Regulators in Alberta are currently working behind the scenes to create Canada’s second regulated market for online poker, casino gaming, and sports betting.

Alberta online pokerWhile the details are still being worked out, early indications are that Alberta aims to create a regulated marketplace for real money online poker very similar to the one that Ontario launched in April 2022.

That would mean Alberta would abandon the setup it currently has, where the provincial lottery has a monopoly on igaming in the province, in favor of a model where there is competition between several licensed operators. It would also involve having operators that are currently available to Albertans as part of a “gray market” to instead join the province’s newly regulated space.

Officials from both Alberta and Ontario spoke at an important igaming conference in London in February 2024. The conference also included a roundtable discussion on how Alberta and other Canadian provinces should set up regulated igaming markets like Ontario’s.

Alberta’s premier considers igaming expansion — with inclusion of Indigenous groups — to be an important goal for her administration and some progress toward that end have been reported. It appears very likely that Alberta could become the next regulated market for real money online poker in Canada, and perhaps even in North America.

Watch this space for updates on Alberta online poker!

Is Online Poker Legal in Alberta?

Yes. Local laws do not explicitly prohibit online poker, and international poker sites offer their services in the province. Some of the biggest names in online poker — like PokerStars, GGPoker, and WPT Global — all provide their services through a global license, and playing on these sites give access to international player pools. They operate alongside the officially sanctioned igaming site owned by the government, PlayAlberta, which has online casinos and sports betting, but no online poker.

The provincial government is working to create a regulated marketplace for online poker that is similar to Ontario’s. Alberta wants their citizens to have more choices and better consumer protections, as well as participation for Indigenous groups in any igaming expansion.

Online Poker in Alberta
📢 StatusAlberta is considering setting up a regulated market of private licensed operators.
📅 Date LegalizedN/A
👥 Population4.8 Million
🔥 Potential Alberta Poker Sites888poker Alberta, BetMGM Poker Alberta, GGPoker/WSOP Alberta, PokerStars Alberta, Run It Once Poker Alberta
⚖️ Regulated ByAlberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC)
🔞 Legal Age to Gamble18+

Alberta Gambling Laws and Poker

Alberta Gambling Law: What’s Legal

Alberta is unique in that it is the only Canadian province that uses a charitable gaming model. Under this setup, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) issues licenses to charitable organizations to run casino and bingo events, and to sell raffle and pull tickets.

The Criminal Code of Canada establishes that only charitable or religious groups may conduct charitable gaming activities, and that money generated from those activities must be used for charitable or religious purposes.

Other forms of legal gaming under the charitable gaming model include:

  1. Private casinos
  2. Bingo halls
  3. Horse racetracks
  4. First Nations casinos
  5. Lottery kiosks and VLT lounges

However, online poker is generally consider legal, and is served by major global regulated online poker sites. International giants like PokerStars, GGPoker, WPT Global and European firms like Unibet, 888poker and partypoker all offer their services in the country. There’s also sweepstakes poker, subscription poker, and free play options available — for an explanation of all of these, refer to our in-depth Guide to Online Poker.

Alberta is home to 24 land-based casinos. Five of them are tribal, aka First Nations casinos. Each tribal casino is licensed by the AGLC to conduct casino gaming under the charitable gaming model. All five also have dedicated poker rooms.

Tribal Casino First Nation Location Poker Tables
Casino Dene Cold Lake First Nation Cold Lake 4
Eagle River Casino Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Whitecourt 3
Grey Eagle Casino Tsuut’ina First Nation Calgary 6
River Cree Casino Enoch Cree Nation Enoch 12
Stoney Nakoda Casino Stoney Nakoda First Nation Kananaskis 3

Alberta Online Poker: Overview

More Than a Century of Gaming History

Alberta’s gaming history began in 1892, when the Criminal Code of Canada was amended to allow gambling under certain conditions.

The province’s unique charitable gaming model is rooted in another amendment that followed in 1910 — that amendment allowed parimutuel wagering and games of chance, provided the profits were used for charitable or religious purposes.

Alberta’s first charitable casino opened at Edmonton’s annual fair in 1967. The Kinsmen Club of Edmonton, a service organization, opened the first non-profit casino in the province in 1975. Cash Casino, the province’s first permanent, privately-operate charitable casino, opened in Calgary in 1980 (the facility is now known as ACE Casino Blackfoot).

Sweepstakes and a provincial lottery were authorized in the 1970s. VLTs were introduced across the province in 1992.

AGLC launched its PlayAlberta platform in October 2020, during the pandemic. PlayAlberta offers online casino gaming and sports betting, but it does not offer peer-to-peer online poker, where players compete together. There is a live dealer “poker lobby,” but these are house-banked casino games with a poker theme.

Alberta’s Growing Interest in iGaming Overhaul

Efforts to create a regulated, competitive market for online poker, casino gaming, and sports betting similar to Ontario’s began to pick up steam in July 2023, when Alberta Premier Danielle Smith sent a mandate letter to Dale Nally, Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction.

