not specify a barrier limit in its terms and conditions. The catch with parlays, however, is that every leg must prove correct in order for the bettor to win. A single mistake loses the entire bet.
These are wagers that are a bit farther off the beaten path. Not all of them are available on PlayAlberta at this time, and if they are not, we have no information suggesting that their inclusion is imminent. However, if you do travel to Ontario, the US, or overseas, and you attempt to bet on sports, you may encounter one or more of these types of bets.
- In-game betting – In-game betting, or live wagering, is a form of proposition wager that takes place after a game is in progress. As prop bets, most of these are questions about statistics, but with a shorter time horizon than their pre-game prop brethren. It is not uncommon for in-game wagers to ask questions about single plays in a game or very short periods of play. It is also normal to see pregame bets like spreads, moneylines, and totals carried forward into the game as live wagers, but it’s important to understand that these bets take the progress of the game into account and invalidate much of the pregame research you’ve performed.
- Puck/run line – The puck line or run line is the version of the point spread reserved for hockey and baseball, respectively. In either case, the lack of scoring makes setting an estimated margin of victory quite difficult. So, PlayAlberta makes the spread a standard 1.5 goals/runs, but varies the payout ratios more radically than it would for a typical spread bet.
- Three-way moneyline – A three-way moneyline is a wager for sports where games or matches often end in a draw. The sport most commonly associated with these kinds of outcomes is soccer, of course, but PlayAlberta might use the three-way for hockey, too. In the case of NHL games, the draw outcome ignores any results from an overtime or shootout, and the three-way moneyline is commonly known as the “60-minute” bet. In any case, you can bet that one team will win and/or the game will end in a tie.
- Asian handicap – Although we didn’t see this option on PlayAlberta, you may encounter it elsewhere. For sports where draws are common (like soccer), a sportsbook may not want to offer a three-way moneyline with a draw option, but it may also not want to be liable to refund all of the wagers if a draw occurs. So, it may use the Asian handicap, where the team judged to be the favourite is assigned a handicap in order to serve as a sort of readjusted moneyline. Any games that end exactly on the handicap mark result in a halved win for each bet.
- Teasers – Teasers are a form of parlay where all of the legs are adjusted in favour of the bettor. The amount of the adjustment is consistent across the board, and it makes it easier for the parlayer to win their wager. However, teasers offer a reduced payout from a straight parlay with the same legs, as players must pay a premium for their improved chances.
- Pleasers – Pleasers are the mirror image of teasers, but are less likely to be offered. In this case, the legs of a parlay are adjusted in the sportsbook’s favour, making it more difficult for the bettor to win. However, as you may have guessed, a pleaser offers a higher payout than the equivalent parlay, and the higher reward may entice bettors to take a bigger chance.
- Round robins – Round robins are to parlays what parlays are to standard wagers. A round robin is a single wager made up of multiple parlays. However, unlike parlays, it is possible to lose a portion of your wager and still get paid something with a round robin. So long as the constituent parlay combinations remain undefeated in a grouping, the bettor can collect.
Bonuses you may encounter on PlayAlberta
The first thing to mention about the promotions on PlayAlberta is that you are unlikely to find them as numerous or as generous as the ones you’d find in the Ontario market. Bonuses and promotions are tools sportsbooks use to compete for bettors, and PlayAlberta has no competition vying for its bettors in the province. However, PlayAlberta still wants to attract more bettors to the fold, competition or not, so here are some common types of sports betting bonuses. Please note, though, that the appearance of these bonus types in the list below does not guarantee that they are active on PlayAlberta.
- No deposit – A no deposit bonus is usually reserved for new players as a means to entice them to begin service. As compensation for registering for an account, you may receive a certain amount of onsite currency that you can use to bet. Any winnings from these offers are yours to keep.
- Deposit – Deposit bonuses increase the value of the deposit(s) that you make. You can receive an additional percentage of your deposit amount on top as site credits or bet vouchers. The percentage varies, and each of these offers will come with a concrete limit on the amount of credits you can receive. You will also have to play through these funds according to the terms and conditions of the bonus before you’ll be able to withdraw them as cash.
- Insurance – An insurance bonus, sometimes called a “refund” or “risk-free bet,” pays you back a percentage of your net losses on certain wagers or during a certain period. As is the case with deposit bonuses, insurance is paid back as a percentage, and you can only recover up to a fixed maximum of money. Furthermore, you’ll have to play through the funds you receive in order to turn them into withdrawable money.
