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No one should doubt that gambling addiction is a real problem. Nor should we be blind to the fact that a part of what is generated as gambling-related revenue — whether it be through the PlayAlberta website or any other form of legal gaming in Alberta — comes out of the pocket of those who may have gotten in over their heads or from those who may not be able to afford their losses.
However, we should also not fall into the trap of thinking that in the absence of a provincially regulated online gaming option that those inclined to make use of such a portal will simply find something else to occupy their time. It’s not a question of whether people will partake in online gaming but how they choose to do so.
PlayAlberta is still a work in progress, with more gaming options to be added in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully, AGLC will remain flexible when it comes to any needed adjustments in the website’s safeguards.
In the meantime, Alberta should also join with Ontario in pushing the federal government to legalize single-events sports betting. There is a private member’s bill to that effect currently tabled in Ottawa, but its status is uncertain. This is another area, though, where gaming dollars are going offshore and where a need exists for a provincially regulated option.
PlayAlberta is a good example of how governments can strike the right balance when it comes to offering safer gaming options.
“Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” airs weekdays 12:30-3:30pm on 770 CHQR[email protected] Twitter: @RobBreakenridge