The very first bulleted item on Nally’s to-do list was “working with Indigenous partners, finish developing and implementing Alberta’s online gaming strategy with a focus on responsible gaming and provincial and Indigenous revenue generation.” Smith’s letter was an indicator that Alberta was interested in setting up a regulated system to igaming similar to Ontario’s.

There were fears that Alberta had abandoned the whole idea of implementing a system like Ontario’s. In August 2023, the AGLC revamped its online sportsbook — leading to speculation that an overhaul of igaming had fallen on the provincial government’s list of priorities.

Fortunately, that was not the case — Nally attended the world regulatory briefing of the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) in London, in early February 2024. Alberta’s service minister met with gaming industry experts and government officials. He also participated in a round table discussion with Ontario AG Doug Downey.

The ICE conference even included a roundtable discussion on how provinces like Ontario and Alberta, as well as Canada’s First Nations, can “stand out from the crowd of North American regulated markets.”

After the conference, Nally issued a statement that Alberta “can be a leading hub for igaming, with a strong emphasis on openness and a free market.”

“We have low corporate taxes, streamlined regulations, and high disposable incomes. These conditions will allow us to establish ourselves as a premier destination for the igaming industry,” he added.

Alberta will likely adopt an igaming setup similar to Ontario’s, with a focus on mobile betting apps.

With about 4.8 million residents, Alberta is Canada’s fourth-most populous province, trailing Ontario, Québec, and British Columbia. Compared to US states, it’s just bigger than Louisiana. If Alberta were a US state, it would rank 25th in terms of population.

Considering Ontario is currently the largest regulated market for real money online poker in North America, it’s reasonable to assume that a future regulated online poker market in Alberta might be one-third the size of Ontario’s.

Multi-Provincial Online Poker

It’s unclear what the AGLC will propose as far as expanded igaming in Alberta, but if regulators follow Ontario’s setup to the letter, Alberta will be a segregated market for real money online poker when it launches.

On the other hand, with Ontario already out there with online poker, Alberta could decide to create a market where operators could share liquidity with other jurisdictions where online poker is regulated. Alberta would then have to wait for Ontario to make similar changes.

Officials with iGaming Ontario (iGO) confirmed that prior to launching online poker in April 2022, the agency had considered the idea of shared liquidity and of possibly forming a multi-jurisdictional or multi-provincial gaming compact with other Canadian provinces or territories. That could still happen.

Canada has nothing like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), a gaming compact in the US for interstate online poker that includes Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia.

Poker Sites That Could Launch in Alberta

To date, Alberta appears to be planning to launch a regulated market for real money online poker similar to the one in Ontario, where private operators are issued a license to operate by the provincial regulator.

If that happens, we expect all six of the online poker operators currently active in Ontario will also want to launch in Alberta — if they are permitted to combine their player pools with Ontario. Assuming they can, those Ontario online poker sites, spread across four networks — 888poker, the BetMGM Network, GGPoker/WSOP, and PokerStars — would all presumably expand into AB.

Two of those operators, BetMGM and PokerStars, have already shown an interest in launching in Alberta. Government records show both have hired lobbying firms to facilitate meetings with officials over expanded igaming in the province.

Potential Operator/Network Notes
888poker Was the first market entrant in Ontario, launching on the market’s first day.
BetMGM Network BetMGM Poker Ontario launched on the second day of the regulated market. The network includes bwin and partypoker, two Entain brands. Has hired a lobbying firm to discuss igaming with Albertan officials.
GGPoker/WSOP The last market entrant in Ontario, joining in September 2022.
PokerStars Joined Ontario’s regulated market in June 2022. Has also hired lobbyists to discuss expanded igaming with Alberta.
Run It Once Poker Currently in development by Rush Street Interactive (RSI).

PokerStars Alberta

PokerStars online poker room AlbertaPokerStars is one of the world’s most well-known online poker brands. It was one of the last operators to launch in Ontario, but it probably won’t wait that long to deploy in Alberta.

Consider that PokerStars’ parent company, The Stars Group (TSG), has retained two firms to help it inform provincial government officials of its work in other jurisdictions “in terms of player protection measures, responsible gaming practices, enhanced consumer entertainment, and incremental government revenue opportunities,” according to the Alberta Lobbyist Registry.

Alberta isn’t the most populous Canadian province (it’s fourth), but it’s also about the size of Louisiana. Look for PokerStars to launch in Alberta — and to likely urge both Alberta and Ontario to share liquidity between them.

PokerStars is already available in Alberta because it operates in the province’s gray market. It offers poker this way through its global license.

GGPoker Alberta

GG online poker room AlbertaGGPoker has a partnership with WSOP in Ontario. It will very likely look to extend that partnership to Alberta, too, if the province moves forward with expanded igaming and permits liquidity sharing with Ontario.