- Odds boosts – Odds boosts pump the potential payout on a group of selected wagers each day. The exact wagers change according to the games on the slate, but the percent increases offered are usually 15% to 35% above the amount that was first offered.
- Loyalty programs – At this time, PlayAlberta does not have a rewards program. However, other casinos do, and they use them to engender brand loyalty among their clientele. Every dollar you spend is good for an amount of points, and the points are, in turn, good for your placement on a prestige ladder. The higher you get within the system’s tiers, the more profound the benefits you can receive, like free comps, tickets, and invitations.
One thing to note about bonuses is that they rarely pay out straight cash to you. Instead, your rewards will come in the form of site credits (bonus money) or free bets. In either case, you will be obliged to play through the value of the credits at least once before realizing any withdrawable cash in your account. In some cases, these playthrough requirements can be quite high – 25 times the bonus amount or more – so it’s critical that you examine the terms and conditions of any bonus offer you’re considering before agreeing to the offer.
Good things about PlayAlberta
Although PlayAlberta is the only option available in the province right now, it is not without its charms. There are several elements present on PlayAlberta that we like, such as:
- Navigation – Regardless of the sportsbook app or site you choose, it is meaningless to talk about its charms if you cannot find anything. Thankfully, PlayAlberta’s creators have made an effort to make the site fast, responsive, and clean to use. There’s no denying that navigating the site is one of its strongest points.
- Sports betting promotions – Promotions are usually the product of competitive pressures, so it’s refreshing to see that PlayAlberta does have some bonus offers available specifically for sports bettors. They’re not terribly generous, but they’re better than nothing – which is exactly what bettors in some other provinces have available.
- Integration – PlayAlberta is a full-service gaming site. In addition to the sports betting features, you can navigate between the online casino games, the live dealer choices, the lottery options, and the instant win opportunities. The site’s integration is sure to have much broader appeal to the general public than a sports betting-only site.
Where PlayAlberta needs to improve
Of course, no site is perfect, and the lack of competitive pressure provides less impetus for sites like PlayAlberta to address their shortcomings. So, here are some of the issues that we’d like to see PlayAlberta rectify in the near future:
- Market selection – The most glaring problem with PlayAlberta is its paucity of sports for betting. At present, there are only eight options that players have to choose. While all the major sports are represented, there are few opportunities to bet sports that are off the beaten track.
- Higher odds – Some of the odds available on PlayAlberta are simply not competitive with the standard lines found elsewhere. We were disturbed to see that while there were some spreads and totals hovering around -110, too many of the options for betting had a much higher vig. In some cases, we saw lines at or worse than -120.
- Few banking options – Banking flexibility is critical for most bettors, as not every person uses the same financial institutions or methods to do business. Unfortunately, the only banking methods available on PlayAlberta at this time are credit cards, debit cards, and INTERAC.
Advantages of betting online in Alberta
PlayAlberta is not perfect. However, having a legal sportsbook at your fingertips is pretty great. There are some obvious reasons why it is a good idea to bet online in Alberta, but there are also some reasons that may not immediately be clear. Here are the advantages of using your (relatively) newfound option to place a wager online in the province.
- Convenience – The first positive about betting online in Alberta is the most obvious. It is far more convenient to bet on your mobile device than it ever is to visit a sportsbook in person. You don’t have to dress, get into the car, or deal with any of the logistics that in-person bettors have to face, and you can still place the same bets that they can. Furthermore, you don’t have to take the time to visit a sportsbook – you can even place wagers while you’re in the bathroom and go back to the rest of your normal day.
- Security – Up to this point, you have not enjoyed the full support of Canadian legal and regulatory systems when you placed a wager. Although you may never have had any issues with grey market sites, the reality is that the danger of funds confiscation, withdrawal delays, and identity theft were always present. Even though it’s technically possible some of those things could still occur with PlayAlberta, the reality is that you can always appeal to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis Commission (ALGC) for assistance, and the ALGC is in a position to help you find a resolution in a way that it simply was not before.
- Safety – Although it’s convenient that you don’t have to travel in person to a sportsbook in Alberta, it is also safer, too. For one thing, travelling via car always bears the risk of an accident, particularly during inclement weather. For another thing, many retail sportsbooks require cash, and there is an inherent risk of robbery if you have to visit a location with large sums of money on your person. With an online book, no such risk exists, and you don’t have to worry if it’s snowing.
