Is Government-run Online Gambling Good?

Alberta, Canada, or more specifically the government agency that runs the regulatory standard, is currently having talks on implementing government-run online gambling. If it were to pass, this would be the last province in Canada to implement this idea. There is of course, political discourse going on with the moral or ethical impact of gambling as a whole, and a more common argument has been rather ‘government-run gambling’ is the right direction.

It is unfortunate that most media sources in Canada that has been discussing this issue has focused almost entirely about the ‘benefit’ of increased government revenue. Yet no one is talking about the negative impact on turning to public rather than privatization. I suppose this shows the difference between political culture of the United States, opposed to the culture of a centralized economic system like in Canada.

Statistics of Neighboring Provinces

While looking at the political landscape of this discussion it’s important to look at the rough numbers and the benefit so far that online gambling has brought all of the other provinces in Canada. The net revenue of Canada’s government-run lotteries and video terminals has risen from 2.73 billion in 1992 to eventually 13.67 billion in an almost continuous increase, amounting for paying off around 1.45% of the tax burden in the state.

The highest revenue earners has surprisingly been Ontario at estimated $1.8 billion and Alberta with $1.7 billion. The population of Ontario is over 10 million people, while Alberta is only 2.9 million people. So by far Alberta has raised the highest per capita of government revenue through gambling, while being only regulated only. Alberta’s gambling is not ran by the local government.

All of this data is provided through a group of non-profit organizations, gaming providers, and gaming regulators to form the “Canadian Partnership for Responsible Gambling (CPRG).

The History of Gambling in Alberta

Alberta has historically had a government agency that regulates private gambling, there has never been a need for a ‘government-run’ gambling companies. The goal of the regulations from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission(AGLC):

  • Ensure responsible and integral gambling
  • Maximize economic benefits of gaming and liquor activities

So, as proven from the studies from the CPRG, having a regulatory standard organization, rather than direct publicly ran online casinos has correlated to increased revenue to the state.

Historically, Alberta has had online gambling through what people call the ‘grey-market’. Players know exactly what they sign up for, and the casinos are privately owned through websites. While proponents of this change believe that having casinos government-run can better ‘regulate’ gambling addiction, provinces that has adopted government-run casinos has seen no noticeable increase or decrease in gambling prevalence.

“A Voluntary Tax”

As some proponents have stated this change could be seen as a ‘voluntary tax’ having some people pay into the casino system, whereas others who decline statistically pay less. This idea while noble completely disregards the correlation between government-run casinos not only decreasing the provinces state revenue through gambling, but will likely not cause an increase or decrease in gambling unless the government increases or decreases the win or lose ratio. Also, having the government set up and maintain the gambling sites costs money, which would be on the backs of the tax payers. Making government-run gambling not a voluntary tax, but quite the opposite: Government-run gambling sites increase the tax burden on the entire state making gambling effect everyone in a negative way.


The evidence is in. The facts are out. Government-run correlates directly to decreasing state revenue, increases state cost, decreases private jobs and opportunities, and spreads higher loss to the entire state. Any professional gambler picks his or her table or slot machine with caution, and that gambler would instantly recognize this deal as a deal. It’s time to pick up, and move on to a better, more lucky slot machine. It’s time to recognize private online gambling and free market trading as the best of the two options.

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