WSOP has been active in Alberta for more than two years. It has held four successful World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOP-C) events across two seasons at the Deerfoot Inn & Casino in Calgary.

GGPoker has also hosted official WSOP online bracelet series and other events in Ontario, where players can win coveted WSOP gold bracelets and entry to the annual World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas. For that reason alone, the operator will be a popular brand if it launches in Alberta.

Like PokerStars, GGPoker is also already available in Alberta because it operates in the province’s gray market via its global license.

888poker Alberta

888 online poker room Alberta888poker launched in Ontario on the market’s opening day. It remains the only day where 888 can unambiguously say it had the most popular online poker room in Ontario — it has trailed its rivals ever since.

Nevertheless, 888 is still competitive in Ontario — it offers eponymously named products for poker (888poker), casino gaming (888casino), and sports betting (888sports). It will likely want to offer the same products in Alberta. Shared liquidity between Alberta and Ontario would make a launch in Alberta attractive.

BetMGM Poker Alberta

BetMGM online poker room AlbertaBetMGM launched online poker in Ontario on the market’s second day. The operator is a 50/50 joint venture between Entain and MGM Resorts International. Entain brands bwin and partypoker have joined BetMGM to create a three-skin poker network in Ontario.

Like PokerStars, BetMGM has also retained a lobbying firm in Alberta. The firm has been tasked with “engaging in discussions [with Alberta] in order to provide information on international best practices in the regulation of internet gaming,” according to the lobbying firm’s registration with the Alberta Lobbyist Registry.

It’s a strong indication that Team BetMGM plans to launch in Alberta if the province decides to expand its igaming market.

Run It Once Poker Alberta

Run It Once online poker room AlbertaChicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI) is currently developing Run It Once Poker. The platform is expected to launch sometime in 2024.

Run It Once was originally an offshoot of a training site run by poker pro and guru Phil Galfond. The platform launched in February 2019 and served international dot-com players for nearly three years before shutting down in January 2022. RSI bought the platform in March 2022.

RSI’s flagship brand, BetRivers, is live in Ontario with online casino and sports betting. Considering Ontario is the largest regulated online poker market in North America, RSI will likely launch Run It Once in Ontario at some point. If Alberta has set up a regulated market similar to Ontario’s by then, look for Run It Once to come to Alberta, too.

Poker in Alberta Today

Where Live Poker is Played in Alberta

Live in-person poker is available all over the province, but players will find the most poker tables in two cities: Calgary and Edmonton. According to the AGLC, there are 24 establishments in the province that offer tables games, including poker:

City (No. of Casinos) Casino (No. of Tables) Total Tables
Calgary (7) ACE Airport Casino (12), ACE Casino Blackfoot (N/A), Cowboys Casino (10), Deerfoot Inn & Casino (10), Elbow River Casino (14), Grey Eagle Casino (6), Pure Casino Calgary (10) 62
Edmonton (6) Century Casino Edmonton (30+*), Grand Villa Casino (N/A), Pure Casino Edmonton (12), Pure Casino Yellowhead (13), River Cree Casino (12), Starlight Casino (N/A) 67*
Red Deer (2) Cash Casino Red Deer (6), Red Deer Resort & Casino (8) 14
Other Cities (9) Camrose: Camrose Casino (N/A), Cold Lake: Casino Dene (4), Fort McMurray: Rivers Casino & Entertainment Centre (3), Grande Prairie: Great Northern Casino (4), Kananaskis: Stoney Nakoda Resort (3), Lethbridge: Pure Casino Lethbridge (5), Medicine Hat: Cooper Coulee Casino (N/A), St. Albert: Century St. Albert (N/A), Whitecourt: Eagle River Casino (3) 22

* Includes other table games like blackjack and baccarat.

Online Poker in Alberta FAQ

Is online poker legal in Alberta?

Yes, it is. Albertans who want to play real money online poker have many options available. Operators active in the province through offshore licenses, including PokerStars, GGPoker and WPT Global.

How do I choose a reliable online poker site in Alberta?

Learn more about staying safe while playing online by reading How Do I Choose a Safe Online Poker Room? 6 Things to Look Out For.

Can I play online poker with players from other countries?

Yes, if you play on a real money online poker site like PokerStars, which legally operates in Alberta’s gray market through its global license, you will play against people in other countries.

How old do you have to be to play online poker in Alberta?

You must be 18 years or older to play online poker or to participate in any other forms of gambling in Alberta. It’s one of only three provinces where you only need to be 18 — the others are Manitoba and Québec.

Are there resources available for responsible gambling?

Yes, responsible gaming resources are available on PlayAlberta through GameSense, an innovative RG program developed by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) in 2009.

Is PokerStars legal in Alberta?

Yes, local laws do not specifically prohibit online poker in Alberta, and international sites like PokerStars, GGPoker and WPT Global operate there.

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