- Responsible gambling – Problem gambling is an unfortunate reality that plagues a percentage of the gambling public, regardless of the gambling activity involved. Online sportsbooks, however, offer the ability to set hard-and-fast limits on your depositing, your betting sizes, and your time on the site. If you struggle with keeping your gambling in check, there are far more resources available online than there are in-person, which relies on someone noticing that you’re in trouble.
Sports betting in other provinces
Now, although you are likely to do the majority of your sports betting in Alberta, it’s a good idea to know what options you have elsewhere. Single-game sports betting is, indeed, a Canada-wide activity, and every single province offers at least some kind of online sportsbook to use.
Here is a list of all the provincial lottery-run sportsbooks in Canada:
- Alberta – Play Alberta
- British Columbia – PlayNow
- Manitoba – PlayNow
- New Brunswick – Proline
- Newfoundland and Labrador – Proline
- Nova Scotia – Proline
- Ontario – Proline
- Prince Edward Island – Proline
- Quebec – Mise-o-Jeu+
- Saskatchewan (Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories) – PlayNow
Now, at this point, there is only one province that offers more than one choice for betting. Ontario chose to allow a commercial sports betting market to enter its boundaries in April 2022. So far, here are the sportsbooks that have launched in Ontario:
- 888 Sport
- Bally Bet
- CanPlay Casino
- NorthStar Bets
- Play Fallsview
- PokerStars Sports
- Royal Panda
- Sports Interaction
- TheScore Bet
As more sportsbooks join the fray in Ontario, we will update this list.
Alberta responsible gambling resources
Problem gambling and gambling addiction are present wherever gambling exists, unfortunately. The sad reality is that a percentage of Albertans who bet on PlayAlberta or otherwise gamble in the province will take things too far. So, it’s important to know what resources are available to Albertans who need assistance to bring their gambling under control.
The primary outlet for help in Alberta is GameSense. The program, which is administered by the AGLC, provides information and resource recommendations to residents of the province who are suffering from problem gambling or are close to someone who is in trouble. You can use the GameSense website to educate yourself on the signs that a problem might be afoot and what you can do about it. GameSense also offers booths at gambling locations throughout Alberta, and can provide you with information, guidance, or simply a break from the action.
In terms of actual treatment, the best place to look is through the Addiction Helpline operated by Alberta Health Services. This phone number, 1-866-332-2322, is staffed around the clock by trained counsellors and medical professionals who can help you with your crises and/or direct you to a physician or therapist close to your location. The service is free to call within the provincial borders and is open to all Albertans.
If you prefer a different route to recovery, you can try one of the various peer support groups active in Alberta. The best-known of these groups is Gamblers Anonymous, which joins fellow sufferers together in order to promote community, accountability, and non-judgmental support for the struggles that you’re enduring. There are multiple GA meetings throughout Alberta each week, including in Calgary and Edmonton.
If meeting in a group is not your cup of tea, then you can also reach out to GamTalk. GamTalk is an internet discussion forum with the same characteristics and focus as a physical Gamblers Anonymous meeting. If you want to access advice and community with other problem gamblers in Alberta (or elsewhere) without leaving your home, this forum is an excellent resource. It can also be used in combination with GA meetings, in fact, and is a good option if you are undergoing an immediate crisis.
Finally, GameSense Alberta administers the province’s self-exclusion program. This program, which is the most radical approach to gambling treatment, bars you from accessing casino locations in Alberta and from PlayAlberta. The length of your exclusion, as selected by you, can be anywhere from six months to three years, and you can extend your exclusion at the end of your term as many times as you want. You cannot cancel an exclusion once it’s in place, and you can expect to be removed from casino premises if you attempt to enter them after you go on the list. Family and friends cannot exclude others; the sufferer is the only one who can agree to go on the list.
Alberta sports betting FAQ
Can you bet on sports online in Alberta?
Yes. You can bet on sports online in Alberta. Online sports betting has been available in the province since 2021.
Do you have any choice about the app that you use?
No. The only legal sportsbook available in Alberta at this time is PlayAlberta. Sportsbooks like DraftKings and BetMGM are not permitted to operate in Alberta yet.
What physical sportsbooks can I visit in Alberta?
None. In-person sports betting remains prohibited in Alberta at this time.
Can I place a bet on an Ontario sportsbook from Alberta?
No. Ontario sportsbooks use geolocation verification software to pinpoint each player’s physical location, and those that cannot show that they are inside the border of Ontario are not permitted to place a wager. Geolocation software is quite accurate, so don’t expect to fool the system.